Why we oppose Regional Measure Three (RM3)

rm3-300

It would take too long to explain all the reasons why we oppose this inflationary bridge toll so we will quote some of the opposition sites. Current tolls are confusing already, and explain the differing figures on the end results of RM3. It depends on when you drive and how big are. See them here. Trucks are already paying $15-$35 to cross the Bay Bridge depending on axle size. This sort of explains our high costs of living in San Francisco.

Let’s start by saying the geniuses in Silicon Valley who are bankrolling RM3, do not have the public interest in mind as they expand their empires, and passage of RM3 would greatly benefit them. Even though Silicon Valley has no bridges, the bridge toll funds would be used to establish toll roads and HOT lanes where there are no bridges, so everyone would pay. This has not been lost on some of the elected officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara County who have campaigned against RM3.

Nine-County-Coalition on RM3 Campaign:

The Regional Measure 3 campaign — whose backers include Facebook, Salesforce, Google and a number of other businesses — had its informal kickoff the other day, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced her support during a “fireside chat” hosted by the tech-boosting Silicon Valley Leadership Group… So far, the campaign has amassed a $2 million war chest, including $350,000 from Facebook, $250,000 from Kaiser Permanente Health Care, $125,000 from Dignity Health Care and $125,000 from Salesforce. – passage of RM3 would greatly benefit Silicon Valley…

We cannot help but wonder why such big “power players” are willing to spend so much time and treasure on ensuring the passage of RM3 — as they did with Measure AA — if indeed “there has been no organized opposition.”

Maybe it is because they know other legislators besides Mark deSaulnier and Catharine Baker are questioning the efficacy and transparency of RM3.  This from another Matier & Ross article,

Even with the sweeteners, there was opposition from Contra Costa County, with state Assembly members Jim Frazier, D-Brentwood, Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, all voting “no.”  Frazier, who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee, said that while there was a need for transportation improvements, “adding another tax on commuters is not the answer.” He likened an $8 toll to “highway robbery.”

Or maybe it is because they know there is opposition from small players like smaller businesses that need to truck goods across California’s state-owned bridges, or lower-income folks whose realities of life prevent them from taking public transit to and from their workplaces, or people who see through a poorly managed RM3 plan.  These smaller unorganized players are the quiet threat to the big and powerful… (more)

There was no money spent to defeat the last transit sales tax in San Francisco either and that one lost. San Francisco residents are so fed up with the SFMTA they convinced the Board of Supervisors to do something to take back control over the agency that ignore the public, miss-manages projects and excels only in backslapping, self-aggrandizement, and pissing off the public. The message to starve the beast worked to stop the sales tax and there was no publicity. This time there are a lot more vocal opposition covered by the media. We shall see who is listening soon.

RELATED:
Regional Measure 3: Empty Promises
Occupymtc.org
Savesfmuni

New RM3 Flyer for printing and distribution or posting on your website.  Contributed by a Nine-County Coalition participant.  Download.

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Ballot Measure would raise Bay Area bridge tolls $3

By Alexis Smith : KGO – excerpt

No matter how you get to work, you’ve no doubt seen the impacts of the bay area’s thriving economy. Packed trains, congested highways, late ferries and aging transit systems are the norm, but voters are being asked to pass regional measure three to fix them…

“We want to smooth out the system – make it more efficient, we’re not planning to build new freeways here, but we’re going to smooth out the express lane system at the same time try to move more people onto mass transportation,” said Wunderman.

If passed, there would be some road improvements, but, most of the money would be spent on improving the Bay Area’s existing mass transit infrastructure…

“This is the first transportation tax I’ve opposed in oh – the 28 years I’ve held elected office,” said Walnut Creek Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. He says he’s voting “no” on Regional Measure 3. Mostly because those who foot the bill will see the least from its passage….

DeSaulnier was once on the M-T-C board and he says its record of spending money well isn’t good. Starting with the decision to move its headquarters from Oakland to San Francisco.

Congressman DeSaulnier added, “They spent $250 million for a building they didn’t need – and they were $5 billion over budget on the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge.”…

“We have an incredible quality of life here – we have an incredible economy here – but we have challenges as a result of our success and we need to invest in solving those things and this is one way the region can come together,” said Wunderman…. (more)

VOTE NO ON REGIONAL MEASURE 3  Who are the WE with the quality of life here? Certainly not the displaced people who were forced to move to commute to “make room” for people. Their lifestyle sucks now and they are the least likely to afford the additional tolls even though it falls on their heads.

MTC SPREADS THE PAIN TO EVERYONE. Funds from the tolls will be used for toll roads and HOT lanes in Silicon Valley and everywhere else. No one will be spared. The $9.oo bridge toll is the tip of the iceberg.

RM3 REMOVES VOTER CONTROL OVER FUTURE BRIDGE TOLLS. If RM3 passes the voters will never be bothered with the need to vote on another bridge toll. The measure includes built-in increases based on inflation, that bill will ensure by forcing everyone to pay higher prices for all deliveries, including food.

RELATED:
Occupymtc.org
Nine-county-coalition
Oppose RM3

June Measure Calls for Bay Area Bridge Toll Hikes

By Jodie Hernandez : nbcnews – excerpt (includes video)

Night-Bridge

Crossing the old span of the Bay Bridge into San Francisco photo by zrants

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/June-Measure-Calls-For-Bay-Area-Bridge-Toll-Hikes-481987161.html

Some quotes:
1. “We are asking people to dig a little bit deeper to pay for projects that won’t come from any other source.” Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council. (Most people do not believe it is possible to pay for all the promised improvements using bridge tolls alone. We have evidence to the contrary.)

2. “expanding the express lane network.” (this is where it hits everyone who doesn’t cross a bridge, including the peninsula residents, many of who are opposing RM3.)

3. Two big problems… It won’t work and it isn’t fair. Transit Advocate, David Schonbrunn.

4. Only 18% of the money in the toll measure directly effects bridge corridors. David Schonbrunn. www.occupymtc.org

May Day Media Headline Blitz

Today marks the beginning of a tense month in California politics as we line up to vote on a lot of issues that may effect the social fabric of our state. We will touch on the media headlines regarding the two major ballot initiatives that are in the news us today.

The SB-1 Gas Tax Repeal: for the November Ballot
Conservatives Turn in 940,000 Signatures for Anti-Gas Tax Initiative
California gas tax repeal heading for the November ballot, campaign says

Regional Measure 3 – A Bridge Toll increases and changes in the voter approval process for future bridge toll decisions:
Voters to Decide on Toll Increases for Bay Area Bridges  Bay Area voters in June will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to pay another dollar in tolls on seven bridges starting next year, according to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority… (more)

We have to take exception to this statement. This bill does not add another dollar it adds at least $3.00. This is an example of how the media is being used to sell lies to the public. But the public is on high alert for FAKE NEWS so they are a lot less gullible than they were during previous election cycles.

Beyond cost of living increases, RM3 authorizes the Bay Area Toll Authority to increase tolls above $3 without consulting the electorate, if deemed necessary to service BATA’s huge debt.The law makes the agency’s first commitment to its creditors.) 

To understand RM3, its opponents considered what it would fund as well as how the funds will be raised. They are promising projects to all the counties in the hopes of convincing enough people to support the bill, NBC is labeling a $1 bridge toll increase.

One of the promises made to San Mateo commuters is that their share of the funds would be used to create express toll lanes on 101 from San Francisco to Mateo County, I-680 and other highways in the region. This does little for commuters, while it adds more to the coffers of the MTC. Will the voters see this?

 

 

Public Transportation Industry Generates Profit out of Public Debt.

Op-Ed

When analyzing public debt sources, don’t leave the Transportation Industrial Complex out of your list of bloodsucking debt boosters. Look at who supports the candidates running for office, but, don’t stop there. Look at the product developers and manufacturers that are selling parking systems, paint, concrete, and parking meters and traffic control systems and all the other fancy new toys our cities are buying on credit. All those fancy apps and up-to-date signs and electronic gizmos are boosting sales and draining pubic coffers. Sit in on a meeting of experimental devices and you can hear the electronic cash register zing.

San Francisco’s largest employer is the city of San Francisco and the largest department is the SFMTA. This year, all city departments and agencies were told to cut back on new hires, but, SFMTA is trying to add more. Their budget is 1.2 billion dollars and that is just their spending money. The long term debt is indecently high and has been for too long. Do we really need more than 6,000 people to run the SF Muni system? If there is a cheaper, has disruptive alternative, the SFMTA will never approve it. They need the Cadillac model of everything.

How many other cities are going into debt to service their public transportation industry? San Francisco can’t be alone in this predicament. How many public servants can society support and why is there so much pressure being put on the public to depend on the government for transportation when it costs so much less for people to transport themselves? Forcing non-users to support the public transit system makes it easier to hide the extremely high cost of this program and the debt that the public is taking on.

We need a leaner, meaner transportation department. Instead of being forced to provide an affordable, reliable basic transportation system for people who need it, the SFMTA is blowing billions of dollars on the most expensive, least reliable, high tech system they can dream up. And they have no limits or boundaries until the voters wise up and demand a change. A couple of our Supervisors are working on an Ordinance and possible Charter Amendment to address some of the complaints citizens are lodging against the SFMTA.

Ask your public officials how much the public transportation system they are trying to force down your throat is costing each citizen in your county, and vote NO on RM3 when it comes up, to cut the powers of the regional MTC and send a message to the transportation industry and the government that supports it to cut costs.

What do MTC, Ford GoBikes, Motivate LLC and Related Real Estate have in common and why bring it up now?

Photos of GoBikes in the Mission by zrants

It is important to understand the role, the mission and methods of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that unleashed this invasion on our streets and is now trying to convince the voters to pony up more money for more of the same through RM3, the $3 bridge toll.

People are complaining about the proliferation of GoBikes and the contract that brought them to our city. The subject moved into the Mayoral race when Supervisor Breed was recently credited with removing a station near her abode.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission,(MTC) signed an agreement with Motivate LLC that created a public/private partnership in 2015.
BAY AREA BIKE SHARE PROGRAM AGREEMENT between METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION and BAY AREA MOTIVATE, LLC
Or download it here: Program_Agreement

The agreement supposedly obligates bay area communities to hand over public space for the exclusive use of Motivate’s privately owned and managed bike-share stations. As we understand it, Motivate is supposed to share the profit with the local transit authority after a certain level of profit is realized. You would probably need an audit to find out whether this relationship is paying for the space it is taking from the public.

Since MTC is going to the ballot for more money in June, it is important to understand how they operate. Where does MTC get authority to make a deal to privatize public space by handing it over to a private corporation without pubic knowledge and is this the proper role of the MTC? If you don’t approve of MTCs activities, you might want to oppose RM3.

The June 5 ballot includes Regional Measure 3 and a $3 bridge toll increase. The measure includes language that would peg future bridge toll increases to the inflation rate and bypass further voter approval of those increases. Regional Measure 2 increased the property tax and pegged that to inflation. Who benefits?

Why I oppose the Bay Area $3 bridge toll hike

Op-Ed by DeSaulnier : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Weekend traffic on the Western span of the Bay Bridge at Sunset photo by zrants

The region urgently needs new investment in transportation. But Regional Measure 3 is not the answer.

Regional Measure 3, the $3 bridge toll hike on the June ballot that would raise money for transportation improvements, is a highly flawed initiative born out of dysfunctional policy-making. Voters should reject it.

There is no question that the San Francisco Bay Area urgently needs new investment in transportation. The fact that many voters are willing to pay substantially higher tolls reflects their frustration with traffic congestion. Workers are facing too many hours stuck in traffic, stressful commutes in crammed BART cars, lost family time and reduced productivity.

As I and others have argued, if the Bay Area fails to address the challenges of traffic and affordable housing, we will lose our competitive edge. However, Regional Measure 3 is not the answer…

The Bay Bridge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters acquisition and renovation, and the Transbay Terminal are projects that have involved billions in cost-overruns and undermined confidence in governments’ ability to plan and prioritize.

Now is the time to stop this cycle of waste and frustration and to engage in serious and coordinated planning, because the Bay Area needs and deserves better. Without greater transparency and accountability, Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, serves on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and previously served as chair of the California Senate and Assembly transportation committees... (more)

VOTE NO ON RM3. This controversial bill has been cobbled together by a regional group of transportation politicians with no successful track record that has lost the public trust due to cost overruns on wasteful projects like the Transbay Terminal and MTC headquarters.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  The laundry list of projects was created to offer something to everyone, but no guaranteed deliverables, and the bill contains a poison pill that will allow unchecked inflationary rate hikes in the future without voter approvals.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  If passed this bill will add considerably to the cost of living in the Bay Area and will guarantee inflationary rate hikes on all goods that are delivered by trucks that cross the bridges.

VOTE NO ON RM3. This bill, in conjunction with gas tax hikes, will make commuting into the city impossible for many employees, who will choose jobs in the suburbs closer to their new homes.

VOTE NO ON RM3. As DeSaulnier points out, Regional Measure 3 is a flawed bill that provides:

  • No framework for performance measures or oversight to gauge progress
  • No vision for how residents and commuters will benefit.
  • No analysis to show how congestion on major corridors would be reduced, or when the improvements may kick in.

Muni Metro stop at Warriors’ new SF arena is one pricey platform

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_3178.JPG

Arena with passing T-Line car going up at 16th and Third Street shot by zrants

The cost of building a bigger Muni Metro platform to handle fans at the Mission Bay arena is growing faster than the Warriors’ injury list.

The plan is to tear out the 130-foot-long Metro platform, just down Third Street from the under-construction Chase Center, and build a 320-foot replacement right in front of the arena.

Building the new platform, however, is just part of the job…

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Torres’ concern is prompted in part by news that Muni already is coming up short on the project and will need borrow $10 million from the city to complete the job.

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

“This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board… (more)

Government needs to remember that the real world does not exist on a piece of paper and a handshake with the biggest money man in the room. Government officials need to serve the people not themselves.

Even if money did grow on trees, willing contractors do not. Labor is lacking and not easy to import with the current climate in Washington. Materials and financing costs are going through the roof, and the mood among likely voters favors big changes at City Hall.

“Leno’s first-place finish was “a real boost” for him and “a vote for change at City Hall,” said former Supervisor David Campos, the committee’s chair.”

The likelihood of passing another regional tax and spend scheme among the nine county voters is getting slimmer with the increase in weather temperatures followed by the increase in anger and frustration with the current policies and practices that got us where we are now.

Trust in government is at an all time low. If San Francisco is to survive as we know it, a change must come. Spending $62 million dollars to shift priorities to a sports arena that will serve only the wealthy few who can afford expensive tickets, is a bad idea in this climate. A recent D-10 Superviosor race found NOT SUPPORT among hte candidates at who spoke.

A number of departments heads may soon find themselves without their exorbitant salaries if these schemes continue to roll through. The residents will have the chance to vote against a litany of controversial  projects and waste by opposing Regional Measure 3, the bridge toll $3 increase.

California voters may also have the chance to repeal SB 1 that could roll back the gas tax that is raising the costs of products being brought in on trucks that are hardest hit by this tax. $25 dollar burgers and $8 avocado toast is not joke to the people who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

These two bills alone will determine how the city and region continues to deal with the traffic problems and the transportation schemes they are developing. Our state representatives who are pushing unpopular legislation in Sacramento may also find themselves out of work as the voters will have the chance to replace them soon. Senator Josh Newman is facing a recall election, after being blamed for casting the deciding vote that passed SB1.

More changes in Sacramento may come as a result of Scott Wiener’s unpopular SB 827 bill that would up-zone the entire state around a transit-based up-zoning scheme by “allowing  the state to seize control of your neighborhood” planning and zoning decisions.

With the recent power grabs in Washington, citizens may not be prepared to relinquish any more powers to any government bodies they feel are chipping away at their personal freedoms by centralizing control.

Rebuttal to Senate Bill 827 Amendments

Map of effected areas in SF indicates 96% of the city property will be up-zoned if SB 827 passes.

(Courtesy of the SF Planning Department)

Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 827 received great criticism on many fronts, including these two topics:

(1) Demolition Protections: The up-zoning SB827 imposes will accelerate demolition of existing housing. Wiener amended his bill to incorporate language that local demolition laws will remain.

(2) Anti Displacement & Eviction Protections: SB827 would lead to developers evict low income tenants building developments that would be offered at higher rents that would displace low income residents.

In February 2018 Scott Wiener made amendments to the bill in an attempt to address these amendments. These amendments are invalid and ineffective for the reasons described below.

Claim: Local Demolition Laws Will Remain

Scott Wiener summarizes his amendments as follows:

“Rent-controlled housing may not be considered for demolition permits unless a local government certifies by resolution, after the passage of SB 827, that the city will consider demolition permits for rent-controlled housing based on criteria and processes set forth in the resolution, and affirm that every displaced tenant will have a Right to Remain Guarantee (#4). After the resolution passes, the city retains full discretion to deny, restrict, or limit issuance of these permits in accordance with its policy.

All local processes for evaluating demolition permits shall apply to SB 827 projects. These local processes may include reviews through a Planning Commission or City Council, or even be categorical bans on certain types of demolition. Additionally, a demolition permit may not be issued for an SB 827 project until an adequate Right to Remain Guarantee for all displaced tenants – regardless of whether the housing was rent-controlled or not – has been approved by the local government.”

Rebuttal: Why these Demolition Amendments are Ineffective

Currently, the Planning and Building Code for demolition controls are routinely ignored as evidenced by illegal demolitions that continue to take place.  Case in point is J.K. Dineen’s article from January 7 of the Chronicle that featured 3 homes.  We have many more that have yet to be ajudicated.  The additional height and number of dwellings offered by SB827 will incentivize more demolitions in a city that is already plagued by illegal demolitions.

Claim: SB827 Introduces the Strongest Possible Eviction Protection Measures & Gives Renters “Right of Return”

Wiener’s bill introduces clauses stating the following:

  • All moving expenses for tenants moving into and out of interim dwellings are paid while the project is being built.
  • Up to 42 months of rental assistance that covers the full rent of an available, comparable unit in the area is provided.
  • Right of first refusal for housing units in the new building is guaranteed, including new lease at the rent previously enjoyed by the tenant in their demolished unit.

Why these Anti-Displacement Amendments are Ineffective

a) Developers Can Easily Circumvent These Provisions: In reality, “renovictions“, buyouts, and Ellis Acting will occur long before any application for permit is filed.  Because Planning does NOT check whether or not an address was previously tenant-occupied, developers can get away with this.  Planning doesn’t keep an inventory of rental units and as such, cannot identify what property is renter-occupied.

b) No Agency is Accountable to Enforce the Provisions: What agency would provide the oversight for any of the so called displacement protections? Who is going to enforce the right to return for tenants that have to move out?  Who would determine what a comparable unit is?  Would something in Antioch be comparable for tenants in the Mission?  A city that has a heck of a time enforcing its current Planning and Building Code will not be able to administer unenforceable requirements such as these ones.

c) Unscrupulous Use of Construction Delays: All construction cycles are unpredictable by nature.  Delays happen all the times because of the market or developers who just want to get the entitlements and then sell them to the next developer.  What if the build cycle goes beyond 42 months?  When does the clock still ticking on that 42 months?  From the time that the developer applies for permit or from the time that the construction begins.  It’s easy for unscrupulous developers to game the system and drag the permit and construction process to go beyond 42 months.

Amendments Are Not the Answer

We are not seeking amendments to Senate Bill 827 to address these concerns. We believe Senate Bill 827 is entirely the wrong approach to solve the housing crisis as it:

(1) Invalidly presumes market rate developers will build enough units to stabilize or reduce rents. This invalidly presumes trickle down (now referenced as “filter down”) economics work, and markets are efficient. It ignores that increasing units generates additional demand from speculators and a continuous flow of new employees to the region.

(2) Removes local decision making imposing a one size fits all mandate that overrides local considerations such as environmental issues (E.g. nature preservation, risk of flood, fire, etc…) and local issues (e.g. capacity of transportation infrastructure, local services such as police, fire and schools, etc…).

We respect that California is facing a housing crisis and advocate solutions focusing on providing truly affordable housing that respect local and environmental considerations and that protect communities of color and low income communities.

Send edits, additions or suggestions to comments for consideration.

Sample letter written by Marina Communities Association

 

Faster track for transit-friendly housing

editorial board : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s oft-delayed trains look downright speedy next to the painful pace of housing development around its stations. Take the affordable-housing complex Casa Arabella, the second phase of which broke ground on a parking lot near Oakland’s Fruitvale Station last week. The occasion, as The Chronicle detailed, arrived nearly a quarter-century after plans for the area transit village took shape.

Housing around BART stations and other mass-transit hubs, as it turns out, isn’t so different from housing throughout California: disdained by surprisingly plentiful, powerful and vocal constituencies and therefore in all too short supply. And yet neighborhoods served by train stations are among the most logical places for high-density housing development that won’t compound traffic and pollution.

Promising new legislation by Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Timothy Grayson, D-Concord, seeks to address the relative scarcity of BART-accessible housing by requiring the system to adopt zoning standards that promote residential development and forcing cities to go along with them. The bill, AB2923, also would mandate that developers devote at least 20 percent of projects to affordable housing and, in a potentially counterproductive concession to organized labor, pay union-level wages… (more)

Chiu is aligning his political future with Wiener’s. They appear to be taking their marching orders from the YIMBYs and their developer backers instead of listening to their constituents.

Chiu’s AB2923 would force development on BART parking lots. Wiener’s SB 827 and its cousins, if passed, will impose state zoning on all of California’s local governments. Both are extremely unpopular with citizens around the state and neither of these bills have been vetted by their constituents, or the local governments they are being imposed upon. Cities and counties around the state are opposing SB 827.

After the last decade of government by developers, we have no less traffic, cheaper housing, or happier citizens. We have more workers with longer commute times, thousands of displaced people living on dangerous crime-ridden streets, and the highest cost of living in the world. Our local businesses are closing and the disruptive on-demand delivery industry is at a crisis point, as delivery services do not perform as promised. The effects of the entire SMART plan need to be evaluated before we continue down this path.

If you oppose dense stack and pack development, attacks on private vehicle ownership, and/or the state takeover of local jurisdictions, you may want to vote for some new representation in Sacramento when you get the chance. Stay tuned for details on how you can fight back.

RELATED:
Lawmakers introduce transit development bill for BART stations