The Board of Equalization got the last laugh on a gas tax increase

By Jon Coupal : ocregister – excerpt

In a normal universe, the rejection of a gas tax increase by a state agency would be based primarily on policy grounds. But in a strange mix of wonkish tax policy, political turf fighting and revenge, California drivers will be spared — temporarily — from a 4 cent per gallon tax increase on gasoline.

On Feb. 27, the Board of Equalization was expected to approve a routine request by the governor’s Department of Finance to raise the tax. But it did not. As a result, the state treasury will miss out on a little more than $600 million (much to the relief of California drivers, however).

Because California already has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, citizens may not care one bit about why the Board of Equalization rejected the tax increase. But understanding how this happened is an object lesson in the strangeness that is California.

It begins with the “gas tax swap.”…

The Legislature then saw these issues as an opportunity to pounce and deprive the Board of Equalization of the bulk of its authority, shifting much of its responsibilities to a new bureaucracy-driven California Department of Tax and Fee Administration that has no direct political accountability…

And although the members who spoke against the increase cast their positions as looking out for California taxpayers, no one who has observed the Board of Equalization over several years missed the real message being delivered to the Legislature. The board’s decision leaves the fuel excise tax at 29 cents per gallon, instead of 33 cents, for another year unless the legislature finds a clever way to bypass the process… (more)


Governor Brown does not believe in Taxation with Representation

News flash!

Governor Brown imposes extra hurdles for voters’ initiated ballot initiative to repeal state taxes and fees imposed by the state legislature. He wants a recount of the signatures!

  • It is not enough that California has the highest valued land and highest inflation rate in the country.
  • It is not enough that the California legislation is passing taxes, fees, and fines onto the citizens at an alarming rate.
  • It is not enough that our state legislators have created a number of regional taxing administrative organizations made up of non-elected bodies of bureaucrats to pass even more taxes, fees and fines at non-governmental levels.

We do not work for them. Governor Brown and the state legislature need a wake up call to remind them that they work for us. That means we can fire them by voting them out of office. We want representatives  who respects our rights and the rights of our local governments to represent the people of California, not the corporate money interests.

Show the Governor who is boss by sending more signatures to count:
Here’s the petition for you to print and get signatures

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.

Lawmakers introduce transit development bill for BART stations

Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…


In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827

San Francisco Supervisor Wants Tax On Uber And Lyft

By Susie Steimle : cbslocal – excerpt (including video)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Ride-hailing companies could be forced to pay up if one San Francisco supervisor who says he’s tired of Uber and Lyft not contributing their fair share gets his way.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin says the time for complacency toward these companies is over. Peskin is calling state lawmakers complicit and says lobbyists have influenced California for far too long…

On Tuesday Peskin called on state lawmakers to turn the reigns over to cities when it comes to regulating rideshare. Next week he plans to introduce a city ballot measure for November that would allow San Francisco to tax Uber and Lyft… (more)

We suggest looking at the individuals at the CPUC who are caving to the TNCS. Who appointed them and where do they get their authority? Also consider why people are taking these rides to begin with. What did the SFMTA think people would do when they made car ownership and parking so difficult and cut Muni services and stops and killed the taxi industry? Fix those problems and the Uber Lyfts will be less popular.

Oh, and the new CEO of Uber stated it is his company’s intention of taking over municipal transportation. So they are directly competing with Muni How many residents are competing with Muni?

California CPUC is to blame for the corporate takeover of our streets. We need new leadership at the CPUP.

Video by Spenser Michael, PBS NewsHours : KQED  – excerpt (video included)

This story ran in 2014.

Every weekday morning, dozens of sleek buses roll through the heart of San Francisco, picking up a cargo of workers commuting south to companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. But critics say the buses are clogging city bus stops and are symbolic of the disparity in wealth between the new tech workers and the long-time working class residents… (more)

Matters have gone from bad to worse. The SFMTA turned public parking spaces over to the buses and now we dealing with more buses and TNCs. As the street parking disappears a new parking need arises for delivery services.

Nothing the state, county, city agencies have done with the millions of dollars in federal, state, regional, county, or city taxes, fines and fees, has put a dent in the traffic problem.

California citizens all over the state are calling for a halt in the failed projects until major changes are enacted to stop the flawed plans that are not working.

RELATED: National coverage has been building on this subject for years.

Fast forward to 2018:

We now know a lot more about the “healthy economy” and it is unhealthy for most people.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) does not work for the public. At their last meeting they determined that because they are spending less money than anticipated on enforcement, the fees should be lowered on the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) they are supposed to regulate.

Cities have no way to combat this agency. The only thing they regulate is the routes and the stops.

This is a perfect example of why we need to stop the state from usurping power from local governments. As the state legislature gives itself the right to regulate land use and traffic laws though such bills as Wiener’s SB-827 and 828, neighborhoods are being turned into futuristic holding cells for transients out to make a fast buck. They better grab fast, because they are killing the golden goose. Cities are crumbling under the weight of expectations and unrealistic priorities.

California has a number of regulatory agencies that make the rules and enforce them at their own discretion. There is no separation of powers here. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority has a similar problem. Too much power and too much money has a bad influence on performance. The process does not work for the public. It works for the corporations and their lobbyists who control the agencies.

Because over 2% of the corporate bus trips cross into other local jurisdictions, they are regulated by the state. This encourages more regional traffic, not less, as TNCs scramble to grab those rides.

Uber’s new CEO admitted that his company is in competition with Muni and wants to run the city bus programs. We need  new cop in town and City Hall who can work some magic in Sacramento by taking back local control.

As it stands now the only thing the voters can do is stop the flow of money into the coffers of the agencies until City Halls get the message that the plan is flawed and the citizens are not going to take it anymore. The next tax on the ballot for transportation will be the regional RM3 bill that would increase bridge tolls to pay for more of same.

Fighting back means replacing people who are responsible for this untenable situation, and have not learned by their mistakes. It is one thing to posit an idea that doesn’t work. It is another to pretend like the world is your oyster when millions of people are suffering because of a flawed plan based on false assumptions.

We now know that algorithms can be manipulated thanks to Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation that uncovered massive manipulations by facebook algorithms. Next time someone tells you they based a zoning plan or a traffic pattern future project on an algorithm run for the nearest exit. Computer models are only as good as the input. When there are no recent studies based on current conditions, the computer models are flawed and the algorithms meaningless.

There is a new kid on the block intent on fighting back with renewed public outreach. is taking on the buses that are ravaging the Noe Valley neighborhood. See the recent action at the last stop at 29th and San Jose. Marvel at the chutzpah of the huge empty buses as they head for the 280 freeway.

State legislators need to take control the CPUC just as our Supervisors need to control the SFMTA. Let them know how you feel.



Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities

: kcra – excerpt (includes video)

One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…

“The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion,” Wilson said…

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that on a typical weekday, ride-hailing drivers make more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips, and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city…

“I would prefer to have the Uber take me there directly rather than having to transfer several times and wait at a bus stop,” said Wu, who doesn’t own a car…(more)

SMART technology is not so smart when it comes to understanding humans.

Parking giant says Uber, Lyft have cut parking business up to 50 per cent in some venues

by Jeanette Steele :  therecord – excerpt

SAN DIEGO — The parking giant Ace Parking says that Uber and Lyft are eating into the parking business — with as much as 50 per cent less traffic at nightclubs and a 25 per cent drop at restaurant valets.

A death knell for paid parking? No, Ace and others say they are going high-tech to survive.

For consumers, the bright side may be lower parking prices.

In downtown San Diego, this trend could colour how much more parking is built, as the city updates its policy this year.

In a September email buried deep in an environmental report, Ace Parking CEO John Baumgardner laid out the ugly truth for the parking business.

At San Diego hotels serviced by Ace Parking, overnight parking has declined 5 per cent to 10 per cent. At restaurant valet stands, business is down 25 per cent.

And, most dramatically, nightclub valets are seeing a 50 per cent drop off… (more)

Expanded Uber Express Pool option: Walk a bit, ride for less

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

Uber is expanding Pool, its shared-ride option, offering passengers the chance to save money if they wait a few minutes and walk a few blocks for a ride.

The company has run a pilot of the new program, called Uber Express Pool, in San Francisco and Boston since November. This week it will add six cities: Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver and Washington, D.C.

“Regular” Uber Pool, which the company has offered since mid-2014 and which now exists in 36 cities, lowers prices by letting multiple passengers split costs on a ride, like a form of carpooling. But Ethan Stock, an Uber product manager, acknowledged in a press call Tuesday that passengers get frustrated if their cars drive in circles to pick up and drop off others — and that such an approach is not the most efficient.

Express Pool takes a more streamlined approach, with some of the extra effort coming from passengers on foot so the cars can follow a straighter route.

People requesting an Uber ride will see the options of Express Pool, regular Pool and UberX, and the associated prices and estimated arrival times for each. Those who select Express Pool will be asked to wait a few minutes to increase the odds of finding compatible passenger matches, and then to walk one or two blocks to be picked up. Likewise, at the end of the ride, passengers may have to walk a couple of blocks to their destination… (more)

Uber completes with Muni. What doesn’t ?


Uber Express Pool offers the cheapest fares yet in exchange for a little walking

Uber officially launches Uber Express POOL, a new twist on shared rides

Uber Express Pool is like a minibus with cheaper rides


San Francisco teachers allowed to request residential parking permits

By : sfcurbed – excerpt

“An $84 ticket for not having a residential parking permit is an economic hardship for a teacher making less than $70,000 a year”

It’s a small but important step in helping the city’s teaching force. Today the MTA Board will make changes to transportation code, which will give teachers in smaller San Francisco schools the chance to apply for residential parking permits.

As the law currently stands, schools with 15 or more teachers can access residential parking permits, but those with fewer than the required number (e.g., preschools) are out of luck. With restrictive parking in the city, and a lot of schools located in residential areas a good distance from public transit, this could prove a small yet effective move…

According to a MTA report, there are 141 facilities within residential parking permit areas. “Of these, 30 have been issued a total of 202 permits.”… (more)

As more parking permits are issued it becomes more important than ever to stop removing public access to public street parking spaces. A balance of public parking access and assets needs to be maintained before any further leases or private/public contracts are signed by the SFMTA that transfers public assets to private enterprises.

The Board of Supervisors, acting as the county SFCTA, should request a report on the effects these contracts have had so far on the economy, including, but not limited to, gentrification of neighborhoods, Muni ridership levels, and economic impacts to businesses and the city. Have these partnerships benefited the citizens of San Francisco? Have these contracts resulted in a net gain or loss of revenue for the city? Can they uptick in car break-ins and delivery problems be attributed to the loss of parking?

The Board of Supervisors should immediately put a stop to any further removal of parking spaces until the impact reports are completed.