The Strategic Retreat

San Francisco and Water; a savage hypocrisy

jogging in SF

I’m not a fan of San Francisco, let me just put that out there. I don’t believe unbiased journalism is possible, I believe in doing the best you can to present the facts and owning up to the biases of your viewpoints, whenever you’re aware of them. Whilst I don’t hate San Francisco as much as San Jose, I do indeed dislike San Francisco.

San Francisco has a lot of faults, from being a homeless haven whilst shunning the middle classes, to having shit public transport and ridiculous hills to just being full of some of the most unjustly smug people in the world. It’s like the U.S. Paris, without the history or culture. One specific fault that pisses me right off is their new water bottle ban.

San Francisco is making it illegal to sell bottled water on public property. On the surface that almost sounds like something I’d support, I do hate water bottles after all and I view them as wasteful and selfish. But I try to only support things when their benefits outweigh their negatives. I try to see past waxy sound bites to the rotten core of lies they surround. As is usual for San Francisco, this entire proposal is shrouded in a savage hypocrisy of naivete, smugness and dishonesty.

The proposal is; that over the next 4 years sales of water, smaller than 21 ounces, will be banned from sale on city property. That’s parks, conventions, street festivals, every place that isn’t private. This is stupid for two primary reason; it will not eliminate waste, it will cause people to drink more soda.

It’s stupid

If I’m at a park or festival and I’m thirsty I will no longer have the option to buy a 21 ounce water. I will soon only be able to buy worse options, worse for me and worse for the environment. One option is I can buy a soda. Yes, they banned water and not soda. They didn’t ban the plastic bottle they claim to be against but they banned the healthiest possible thing you can consume from a plastic bottle, water. A bottle of soda has all the negatives of a bottle of water and it’s bad for you. They also didn’t ban large bottles of water. So, say I’m just a little bit thirsty and I don’t want a soda because I’m not a child. I can still buy water, just not in the size that represents the amount I want. I have to buy the water with extra water and extra plastic, generating extra waste. The two options are now; a larger water bottle, which uses more plastics, or soda, which is bad for you and also uses more plastic than water bottles. Both of those options are worse than what we currently have.

Sure, you can claim that this will result in people bringing their own water. But it won’t. If people were going to do that they already would be doing so, they’re not going to change consumption habits because they now have to get a 22oz water. As much as it sucks to buy a bulky water it’s way less of burden than carrying around a metal container all day, estimating the exact amount of water you need, remembering to bring it home and never losing it.

The near tragic simple-mindedness isn’t really what bothers me though, at least not enough to write about it on its own merits. I get it, San Francisco is the manifestation of the 19 year old who just took his first humanities course. They have a strong passion to save the world and no idea how to do so. Naturally, they’re the loudest about telling others how to live their lives. That’s fine, I’m generally tolerant of others and I don’t really expect most people, let alone politicians, to be great critical thinkers. What pisses me off is the ridiculous amount of hypocrisy that is present anytime San Francisco discusses environmentalism and water. If there’s one city that should look at its feet uncomfortably when sustainable water is mentioned, it’s San Francisco.


waterfall at yosemite

Why it’s hypocritical

San Francisco is one of the least environmental cities in terms of water in the entire country. It is the Humvee, towing an RV, to drive to the McDonald’s drive-through and back. San Francisco is the left-wing equivalent of a Tea Party member committing welfare fraud, actively stealing ill gotten benefits from a system it so vocally condemns.

San Francisco’s water comes from 160 miles away. From a natural treasure and one of the most beautiful places in the country, Hetch Hetchy. A place that San Francisco destroyed and continues to keep in ruins in order to have cheap water. In 1923 San Francisco dammed up Hetch Hetchy Valley and flooded it. The project was completed a decade later and this has been San Francisco’s main water source every since. As John Muir put it, Hetch Hetchy is “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples”. That’s what is was in John Muir’s time, now it’s just a storage tank for rich people’s water. A people so smug that they outlawed goose liver yet have no qualms using the tears of tortured wilderness to water their wheatgrass.

It seems to me that if San Francisco wanted to do something involving using less water for the environmental good they’d start by undoing the destruction of a valley that rivaled Yosemite in natural beauty. But, they won’t. That would take money, that would take work and most importantly; that would actually do some good.

That is why I hate San Francisco, as it relates to water.

About Jeff

Jeff was born in the back of a War Game Store on the day the first Star Trek movie came out, to a computer programmer mother and a father who wrote the story for Dragon's Lair. Jeff has an MBA, a CSM, and a penchant for sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.