Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 1999
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Ken Garcia


Sex, drugs, parking -- dream issues for Brown

San Francisco has its own definition for a conservative: a liberal in
desperate search of votes.

That would be our Lord Mayor, who is having a very bumpy election-year
ride -- and he doesn't even take the Muni. But you've got to give him
credit. Just when you think he's about to whiff on another quality-of-life
issue, he goes and turns a thin, little nuisance into three sure-fire ballot
box winners: sex, drugs and parking.

As any city resident knows, the only thing that turns people on in this town
more than a good sweaty romp is a prime parking space, and conversely, the
only thing harder to find than a loving soul mate is a prime parking space.
For a time, many people believed that San Francisco was known as a city of
frustrated, straight, single women, but now we know it is the home of the
country's most weary, desperate drivers.

And this is where the mayor's genius comes in, because out of nowhere, just
as the parking crisis has left San Francisco about 10,000 spaces short of a
parking spot, he announces a traffic initiative that should have cars and
parking spaces flowing like champagne around the city.

I refer, of course, to the mayor's desire to begin impounding the cars of
suspected drug dealers and newfound hooker pals, sometimes refered to as
Johns. And here you thought all those Beamer owners were coming in from
Marin to work? Now we know why our suburban neighbors are so tailgate happy
when they're cruising to the big city-- they're just a small wink and a
bridge toll from a score.

And the mayor is right to punish them, because the interlopers have some
nerve taking up our parking, our prostitutes and our drugs when there's
plenty enough available out there in the 'burbs.

To hear the mayor's office tell it, there are so many drug dealers and sex
enthusiasts driving around town that the only thing slowing traffic more
than these wanton acts of solicitation is the Critical Mass pedal parties.

Forget the oversized developments without garages that are springing up like
mushrooms around the city. The reason you can't park is because the Left
Coast's largest pleasure emporium has gone mobile.

All this cruising and parking got the mayor's fedora rumpled, so he directed
his sworn peacekeeping agents not only to arrest the double- parking
druggies and flesh merchants, but to take their damn cars as well. ``We want
to make it more difficult for people to come out to San Francisco and buy
drugs,'' the mayor said. ``We have a problem with people coming from other
counties in their very sleek cars to commit crimes.''

And you have to admit, if someone were forced to take the Muni on their way
to a crime spree, chances are pretty good that that's one less gun that is
going to go off.

Everybody knows that the mayor is slightly prone to exaggeration -- he
didn't really want Elvis Grbac hog-tied, whipped and strangled -- but you
have to wonder if seizing cars from Johns is really a winning strategy. What
does he think people come to San Francisco for, the french bread?

For a guy who sees tourists as cash registers with pasty legs, it's a
curious stance, since they might stop coming from Des Moines if it gets that
much harder to score.

But Brown, who used to be prone to Porsches during his halcyon days as the
biggest poker player in Sacramento, thinks he's on to something here with
the new stop 'n' pop strategy. ''Let one (drug) user lose a BMW, and we
won't have any more users,'' he said, which makes me think he believes
expensive cars are more addictive than heroin. And judging from all the SUVs
being parked on sidewalks throughout the city, he may well be right.

Yet there are a few holes in his plan, not the least of which is that his
good buddy Amos Brown is carrying the initiative before the Board of
Supervisors, and if you think that's a good idea, you must be from Iowa. So
far, preacher Brown's best-known contribution to the city has been to
suggest that San Francisco accessorize its homeless population with shopping
carts, an idea that ultimately became known as the granny cart solution. Of
course, he did force supermarket chains to spend thousands of dollars
researching the concept of computerized carts, so maybe it was just his
creative way of stimulating the local economy.

But I think I have a winning idea for Brown and Brown that can keep all
those rolling drug and sex hounds from clogging our city streets and help
the homeless, too. The American Civil Liberties Union card-carriers may not
like it -- but hey, Willie Brown's got those votes. He needs to work on the
17 percent of the lost souls known as Republicans.

When those law-breaking animals come to town to shop our wares from now on,
the cops should just take their sleek cars and drive them over to one of the
city's homeless shelters, where they can hold a raffle on who gets the shiny
El Dorado.

The winner gets a four-wheel home, there will be no more messy shopping
carts on the sidewalk, and the newly mobile driver finds not only trunk
space and shelter, but more important, self-esteem.

That's how election-year politics are played in the big city. And who knows
that better than our cagey mayor, who is always a few steps, and at least
one parking space, ahead.

You can reach Ken Garcia at (415) 777-7152, fax him at (415) 896-1107, or
send him an e-mail note at - ---
MAP posted-by: Don Beck