San Francisco passes open data law to release more city information

By Joshua Sabatini : SF examiner – excerpt

San Francisco committed this week to boost its open-data movement, but the impact of the decision will depend on the information released and how tech companies and advocates put the information to use.
After admittedly falling behind in the open-data movement, the Board of Supervisors approved legislation this week that officials say will put The City back on the frontier.
Currently, The City has publicly released and maintains 500 data sets on The City’s open-data site, The information includes such things as historic film locations, crime maps, bicycle parking sites and restaurant health scores. But city departments have their hands on thousands more data sets…
Chiu has called on city departments to release tow times related to special events so drivers using an app can receive alerts about whether their vehicles are at risk of being towed.
Taking that further, Alex Maxa, a founder of the CurbTXT texting program, wants access to The City’s tow data in real time about when a request is made to tow a vehicle. The information from The City could be used to alert the owner, thereby avoiding the costly towing fees.
The City Controller’s Office launched this week on its website SFOpenBook at the request of Chiu to track government spending. It remains a work in progress as there currently is no data about city workers’ salaries, for example.
“San Franciscans want more transparency in their budget to be able to drill down on exactly how and where every dollar of our $7 billion city government is spent, on salaries, contractors, programs goods and services,” Chiu said… (more)

Plan would add 64 parking spaces at Ferry Building

: – excerpt

A 64-space weekday parking lot would be created on the plaza next to the Ferry building under a proposal being floated by operator Equity Office Properties and the Port of San Francisco.
The new parking, which merchants say is sorely needed, would be part of a broader plan to activate the plaza. In addition to parking, the plaza would become home to events like ice cream fairs, harvest festivals, and antique flea markets. Two-hour parking would be allowed there from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The plan, set to be discussed today in front of the Port Commission, is an effort by EOP to generate more revenue from the gourmet food hall, which does not break even despite attracting more than 1 million visitors a year… (more)

Is the Port Commission rethinking their anti-car attitude as their up-scale tenants demand more parking? Will merchants in other neighborhoods demand the same consideration?


Eyes on the Street: Parking Progress on Baker at Fell and Oak Streets

by Aaron Bialick : – excerpt

After the SFMTA last week announced another delay for safety improvements on three blocks of Fell and Oak Streets, work began today on another aspect of the project: a reconfiguration of Baker Street between Oak and Fell, which is used by eastbound bicycle riders to connect from the Panhandle to Oak and the Wiggle. As of this afternoon, the previous striping had been removed and temporary markings put in place.
The SFMTA’s plans for Baker include converting car parking on the west side of the street from parallel spaces to back-in angled spaces, which will partially offset the roughly 100 spaces to be removed by the Fell and Oak protected bike lanes. By making that change, along with perpendicular space conversions on Baker between Oak and Haight Streets and Scott Street south of Haight, 43 parking spaces will be added (another 14 spaces are being created by removing two bus stops on Hayes Street at Broderick and Lyon Streets). … (more)

This looks scary on paper. I am glad I don’t have to park there. This back-in parking across a bike lane looks like a lot of fun. This assumes people have good rear vision and that cyclist will not ignore the drivers who must divert their eyes from the road to park .

SF Shop Owners, Bike Advocates Battle Over Polk Street Bike Lane Proposal

KCBS – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco’s Polk Street is filled with restaurants, bars and shops and a new transportation plan is drawing the line between merchants and bike advocates.
Polk Street is due to be repaved in 2015 and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking at ways to improve flow and make the corridor more safe for everyone…
The MTA has held several informational meetings on the issue and will be hosting two more later this month, on April 27 and April 30… (more)

SFMTA Steps-Up Parking Enforcement in Bayview

Yael Chanoff : – excerpt

Anyone who has driven a car in San Francisco knows how challenging parking can be. Vehicle owners often need to find creative solutions to store their cars. One trick, parking on the sidewalk, can trigger a $110 ticket. But that sanction isn’t always enforced.
In response to frustration expressed by Bayview residents, who want more cars ticketed for sidewalk parking, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) recently cracked down on the practice. On February 28, parking citation officers (PCO) issued more than 200 tickets to cars parked on Bayview sidewalks. The tickets were in response to citizen complaints, said Paul Rose, SFMTA spokesperson.
According to some Bayview residents, when they see PCOs — also known as metermaids — they’re often accompanied by police escorts. PCOs, said one resident, “get threatened. If someone’s going to threaten you, your family, or your life, with a gun, because that’s what happens around here, you ain’t writing the ticket.”… (more)

Central Subway Audit Uncovers Illegitimate Expenditures

Liz Melchor : – excerpt

ome 2018, transit riders should be able to get on the Muni T-line at Fourth and Brannan streets and take a train all the way to Chinatown, via the San Francisco Municipal Transportation’s Agency’s (SFMTA) Central Subway. The controversial subway extension is expected to cost more than $1.6 billion, a large portion of which will be spent on consultants.
And it seems that when municipal transportation expenditures get so large, private contractors try to work the system to their benefit. A recent audit by Sacramento-based firm Sjoberg Evashenk found that 10 of 14 consulting firms working on the Central Subway were overcharging the City, to the tune of $900,000. The most egregious companies tried to pass along expenses like a wedding cake, personal vacations, and tables at charity golf tournaments.
The Central Subway project has been criticized for its high cost since its inception…

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