Thunder from West Portal: Quentin Kopp savages the Warriors' Embarcadero Wall and its $220 million taxpayer subsidy


(Scroll down to read Kopp's column from the Westside Observer)

When then State Sen. Quentin Kopp was appointed to the bench in San Mateo County, some of his fellow judges took him out to lunch.  “We hope you realize you have now given up your First Amendment rights,” he was told.

Judge Kopp did as he was told and kept silent for years on the bench on the many issues he felt strongly about and would have taken on in the public arena.   Today, however, he is retired, given up judicial restraint, and is back in action exercising his First Amendment rights with gusto. Operating from a desk in the office of Atty. Peter Bagatelos in West Portal, Kopp blasted the scavengers on behalf of an initiative aimed at upending the scavenger monopoly and controlling rates (he was right.) He has fired away at the RosePak/Willie Brown/Chinatown power structure on the Central Freeway.
He regularly blasts Mayor Lee for “compliancy” on big development, District Attorney for any number of misdemeanors and indiscretions, and former Sup. Sean Elsbernd for being Sean Elsbernd.

Now, in the current edition of the Westside Observer, Kopp has hit his stride with an acidic but well argued column titled appropriately, “The Art of Picking the Public Purse.” 

His lead: “It’s all privately funded!  Those aren’t my words; those are the words of the billionaire owners of the San Francisco Warriors and compliant Mayor Edward Lee respecting the proposed (and financially complicated) Warriors proposal to build a mammoth sports and entertainment arena on San Francisco Piers 30-32.”

Kopp wryly urges his readers to forget that the proposed project, “with Lee as the spear carrier (proudly proclaiming that the wrongly placed arena would be his ‘legacy’) would, if ever built, be higher than the “hated Embarcadero Freeway, which many San Franciscans spent years detesting and attempting to eliminate.”

Instead, he said taxpayers should concentrate on the “taxpayer subsidy of up to $200,000 (including interest) to the Warriors.” And he lays out the arguments and stats that demolish the Warriors’ line that “it’s all privately funded.”  Warming up, Kopp writes that the Warriors demand that Piers 30-32 be fully reconstructed, at Port cost, to a standard that will support the immense 19,000-seat arena.  The reconstruction cost is an estimated $120,000,000. Every single penny of such $120,000,000 is public money, i.e. the Port. The Port must borrow the money to reconstruct those piers.

“From whom? The Warriors, of course, and for the privilege of borrowing such money (for the Warriors’ benefit), the Port will pay the Warriors an exorbitant 13% per year as interest.”

More: “the port must sell the Warriors an enormously valuable piece of public land across the Embarcadero (Seawall 330) for a highrise hotel, condominium and retail development (b3: gulp).” Still more: “under the proposed Warriors’ deal, the $120,000,000 borrowing would be approved by a simple majority of the Board of Supervisors. The San Francisco Giants in 1996 and the San Francisco 49ers in 1971 were not afraid to secure voter/taxpayers approval. Maybe Lee and the Warriors are afraid the truth is that $120,000,000 is needed for the extraordinary cost of bearing the proposed arena’s weight, and supporting facilities the Warriors want to build on a platform over San Francisco Bay (b3: gulp again.)” You get the idea. 

Kopp’s arguments cry for an independent analysis by Harvey Rose, the city’s respected  budget analysis, who did a prescient assessment of the costs of the America’s Cup project. Kopp’s columns, along  with the excellent reporting of Patrick Monette-Shaw on Laguna Honda and George Wooding on the Ethics Commission and others, demonstrate that the Westside Observer under Editor Doug Comstock and Publisher Mitch Bull has become a sharp critic of City Hall from a neighborhood point of view and the best neighborhood paper in town.

Click here to read Kopp in full:
The paper is distributed monthly  West of Twin Peaks but you can see it easily by going to the Observer’s website at  b3

(Bruce B. Brugmann, who signs his blogs and emails b3, writes and edits the Bruce blog at the Bay Guardian website at He is the editor at large of the Bay Guardian and former editor and co-founder with his wife Jean Dibble, 1966-2012.  He is now off to attend his 60th reunion of the dream high school class of 1953 in Rock Rapids, Iowa. He will keep you posted.)


but then of course that is exactly what he said he would be and the people voted him in by a landslide over the anti-development Avalos.

So what Kopp clearly meant to say is that Lee made a promise to help develop the city and he is keeping it.

A politician keeping his word and his commitment to the people a good thing, even if Kopp never lived by that principle himself.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 7:13 am

Yet another banner update for us from the Guardian and Bruce Brugmann! And a great analysis by the Honorable Quentin Kopp who is honestly saying--"Don't just take my word on it, let's get an audit from someone we trust, Harvey Rose." Amen.

Posted by Guest Charley_sf on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 7:59 am

Keeping his word???!!!!
Is this the same Ed Lee who promised/swore not to run for mayor when he was appointed??

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

What he said was that (at that exact point in time) he had no intention to run.

I believe that he was telling the truth then. But later changed his mind because there was huge support for him to run (evidently, since he won so easily) and because once he saw who the other candidates were, he was worried for the city.

The fact that 60% voted for him, and that his approval rating is now over 65% shows that his decision to change his mind was wildly popular among the people.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

Why is Quentin not dead yet?

What else has he spouted off about
That the high speed rail should terminate somewhere other than the transbay terminal
That UCSF should knock a few floors from its dorm in Mission bay so it doesn't block views of portrero hill dwellers

He is the best evidence that I know of that people who retire from public service should REALLY RETIRE

Agnos and Kopp. dumb and dumberer

Posted by NOT_Eric_Brooks on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

Bruce, you've gotta save Tim and the other progressive journalists from the ravishes of the capitalists.

All your hard work over 4 decades has been unraveled overnight.

You've got to take a chunk of that money you earned by selling your company property to getting a new, good, printed weekly up and running.

Please? Pretty please?

Posted by Irene on Jun. 15, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

just wants to sit on the beach and blow his cash. He joined the enemy, I'm afraid.

Bruce never really recovered from losing his war with PG&E.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 16, 2013 @ 7:34 am