Displacement policy at risk in quiet power struggle

Originally posted on zRants:

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Two regional agencies battling over the future of Bay Area planning — with social justice in the balance

JULY 21, 2015 –At a time when California state officials are steadily expanding the authority of regional governance, a nasty rift between the powerful Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments has burst into public view.

Like the smoke and lava belched by a volcano that’s about to blow its top, portents of the rupture have surfaced at recent meetings.

At its June 24 session, MTC, the moneybags of the duo, voted to fund ABAG’s planning and research staff for only the next six months instead of the customary full year.

At the July 10 joint meeting of the MTC Planning Committee and the ABAG Administrative Committee, MTC staff recommended that key anti-displacement language that appears in Plan Bay Area 2013 be…

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Local Muni Driver Caught On Video Initially Refusing To Let Wheelchair User Board Bus In San Francisco

sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A Muni driver may face disciplinary action after being caught on video initially refusing to let a wheelchair user board his bus, and verbally harassing the woman.
Liz Henry filed a complaint with the SFMTA after the driver at first refused to let her board because the bus was too crowded last month.
The exchange was caught on surveillance video.
Driver: “Now what you got to do is, catch the next one.  Catch the next one!”
Liz: “You can let me on.  There’s room.”
Driver: “You don’t demand nothing.  There’s a guy in a white truck if you want to complain.  He’s right there.”
Liz: “We have a right to use the bus.  You don’t, you don’t, you don’t not let me on because I’m in a wheelchair.”
Driver: “You don’t demand nothing, neither.”
The driver eventually let Liz board the bus, but as she exited at the end of her ride, the driver suggested she shouldn’t be allowed to use the bus.
“You gonna complain anyway, that’s all you is! Hahaha. That’s how y’all live. You shouldn’t even be on the bus,” he said.
Muni has begun an investigation into the incident… (more)

Uber and the lawlessness of ‘sharing economy’ corporates

By Frank Pasquale and Siva Vaidhyanathan : guardian – excerpt

Companies including Airbnb and Google compare themselves to civil rights heroes, while using their popularity among consumers to nullify federal law.

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO. ‘Nullifying companies like Uber claim they are striking a blow against regulations they consider “out-of-date” or “anti-innovation” – their major innovation, however, is to undermine local needs and effective governance.’

In February, Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky compared his firm’s defiance of local housing ordinances with that of Gandhi’s passive resistance to British rule. Meanwhile, a tweeter compared Uber to Rosa Parks, defying unjust laws. Chesky quickly backed down after widespread mockery. Companies acting out of self-interest comparing themselves with the noble heroes of civil rights movements is as absurd as it is insulting.

But there is a better analogy from the US civil rights era for law-flouting firms of the on-demand economy. It’s just not the one corporate leaders claim. They are engaged in what we call “corporate nullification”, following in the footsteps of Southern governors and legislatures in the United States who declared themselves free to “nullify” federal law on the basis of strained and opportunistic constitutional interpretation… (more)

Finding a home on Hotel 22

By Isabel Angell : KALW – excerpt (audio)

I’m on the Valley Transportation Authority’s Line 22 bus somewhere between East San Jose and Palo Alto. It’s 2:30 a.m., and it’s raining. I start a conversation with a man sitting down, and ask him if he’s heard the nickname for the bus.

“Yeah, well there’s the Motel 22 or Hotel 22. That’s the big one I’ve heard.”

I ask him what he calls the bus.

“I call it home.”… (more)

Uber vs. the world: App-based car service declares victory in NYC, but faces global roadblocks

By  : foxnews – excerpt (video)

Uber, the app-based mode of transport favored by millennials worldwide, is battling politics, bad press and claims its disruption of the car-for-hire business presents a danger on the streets, but a partial victory in New York shows the company is more than willing to fight for its future.

Founded just six years ago in San Francisco and  now valued at more than $40 billion, Uber ended — or at least pumped the brakes on — a feud with the Big Apple, where lawmakers and Mayor Bill de Blasio were threatening to cap the number of drivers allowed on city streets. But in a surprise deal announced late Wednesday, the city agreed to table the limits until completion of a four-month study on whether Uber cars are in fact increasing traffic and harming the environment. The partial cave came after Uber put out an ad showing drivers from a broad racial and ethnic spectrum and pushed back aggressively at the political undertones of the plan.

“There is nothing progressive about protecting millionaire taxi donors who mistreat drivers and discriminate against riders and no amount of name calling by Mayor de Blasio will change that.” – Uber spokesman Matt McKenna(more)

RELATED:
Why Democrats are against the modern economy?

More proof that San Francisco politicians are out of sync with the national platform on Uber and other disruptive businesses. The Republicans, including Jeb Bush see these industries as the future and the Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton are questioning the social and economic impact of these tech behemoths. The huge wealth that is built of air, sometimes called the cloud, is probably not sustainable. Hence the rush to turn that air into property.

Parking Exemptions Considered For Area Q Churches

At a public hearing next Friday, the SFMTA’s board of directors will consider changing parking time limits on several blocks of Area Q from two to four hours for cars without residential parking permits (RPPs).

Last March, the SFMTA board approved the Area Q residential parking permit zone, which requires residents on 50 blocks between Masonic and Webster to apply for a permit if they want to park on the street for more than two hours.

During that hearing, church leaders expressed concern about how RPP regulations would affect their congregations. The proposed time limits, they said, would discourage churchgoers from driving in for weekday Bible study, meetings and other activities. The SFMTA promised to consider these and other concerns before RPP is implemented this fall… (more)

4 hours seems like a more reasonable time frame for all non-residents in
RPP areas, as most commuters need more than 4 hours but visitors and customers do not.

If you think the SFMTA and the MTC are going to ride in on taxpayer dollars and clean up the traffic problem by forcing people out of their cars, you are behind the curve. Even ABAG admits the Plan Bay Area needs adjusting. See the article by Zelda Bronstein: Displacement policy at risk in quiet power struggle

City proposing new housing development fee to expand transit

By J.K. Dineen and Mi : sfgate – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee’s administration is looking to tap into the city’s housing boom to help bankroll $1.2 billion in transit improvements over the next 30 years.

A proposed transportation sustainability fee announced Tuesday would apply to new market rate condominium and apartment projects and would add $14 million to the $24 million a year already collected from other types of developments.

The money would be spent on expanding the Muni fleet with new buses and railcars, improving reliability on the busiest routes, retrofitting existing trains, investing in the electrification of Caltrain, and making streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The proposed fee, introduced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting by Scott Wiener, was crafted by the mayor’s office, the city Planning Department, the Municipal Transportation Agency and County Transportation Authority after years of study.

“As our city grows, we must ensure that our transportation network grows along with it,” the mayor said in a statement from Rome, where he is at a meeting with the pope on climate change. “That is essential to meet the needs of our residents and workforce.”…

The new transit fee is needed to strengthen public transit and get commuters out of their cars at a time San Francisco, which has added 100,000 jobs since 2010, is growing by 10,000 residents a year.

The proposed fee underscores what has become a hot-button issue around the city: complaints that the proliferation of high-end residential towers in neighborhoods such as Dogpatch, SoMa and Rincon Hill has not been accompanied by adequate improvements in open space and transit, not to mention sufficient levels of affordable housing.

While the idea of a transit impact fee is not new in San Francisco — the city’s current Transit Impact Development Fee applies to commercial developments and PDR (production, design and repair) facilities and produces that $24 million a year in revenue — the big difference is that the new fee adds builders of market rate apartments and condos. Making market rate housing developers part of the fee structure increases the amount collected 40 percent, from $720 million to $1.2 billion over 30 years… (more)

Anyone who is watching what goes on at City Hall would have to ask a few questions about the intent of collecting the fees. When will the fees be collected, and will they be turned into in lieu fees as the current ones are? How will this effect the price of housing? When ABAG and MTC can’t agree on a transportation scheme, (or how to figure out the best way to describe their goals), who will determine what the money is spent on?

Adding open space of transit in Dogpatch, SoMa and Rincon Hill is a joke. There is no room left to put any.

King Street Bike Lane, Sharrows May Be Removed

With more and more bike lanes being allocated and painted green across the city each year, it’s rare to hear of one disappearing. But that’s exactly what’s happening at King Street between Second and Third, which will no longer have any space allocated for cyclists because of what SFMTA has deemed a safety measure.

The bike lane on King Street currently extends past MoMo’s, but it ends halfway down the block (between Second and Third streets), and becomes bike sharrows in the center of the lane. For cyclists, this can be confusing: one moment, they have the imaginary barrier of a bike lane, and the next, they’re forced to merge into traffic, which is running at a speed limit of 30mph.

As a result, this small stretch of King has proven to be dangerous. In February 2013, cyclist Diana Sullivan was killed on King between Second and Third streets, after being dragged under a cement mixer. (We wrote an article last week that included mention of her ghost bike.)

While deaths like Sullivan’s often result in a call to action for more bike lanes and safer streets, the SFMTA has determined in this case that the safest course of action is to remove the bike lane and sharrows from that stretch of King entirely.

“The near-term goal is to encourage people biking in the area to use Townsend when appropriate,” the SFMTA’s Ben Jose told us. “In the long-term, staff will be examining how biking can be improved in the area through the larger-scale Embarcadero Enhancement Project.”.

Ben told us that extending the bike lane the full length of King Street was an option the SFMTA considered, but ultimately rejected. “It would require reducing lane widths to below minimum standards,” he said. “This would decrease safety and comfort for all road users, since heavy vehicles would need to straddle lanes.”… (more)

The SFMTA should lower the taxicab medallion transfer price

By Peter Kirby : sfexaminer – excerpt

Career taxicab drivers are now being forced to buy taxicab medallions, rather than earning and receiving them for a one-time nominal fee. In recent years, the value of a medallion has dropped like a stone while the medallion price set by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has remained the same. Medallion transfers (purchases) have slowed to a trickle. For these reasons, the SFMTA should be responsive to market conditions and lower the medallion transfer price.

When I put my name on the taxicab medallion waiting list in 1998, I agreed to a deal whereby when my name got to the top of the list, I would be granted a taxicab medallion for a one-time fee of maybe a couple of thousand dollars. Once granted, I would take that medallion to the taxicab company of my choice and from there on out receive checks in the amount of about $2,300 per month for as long as I held the medallion. This was to be on top of whatever I made driving the cab. When I retired from the industry, the medallion was to go back to The City. That was a profit-sharing program, which provides for a middle class. That lets working-class people buy houses, raise kids and put them through college. It was a situation that provided working-class people with a secure financial future.

Then came the SFMTA’s medallion sales programs. Without being given an opt-out, the SFMTA changed the terms of my agreement without my consent. No longer could I earn a medallion for a one-time fee. Now I am forced to buy a medallion for $250,000 with a minimum down payment of $12,500 and about a 5 percent interest rate to pay off the rest over 30 years. Sure, I get to sell it when I’m done with it, but I need money now and, under the former deal, I could save for my future. As it stands now, I can forget about raising kids properly or buying a house.

Not only that, but in the meantime The City has allowed Uber and the other Transportation Network Companies to suck most of the profits out of the taxicab industry. Now that it’s time for me to get my medallion, there are hardly any profits to share.

Taxicab companies have had to drastically lower the amount of monthly medallion holder payments. In many cases, the monthly checks made out to medallion holders have fallen below the monthly amounts those medallion holders must pay to pay off their medallion.

What was once something that provided a present and a future for working-class people is now an albatross around the neck. As long as the TNCs are allowed to operate, they will continue to devalue taxicab medallions. Although the SFMTA does not report any medallion loan defaults yet, these are sure to happen as long as Uber is allowed to operate and continue sucking the profits out of our industry. One can see how this might give potential medallion purchasers pause.

While the value of a medallion has fallen precipitously, the price has remained at $250,000 since the medallion sales programs started in 2010. The number of taxicab medallion transfers have slowed almost to a standstill. Market conditions demand the SFMTA go about lowering the medallion transfer price. It would be a good turn for taxicab drivers and the SFMTA.

On Tuesday, I will address the SFMTA board at its regular meeting and ask Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to initiate the process of lowering the medallion transfer price. I will be suggesting a price between $125,000 and $150,000. If you agree, please show up and voice your support. Thank you.

Peter A. Kirby is a cab driver in San Francisco… (more)