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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California Autobahn? Long-shot bill proposes freeway lanes with no speed limit

By Alyssa Pereira : sfgate – excerpt

Motorists sick of idling in traffic on Interstate 5 in California would theoretically have another option, if a new bill introduced on Friday to the state legislature turns into a reality. But critics say that’s not likely.

State Senator John Moorlach (R-Orange County) introduced SB 319 as a way to ease congestion on I-5 and State Route 99. Moorlach pitched the idea as a way to ease greenhouse gasses from idling cars.

The plan calls for the Department of Transportation to build two additional traffic lanes on the north and southbound directions of both highways. Those lanes would not have speed limits, although drivers in the other pre-existing lanes would still need to abide by the official 65 miles per hour limit… (more)

Replacing High Speed Rail with a High Speed Highway, another bay crossing, and train electrification sounds like a cheaper, easier, faster solution to reducing traffic and congestion, if that is the goal. Without taking a position on any these options, we applaud the thinking outside the box on how to do more with less taxpayer transit dollars. Recent over-budget large public transit projects have not gone well. It is time to shift priorities and do more with less.

SFMTA Proposes Parking Changes to Prepare for Chase Event Center Opening

Public letter from SFMTA:

Dear Dogpatch and Potrero Neighbors and Visitors,

The Chase Event Center, located at 16th and 3rd Streets, is expected to open its doors in August 2019.

The 18,000-seat Event Center could host over 200 sports and entertainment events annually, including up to 50 to 60 Warriors home games, which will start at 7:30 pm on weekdays and 5:30 pm on weekends.

In anticipation of the opening, the SFMTA has worked with the nearby neighborhoods to develop a plan to discourage people from driving to Chase Center events and to maintain parking availability for nearby residents and businesses during events.  The SFMTA presented these plans to neighborhood associations for their feedback, including the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA), the Potrero Boosters and the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association (PDMA). Based on feedback received at these meetings, the SFMTA prepared a proposal for changes to the hours of parking enforcement and meter rates.

Special event meter pricing and extended Residential Permit Parking (RPP) enforcement hours on streets surrounding Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park), home of the San Francisco Giants, have proven effective at maintaining parking availability for residents and local business customers.  As you may have experienced during games and other events at Oracle Park, meter rates are $7 per hour during events, while RPP Area Y parking is enforced from 8 am to 10 pm every day.

The SFMTA proposes to implement similar measures on blocks potentially impacted by the new Chase Event Center. The proposed parking changes, which are illustrated in the attached map, include:

  •  Metered parking
    • The metered blocks listed below and shown on the attached map will have:
    • Enforcement until 10 p.m. Mon-Sat
    • Enforcement 4-8pm on Sundays with events
    • $7/hour special event rates starting an hour before events
  • Metered blocks affected:
    • 7th Street between Daggett Street and Hooper Street will be enforced until 10 p.m.
    • Metered blocks in the Dogpatch north of 22nd Street between Indiana and Illinois Streets
    • 16th Street between 7th and Vermont (meters already legislated, to be installed after 22-Fillmore transit improvements are completed)
    • New signs will be posted on special event metered blocks to inform drivers to check the meter for current rates
  • Residential permit parking
    • All Area EE blocks will be enforced Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.
    • Some Area X blocks (see attached map) east of Wisconsin Street and north of 18th Street enforced Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.
    • Existing time limits (1-hour or 2-hour, depending on the block) will remain the same
  • General time-limited parking                       
    • The 4-hour general time-limited parking will not change
    • 4-hour general time limits will continue to be enforced between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday

We want to know what you think. Comments on the proposal received prior to February 25th will be considered as we prepare the final proposal.  Please send your comments to pamela.johnson@sfmta.com

In order for the modified hours of enforcement to be in place by the time the Chase Event Center holds its first events, the final proposal would need to be presented at the SFMTA Engineering Public Hearing in March, tentatively scheduled for March 8th at City Hall. (Check the SFMTA website for actual public hearing date).

Depending on the outcome of the public hearing, the SFMTA Board of Directors could consider these changes at an April board meeting.  This will allow new signs to be ordered and installed in August or September.

We will send updates when the Public Hearing and SFMTA Board of Directors meeting dates have been finalized.

For more information visit: Special event meter pricing.

Map of Proposed Parking Enforcement Changes.jpg

SFMTA extends special event parking for sports fans into more neighborhoods.  SFMTA intends to turn most of Mission Bay, part of Dogpatch, and most of the SE part of Southbeach into event parking for the sports fans.

Let Mat Haney and Shamann Walton know how you feel about this plan. How much should the citizens of SF give up to the wealthy fans of wealthy ball teams and owners? How many ticket holders are going walk a quarter mile to a game, especially through the kind of streets we have in SOMA? Most will park and take an Uber or Lyft to the event. If you can think of an alternate plan, suggest it.

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.

Can Walnut Creek be a model for reducing gridlock? It hopes so

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

As Bay Area traffic congestion hovers at an all-time high, the East Bay suburb is taking matters into its own hands to limit single occupancy vehicles on the roads and becoming a model of smart transit among smaller cities… (more)

For people who call vehicles home, SF supe wants to provide safe haven

Supervisor Vallie Brown has been preparing the latest of a round of city legislative efforts to help the rolling homeless get into permanent housing and avoid racking up pricey parking and registration tickets. But getting those people to accept help is always a tough task.

The measure calls for the creation of a “triage center,” where people living in a vehicle could come to access services like showers and bathrooms without fear of their vehicle being towed. They could also then be assessed by homelessness specialists en route to services, if they choose to pursue them.

Brown’s ordinance also seeks to create a pilot program for what she’s calling a “Vehicular Navigation Center,” a safe place to park overnight for people living in a car or RV. Similar initiatives in Seattle and other California cities have been met with mixed results…

Plans in Los Angeles, where the latest official street counts show at least 9,000 people living in vehicles, and in Seattle, where counts show the surrounding county has 2,300 vehicle campers, have been met with such resistance that few have been actually launched. The most successful program is in Santa Barbara, where a program begun in 2004 has grown to include 133 parking spaces…

Sonoma County ran a lot in Santa Rosa with about 80 safe parking spots for several years until 2017, when the state funding used to run it ran out. County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who helped spearhead the program, called it “very successful,” and said she’d like to see it replicated if money ever comes available again…(more)

$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.

Parking Management Plan Proposed for Potrero Hill’s North Slope

By J. Eric Miller : potreroview – excerpt

he San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has floated a plan to deploy several types of parking management tools on Potrero Hill’s North Slope, including weekday time limits to discourage commuters from leaving their cars and parking meters to offer short-term options for shoppers, visitors, and other daytime users.  If implemented the proposal would impact an array of residential and commercial sites, including the San Francisco Police Department’s De Haro Street facility, Whole Foods, Live Oak School and Jackson Playground.

“We have long known that our neighborhoods have served as parking lots for commuters who walk, bike, or take transit the last mile to their destinations in SoMa or Downtown,’ said J. R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president “The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority has tracked this data, and we have strong anecdotal and neighborhood survey evidence of this. With the amount of new residents and businesses we are adding to our neighborhood, combined with the Chase Center and new offices in Mission Bay, we are looking for curb restrictions that prioritize parking for people that live, work or shop in the neighborhood.”(more)

This looks like the new neighborhood initiated parking plan program that the Board of Supervisors envisioned when they passed Ordinance 180089. We have Safai and Peskin to thank for this. We trust our new supervisors will continue the program.

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)