The white zone is for revenue only 

So the Budget and Finance Committee turns its attention this week to valet parking, that special convenience reserved for the privileged among us who actually, gasp!, convey themselves to restaurants, churches, theaters, apartment buildings, hospitals and hotels — did we leave anything out? — by private motorcar, all the while refusing to spend irksome time searching for street parking.

A hearing on the vital issue of white painted curbs was ordered by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who likens valet users to those lowest of life forms: tax evaders. Somehow the sight of a citizen emerging from a car, door held by a uniformed attendant, and decamping into some closed-door activity stirred in the supervisor the risible thought that prompted H.L. Mencken to define a puritan as someone who feared that someone else, somewhere, was having fun.

Of course, a valet-using citizen, like anyone else, could be engaging in something other than merriment, entering a hospital lobby for one example, but it is clear the valet experience, according to the citizen’s calculation, conduces to an efficient use of time and other resources. The citizen could, for example, be transacting pleasant and healthful business in one of The City’s fine eateries, thereby providing said establishment just enough profit to survive the deadly health care and sick leave ukases coming out of City Hall.

Now, Supervisor McGoldrick is an enlightened and literate man, and he has shown he grasps some basic economics with his decidedly nonpuritanical commentary in the recent sex-trafficking debate. But he has been thumping a budget analyst report, as grimly as the church lady keeping tablets on her wanton neighbors, which ostensibly shows what a tremendous loss in revenue to The City all this unseemly use of valets brings about.

If The City planted parking meters in all the downtown white zones, McGoldrick figures, the municipal coffers would swell by at least $17,300 a year. Even better at Fisherman’s Wharf, where the projected catch would amount to some $37,000. No figures are provided for revenues to be lost by businesses patronized by valet parkers.

So the tacit premise behind McGoldrick’s reasoning (which by now may be encrusted as ideology): The City does not exist to make life easier for citizens, especially when they engage in innocent acts of shopping or moviegoing or dining, but rather citizens and all their private activities exist to serve the insatiable treasury of The City.

It is altogether possible that the good supervisor will take a tutorial in sound economics if the massage parlors start offering valet parking, but for now his puritanical charge against white curbs remains a serious omen. It’s a short step, after all, from Comstockery to, say, a Chavezista seizure of the Wi-Fi business.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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