It’s No Longer Illegal to Live in Your Car in Los Angeles

By Adrian Glick Kudler : la.curbed – excerpt

Rents are insane, housing supplies are short, and buying is one giant “pffffffft” noise going on forever, so housing options are housing options here in Los Angeles, and now finally the Ninth Circuit Court has struck down a law that made it illegal for people to live in their cars. The law had been on the books since 1983 but the city only started enforcing it in 2010 (with a 21-officer task force) when those notoriously complainy Venice residents started complaining about waste and trash on the streets, according to the Guardian. (In January, a group of Venetians finally dropped a years-long battle to kick cars and RVs off the streets overnight.) The ban forbid anyone from using a vehicle “as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise,” and officers all had different interpretations of what exactly that meant, so enforcement was selective; officers were arresting people just for having stuff in their car and even when they were parked in private parking lots. One of the four homeless people who sued to overturn a lower court’s decision upholding the ban had been pulled over in her RV for failing to use a turn signal but was cited instead for living in the vehicle. As one Ninth Circuit judge wrote, “[the ordinance] is broad enough to cover any driver in Los Angeles who eats food or transports personal belongings in his or her vehicle. Yet it appears to be applied only to the homeless.” That of course makes it potentially discriminatory and unconstitutional. The AP adds, via the judge’s opinion, that the ban “criminalizes innocent behavior.”… (more)

Bike advocates concerned over Toomey’s proposal to cut funding

abc27news – excerpt

HARRISBURG – A proposal by U.S. Senator Pat Toomey to eliminate funding for crosswalks, bike paths and safety routes to save money for road and bridge repairs has local advocates concerned that corners will be cut – literally.

Steve Doster of Pennsylvania Mission Readiness said the people who enjoy paths such as the Capital Area Greenbelt may not be able to without the federal funding from the Transportation Alternatives Program. He said 12 percent of all Pennsylvania commuters are powered by cardio.

“In my mind, that makes walking and bicycling a legitimate form of transportation,” Doster said.

Doster and others around Harrisburg are scratching their heads over Toomey’s proposal to eliminate TAP funding. Congress is scrambling to extend MAP-21 and the Highway Trust Fund as well as pass a new Federal Transportation Bill.

The funding is set to expire this fall and experts believe money could run dry by December.

Toomey wants to reserve federal funding for national infrastructure and says that the money should be spent on roads and bridges…

ABC27 will seek to ask Toomey if he supports a proposal by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to raise the nation’s gas tax 12 cents, another key issue of the Federal Transportation Bill…  (more)

Bike lanes vs. bike paths: Where you ride may make a difference in the pollution you breathe – science roundup

By Susannah L. Bodman :  oregonian – excerpt

When you think of the hazards of commuting by bike or just the occasional ride alongside traffic, what may come first to mind are collisions, driver vs. bicyclist road rage, and maybe even that special bit of hazing called “rollin’ coal.”

Actually, relating to the later, having a driver intentionally blast a plume of smoke in your face is not the only time you may need to worry about what’s coming out of the tailpipes around you.

study published online in advance of the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science of The Total Environment tested the potential exposure of cyclists to two kinds of traffic-related air pollution, or TRAP, based on where they might ride.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health used mobile monitoring stations to test the air quality along five bike routes in the Boston area, with the routes categorized into three types: bike paths, which were separated from traffic; bike lanes, which ran adjacent to traffic; and designated bike lanes, which were shared by buses and bikes.

They tested for two main components of TRAP: black carbon and nitrogen dioxide.

The result?

The researchers found that bike lanes have significantly* higher concentrations (33 percent) of both key pollutant types than bike paths, but that designated bike lanes had a significantly higher concentration than the paths only for nitrogen dioxide…

In other science news (for the week ending June 28, 2014):

Speaking of nitrogen dioxide and air quality, data from NASA’s Aura satellite is showing that overall air quality in the United States is improving. The satellite measures nitrogen dioxide, which comes from gasoline and coal combustion, as a proxy for overall air pollution. Factors that may be contributing to the improvement include more efficient technology and stricter air quality regulations. (Side note: The next time you hear someone pooh-pooh NASA and what the agency does for us in exchange for the funding it receives, you can point to this: air pollution monitoring.) (Smithsonian Magazine)(more)

This pretty much coincides with the science we have been following. Air quality has improved due to a number of technological breakthroughs. Most scientists point to the use of natural gas instead of coal as a major improvement. Regardless, air quality is improving.

Fisherman’s Wharf statue accident points up delays in ambulance response time

By Noelle Walker: ktvu – excerpt

… Police responded in a minute and a half, firefighters followed a minute after that and assessed the boy’s medical needs.

“In this case there were not any advanced life support measures that were performed.” said SFFD Medical Director Clement Yeh. “It was recognized early on that this boy needed to get to the hospital.”

But of the 16 SFFD ambulances on duty that day in addition to private ambulances, only one was available. At the time of the call, the vehicle was at Stanyan and Oak, 4.5 miles away from Fisherman’s Wharf.

It took the ambulance 13 minutes to arrive, three minutes longer than the fire department’s response time goal.

“We are always trying to improve our care, but the nature of this case was really tragic.” said Yeh.

The question that remains: would three minutes have made a difference? Shelton died at the hospital four hours after the accident.

“Whether or not it would have made a difference, I think based on that information in this particular case, it probably would not have.” said Talmadge.

While the fire department’s goal response time is ten minutes, the average response time is 12 minutes… (more)

We agree with the Fire Chief that emergency responders should have priority in street design decisions. Wider free-flowing streets should be preserved. We oppose SB 1193 that would legitimize SFMTA’s street diet pilot projects. SF should not deviate from the current state design standards.

Muni union, SFMTA reach contract agreement

sfexaminer – excerpt

A labor contract agreement between the Muni operators’ union and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was reached Thursday afternoon, according to a source close to the issue.

The agreement came a few days before Monday’s deadline, and the agenda for a 11 a.m. special board meeting that day, posted Friday, includes a resolution allowing directors to reject the tentative agreement that the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A also had voted down in May.

It also allows board directors to extend the date for the final adoption of a memorandum of understanding. A deadline was not announced Friday… (more)

Good news!


Protected Bike Lanes Bill Passes California Senate Transportation Committee

by : la.streetsblog – excerpt

The Protected Bikeways Act, A.B. 1193, from Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Thursday on a 10-0 vote, despite opposition from some quarters.

The proposed legislation would compel Caltrans to create guidelines for protected bike lanes, a type of facility that is not currently allowed under California law.

A second purpose of the bill would be to give local jurisdictions—cities and counties—the freedom to follow Caltrans standards for bicycle infrastructure or to choose some other guidance. Currently all bicycle infrastructure in California must adhere to Caltrans standards, whether built on state highways or local streets. There are a few limited exceptions to this, generally through cumbersome experimental processes, but overall Caltrans’ antiquated standards have limited implementation of infrastructure that has proven safe in other states and other countries… (more)

This is an example of your tax dollars at work lobbying against you if you own a car in California. This is another reason to support the Restore Transportation Balance initiative. And write to your state representatives to vote against SB 1193. (sample letter)


SF Parking App Warned By SF City Attorney Open-Sources Its Code

by : techcrunch – excerpt

Parking app Sweetch has open-sourced its code this morning in an effort to solve the parking crisis in San Francisco. The free, open-source project, called Freetch is open to any developer willing to work on solving parking problems for the city.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera called out Sweetch and other parking apps earlier this week in a cease-and-desist letter it sent to MonkeyParking. The letter specifically warned Sweetch and ParkModo, both of which the city believes “…similarly violate local and state law with mobile app-enabled schemes intended to illegally monetize public parking spaces.”

These parking apps could also face $300 fines per violation, and both companies are potentially liable for civil penalties of $2,500 per transaction for illegal business practices under the California Unfair Competition Law, according to the letter.

This may be why the Sweetch founders have now changed direction on their approach and opened up their code.

Sweetch users pay a flat rate of $5 for a spot and get paid $4 for notifying another driver when they leave their spot, whereas MonkeyParking works more like an auction. If someone accepts your bid for their spot, you get the spot. It’s unclear how ParkModo’s model will work, but recent Craigslist postings show they may be planning to pay drivers $13/hour to squat on parking spaces in order to save them for users.

However, Police Code section 63(c) states: “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to enter into a lease, rental agreement or contract of any kind, written or oral, with or without compensation, for the use of any street or sidewalk.”

Sweetch addresses section 63(c) on its most recent blog post about the issue:… (more)

If you are tired of the parking policies the SFMTA and city authorities have brought us, including this legal mess that they will now have to spend time and money cleaning up, support the Restore Transportation Balance initiative and let the voters decide how to fix the parking mess:

Mayor Lee’s Car Found Parked in Muni Bus Stop

by : sf.streestblog – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee’s Chevy Volt was recently seen parked in a Muni bus stop, while he recently went to eat at La Corneta Taqueria on Diamond Street in Glen Park.

David Black sent in photos of the car, as well as a Muni bus which pulled up to the stop and was forced to load riders away from the curb. Luckily, no Muni passengers in wheelchairs were unable to board due to the situation. Black said that Lee, and several people who appeared to be staffers, waited in line behind him at the taqueria. The license plate number on the car matches that seen on a car identified as the mayor’s in an SF Citizen blog post from 2011.

When reached for comment, spokeswoman Christine Falvey wrote that an SFPD officer, not the mayor, drives the Volt, and that:… (more)

Valet Double-Parking At Private San Francisco Club The Battery Creates Traffic Aggravation For Drivers

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Double-parking seems like a way of life for some parts of busy downtown San Francisco. Now a private club near the waterfront is adding to the aggravation of drivers because of its valet parking service.

The valet service is for San Francisco’s newest exclusive social club, The Battery.

Dozens of the Bay Area’s tech millionaires double park here all the time, handing their keys over to a valet, apparently oblivious to the traffic jam behind them.

KPIX 5 showed video of the street blockage to San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener who has been on the city’s case about double parking for months.

“It’s like the wild west,” said Wiener. “They have turned a lane of traffic into their own private parking lot … and there’s no one enforcing anything.”… (more)

AC Transit changes: End to paper transfers and debut of day passes for unlimited rides

By Denis Cuff : contracostatimes – excerpt

OAKLAND — AC Transit on Tuesday will change the fare payment method for thousands of East Bay riders in a move aimed at making service faster and more reliable.

The Bay Area’s third largest bus system will end the sale of paper transfers — which buy another ride on another bus for 25 cents — and replace them with $5 one-day passes for unlimited trips.

In a related move also effective Tuesday, AC Transit will begin discounting regular bus fares from $2.10 to $2 if passengers pay with a Clipper card, an electronic fare payment card, instead of cash.

When the changes take effect Tuesday, Clipper card holders will automatically pay $2 for the first ride of the day, $2 for the second ride, $1 for the third ride, and nothing more for further rides… (more)

AC Transit is trying the carrot instead of the stick approarch. Maybe Muni could do the same?