SAN FRANCISCO, California - Mayor Gavin Newsom gave the green light today to a controversial new initiative aimed at driving down the city of San Francisco's gaping budget deficit.
Beginning January 1, 2010, he announced, maintenance crews will begin shutting down traffic signals in the Fisherman's Wharf area, eventually phasing out the use of all stop lights in the city by April 1, 2010.
Opponents of the plan dubbed "Go SF!" call it "risky" and "typical of Newsom's controversial measures," but Newsom insists his plan makes sense.
The results of a recent study, he said, reveal that "most drivers and pedestrians in San Francisco already drive and walk whenever the hell they feel like it anyway, regardless of traffic signals."
Using information gathered from cameras mounted at key locations throughout the city, researchers determined that complex systems of red, green, yellow lights, and "don't walk" indicators all appear to be interpreted as "green" by the majority of motorists and pedestrians.
As the change would barely be noticed, Newsom claimed deactivating the city's stop lights "will attack San Francisco's budget crisis on several different fronts."
Hundreds of thousands of kilowatt hours per day will no longer be wasted flashing warnings for people who merely ignore them; this should cut city electricity consumption by nearly eleven percent, in line with other "green" initiatives, he said.
In addition, subsequent traffic accidents would pump tens of billions of dollars worth of insurance money into local coffers, and create thousands of jobs.
He noted that, over time, additional motor-vehicle-related fatalities may begin to free up housing across parts of the city, which could begin to lower costs of living for the four-fifths of San Franciscans who can only afford to rent a home, and could even provide them with a source of nutrient-rich compost.
Depending on the success of the initiative, said Newsom, he may consider removing both white and yellow, striped and solid lines from major thoroughfares in the near future, and could even be open to the idea of encouraging motorists to use their cell phones and send text messages while driving in the city despite a current statewide ban on the practice.