California has often been called a trendsetter for the rest of the nation, and if having a government that’s going broke is the new reality, then the Golden State is leading once again. Nowhere else better symbolizes the West Coast view that government knows best than the City by the Bay, lovely San Francisco. Just hope that these Top 10 Examples of San Francisco Silliness aren’t a new trend:
1. Low-flow toilet stink: In the name of water conservation, San Francisco made a big push for citywide use of low-flow toilets. The only problem is that, without that extra push of water, sludge is clogging the sewer lines, causing an unpleasant odor. The city has had to spend $100 million to modernize its pipes and is spending another $14 million for 25 million pounds of bleach to combat the rotten-egg smell near the city’s otherwise pristine baseball stadium, AT&T Park, home of the world champion San Francisco Giants.
2. Homeless coddling leads to sitting ban: After it offered generous benefits and an elaborate support system to care for its transient population, San Francisco shouldn’t have been surprised when problems with the homeless arose—like the smell of urine permeating the Tenderloin. Voters took care of having to walk around drunken hobos by passing a measure banning sitting or lying on city sidewalks. SFPD officers are reportedly enforcing the law, which can result in $500 fines and jail time for repeat offenses.
3. Sanctuary city violence: San Francisco is a sanctuary city, where illegal immigrants can find safe haven. Since 1989, city police officers have been forbidden from inquiring into an offender’s immigration status. As a result, the city has been plagued by violence committed by illegal immigrants who should have been deported for earlier, less serious offenses. Most notable was the 2008 murder of Tony Bologna and his two sons by Edwin Ramos, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who had previous run-ins with police. Ramos gunned down the family members as they were leaving a picnic because they had blocked his car in traffic.
4. Happy Meal ban: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last year voted to ban the sale of McDonald’s Happy Meals in the city, passing a measure ordering that meals meet certain nutritional guidelines in order to include a toy with the purchase. The meals also must include a serving of vegetables or fruit to warrant a toy giveaway. Now that will be a real driver of traffic to the kids’ menu—Brussels sprouts with a cheeseburger.
5. Pension crisis worsens: San Francisco’s municipal pension system has an unfunded liability of some $4.4 billion, or $35,000 for every household in the city. Oh, and there is also $4.36 billion in unfunded retiree health care costs. Despite the massive red ink in city obligations, San Francisco last year gave city retirees a $170 million cost-of-living bonus on top on their regular COLA.
6. Bio-Fuel buses cause stink: San Francisco has transformed its 1,500- vehicle city fleet to run on biofuels as a way to combat global warming. Oops, make that climate change. To help power the vehicles, the city’s SFGreasecycle program is collecting cooking oils from San Francisco restaurants. The result: Besides clogging the air filters of the diesel-converted buses, city streets often smell like French fries or fried chicken.
7. Mandatory composting: Throw away coffee grounds or a banana peel in the garbage and the City of San Francisco can fine you. When enacting the toughest recycling rules in the nation, city leaders included a mandatory composting law. Trash must be separated into three separate, color-coded bins, one of which is for compost. Fines of $100 for residences and $500 for businesses will be levied only in “egregious case,” the city assures.
8. Circumcision ban: San Francisco voters this November will have to decide whether to ban circumcision of male children in the city. Backers of the measure gathered 7,700 signatures to get it on the ballot, saying that the practice is a form of genital mutilation. Opponents say the initiative, which would make circumcision of a minor punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in jail, is a violation of religious and parental freedom.
9. Cell phone radiation disclosure: The city enacted a law requiring cell phone stores to post the amount of radiation that each of its models emits. The wireless industry filed suit, saying the law misleads consumers, because there is no credible science to back the fears that cell phone radiation causes health problems. The law would require that store owners post how much energy a cell phone user would absorb into his head. Perhaps a Tinfoil Hat Law is next.
10. Animal companion sales ban: San Francisco’s Animal Control & Welfare Commission last year held multiple meetings on a proposal to ban the sale of pets, oops, make that animal companions, the preferred politically correct term. After nationwide ridicule in the media, the panel tabled the proposal for future consideration. The measure was pushed to lessen the number of abandoned animals and was cheered by animal-rights activists who believe “owning” a dog is a form of species-ism.