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.
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YIMBY-backed Breed intervened to remove bikeshare station on her own block

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos of competing shared bike companies that are cluttering our streets with too many rental options be fore the latest invasion of the electric toys that are cluttering our sidewalks. photo by zrants.

Mayoral candidate London Breed, the sole endorsee of the Yes in My Backyard group, seems to have gone full NIMBY.

The Board of Supervisors president used her influence to request the removal a Ford GoBike bikeshare station — yes, in her own backyard. (OK, technically, the station is on Haight and Pierce streets, around the corner from Breed’s apartment.)

That’s quite a turn for Breed, as much hay has been made of the split between YIMBY newcomers who wish to see housing built and longtime neighbors allegedly claiming “Not in my backyard!” to slap back new housing and transportation, particularly against state Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 827… (more)

Maybe bike station removals should be London Breed’s theme. Instead of promising a chicken in every pot, she can offer a fast path to bike station removal on your block if she is elected Mayor. That is almost as good as Angela Alioto’s promise to remove the Department Heads. Of course the easiest course of action is to stop installing the stations now.

Figueroa, finally. Here’s what 10 years and $20 million can do for 4 miles of street.

: scpr and kpcc – excerpt (includes audio)

A $20 million project to remake a four-mile stretch of Figueroa Street with better access for walkers, bikers and transit is nearing completion after 10 years of planning and setbacks.

A lawsuit and construction delays, in part to relocate utility lines, slowed the work. The project also began under the Community Redevelopment Agency but was shifted to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation when the CRA closed down.

The My Figueroa project area runs from 7th Street in the heart of downtown south to Exposition Park, covering short portions of 11th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard… (more)

Sweeping California housing bill attacked on author’s home turf

By : mercurynews – excerpt

Kim-Arron.jpg

Mayoral candidate, Supervisor Jane Kim speaks in front of a cheering crowd, while Supervisor Peskin looks on, in the midst of a crowd of  YIMBYs creaming for up-zoning in all the neighborhoods, one at a time. photo by zrants.

A polarizing housing bill that would force California cities to allow taller apartment buildings by BART stops and other transit hubs has been pummeled with opposition from local officials — a group that now includes former colleagues of the bill’s author, San Francisco Democrat Sen. Scott Wiener.

In the latest blow to Senate Bill 827, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to oppose Wiener’s bill, joining smaller cities such as Lafayette, Cupertino, Palo Alto and Milpitas. A week earlier, the Los Angeles City Council took the same stance, unanimously, with one councilman calling the legislation “insanity.”

“I think this is the craziest bill I’ve ever seen,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz…

Strutting Trauss.jpg

The above photo by zrants was snapped at the press conference arranged for anti-SB 827 supporters, where YIMBY queen Sonja Trauss, who is running for office in D-6 to replace Jane Kim, struts her stuff holding a poster made from art stolen from the opposition. Her antics, along with her small group of disruptive followers yelling over the speakers, backfired. The YIMBY argument that “new and future” citizens are more entitled than existing ones to live in San Francisco and the aggressive nature of these invaders is not winning many hearts and minds among the voters.

Laura Clark, whose pro-housing development YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) coalition is sponsoring the bill, said she was not surprised local officials would take issue with it… (more)

It should be noted that this is not the only bill YIMBY is pushing to move residents out of their homes by up-zoning the city. Backed by developers, they are leading the charge to evict by rent increases and any other means possible to make room for the characterless stack and pack housing projects developers love to build. SB 828 is also making its way through the Sacramento Senate and that will push even higher requirements for density that cities have achieved.

Many people who once supported density are reconsidering due to the negative impacts gentrification is having on communities that are seeing an astronomical increase in homelessness. One way under consideration to keep people housed is to pass  AB 1505 and repeal Costa-Hawkins and allow expansion of rent control rules. Several efforts are also being made to Amend the Ellis Act that is blamed for many illegal evictions.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin mentioned these as preferable alternatives to SB 827 in his statement, before the Board Voted 8-3 to oppose SB 827. So far the San Francisco media has mostly ignored the opposition to the forced growth and density movement. They are not endearing themselves to the public by ignoring them and supporting the developers.

 

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.

Credit union files taxi medallion suit against SFMTA

By Julia Cheever : sfbay – excerpt

A credit union that helped The City of San Francisco sell taxi medallions has sued a city agency over financial losses caused by the collapse in value of the medallions amid the rise of ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft.

The lawsuit was filed against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday by the nonprofit, member-owned San Francisco Federal Credit Union.

It seeks $28 million in compensation plus an order requiring The City to buy back unsellable medallions for the $250,000 purchase price.

The lawsuit charges the SFMTA violated alleged promises to keep the taxi business vibrant, shore up the value of the medallions and buy back any medallions that it couldn’t resell.

Instead, the law suit claims:

“…[SFMTA] has elected to stick its head in the sand while the credit union and hardworking taxi driver medallion owners are saddled with all the burdens.”… (more)

Put the Brake on Those Rental Bikes

By Marshall Kilduff : sfchronicle – excerpt

CitiBikeRentals

We’ve all seen them, taking up curb space and bound to parking meters and poles.

Jenny Kempenich of San Francisco returns a rental bike at the Embarcadero and Ferry building station in San Francisco.

Put the brakes on those rental bikes

It may be San Francisco’s latest First World problem, right up there with too tall skyscrapers and $12 cocktails. Rental bikes — electric and pedal — are clogging the streets and sidewalks… (more)

seaofbikes

See the sea of bikes in China

RELATED:
The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles

 

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

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

 

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