$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)

BART: $20 million for expanded parking at Dublin station hinges on Assemblywoman Catharine Baker

By : mercurynews – excerpt

DUBLIN — Assemblywoman Catharine Baker unexpectedly secured a $20 million commitment from the governor’s office to pay for expanded parking at BART’s Dublin/Pleasanton station, which would fulfill a long-held promise by the transit agency to build a second garage there.

The only problem? BART’s governing board doesn’t want the garage. And that has the $20 million in limbo while Baker decides how to spend it…

BART’s board was split on the new plan, voting 5-4 to adopt the so-called “hybrid” model, which also includes proposals to enhance the station’s connections to the Iron Horse Trail, install new bike parking and work with the local bus operator to improve transit to and from the station. The plan is more flexible, and would use attendant-assisted parking with automated parking structure modules added over time to test their effectiveness, staff said.

But Baker isn’t buying it. She doesn’t trust the automated parking structures, which are used worldwide but she said have yet to be tested at a transit station, where hundreds of people get off the train at the same time during rush-hour commutes…

“Look at how unreliable BART’s escalators and elevators are,” Baker said. “BART wants to promise that not only will that technology be reliable, but it will get them their car in 90 seconds. … I just don’t believe that plays out in reality.”

So where does that leave the $20 million? Baker says the money will be used to build some parking structure near the BART station, whether it’s on BART property or not… (more)

Carpool cash doled out to slash traffic

By Samantha Weigel : smdailyjournal – excerpt

In the ongoing effort to reduce congestion in a region where nearly 70 percent of people drive to work alone, $1 million will be offered to those who carpool to or from San Mateo County

The City/County Association of Governments announced a new pilot program this week that plugs in to the proliferation of smartphone apps and the rise of the sharing economy.

C/CAG will help subsidize carpooling for those who live or work in San Mateo County by offering $2 for both drivers and passengers traveling during peak commute hours. The program began last week for those using Scoop Technologies’ smartphone app and another contract is being drafted for Waze Carpool, said C/CAG Executive Director Sandy Wong.

“We want to try out more innovative strategies to reduce congestion,” Wong said. “We capture the new trend in the sharing society, and are using new technology of the app that provides users a more real time base.”

The app matches people who live and work near one another, with people booking rides just a few hours in advance. Passengers pay a distance-based amount to the driver. Scoop touts its app as a way to save time by steering people toward the carpool lane, reducing traffic and helping commuters save money… (more)

Carpooling Incentive Program Launches For South San Francisco Residents

patch – excerpt

280-Overpass

Cars driving into the city on one of the many southern access freeways photo by zrants

The “Carpool In San Mateo County!” program offers drivers and riders a $2 incentive per person during peak commute times.

 

SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA — The City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG) is launching a pilot program to encourage San Mateo County residents or commuters who work in San Mateo County to utilize private sector carpools during peak travel periods.

The Carpool In San Mateo County! program will leverage mobile carpooling applications (apps) to increase local carpool ridership, therefore reducing single occupancy vehicles, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the need for parking within San Mateo County. Commuters are able to save time, money, and the environment through the Carpool In San Mateo County! program.

Carpool In San Mateo County! offers drivers and riders a $2 incentive per person for each trip that begins or ends in San Mateo County during the peak commute periods (5:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.). The program offers a maximum of $4 per rider and driver each day… (more)

Congress Advances Proposal To Preempt Calif. Regulations On Self-Driving Cars

By  Daniel Potter : Capitol Public Radio – excerpt (includes audio)

Congress is advancing a proposal to preempt some California regulations on self-driving cars.

States like California have traditionally regulated how cars are operated, but the federal government regulates their design.

“The trick here is now the vehicles are becoming the operators, so there’s a little blurring of those lines,” says Law Professor Bryant Walker Smith.

He also says the bill would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more authority over autonomous vehicle design. That could preempt current requirements in California for things like an emergency switch to shut off self-driving mode.­

“But that preemption would not preclude states from enacting all manner of other laws related to automated driving,” says Smith.

Registration and insurance would still be left to the state. The Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t comment on the bill, which is up for a vote in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee this week… (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.

Salesforce buys naming rights to Transbay Transit Center

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s new downtown transit center will have something in common with AT&T Park and Oracle Arena — a corporate name.

Salesforce, a software company with its headquarters and 6,600 employees in the Bay Area, has agreed to a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship of the 2½-blocklong facility set to open next spring at Fremont and Mission streets. The deal includes naming rights, which means that the complex would be known as the Salesforce Transit Center.

Similarly, the 5.4-acre rooftop open space will become Salesforce Park if the board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority approves the contract Thursday at its monthly meeting.

The cloud-like Salesforce logo that adorns two towers near the transit center would not appear on the exterior of the new facility, however. Nor would Salesforce have veto authority on events held in the park, even those of rival corporations… (more)

What a coincidence. This naming announcement comes out right after the plaza re-design was heard in Planning. The Commissioners were not too supportive of the changes suggested this week. Let’s see if they feel more supportive next time.

RELATED:
Facebook to build a small city next to its headquarters

Bay Area voters may be asked to OK bridge toll hike of up to $3

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Saturday Night traffic on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

Lawmakers, business leaders and staffers at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have been quietly meeting at the state Capitol in an effort to draw up a proposal for a toll increase of $2 to $3 on the Bay Area’s seven state-run bridges.

The goal is to have the measure in front of voters either in next year’s June primary election or on the November general election ballot.

Money from the toll increase — an estimated $125 million a year — would pay for a number of projects intended to ease traffic congestion. Those could include funding for 300 new BART cars, something that would allow the transit agency to run more trains; construction of more high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstates 80, 680 and 880, plus Highway 101; expanded ferry systems and more express buses; BART service to San Jose; and the growing cost of the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco… (more)

How many times will voters be tapped to pay for the mistakes and miscalculations of our elected officials? What will they do if the voters refuse to pay their debts?

Will they go away and leave us alone to get on with our lives?  New Jersey and Illinois are finding out now, as they face a major credit-default crisis.

There is a limited amount of tolerance left among the taxpaying public. This could be the end of the gravy train. SFMTA is raising rates across the bridge for everyone, including the Muni riders. Meanwhile, there has been no comparable raise in salaries to cover the costs of living increases except among the government employees.

How much government does the public need or want?

Once again, read the article and comment at the source if you can. The ideas they dream up of how to get money out of use to spend on their projects is staggering.

Is California about to Clobber Local Planning Control?

By Zelda Bronstein : citywatch – excerpt

PLANNING–The gradual decimation of local voice in planning has become accepted policy in Sacramento. The State Senate is now considering two dangerous bills, SB 35 and SB 167, that together severely curtail democratic control of housing.

SB 35: Housing Accountability and Affordability Act (Wiener)(more)

SB 35 is pro-traffic congestion. It would prohibit cities from requiring parking in a “streamlined development approved pursuant” to SB 35, located within a half-mile of public transit, in an architecturally and historically significant historic district, when on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupants of the project, and when there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the development. Other projects approved under the measure would be limited to one space per unit… (more)

Please consider signing this Petition to Oppose SB35:  https://www.change.org/p/assem blymember-aquiar-curry-oppose-sb-35-unless-amended

And write letters if you can to the Assemblymembers listed here: http://assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers

Sample message:
PROTECT LOCAL CONTROL OVER ZONING.

California citizens oppose by-right laws that override our local zoning and use policies and guidelines. Our city government has spent a lot of time and energy to create a specific plan and the citizens have had a hand in the decision-making process. It is not right for the state to step in and override our efforts. Many cities want to opt out of the by-right rules. That should tell you SB35 is not popular. We oppose this legislation.

Sincerely,

(signature), Concerned Citizen