‘Driving miles’ is best measure of new development

Opinion By Curt Johansen and Jeremy Madsen : sfgate – excerpt
For more than 40 years, California’s signature environmental law — the California Environmental Quality Act — has helped safeguard our natural lands and protect community health. Now it’s time to modernize some elements of the law to strengthen its effectiveness and make our communities even better places to live. Fortunately, the Brown administration is following through with some long-overdue fixes that deserve broad support.

Critics of CEQA have protested that the environmental review the law requires for major projects often adds unnecessary costs, time and uncertainty, while unfairly empowering project opponents. As representatives of nonprofit organizations committed to responsible, sustainable infill growth in our cities and downtowns, we see the continuing value of CEQA for giving the public a voice in project analysis, requiring more careful decision making, and encouraging project developers to mitigate avoidable impacts where feasible.

But we also recognize that CEQA can unduly penalize urban-oriented projects over outlying, auto-centric projects when it comes to evaluating impacts on traffic — an analysis that too often provides project opponents with leverage to defeat projects or scale back their environmentally friendly elements. Currently, an infill project in downtown San Francisco, for example, might be subjected to protracted litigation and concessions to widen streets and accommodate even more traffic, despite its optimal location in a walkable, bikeable area with transit close by. Meanwhile, a new subdivision on open space or farmland that generates long-distance car trips, air pollution and crushing regional traffic can get a free pass, all because traffic in the immediate area isn’t affected.

This perverse result has to change, and the Brown administration is taking action…

As leading developers and advocates of infill projects throughout California, we recognize that this proposed reform will remove one of the most common roadblocks used to stop smart city-centered development, while requiring outlying projects to account for the regional traffic they cause… (more)

This plan was developed by lobbyists working for big developers, banks, and the pubic transportation industry, and the anti-car non-profits, and sold to the legislators as a method to “encourage” people to move into stack and pack housing in densely populated cites by penalizing people who don’t.

Nato Green explained how this works in a recent article:  What on earth does an assemblyman do? 

SFMTA approves parking, traffic for Van Ness BRT

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

he Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project moved a step forward after transit officials Tuesday approved the necessary parking and traffic changes along Van Ness Avenue to accommodate the $125 million bus rapid transit system.

The changes unanimously approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s directors Tuesday include restricting most left turns on Van Ness Avenue and removing parking spaces where the agency plans to put center bus boarding platforms…

Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Stations

  • Market Street
  • McAllister Street
  • Eddy Street
  • Geary Boulevard
  • Sutter Street
  • Sacramento Street
  • Jackson Street
  • Vallejo Street
  • Union Street … (more)

Rapid Bus Lanes Coming To San Francisco’s Van Ness Ave.; Expect Less Parking Space

By Barbara Taylor : cbslocal – excerpt

AN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The plan for San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit project is moving forward. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) board of directors has approved major changes that will eliminate traffic lanes and parking along busy Van Ness Avenue in an effort to make the thoroughfare more efficient…

The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018… (more)

“The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two  years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018.”
You know this is a lie. The changes will take effect the minute construction begins.

Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit

Concerns raised over BRT lanes on San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue

The moment I learned just how far Uber will go to silence journalists and attack women

By pando – excerpt

A big debate among the Pando staff for the past two years has been over just how morally bankrupt Uber is. Earlier this evening, a bombshell story by Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith proves the reality is way worse than anyone on our team could have expected.

And that’s saying something…

I have known many of Uber’s key investors and founders personally for six to ten years. Over that time I’ve seen an ever-worsening frat culture where sexist jokes and a blind eye here-or-there have developed into a company where the worst kind of smearing and objectification of women is A-ok. It’s impossible to prove that Kalanick directly ordered things like slut-shaming female passengers or the creepy Lyon ad — and, to be clear, there’s no evidence he was personally involved in either of those scandals — but let’s be clear: The acceptance of this kind of behavior comes from the top.

When I saw the Lyon post, it was finally enough for me. As a woman and mother of two young kids, I no longer felt safe using Uber and deleted the app from my phone.

And yet, somehow, despite years now of Pando carefully chronicling this disturbing escalation of horrible behavior — which has been considered cute by many of the other tech blogs and excused away by the VCs profiting off Uber– the company still has the ability to shock and horrify me… (more)

Is Uber considered part of the “sharing economy” that San Francisco is cashing in on?

SFMTA falls short with parking meter revenue

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

report from the San Francisco controller’s office shows The City could have potentially collected more revenue from parking meters during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The report said that if every one of the 28,000 metered spaces in the city had been fully paid, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency could have generated as much as $190 million in revenue.

Though it might seem to drivers that parking spaces are always taken,  at least 40 percent of parking metered spaces are not occupied at any given time, according to data from the SFMTA’s SFPark program… (more)

They left out the most likely reason for the empty meters, which is that their PR and street diets have have backfired on them. SFMTA has convinced everyone to go somewhere else or take pubic transportation, walk, bike, or stay home. The fewer cars there are on the road, the lower their revenue from cars will be. Get used to it or change the policies to bring the cars and the revenue back.

But it is more fun to blame others than to admit they overplayed their hand, so we will probably get more of the same and they will lose more money and blame us.

New House majority leader promises to block Calif. railway funding

By Keith Laing : thehill – excerpt

Newly installed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) promised on Monday that he would “do all that I can to ensure not one dollar of federal funding goes to boondoggles like [California's] high-speed rail.”

McCarthy and other Republicans in Washington and California have long been opposed to the controversial California high-speed rail project, which has received more than $3 billion from the Obama administration since 2009.

But McCarthy was recently elevated to the No. 2 position in the House Republican caucus following the defeat of former GOP Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in his bid for re-election earlier this year.. (more)

Arts Commission won’t block BRT over shelters

By Jerold Chinn : SFbay – excerpt

he San Francisco Arts Commission will not impede The City’s transportation agency from moving forward with the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project and the Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. transit shelters originally opposed by commissioners.

Commissioner Cass Calder Smith, who is the chair of the commission’s Civic Design Review Committee, which opposed the shelters being used for the project, said in a statement to SFBay Monday:…

The SFMTA board will take up the parking the changes related to the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project at its meeting on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Room 400, City Hall….  (more)

Not that we thought they could, but… they won’t try.

By the way, the live feed of the meeting appears to be down today. What is up with that?

Report: Uber exec plots revenge on journalists, eliciting outrage

By Kale Williams : sfgate – excerpt

The folks at Buzzfeed dropped big news Monday evening with a story quoting a senior executive from Uber, the popular San Francisco-based ride-services company, as suggesting the company should consider hiring opposition researchers to dig up dirt about journalists who criticize the company — specifically Sarah Lacy, the outspoken editor-in-chief of Pando Daily, an online publication covering Silicon Valley.

Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business, made the remarks — which he apparently thought were off the record — Friday at Manhattan’s Waverly Inn, according to the Buzzfeed report, at a dinner attended by such high-rollers as actor Edward Norton and publisher Arianna Huffington… (more)

The media is the message.