Drunk with power

Airbnb will pay Bob White to push for a policy that  preserves the company’s operation in San Diego.
  • Airbnb will pay Bob White to push for a policy that preserves the company’s operation in San Diego.

The online home-vacation-stay service known as Airbnb has been making a lot of local news lately, thanks to a city regulatory crackdown that has threatened some bedroom renters with back-tax bills. To the rescue have come city councilman Chris Cate, ex-lobbyist for the San Diego Taxpayers Association, and his Republican colleague Lorie Zapf with various would-be reform measures to be considered by a council committee next month.

Into the mix has jumped Airbnb itself, which has tapped California Strategies, the Sacramento-based lobbying powerhouse run by ex–Pete Wilson aide Bob White, to look after its interests at city hall, according to a recent disclosure filing. Republican White’s mission: “Adoption of a policy that supports AirBnB’s continued operation in the City of San Diego.” Another client recently acquired by the lobbyist is the Hillcrest Business Association, which is seeking to “minimize loss of parking to Hillcrest businesses” due to a regional bicycle plan.

Meanwhile, former GOP city councilman Byron Wear, who has also become a lobbyist, is laboring on behalf of Blue Sky Capital, described on Wear’s disclosure statement as involved with “breath alcohol content machines operations.” The company is looking to get permits for installing the gizmos in the public right-of-way.

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The Hillcrest Business Association is wise to enlist an effective lobbyist to salvage scarce parking spaces if it is trying to counteract Miami-based Deco-Bike, the outfit that has a city contract to provide ugly ungainly bikes at ugly ungainly ad-bearing curbside bike stands.

The Deco-Bike "regional bicycle plan" is not as benignly green as you make it sound. The solar-charged bikes have to be stored in, well, sunny places; the stanchions take up a lot of room in crowded commercial zones; and bike rental fees cost a fortune. La Jolla turned Deco-Bike down as unsightly and unsuitable to its terrain and streetscapes.

I don't know if the Hillcrest BA is worried about the Deco-Bike plan or a regional plan that takes away an entire lane from automobile traffic. Look at what has been done on 5th Ave. coming up from downtown. That is the dumbest idea I've seen in a long time. No cyclists even use it. It's a long, uphill slog. And whose idea was it to put a bike lane to the left of traffic? With two lanes for the cars, any passing that is going to occur will be to the left-- toward the cyclists! Maybe I just didn't get the memo, but how are drivers supposed to know how to deal with that car-wide bicycle lane on the left when making a left hand turn?

I'm in favor of increasing bike usage, but some of the things being done are just dumb.

Regarding the Fifth Avenue buffered bike lane, you are mistaken when you assert that "no cyclists even use it." This is the pitfall of relying on absolutes to make a point. Every time I've used it to get from downtown to Hillcrest I've encountered numerous people riding bikes, although admittedly not all of these riders may be "cyclists" in the truest sense.

Fifth Avenue is not a "long, uphill slog." It is the easiest and most direct route from downtown to Hillcrest. I ride it on an 84.4 inch fixed gear: 48 x 15.

The view from behind a steering wheel has a tendency to obscure the obvious. When making a left turn across the bike lane, check your left side mirror to make sure a cyclist isn't about to overtake you on that perilously steep hill at 35 mph, then use the little lever on the left side of the steering wheel to make the turn signals flash. When it's clear, make your turn. How in the world did you ever pass a driving test? That's the scary part of being on the receiving end of lectures by incompetent drivers.

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