Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

By Nikil Saval : newyorker – excerpt

Uber has become a subsidized alternative to the public-transportation systems that it claims to support.

Last September, Uber rolled out a rebranding campaign. A new television commercial showed car doors being flung open and the young and the old crowding in, flying out, and ending up in a small open-air mercado or at a lake. Though there were a few drivers, the image presented was of ceaseless, liberating mobility for passengers, anywhere in the world. Uber changed its logo, too, to a demure sans-serif display—white against a black background, its only flourish a modest pair of mirrored stems attached to the “U” and the “b.” This was a significant change. Since 2016, the phone app and the stickers that identified Uber-enabled cars had enjoyed an image designed partly by the co-founder and then-C.E.O. Travis Kalanick: a circle bisected with a cord, placed against the background of a colorful tile. When tilted ninety degrees counterclockwise, some design and technology journalists noted, it looked unmistakably like a human bent over and seen from behind.

The era of what has been referred to as Uber’s “asshole” logo happened to coincide with the company’s longest stretch of bad press, including multiple reports of sexual abuse inside the company and by its drivers. In 2017, the company’s investors ousted Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has made considerable efforts to improve the company’s image in advance of a likely I.P.O. this year. Last October, Khosrowshahi, like many corporate leaders, pulled out of a summit held by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, in Riyadh, following the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Uber still benefits from vast infusions of Saudi funding.)… (more)

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Bay Area’s New Transit Station Reopens Parking Debate

By Rachel Dovey : nextcity – excerpt

It’s a classic indicator of success in California, a sign that when you built it they did indeed come (in cars). It’s the giant parking lot — whether football field-sized or rising in a multi-storied garage — and while it’s so often bestowed on retail centers, sports arenas and even churches, the question of whether it should accompany popular transit hubs is still a sticking point among many city planners.

In the East Bay city of Antioch, however, soaring ridership numbers may force consensus…

The transit agency now plans to add 700 parking spaces on another lot it owns close to the station. But if the lots continue to be packed, and commuters’ parked cars continue to line neighborhood streets, BART may reopen what the Chronicle calls a “long-standing debate … over whether building more parking is the best way to promote the use of public transit.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to divert people off the roads and onto transit rather than have them continue driving to the urban core?” Keller said, according to the paper… (more)

Build parking and people will park and ride.

Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees

By Richard Speed : theregister – excerpt

And if traffic is slow, that’s just another efficiency saving

New research anticipates congestion problems as owners of self-driving cars allow their steeds to prowl the streets instead of forking out for parking charges.

The paper by Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was published in the rivetingly named “Transport Policy”.

Millard-Ball makes the point that far from requiring automated parking abilities, such as those trumpeted by the likes of Volkswagen, a self-driving car need never actually park at all. The robotic chariots can simply putter around the streets until the driver is ready for collection… (more)

Is this the nightmare our CPUC is planning to unleash on us next? Constantly prowling auto autos, that never park will congest our streets, waste fuel, and add to the emissions a lot more than private cars that park will. Everyone has noticed the increase in traffic since TNCs arrived on the scene. All hte TNCs at least park at night, while the drivers sleep so the streets are clear at night. Allowing corporation to flood the streets with cars that never park means the traffic will never stop.

We need to implore our Governor to take control of the CPUC.by appointing a new board that will regulate the industries not support them. No one is happy about the PG&E fiasco. Suing them while the CPUC gives them free reign is a waste of taxpayer money. If we had a regulatory agency that regulated the industry we would not need to take it over.

$10 toll considered for Lombard Street

By

Crooked street attracts 2.1 million visitors each year and ire from nearby homeowners

It may sound like a crooked business, but driving down the famous and scenic stretch of Lombard Street switchbacks may soon cost as much as $10 under a plan being considered by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority [SFCTA].

Homeowners on the postcard-famous street have complained to City Hall in recent years about the chronic attention their block receives. The county estimates that this one block, noted for its curvy slope, receives roughly 2.1 million visitors per year… (more)

Can anyone else see where this is going? How many decades of tourists have inched slowly down Lombard taking in the bay view? Why are they a “crisis” after all these years? Could it be that the pubic streets that used to have great views are now clogged with high-rise towers, and only Lombard and Coit Tower are left with a views in North Beach? That would account for the super crowds we are hearing about. How protected are those views?

What next, we charge to ride up Twin Peaks? How about Bernal Heights? Maybe the crisis is brought on by the fact that the public views that used to be so abundant on San Francisco’s famous hills are dwindling as disappearing in the towering condos rising to the sky. We know they block the sun, create shadows and wind tunnels, but, they also kill the views that San Francisco is famous for.

There has been a chorus claiming that views are not legally protected when it comes to personal views, but, how about public views? Are they worth saving? If some people have their way and build high rises at Ocean Beach, the views of the ocean we all get to enjoy as we meander down the hills West of Twin Peaks may disappear. behind a towering condo or hotel. Perhaps it is time to consider how to protect those views while we still can.

Let’s call this what it is. This is a congestion fee. Since the Board of Supervisors took away the absolute power from the SFMTA Board they are lashing out with what they have left. No way are we going to give up our free views in the name of congestion fees. Let your supervisors know how you feel about losing your free pubic views. https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

She handed a stranger $2,220 cash in a paper bag. Her reward: a BART parking spot

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt (include waiting list, and fill time charts)

It was like a drug deal.

Once a year, Joy Hoffmann would arrive at a Safeway parking lot next to the Lafayette BART Station clutching a paper bag with $2,220 cash. A white car would be idling there, with a woman waiting inside. Hoffmann would furtively hand over the bag, and the woman would give her a plastic tag to hang in her car windshield: 12 months of permitted parking at BART…

Today, the list of applicants is just shy of 41,000 people for 6,512 monthly parking spots scattered throughout the BART system. Board directors will discuss the crunch during an intensive two-day workshop that starts Thursday, where parking likely will emerge as a contentious issue

Board Director Lateefah Simon, whose district stretches from Richmond to downtown San Francisco, said she gained a new perspective on suburban commuting last August, when she moved from West Oakland to North Richmond.

Simon doesn’t drive, so she takes Uber or Lyft to Richmond BART each morning.

“A bus to BART would take 45 minutes, and as a single mom with multiple jobs, I don’t have that kind of time,” Simon said. “I now understand in a different way the complexities of why people need a place to park.”…(more)

Winning comment: “It sounds like a lot of people making decisions about things of which they know little.”

Riders are voting with their feet away from pubic transportation that does not meet their needs. It is a silent boycott of a failed system.

CASA ‘compact’ needs major changes to protect tenants

By Aimee Inglis : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) process has come to a close. The proposal will now move forward through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and the state legislature. The policies that come out of this process will impact housing, development, and displacement in the whole Bay Area and perhaps even the state.

But at the final vote of the Technical Committee on CASA, Tenants Together voted that the CASA “compact” should not move forward without major changes. We do not endorse the CASA “compact” as-is, and we disagree with many of its proposals. We are releasing this statement to clarify where we disagree and shine a light on this committee process.

What has come out of the process reads as a developer wishlist with few meaningful tenant protections. The tenant protections presented in CASA are more of a baseline from which to build, not model policy. There were several key problems with CASA, as follows:… (more)

NEED A REASON TO HATE CASA?
CASA Compact is supported by San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and (for some reason) Santa Rosa. This is primarily a legislative plan to force development where is is not wanted on hundreds of other cities and counties that do not perform according to the dictates of the Big Four. The real killer is who pays for the development. The plan is to float more taxing legislation at the regional level by promising to fix the roads and relieve traffic congestion THIS TIME, if only the taxpayers will give them more money for red lanes and HOV lanes and bridge tolls and gas taxes. The long plan is to use our money against us. But, don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself.

RELATED:

42 people flew to Manhattan for a three-day event that had no real policy purpose — and MTC is stonewalling on releasing the price tag.

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

During the final meeting of the CASA Technical Committee on December 12, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf let slip that she and unnamed others had recently taken a trip to New York City. No such trip had appeared on any public agenda.

CASA is the organization that is trying to create a “grand bargain” on housing, although it’s really a developer-friendly coup... (more)

Muni oversight board to nominate new leadership as group calls for ouster

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

ed-head

The transportation oversight board that oversees San Francisco’s Muni system — and hires and fires its executive director — is set to see a shakeup in its leadership.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors is poised to vote among its members for a new chair and vice chair next week, the agency confirmed. The move comes during a time of great scrutiny for the agency…

The co-presidents of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, an influential political group in the local LGBT community, called on Mayor London Breed to oust its longest standing directors in a letter

The letter cites the summer Muni meltdown, ongoing Muni train “switchbacks,” and an agency contractor laying 3 miles of the wrong type of steel track as mounting grievances that it lays on the shoulders of the current SFMTA board…

The letter noted those directors could fire SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, who Breed herself put on notice with her own scathing letter earlier this year…

Heinicke, who has served on the board since 2008, has often been the voice for the ailing taxi industry, but is also known as a pragmatist who weighs both drivers and transit options.

“Drivers are people too,” he argued last September when asking SFMTA staff to reach out to local drivers while planning a pedestrian safety project.

Gwyneth Borden, another SFMTA board director and head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, is expected to be voted in as vice-chair. She also is seen by some insiders as a vote to possibly oust Reiskin, the SFMTA director.… (more)

It is about time. Ten years of damage is enough for any city to put up with. Now is the time to hit City Hall with the personal letters you have been meaning to write. Now is the time to demand change at SFMTA.

Paradise narrowed its main road by two lanes despite warnings of gridlock during a major wildfire

: latimes – (excerpt from November 20, 2018 article)

After a fast-moving fire swept into town a decade ago, burning more than 200 homes and trapping thousands of fleeing residents on gridlocked mountain roads, a grand jury called on officials to improve evacuation routes.

But six years later, the city decided to narrow a portion of the main road through town from four lanes to two as part of an effort in the downtown area aimed at boosting commerce as well as traffic and pedestrian safety.

Two other roads in the city were also narrowed, records show..

The so-called Skyway “road diet” slowed traffic, and a local civic group donated benches and landscaping to beautify the zone.

Nearly two weeks ago, Skyway was the scene of unspeakable horror when the worst wildfire in California history besieged Paradise. Up to 27,000 residents trying to escape the flames instead were stuck in traffic, the buildings around them burning. Some died in their cars when the fire roared over them… (more)

A number of people have raised this issue with San Francisco authorities. How are the evacuation plans supposed to work in San Francisco? We have very few lanes for traffic to flow from the Bay side of of the city to the Western side. Only two streets cross both 101 and 280, and one of those is up for major alterations. How is this making San Francisco safer? How does removing street lanes from evacuation routes make these neighborhoods safe?

City impoundment of RV dwellers’ vehicles challenged as unconstitutional

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Advocates for the homeless filed a lawsuit against The City and other agencies Wednesday for towing, impounding and selling RVs and other oversized-vehicles without a warrant, alleging that it violates the rights of an already at-risk population.

Under current policy, vehicle owners who have received five or more unpaid parking violations in a given time frame are subject to towing.

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday names The City, its Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Francisco Police Department and towing contractor Auto Return. It alleges that owners are often not provided with proper notice or an opportunity to dispute the seizure, even if their vehicles are legally parked, “not involved in any crime or traffic urgency” and provide their only means of shelter… (more)

We were expecting this would go to court. Courts in southern California have so far upheld the rights of the citizens against seizure of property in these cases.

 

 

MTC News Headlines

mtc – excerpt

Headlines For Dec 14, 2018

Ford GoBike will boost fleet of electric bikes in SF from 250 to 850
San Francisco Chronicle

Ford GoBike more than triples its SF electric bike fleet today
Curbed

Transbay Transit Center inches toward repair
San Francisco Chronicle

Holes cut into steel contributed to beams cracking at SF’s Salesforce Transit CenterEast Bay Times

Holes cut into Transit Center beams ‘probable cause’ for cracks
San Francisco Examiner

Video: No Date Set on When Transbay Transit Terminal Will Reopen
NBC – Bay Area

(more)