Chiu’s bill bans towing vehicles — and it’s not just for people living in them

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

The days of having your car towed for an unpaid ticket or a lapsed registration would be over under a bill just passed by the California State Assembly.

Assemblyman David Chiu wrote Assembly Bill 516, which would bar cities and counties from towing or booting vehicles that have five or more tickets or towing a vehicle whose registration is six months out of date — those are the current standards for towing. Cities would have to pass a specific ordinance to overwrite those rules.

The bill would also bar cities from towing cars and RVs parked for more than 72 hours unless the city passes a local ordinance. City officials say that could damper their efforts to stem the tide of RVs setting up house on streets…

Whatever the case, last week the Assembly agreed with Chiu and approved the bill 49-11, with 20 Assembly members abstaining.

Next stop is the state Senate.


SF bikeshare fleet set to nearly quadruple — but Lyft is trying to stop it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bikeshare — everywhere.

That’s the vision for San Francisco’s burgeoning bike rental industry.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday released permit applications for more companies to provide “dockless” or “stationless” bikeshare in The City, citing soaring demand for the service.

The announcement means the number of bikeshare bikes on the street could soon nearly quadruple to 11,000, according to the SFMTA. The agency plans to announce who will be awarded permits by July…

In that April 28 letter, Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer argued that the company “invested millions of dollars to install bike station infrastructure” that resulted in “losses that were incurred in reliance upon the Grant of Exclusive Rights.”

Zimmer invited SFMTA to a “dispute resolution process” through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and asked that “San Francisco refrain from taking actions that would prejudice” those proceedings, including “soliciting or accepting new permit applications from other operators.”… (more)

Why don’t the bike share companies rent some of the empty storefronts that are popping up all over town instead of casually parking them on sidewalks and streets. Just rent some storefronts and act like regular bike rentals. What is the point in having them clutter up the sidewalk when they could rent storefronts and let people drop them there. They will be a lot safer than on the streets.

West Portal traffic changes approved under new pilot

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

City transit officials (SFMTA Board) approved a pilot program that they hope will speed up Muni trains entering West Portal station.

The plan includes restricting private autos from making a left turn from northbound West Portal Avenue onto westbound Ulloa Street from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., the peak hours of the morning commute, a left turn restriction on southbound Lenox Way onto eastbound Ulloa, and will restrict autos from making U-turns at all times of the day.

Liz Brisson, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency project manager in charge of the pilot, said the block of West Portal Avenue between Vicente and Ulloa streets will become a transit-only lane during the morning commute..

The San Francisco Council District of Merchants, the West Portal Merchants Association, and the Greater West Portal Neighborhood Association, penned a joint in a letter asking the SFMTA to delay the pilot for 90 days and to reevaluate looking at installing traffic lights at the intersection and relocating the 48 transit stop.

Karl Aguilar, manager of Papenhausen Hardware, told the board that merchants had already gone through a major construction project and that merchants: “These businesses can’t weather large disruptions.”

President of the Board of Supervisors Norman Yee, who represents the West Portal neighborhood, said in a letter dated May 9 that he was in support of the left turn restriction on Lenox Way and the U-turn restriction, but not in support of other parts of the pilot:..

The supervisor was also in favor of delaying the pilot start as traffic volumes are usually slower in the neighborhood as many schools are out for summer vacation…(more)

If you want to see how bad the city is dong under the current regime at SFMTA Board, just read the latest Washington Post article: “How San Francisco broke America’s heart”

Ask yourself what could San Francisco do to save the businesses that are struggling to survive? I’ll bet taking out parking spaces and reduce traffic lanes would not be at the top or your list to save retail.

If, however, you wanted to close stores to make way for your new condos and office buildings, removing parking, stopping traffic and rearranging bus stops would probably be the first thing you would do.

So, who is the SFMTA Board working for?

Woman caught in Muni door, dragged to tracks files claim against SF

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Sunset District resident suffered collapsed lung, broken ribs, spinal and pelvic fractures

After a month of silence, the woman dragged by a Muni train has filed a claim against The City seeking payment for her medical expenses and distress.

Choi Ngor Li, a Sunset District resident, has identified herself as the person who infamously found her hand caught in the door of a brand new Muni train and was then pulled to the tracks of Embarcadero Station.

A video of the April 12 incident, first revealed in an investigative report by the San Francisco Examiner, made headlines worldwide.

Li’s claim alleges negligence on the part of the Muni operator who drove the train away while she was trapped in it, negligence on the part of a nearby station agent who failed to help her and negligence on the part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for allowing the train doors to operate despite “failed safety tests.”… (more)

Supervisor Norman Yee Puts West Portal Motorists Over Transit Riders

By Roger Rudick : streetsblog – excerpt

Pushes to veto study of traffic changes that would finally start prioritizing Muni over private cars

The SFMTA is planning to pilot a short stretch of transit- (and taxi) only lane in West Portal to help reduce delays to trains, in one direction, only during peaking morning rush hour. The idea is to look for ways to make the K and M lines, which are consistently slowed by automobile traffic, faster and more reliable.

From the SFMTA presentation showing the proposed changes:

However, Supervisor Norman Yee, who represents the district, is attempting to block the pilot.

Streetsblog was leaked a printout of an email from Yee to SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin and the SFMTA Board. In it, Yee creates a Catch-22. SFMTA is doing the pilot to see if getting cars out of the way will make Muni trains faster and less prone to delays. But Yee seems to want them to prove that it will reduce delays before they do the pilot, to justify doing the pilot to see if it will reduce delays… (more)

Read the article and do some more investigations of your own and, if you are concerned about this matter, please chime in with messages to the parties. Contacts for city officials:

What science says Uber and Lyft are doing to San Francisco

By Mike Moffitt : sfgate – excerpt

Ride-hailing companies once promised that their services would reduce the number of cars clogging city streets. In fact, the opposite is true in dense parts of cities.

Everyone knows that ride-hailing apps have undoubtedly benefited customers, making hailing a ride easier and significantly cheaper than taxi cabs.

But are the benefits worth the long-term disruption created by Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies in San Francisco? Here’s what recent studies tell us.

Traffic is a mess… (more)

Political Punch: Major California housing bill is on ice for the year

By Alexei Koseff : sfchronicle – excerpt

A controversial measure to revamp local development rules in California by promoting denser housing around public transit and job centers will not move forward this legislative session.
The state Senate Appropriations Committee said Thursday that it would hold Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB50 for the year, allowing it to come back for a vote in 2020. That could give Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, more time to build support or make further changes to the deeply divisive bill.
Wiener, in a statement, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the move. “We are one hundred percent committed to moving the legislation forward,” he said.
“We need to do things differently when it comes to housing. We’re either serious about solving this crisis, or we aren’t,” he said. “At some point, we will need to make the hard political choices necessary for California to have a bright housing future.”… (more)

If you opposed this bill you may rejoice for a moment. This bill is expected to show up again and possibly in as parts of another bill. Consider the efforts being made to pass SB330 That bill may freeze developer fees and make it even harder to deal with the infrastructure problems we already have. Read up on that one and see what you think.

Ride-share companies create, not reduce, traffic congestion

By Richard A. Lovett : cosmosmagazine – excerpt

Study finds cars-for-hire business model does nothing to reduce private vehicle use or ownership

In a blow to the image of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft as solutions to traffic congestion, researchers have found that they are actually major contributors to urban gridlock, at least in one major city, San Francisco in California, US.

These services, technically referred to as transportation network companies (TNCs), “were kind of born in San Francisco,” says Joe Castiglione of the city’s Transportation Authority.

By 2016, he adds, they had not only exploded into a global industry, but were generating nearly 200,000 rides a day in San Francisco alone.

“[In 2016] about 15% of vehicle trips in San Francisco were on TNCs,” adds Gregory Erhardt, a transportation engineer at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. To put that in perspective, fewer than 1% of the city’s vehicle trips are by taxi.

“Initially,” Castiglione explains, “there was a lot of enthusiasm because here was this great, new, affordable, fast-mobility option.” But now, he adds, “people [have] the perception that congestion in San Francisco has gotten much worse, and there were TNCs everywhere.”

To find out exactly what was going on, the city began collecting data on just when and where people were using ride-sharing services… (more)

Red lanes on 16th Street? Not so fast, say Mission District activists

By Julian Mark : missionlocal – excerpt

Mission District anti-gentrification activists made one thing clear to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Tuesday night: They do not want the bus-only red lanes the transit agency has planned for 16th Street.

“You gave us two years to stop them from being painted — now tell us how!” said Rick Hall, a member of United to Save The Mission, a coalition of neighborhood activists, echoing the sentiments of many in the room…

The project is slated to wrap up in 2021 and is expected to cost $67.5 million. It is being undertaken in two phases. The first focuses on improvements from Third Street to Potrero Avenue, and the second phase will be along the busier stretch from Potrero to Church Street.

The staunch resistance to the red lanes is buttressed by the common complaint of Mission Street merchants that the lanes are to blame for a decline in business. Businesses argue that the lanes have limited parking on Mission Street and that restricting left turns onto the corridor further limits accessibility… (more)

At some point a count of who supported, opposed or was undecided about the red lanes was taken among those present and the vote was heavily weighted against the red lanes.

This story about the expansion of red lanes does not exist in a vacuum. SFMTA just admitted to massive expensive and dangerous mistakes and coverups that have been widely reported in the media. Many complaints about these abuses were reported for months by the public and exposed in the media. Why did it take so long for our city officials to listen to the public? It is not hard to understand why people do not trust the SFMTA plans to impose more changes on the communities that oppose them.

Long before SFMTA management admitted to wrong-doing, coverups and lies, and long before the bridges, overpasses and Transbay terminal started crumbling, a long line of public commenters, whistleblowers and investigative reporters have gone on the record of warning city officials about abuses at the SFMTA. We know it is a failed department. The news reports daily on the breakdown of the transit and traffic systems. Why did it took City Hall so long to figure it out and admit what we all knew?

The real lesson our government needs to learn from the disaster is:

  • The public is not stupid and should determine what the SFMTA does with their money.
  • The public should request the changes. SFMTA staff should execute them.
  • If the public wants a traffic light, or a scramble as a protective measure they should get what they ask for, not speed bumps, traffic circles and bulbouts.
  • If the riding public should determine the seat configuration on the new buses not the SFMTA.
  • Now that we have the admissions, the city officials need to consider some major changes in how the SFMTA operates including a possible ballot initiative to re-organize the department.

Protesting Uber’s IPO — and police secrecy

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Drivers ask why they keep getting pay cuts as the top execs prepare to become staggeringly rich — and why is SFPD still dragging its heels on new police-misconduct disclosure laws?

The finance experts expect Uber to hit Wall Street on Friday/10, possibly with the biggest IPO since Facebook – but not until after both its own drivers and the rest of the taxi industry launch protests.

Uber, the New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo notes, “is a moral stain on Silicon Valley.” I still find it somewhat bizarre that a company that started with a business model that was illegal everywhere it operated now gets to turn its founders and investors into billionaires; in the world of tech, I guess, crime pays.

But there’s another level of crime going on here: Top executives are on a path to fantastic riches, but the drivers – without whom there would be no Uber – are getting screwed.

The Uber model is to attract new business – to grow market share – at any cost. Every single ride is subsidized with venture capital, so that it’s cheap enough to lure passengers away not only from legal, regulated cabs but from public transportation. When the company needs to cut costs, it just cuts the amount it pays its drivers…

The next day, Thursday/9, San Francisco taxi drivers will converge at Uber to protest the company’s “unlawful, unethical and destructive policies,” Mark Gruberg of the Taxi Workers Alliance told me. From the group’s press statement:

In its short history, Uber has shown itself to be the ugliest company on the face of the planet. Its recent attempts to change its image and noxious corporate culture do not address the damage its business model is doing to the environment, workers and the public(more)


Uber’s plans include attacking public transit

Documents filed for IPO reveal plans to privatize transportation, getting riders off public buses and trains and onto “Uber buses.”…(more)

The worse Muni service gets the more perks SFMTA hands out to the PERMITTED CAR SHARE VEHICLES”, making SFMTA appear to be supporting the corporate takeover of our streets. Instead of catering to CAR SHARE VEHICLES by giving them more exclusive parking rights on public streets, the SFMTA should hand their perks over to Taxis and put CAR SHARE VEHICLES on a congestion diet. Most of the increase in traffic is caused by the influx of CAR SHARE VEHICLES.