Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

by John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

The ongoing Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement Project has a clumsy name only a bureaucrat could love, and many merchants on Union Street definitely don’t love one of the project’s features: the loss of a left-turn onto Union Street from Van Ness. They say it has hurt business on their street because of a loss of traffic; drivers on Van Ness just find it easier to drive onward and shop elsewhere. One idea being mooted is seeking about $1.5 million in compensation from the city for their loss of business…

Karnilowicz doesn’t know what will happen regarding compensation, but the situation is not going to go away. He points to a presentation by the city’s Controller’s Office, which studied the impact on local businesses of similar construction projects by measuring the change in sales taxes; in one, West Portal, there was a 12 percent drop in sales tax. “That’s like a 12 percent [decline] in income,” Karnilowicz says; for some businesses, “that’s what their profit margin is.”…(more)

Just say NO to more taxes next time SFMTA comes begging for more. Merchants and pissed off residents who want to live and work in San Francisco should continue opposing tax increases for transit projects to send a clear message to City Hall that they are fed up with streetscape projects. Send letters and comments and complaints to your supervisor and the candidates running for office. Make sure they hear your demands for a freeze on new construction until the current projects are completed. Don’t be shy with your state reps either. Let them know you don’t buy the “we need more money for transit” line when you see more streets being torn up every day. City contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/
State contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

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Getting between motorists and their cars has become the new third rail of California politics

By Kerry Cavanaugh : latimes – excerpt

For all the talk in California about leading the world on climate change and resisting President Trump’s anti-environment agenda, the state has a third rail of environmental policy. Touch their cars and Californians will revolt.

Any effort that limits, constrains or makes driving one’s car more expensive or inconvenient — no matter how civic-minded the proposal — is immediately controversial in California, and often a nonstarter. Getting between Californians and their cars can spell the end of a political career. Just ask former Gov. Gray Davis, who was recalled in large part because of his decision to triple the vehicle license fee.

Two separate, unrelated efforts launched last week are a reminder of just how difficult it is to make public policy when it involves peoples’ cars.

At the state level, a group calling itself “Reform California” announced that it was launching an initiative drive aimed at repealing the new gas tax and vehicle fee increases. Those increases were approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature in April after years of negotiations over how to pay for an estimated $73 billion in deferred road repairs and infrastructure maintenance. The 12-cent-per-gallon increase will take effect Nov. 1.

In Los Angeles, a group of Westside residents have begun a campaign to recall City Councilman Mike Bonin for his support of so-called road diets that have eliminated traffic lanes. Bonin has been one of the council’s most outspoken advocates for Vision Zero, the city’s plan to reduce traffic deaths by slowing traffic speeds. But two projects in his district — one in Playa del Rey and one in Mar Vista — have created a huge backlash, with residents complaining that the road diets have created clogged streets, slower traffic and longer commutes…

But as the Bonin recall campaign and the backlash to road diets in other neighborhoods demonstrate, drivers do not like this change. What does the political pressure on Bonin portend for other elected officials? Are they going to stick by their commitment to a more walkable, bikeable, sustainable city. Or back away from the third rail?…(more)

$4.4 Billion Bay Area Transportation Plan — Paid for by Higher Bridge Tolls — Sent to Governor

: kqed – excerpt

We’ve reached the home stretch of the legislative year at the state Capitol, with little time left until Friday’s midnight deadline to pass bills.

 

Update, 10:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15: Bridge Toll Measure Would Raise Billions for Bay Area Transportation; Passes Over Objections from East Bay Legislators

If you live in the Bay Area, you’ll be hearing a lot about Senate Bill 595 over the next year or so. The bill by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, won final Senate passage Thursday and now awaits the governor’s signature.

SB 595 provides for a vote in the nine Bay Area counties next year to raise tolls on the region’s state-owned bridges — that’s all of them, except the Golden Gate — by as much as $3. If the Bay Area Toll Authority, the agency that oversees the bridges, seeks that maximum $3 increase, tolls on the bridges would be $8 to $9. (We still wouldn’t be in Verrazano-Narrows Bridge territory, though; the cash toll on the span between Brooklyn and Staten Island rose to $17 earlier this year.)

The higher tolls would raise something like $375 million a year, according to the latest legislative analysis, and pay for nearly three dozen transit and highway projects totaling $4.45 billion…

Several Contra Costa County legislators — Assemblymember Tim Grayson and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier among them — opposed SB 595, saying that it’s 1) a regressive tax and 2) a ripoff for the residents of the East Bay.

Their main argument — both DeSaulnier and Grayson penned op-ed pieces for the East Bay Times — is that residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties will pay significantly more in increased tolls than their communities will get back in benefits… (more)

The new gas tax is supposed to fix the roads. Lets see what that tax is used for. By the time this new bridge toll bill comes up, We will probably have seen the results of the tax bills on our cost of living. There will also be a number of recall efforts to replace the reps who supported this bill and a recall on the gas tax. Stay tuned.

San Francisco Considers Surge Parking Prices

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A new plan proposes bringing surge parking prices to San Francisco.

In time, parking rates could go as high as $8 an hour in some areas under the plan.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehey said, “It just starts out with the assumption that everybody in San Francisco is rich.”…

The idea is that people will move faster if they are paying more for parking and thus free up parking spaces… (huh?)

Karnilowicz said, “I don’t see how it is going to make the turn overany different, just because you are increasing the price.”

And John Nazzal, owner of the Marina Deli, which is located in one of the neighborhoods where they tested the new pricing, agrees.

Nazzal said, “A lot of my friends and customers tell me that the reason they don’t come in anymore is that they don’t want to spend $2 or $3 to get a sandwich.”

It should be noted that in San Francisco, parking is a moneymaker. The city took in about $38 million from parking meters last year. Which begs the question: How much of this is about making more money?… (more)

Say no more. The SFMTA wants more money and is trying to convince us they have our best interest at heart. That would be a first.
Get those letters to the Mayor, SFMTA Board and the Board of Supervisors. Let them know you support the merchants and residents and visitors who are being gauged already by the high prices in this city. SFMTA doesn’t need any more money to use against us. They are creating the problems to begin with and we don’t trust them to fix the problems they are creating. There was a vote a few years ago that stopped the spread of parking meters into the neighborhoods. It is time to revisit that action again.

 

Citizens have the right to design their own reality

Op-Ed by Zrants
 MissionReds
Red Lanes have hurt businesses on Mission Street, where residents and merchants have been most vocal in their objections. Some demands were met, but there is a lot of anger in the Mission over SFMTA policies – photo by zrants
The article that ran in the SF Examiner, “SF Parking Meters may soon feature Uber-like surge pricing” is non-news to people in Mission Bay and neighborhoods where these meters have been used.
 
This program, along with the “complete street improvements” has been used to manipulate people for some time and the results have put a chill on our local economy. Many businesses are not recovering after construction projects are completed. There are empty storefronts all over town. Regardless of how you feel about gentrification of neighborhoods, streets and cities, the loss of traditional businesses is a serious matter. We need to maintain a balanced economy.
 
Documentation is what city authorities like to see, so a number of neighborhoods are gathering data to prove falling revenues and empty storefronts follow in the path of complete street projects that create congestion and remove parking.
 
Once generated, these reports can go to City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Commission, the media, and anyone else who may be concerned about the condition of the local economy.
 
City policies are not only hurting local businesses. Big box stores and corporate giants like The Gap, Whole Foods, and Sears are feeling the pinch. How many brick and mortar businesses will succumb to disruptive policies before we take action? Local businesses provide necessary services to the public. As each business dies, it becomes harder for residents to conduct their lives.
 
Another matter of urgency is arising. In the aftermath of major security breaches we need to review the “anti-cash” attitudes and policies being pushed by the government and it’s agencies. Cash is the safest currency and should be encouraged, not discouraged.
 
The government works for us and we must demand that it serves our needs.
 
Mari Eliza
 
 

Congressman denounces Bay Area toll hike for transit

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Twilight on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

East Bay Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has been back home and getting an earful about the situation in Washington — but it was the proposed ballot measure to raise tolls on the state’s Bay Area bridges to help fund transit projects that got his blood boiling…

The measure — which would raise tolls by $2 to $3 — is being put together by a collection of Bay Area legislators. It’s expected to generate about $125 million for a slew of road and mass transit improvements throughout the nine-county region…

DeSaulnier is not alone. State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, is raising questions about how the money would be spent, as is Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon.

Other East Bay officials, whose constituents would pay the bulk of the toll increase, have said they’ll support the measure only if more projects are added to the goody list in Alameda and Contra Costa counties…(more)

Why not move the jobs to the housing? Would that not be a cheaper less painful solution for the folks living in the suburbs? With so many creative ideas coming out of Sacramento you would think they could figure that one out. Why not just spread the wealth and political power? Cut their commutes and commute traffic around the coast cities at the same time. After the floods in the Gulf coast you might want to think twice about building huge cities at sea level.

Bikes Sharing Companies Compete for Bay Area Market

Host Scott Shafer : kqed – excerpt (audio track included)
Dan Brekke, editor and reporter, KQED News
Emily Stapleton, general manager, Ford GoBike

Ford GoBikes popping up all over photos by zrants

This is a corporate takeover of our streets.
Can you call the public/private corporate exclusionary deal MTC, Ford and Motivate have cooked up “competition” or fair business practices? Now the cyclists are threatening to boycott merchants who object to Ford bikes.
Time to fire back with boycotts of our own. Sign the petition to stop the Bikes in the Mission.

People voiced opposition and demanded removal of the GoBikes at the SFMTA Board meeting.  Board member Art Torres said “I think this is unacceptable… I’m glad you folks told us about this. This isn’t just going away.” He’s got that right.

If it seems like the Bay Area suddenly has a plethora of bike sharing options, it’s because it does. Several companies such as Ford GoBike, LimeBike and Spin are each looking to make a mark in the region’s bike-friendly culture. Ford GoBike, which utilizes docking stations where bikes are parked between uses, plans to expand its existing 700-bike program to 7000 bikes. Other cities like South San Francisco and Mountain View have made deals with stationless bike sharing companies, which allow riders more flexibility but risk bikes being left in random spots.

Both types of companies have faced pushback: In San Francisco’s Mission District, the neighborhood council banned a GoBike station from 24th Street and bikes have been vandalized throughout the Bay Area. San Francisco, which like other cities has a controversial exclusivity contract with GoBike, has yet to approve permit requests for several stationless bike share companies. In this segment we’ll take a look at how the bike share turf wars are helping and hurting the Bay Area…(more)

Corporate Connections:Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is a 9-county regional organization of unelected officials that manages state and federal funds and grants, including taxes for large public transit projects.  Motivate is a NY based corporation that operates bike shares on a national scale. Ford GoBike is the Bay Area bike share division of Motivate. Motivate contracts with the city of San Francisco under a controversial deal put together by the SFMTA.

Ford GoBike Financial arrangements: According to the information here, MTC has a partnership agreement with Motivate. MTC subsidizes bike share and most other public transportation systems. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK! In this case, Ford is a patron of the GoBike program, to the tune of $49 million dollars over the next ten years. IF FORD DOES NOT SUPPORT YOU, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO SUPPORT FORD. This means that GoBike can expand whether or not people rent the bikes.

Ford GoBike Expansion Plans: GoBike plans to have 540 stations in San Francisco by the end of 2018. By their count, this would remove 1620 parking spots, many in residential neighborhoods. They expect to be the 2nd largest market in the country. Who is benefiting from this? How will this effect the Residential Parking Permit program?

Unfair Businesses Practices: How can a private/public partnership subsidized by public taxes and a corporate patron compete fairly with private bike owners and businesses associated with bike businesses and rentals that do not enjoy any subsidies? SFMTA is not approving any stationless bike rentals yet. Do they feel threatened by that model?

Regulatory Practices: How can the SFMTA fairly regulate their competition? How widespread is the competition?

Public criticism: Many residents claim they had no notice before the stations popped up and there has been a lot of pushback and vandalism. GoBike officials claim they are prepared to handle this and since city policies override voters and taxpayers wishes they do not appear to care. With our money backing them, they don’t need to. THINK ABOUT THIS NEXT TIME YOU ARE ASKED TO SUPPORT MORE TAXES FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Let Ford pay instead.

RELATED:
Bicyclists Boycott Bernal Businesses Seeking Removal Of Bike-Sharing Stations
Last week, the Examiner reported that the MIssion-Bernal Merchants Association (MBMA) asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to immediately remove a new Ford GoBike station installed in front of the UPS Store at 60 29th Street between Tiffany and Mission… (more)

 

$3 toll hike plan has Bay Area politicos dueling for dollars

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Traffic streaming across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco on a weekend evening. photo by zrants.

East Bay officials are threatening to oppose a regional ballot measure calling for a toll increase of as much as $3 on area bridges unless they get a bigger cut of the pie — and that’s triggered some last-minute political wheeling and dealing to get everyone on board with the transportation initiative.

“We are talking about an extra $700 a year,” Orinda Vice Mayor Amy Worth said of her suburban constituents.“These are working people who use the bridges to get to their jobs.”

Worth, who as a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has a say in how transit dollars are allocated, has some prominent company in questioning how the proposed ballot measure is being put together. State Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat, and GOP Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon say BART in particular needs to be well policed if it’s going to be trusted with millions of additional toll dollars.

“The current proposal falls well short,” said Glazer, who has been on a one-man crusade against BART ever since a pair of 2013 strikes at the transit agency made life miserable for riders in Orinda and everywhere else in the East Bay…

Beall said lawmakers have about two weeks to reach a deal if the measure is to make the ballot next year. Whatever eventually lands there probably has a decent chance of passing, regardless of whether the East Bay officials endorse it… (more)

The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Employers warned to offer commuter benefit to workers in Bay Area

By Denis Cuff : eastbaytimes – excerpt

80 Shuttle buses staging on 24th street twice a day idling, spewing out toxic air and running loud engines for air-conditioners are not tenable for residents on the narrow residential neighborhood. This is not a green commuter solution.

An air pollution rule requires large Bay Area employers to offer incentives or pre-tax benefits to workers to take van pools, car pools, public transit, or bicycles to work.

Air pollution regulators are warning thousands of Bay Area employers they could be fined for failing to comply with a rule requiring them to offer a commuter benefit to employees who get to work via van pool, bus, train or bike.

Under the 2014 rule made permanent last year, employers with 50 or more full-time workers must offer them a benefit encouraging commute methods that reduce gridlock and air pollution.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has estimated that about 8,000 employers are covered by the rule, but only about 4,200 have registered with the air district and demonstrated they offered a benefit, officials said Tuesday…

The benefit can save employees several hundred dollars a year, as well as lower payroll taxes for employers, according to the air district and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Continued noncompliance could result in companies being cited and fined, said Tom Flannigan, an air district spokesman.

“Our first option will be working with companies to get them to comply,” he said, “but companies at some point could be cited for violations just like businesses that pollute.”

Companies can register at 511.org, and find more out more information about it at http://511.org/employers/commuter/news... (more)

REPEAL THIS LAW – “Employers also can offer workers a free or subsidized bus or shuttle service such as buses offered to Google workers.”

 

Does this look like the source of the problem we are having with commuter shuttles to anyone else?

It is time to fix the shuttle bus problem by repealing this law or re-writing the rules to allow for more local control over the shuttle option. If the point of this program is to clean the air, and the idling shuttle buses are adding to the problem, this is not the solution to the clean air problem.