Response to SF Beautiful …

by on May 23, 2011

To the Editor:

The recent post from Milo Hanke of SF Beautiful in opposition to AT&T’s IP Network and television service upgrade (U-verse) shows his ignorance with regard to technology in San Francisco. I wonder if he and his colleagues have any idea how many San Francisco residents DO NOT have access to broadband DSL. Obviously Mr. Hanke and his friends have what they need and care nothing about those who do not.

Many San Francisco neighborhoods, including mine, do not have access to broadband DSL. My neighborhood is Ocean Beach at the western end of the City. In just four blocks, there are 400 condos, plus apartments and private homes with no DSL internet available. We have access only to dial-up or Comcast cable.

For the past 7 years, my neighbors and I have been working to persuade AT&T to place equipment in our area which would enable DSL service. Now, when AT&T has finally put together plans to service our neighborhood, Mr. Hanke and his group are trying prevent it.

AT&T has worked with us to place its equipment cabinet, not a “giant 726 refrigerator-size, sound-emitting utility box,” as Mr. Hanke stated, in an out of the way area. It is almost totally hidden by shrubbery. The photo with this article shows two utility boxes – the box to the left is our original phone box, the one on the right is for the new service. I have no doubt that other groups throughout the City have been the beneficiary of similar consideration. In fact it’s my understanding that if any neighborhood group doesn’t like a proposed cabinet location, AT&T will work with the group to find a better solution. Does Mr. Hanke have any idea how active our neighborhoods really are? Why does he think that it’s his responsibility to protect us like ‘Big Brother?’

I have many more questions for SF Beautiful. If the members of SF Beautiful are so protective of our City, why aren’t they working to move homeless out of our neighborhoods? why are they not crusading to have our streets repaired? why are they not campaigning to get unattractive magazine/newspaper racks off the streets? why do they tolerate all of the unsightly MUNI lines overhead? and finally, SF Beautiful, why do you oppose any competition to Comcast?

Now, I am personally no AT&T fan but I’m very tired of being held hostage by Comcast. There is no competition in many neighborhoods. These residents have no alternative for broadband. Any San Francisco homeowner will tell you that lack of broadband competition diminishes property values – and this comes at a time when all of our properties are struggling to simply maintain value. With the approval of the AT&T project, we will all have the opportunity to choose – to “bundle” or “cherry pick” landline, Internet, television and mobile phone services, saving us all money in the end.

If SF Beautiful is successful in scaring the Supervisors into “death by bureaucracy” (requiring a multi-year EIR) at Tuesday’s Board meeting, San Francisco will continue on its headlong march to be left behind. Today cities across America and most of the rest of the world have access to choices when it comes to cable TV and internet – except for San Francisco. This is truly sad for an area once known as the technological capital of the world.

My final words to SF Beautiful. Keep your hands off the neighborhoods of others. You don’t speak for us. We can speak for ourselves.

Dianne Drosnes
President, Ocean Beach Condominiums Homeowners Association
Ocean Beach, San Francisco

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