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Friday, January 16, 2009

SF City ID Card - Not quite an ID, more like a discount card

Yesterday, the City and County of San Francisco's Clerk office started the "San Francisco City ID" program which is a city/county issued identification card. It is only used for a select number of services and purposes within the city borders, and has no practical use outside of city lines, State of California (such as a driver's license), other states, federal purposes/services, and nearly all private businesses requiring ID (such as accepting checks, credit card applications, etc.).

It looks like many of the commentators of the Chronicle's website, SFgate, thinks this is a really stupid idea:

In one (really stupid) comment, this was featured on the main page of SFgate:
Sorry "triplx" the ID can't be used for applying for credit cards. State identification cards and passports are the legal proof for applying for something like that. And even then to get a municipal ID, people still have to prove their residency in San Francisco, with such items as a passport or state ID, and a utility bill (this is a really strict list of requirements here). Fake names? Low chance. Possibly the clerk's office checks the info on a national database, and that's why they can only produce 30 ID cards a day. As for the SFgate editor who posted that comment, you DID NOT READ THE ARTICLE.

A lot of other comments from SFgate on this story loves to target illegal immigration, for example:
Is it always that when the city is in a financial crisis or spends too much money on projects that our citizens always uses the "illegal immigrant" or "sanctuary city" scapegoat? Doesn't seem that we blame Muni as often anymore. Can't fill all the potholes? Some idiot SFgate commenter will just blame "illegal immigrants." Geesh. Not everyone who gets a city ID is an illegal immigrant, maybe it's just for some other practical reason, such as just another piece of plastic to stuff in your wallet, or maybe just some good old fashioned San Francisco pride showing that you are a "true" San Francisco resident.

So what's the practical use of the ID card anyway? Or maybe ask the question this way, why an ID card? Here's my take on this:

I don't really believe it is an ID card, I think it's more of a membership discount card. Think of it this way, the city makes $15 for each ID produced (reduced price for kids, adults, and the poor), with homosexual marriage temporarily blocked off due to Prop. 8 (which brought income through marriage licensing), the city needs to make some money, and the card comes with all kinds of city government benefits/services, plus discounts to a large list of local merchants and businesses:
  • City government services accepts the "ID" as proof of identity and residency ONLY. It doesn't prove immigration status you fools. The city issues IDs only to people who show documentation from official government sources, so that's proof of identity. Same for banks too, they require ID, Social Security number, and other documents to prove your identity. The City is just following the same standards as banks, and even the DMV. With that in mind, even people who can't get a U.S. Passport or State ID (for I'm assuming immigration status), can still use local city government services, like if you were badly hurt, and SF General Hospital only have your city ID, they can use it to find out your emergency contact so that family members can be informed.
  • SF Public Library access. Plain and simple, live in SF, you should have the privilege of borrowing books and videos. But still, I don't really see any purpose for a city sanctioned ID for this.
  • Park and Rec services. Sure, I want to rent a picnic site, don't you? This is for sure one decent reason to have the city ID because even if you are an illegal immigrant, at least you can rent a picnic site, thereby the city makes even more money on rentals. Local residents also gets discounts on accessing the city owned swimming pools too, so the city makes more money that way. Libraries don't make money, at least that's what I know.
  • Banks and credit unions. The city ID can start the process of opening an account, but federal law requires more identification due to terrorism laws so that money isn't funneled for the bad guys. Many credit unions require proof of residency in San Francisco because that's part of their requirements/charter rules (as per Federal law), thereby the SF ID can ONLY WORK AS PROOF OF RESIDENCY IN SF. You still may need to prove with a social security card, passport, etc. to pass muster for federal policies to establish an account.
  • Goat Hill Pizza is one of the many businesses that accepts the SF ID card for discounts. 10% off everything is not a bad deal, especially in this economy. Combine that with other local merchant discounts, and you'll save more than the price you paid for that "ID." See merchant list here.
To summarize this list, the real purpose for the San Francisco ID is to grab the cool discounts from the local merchants, because your California ID won't get you that 10% discount on pizza, will it?

Really... it's more like a membership/discount card that is good for a few years and it's cheap in price. I say, if you are hungry for food or bargains, why not get a card? This economy sucks, so a $15 investment can go a long way. Sure beats that $35 "Entertainment" discount book that's only valid for one year.

Another way to think about the SF ID card is that it is like a college ID card. The college ID can't establish immigration status, and only proves that you attend the university. The SF ID only establishes identity and residency, not immigration status.

How about I compare the benefits of a SF ID card to a college ID, say the S.F. State University ID card (OneCard)?
  1. Access to government services: SF ID: yes to city government services. SFSU ID: yes, access to SFSU services (registrar, medical clinic, etc.).
  2. Library services: SF ID: all SF Public libraries. SFSU ID: SFSU library only.
  3. Park and Rec: SF ID: Yes. SFSU ID: Yes, access to gym, pool, weight room, etc.
  4. Banks and Credit Unions: SF ID: Yes to establishing SF residency. SFSU ID: Yes to credit unions on establishing membership (membership rules also note, you don't have to live in SF, but can attend college in SF).
  5. Discounts: SF ID: Yes to specific places. SFSU ID: Yes to the entire food court at Westfield San Francisco mall, and AMC movie theaters.
Even for college students who moved into San Francisco for a couple of years who don't want to mess with changing their address with the DMV, getting an SF ID establishes proof of residency in the city, even if it is only temporary. You live in our city, but have a driver's license that says otherwise? You should get the same benefits that our local residents get.

Lastly, this is for SFgate commenter gojira who commented on my previous comment on the "Gate:"
"I'm off to the SFgov website right now to download that [discount merchant] list. Those merchants won't see a dime of my patronage."

My reaction: Yeah right. One of the best bakeries in the Mission is on that list. I don't think you can resist their freshly made and delicious pastries. Also, one of the nation's newest and best museums is on that list, the California Academy of Sciences. I guess you won't go to that as well. Do yourself a favor, go f*** yourself. Tell your kids that they can't go to the museum because the SF ID is accepted, they might just break your legs with a baseball bat. "Look daddy! I was trying to hit your baseballs (testicles), but I hit your leg instead!"


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that the people posting the more insane of the comments on any sfgate.com story don't actually live in SF.

Akit said...

Thanks Anonymous.

I've been noticing that the comments for that particular article are extremely conservative in nature.

SFgate users who vote on comments are extremely conservative in the wee hours of the morning, just when the articles are posted online. Then several hours later, the votes usually go from a high number of negative votes, then the positive votes kick in high gear and takes over.

Anonymous said...

Early morning comments/votes usually means they are a few time zones away.

Anonymous said...

Can the sf id card be used to enroll at ccsf? Even without a ssn which is asked for on the application? Seems to me if they require a ssn, then why not just get a California state I' card which is state and federalyl recognized? And will you qualify for lower tuition as a sf resident using this card?