Public Transportation Industry Generates Profit out of Public Debt.

Op-Ed

When analyzing public debt sources, don’t leave the Transportation Industrial Complex out of your list of bloodsucking debt boosters. Look at who supports the candidates running for office, but, don’t stop there. Look at the product developers and manufacturers that are selling parking systems, paint, concrete, and parking meters and traffic control systems and all the other fancy new toys our cities are buying on credit. All those fancy apps and up-to-date signs and electronic gizmos are boosting sales and draining pubic coffers. Sit in on a meeting of experimental devices and you can hear the electronic cash register zing.

San Francisco’s largest employer is the city of San Francisco and the largest department is the SFMTA. This year, all city departments and agencies were told to cut back on new hires, but, SFMTA is trying to add more. Their budget is 1.2 billion dollars and that is just their spending money. The long term debt is indecently high and has been for too long. Do we really need more than 6,000 people to run the SF Muni system? If there is a cheaper, has disruptive alternative, the SFMTA will never approve it. They need the Cadillac model of everything.

How many other cities are going into debt to service their public transportation industry? San Francisco can’t be alone in this predicament. How many public servants can society support and why is there so much pressure being put on the public to depend on the government for transportation when it costs so much less for people to transport themselves? Forcing non-users to support the public transit system makes it easier to hide the extremely high cost of this program and the debt that the public is taking on.

We need a leaner, meaner transportation department. Instead of being forced to provide an affordable, reliable basic transportation system for people who need it, the SFMTA is blowing billions of dollars on the most expensive, least reliable, high tech system they can dream up. And they have no limits or boundaries until the voters wise up and demand a change. A couple of our Supervisors are working on an Ordinance and possible Charter Amendment to address some of the complaints citizens are lodging against the SFMTA.

Ask your public officials how much the public transportation system they are trying to force down your throat is costing each citizen in your county, and vote NO on RM3 when it comes up, to cut the powers of the regional MTC and send a message to the transportation industry and the government that supports it to cut costs.

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What do MTC, Ford GoBikes, Motivate LLC and Related Real Estate have in common and why bring it up now?

Photos of GoBikes in the Mission by zrants

It is important to understand the role, the mission and methods of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that unleashed this invasion on our streets and is now trying to convince the voters to pony up more money for more of the same through RM3, the $3 bridge toll.

People are complaining about the proliferation of GoBikes and the contract that brought them to our city. The subject moved into the Mayoral race when Supervisor Breed was recently credited with removing a station near her abode.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission,(MTC) signed an agreement with Motivate LLC that created a public/private partnership in 2015.
BAY AREA BIKE SHARE PROGRAM AGREEMENT between METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION and BAY AREA MOTIVATE, LLC
Or download it here: Program_Agreement

The agreement supposedly obligates bay area communities to hand over public space for the exclusive use of Motivate’s privately owned and managed bike-share stations. As we understand it, Motivate is supposed to share the profit with the local transit authority after a certain level of profit is realized. You would probably need an audit to find out whether this relationship is paying for the space it is taking from the public.

Since MTC is going to the ballot for more money in June, it is important to understand how they operate. Where does MTC get authority to make a deal to privatize public space by handing it over to a private corporation without pubic knowledge and is this the proper role of the MTC? If you don’t approve of MTCs activities, you might want to oppose RM3.

The June 5 ballot includes Regional Measure 3 and a $3 bridge toll increase. The measure includes language that would peg future bridge toll increases to the inflation rate and bypass further voter approval of those increases. Regional Measure 2 increased the property tax and pegged that to inflation. Who benefits?

Why I oppose the Bay Area $3 bridge toll hike

Op-Ed by DeSaulnier : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Weekend traffic on the Western span of the Bay Bridge at Sunset photo by zrants

The region urgently needs new investment in transportation. But Regional Measure 3 is not the answer.

Regional Measure 3, the $3 bridge toll hike on the June ballot that would raise money for transportation improvements, is a highly flawed initiative born out of dysfunctional policy-making. Voters should reject it.

There is no question that the San Francisco Bay Area urgently needs new investment in transportation. The fact that many voters are willing to pay substantially higher tolls reflects their frustration with traffic congestion. Workers are facing too many hours stuck in traffic, stressful commutes in crammed BART cars, lost family time and reduced productivity.

As I and others have argued, if the Bay Area fails to address the challenges of traffic and affordable housing, we will lose our competitive edge. However, Regional Measure 3 is not the answer…

The Bay Bridge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters acquisition and renovation, and the Transbay Terminal are projects that have involved billions in cost-overruns and undermined confidence in governments’ ability to plan and prioritize.

Now is the time to stop this cycle of waste and frustration and to engage in serious and coordinated planning, because the Bay Area needs and deserves better. Without greater transparency and accountability, Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, serves on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and previously served as chair of the California Senate and Assembly transportation committees... (more)

VOTE NO ON RM3. This controversial bill has been cobbled together by a regional group of transportation politicians with no successful track record that has lost the public trust due to cost overruns on wasteful projects like the Transbay Terminal and MTC headquarters.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  The laundry list of projects was created to offer something to everyone, but no guaranteed deliverables, and the bill contains a poison pill that will allow unchecked inflationary rate hikes in the future without voter approvals.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  If passed this bill will add considerably to the cost of living in the Bay Area and will guarantee inflationary rate hikes on all goods that are delivered by trucks that cross the bridges.

VOTE NO ON RM3. This bill, in conjunction with gas tax hikes, will make commuting into the city impossible for many employees, who will choose jobs in the suburbs closer to their new homes.

VOTE NO ON RM3. As DeSaulnier points out, Regional Measure 3 is a flawed bill that provides:

  • No framework for performance measures or oversight to gauge progress
  • No vision for how residents and commuters will benefit.
  • No analysis to show how congestion on major corridors would be reduced, or when the improvements may kick in.

YIMBY-backed Breed intervened to remove bikeshare station on her own block

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos of competing shared bike companies that are cluttering our streets with too many rental options be fore the latest invasion of the electric toys that are cluttering our sidewalks. photo by zrants.

Mayoral candidate London Breed, the sole endorsee of the Yes in My Backyard group, seems to have gone full NIMBY.

The Board of Supervisors president used her influence to request the removal a Ford GoBike bikeshare station — yes, in her own backyard. (OK, technically, the station is on Haight and Pierce streets, around the corner from Breed’s apartment.)

That’s quite a turn for Breed, as much hay has been made of the split between YIMBY newcomers who wish to see housing built and longtime neighbors allegedly claiming “Not in my backyard!” to slap back new housing and transportation, particularly against state Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 827… (more)

Maybe bike station removals should be London Breed’s theme. Instead of promising a chicken in every pot, she can offer a fast path to bike station removal on your block if she is elected Mayor. That is almost as good as Angela Alioto’s promise to remove the Department Heads. Of course the easiest course of action is to stop installing the stations now.

Figueroa, finally. Here’s what 10 years and $20 million can do for 4 miles of street.

: scpr and kpcc – excerpt (includes audio)

A $20 million project to remake a four-mile stretch of Figueroa Street with better access for walkers, bikers and transit is nearing completion after 10 years of planning and setbacks.

A lawsuit and construction delays, in part to relocate utility lines, slowed the work. The project also began under the Community Redevelopment Agency but was shifted to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation when the CRA closed down.

The My Figueroa project area runs from 7th Street in the heart of downtown south to Exposition Park, covering short portions of 11th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard… (more)

Denounce the Yimby disruption: An open letter to Sen. Wiener

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt (includes video)

Denounce the Yimby disruption: An open letter to Sen. Wiener

Community leaders ask author of SB 827 to distance himself from the Yimbys who shouted down a community coalition trying to hold a peaceful rally… (more)

Sign a petition to denounce the disruptors:

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Learn what you don’t know about SB 827 and other pending legislation

Saturday, April 28, 10 AM
100 Larkin St, SF Main Library, Koret Auditorium – SB 827 and Beyond:
 Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods will sponsor a forum on the Scott Wiener legislation that is shaking up the state of California. This will be a great opportunity to learn the real facts behind SB 827 and other controversial attempts to change the way California cities are developed. Find out why people want to protect the local planning process now controlled by our local communities. Speakers: Art Agnos, Former SF Mayor; Zelda Bronstein, Former Berkeley Planning Commissioner; Calvin Welsh, Affordable Housing Advocate; Sophie Maxwell, Former SF Supervisor. Co-sponsors include: West of Twin Peaks Council, Noe Neighborhoods Council, SF Neighborhood Network, Van Ness Corridor Neighborhoods, Stand Up For San Francisco, Livable California. Please come and bring your friends!  Please RSVP as seats are limited.

Sweeping California housing bill attacked on author’s home turf

By : mercurynews – excerpt

Kim-Arron.jpg

Mayoral candidate, Supervisor Jane Kim speaks in front of a cheering crowd, while Supervisor Peskin looks on, in the midst of a crowd of  YIMBYs creaming for up-zoning in all the neighborhoods, one at a time. photo by zrants.

A polarizing housing bill that would force California cities to allow taller apartment buildings by BART stops and other transit hubs has been pummeled with opposition from local officials — a group that now includes former colleagues of the bill’s author, San Francisco Democrat Sen. Scott Wiener.

In the latest blow to Senate Bill 827, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to oppose Wiener’s bill, joining smaller cities such as Lafayette, Cupertino, Palo Alto and Milpitas. A week earlier, the Los Angeles City Council took the same stance, unanimously, with one councilman calling the legislation “insanity.”

“I think this is the craziest bill I’ve ever seen,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz…

Strutting Trauss.jpg

The above photo by zrants was snapped at the press conference arranged for anti-SB 827 supporters, where YIMBY queen Sonja Trauss, who is running for office in D-6 to replace Jane Kim, struts her stuff holding a poster made from art stolen from the opposition. Her antics, along with her small group of disruptive followers yelling over the speakers, backfired. The YIMBY argument that “new and future” citizens are more entitled than existing ones to live in San Francisco and the aggressive nature of these invaders is not winning many hearts and minds among the voters.

Laura Clark, whose pro-housing development YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) coalition is sponsoring the bill, said she was not surprised local officials would take issue with it… (more)

It should be noted that this is not the only bill YIMBY is pushing to move residents out of their homes by up-zoning the city. Backed by developers, they are leading the charge to evict by rent increases and any other means possible to make room for the characterless stack and pack housing projects developers love to build. SB 828 is also making its way through the Sacramento Senate and that will push even higher requirements for density that cities have achieved.

Many people who once supported density are reconsidering due to the negative impacts gentrification is having on communities that are seeing an astronomical increase in homelessness. One way under consideration to keep people housed is to pass  AB 1505 and repeal Costa-Hawkins and allow expansion of rent control rules. Several efforts are also being made to Amend the Ellis Act that is blamed for many illegal evictions.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin mentioned these as preferable alternatives to SB 827 in his statement, before the Board Voted 8-3 to oppose SB 827. So far the San Francisco media has mostly ignored the opposition to the forced growth and density movement. They are not endearing themselves to the public by ignoring them and supporting the developers.

 

New SFMTA budget to expand staff by nearly 300, buck hiring freeze mandate

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The agency that oversees Muni, parking enforcement and The City’s streets approved a $1.2 billion operating budget for 2019 and 2020 with 277 new positions Tuesday despite a call by the Mayor’s Office to avoid adding staff.

The budget for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was approved by its Board of Directors and is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval…

The City Controller’s Office projects a $521 million budget shortfall by 2020 should no changes be made to The City’s obligations. Both the former Acting Mayor London Breed and current Mayor Mark Farrell affirmed Lee’s position, which called for city departments to maintain current staffing levels.

Importantly, the SFMTA is an independent agency from The Mayor’s Office. Unlike Public Works or other city agencies, it sets its own budget…

Some SFMTA divisions will shrink, including one overseeing the creation of bike lanes and road changes called Sustainable Streets(more)

Ready to clip the SFMTA’s wings yet, or at least cut their purse strings? Demand the Supervisors do not approve the bloated SFMTA budget. Send it back.

SFMTA must cut back on “improvements” and controversial backroom contracts. Every district supervisor has a record of complaints regarding the SFMTA’s antics. $62 million dollars to increase the length of a T-Train stop and millions more for a switchback that will cut service to the Bay View,  for starters.

Demand a Charter Amendment on the November ballot unless the Board of Supervisors approves an ordinance to control the agency that will not quit spending.

Support the Mayoral and Supervisor candidates that support a big changes at the SFMTA during the June election.

 

Muni Metro stop at Warriors’ new SF arena is one pricey platform

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_3178.JPG

Arena with passing T-Line car going up at 16th and Third Street shot by zrants

The cost of building a bigger Muni Metro platform to handle fans at the Mission Bay arena is growing faster than the Warriors’ injury list.

The plan is to tear out the 130-foot-long Metro platform, just down Third Street from the under-construction Chase Center, and build a 320-foot replacement right in front of the arena.

Building the new platform, however, is just part of the job…

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Torres’ concern is prompted in part by news that Muni already is coming up short on the project and will need borrow $10 million from the city to complete the job.

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

“This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board… (more)

Government needs to remember that the real world does not exist on a piece of paper and a handshake with the biggest money man in the room. Government officials need to serve the people not themselves.

Even if money did grow on trees, willing contractors do not. Labor is lacking and not easy to import with the current climate in Washington. Materials and financing costs are going through the roof, and the mood among likely voters favors big changes at City Hall.

“Leno’s first-place finish was “a real boost” for him and “a vote for change at City Hall,” said former Supervisor David Campos, the committee’s chair.”

The likelihood of passing another regional tax and spend scheme among the nine county voters is getting slimmer with the increase in weather temperatures followed by the increase in anger and frustration with the current policies and practices that got us where we are now.

Trust in government is at an all time low. If San Francisco is to survive as we know it, a change must come. Spending $62 million dollars to shift priorities to a sports arena that will serve only the wealthy few who can afford expensive tickets, is a bad idea in this climate. A recent D-10 Superviosor race found NOT SUPPORT among hte candidates at who spoke.

A number of departments heads may soon find themselves without their exorbitant salaries if these schemes continue to roll through. The residents will have the chance to vote against a litany of controversial  projects and waste by opposing Regional Measure 3, the bridge toll $3 increase.

California voters may also have the chance to repeal SB 1 that could roll back the gas tax that is raising the costs of products being brought in on trucks that are hardest hit by this tax. $25 dollar burgers and $8 avocado toast is not joke to the people who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

These two bills alone will determine how the city and region continues to deal with the traffic problems and the transportation schemes they are developing. Our state representatives who are pushing unpopular legislation in Sacramento may also find themselves out of work as the voters will have the chance to replace them soon. Senator Josh Newman is facing a recall election, after being blamed for casting the deciding vote that passed SB1.

More changes in Sacramento may come as a result of Scott Wiener’s unpopular SB 827 bill that would up-zone the entire state around a transit-based up-zoning scheme by “allowing  the state to seize control of your neighborhood” planning and zoning decisions.

With the recent power grabs in Washington, citizens may not be prepared to relinquish any more powers to any government bodies they feel are chipping away at their personal freedoms by centralizing control.

Credit union files taxi medallion suit against SFMTA

By Julia Cheever : sfbay – excerpt

A credit union that helped The City of San Francisco sell taxi medallions has sued a city agency over financial losses caused by the collapse in value of the medallions amid the rise of ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft.

The lawsuit was filed against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday by the nonprofit, member-owned San Francisco Federal Credit Union.

It seeks $28 million in compensation plus an order requiring The City to buy back unsellable medallions for the $250,000 purchase price.

The lawsuit charges the SFMTA violated alleged promises to keep the taxi business vibrant, shore up the value of the medallions and buy back any medallions that it couldn’t resell.

Instead, the law suit claims:

“…[SFMTA] has elected to stick its head in the sand while the credit union and hardworking taxi driver medallion owners are saddled with all the burdens.”… (more)