Published Monday, July 2, 2001, in the San Francisco Chronicle
SFO expansion protested
Sierra Club stages 'dog-and-pony show'
Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Four dogs and a pony showed up in Oakland this morning to weigh in
thoughtfully on the touchy issue of runway expansion at the San
Francisco International Airport.
The dogs and pony were against the new runways, their owners said.
The animals themselves declined comment.
The obliging creatures were part of a "dog-and-pony show" protest
organized by the Sierra Club. They paraded in front of the state
building at 15th and Clay streets, while inside, transportation
experts were holding a public forum on the controversial plan to fill
in two square miles of San Francisco Bay for new runways.
At the forum, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, told the audience
of about 100 people that SFO is a "gateway that has become a
bottleneck," and that delays there cost the Bay Area $100 million a
year in lost productivity.
"New runways may be required," she said.
Federal Aviation Administration regional administrator William
Withycomb called SFO the fifth-worst airport in the nation with
regard to delays, and added that "part of the answer lies in building
And SFO Director John Martin told the forum he was committed to
[a] "very, very inclusive process" that included input from
environmental leaders -- but presented studies saying that
alternatives to runways expansion are "not feasible alternatives."
The two-hour forum was the latest in a series being conducted around
the Bay Area by SFO planners to air their runway proposals and hear
Airport officials hope to have a decision by the end of the year.
Outside with the critters, Sierra Club spokesman John Golinger
maintained that remarks such as Martin's prove the forum was a sham
and that public officials have already made up their minds.
"It's disappointing to see SFO management wasting valuable time and
taxpayer money on this kind of dog-and-pony show," he said.
"Runway expansion would damage wildlife and create enormous
pollution," said Marilyn Claessens, who was handling one of the
protesting dogs, a Doberman named Emma. At that moment, Emma was busy
sniffing the pony, a Shetland named Arnold that Golinger had rented
for $200 from an outfit that does kids' birthday parties.
The dogs roomed with people who came to protest, so they were free.
Parting with $200 of precious club funds on pony rental was
warranted, Golinger said, because "these circumstances require
"Besides, we got a discount on the pony, because its owner agrees
with our cause," he said.
E-mail Steve Rubenstein at srubenstein@...