Supervisors call for financial aid fund for merchants harmed by construction

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

From Chinatown to Van Ness Avenue, long-running, much-delayed Muni construction projects have threatened businesses and even caused some to shut down.

Now San Francisco leaders may have a solution: cold hard cash.

The Board of Supervisors, acting in their capacity as the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, pitched the idea for a “city construction impact mitigation fund” Tuesday morning

Later in the day, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told the San Francisco Examiner the proposal could potentially throw a wrench into future transit projects.

Right now, “we’re doing record levels of public construction, the likes we have not seen,” he said. But if project costs go too high “depending on how you set the parameters, it limits the amount of work we could do.”

On Tuesday, however, nine out of the eleven supervisors either signaled future support for a construction mitigation fund openly during Tuesday’s transportation authority meeting or told the San Francisco Examiner that they support it… (more)

Right now, “we’re doing record levels of public construction, the likes we have not seen,” he said. But if project costs go too high “depending on how you set the parameters, it limits the amount of work we could do.”

DO NO HARM sounds like a better goal. Protect the businesses by limiting the projects. The goal to finish the projects not start them. The Supervisors could limit the number of contracts in each neighborhood by only awarding one at a time. Finish the Central Subway before cutting up any more streets within a quarter mile of it. If the project is overly complex, move the businesses into empty storefronts on other streets during the construction.

I remember hearing rumors about rules that used to exist that precluded more than one construction project per block. Limiting SFMTA projects to one per neighborhood would save the taxpayers money instead of adding to the cost. Maybe we should have some incentive built into the system that would award the contractor and the project manager for finishing the projects instead of starting them. All those workers can be directed to the few projects that are underway instead of spreading them thinning all over the city.

If you agree, write your supervisors. This could be the key to solving many of our traffic problems faster than anything else we can do. Less construction would get traffic flowing again. Limiting the noise and dust in the air would improve our healthy and relive the stress on our streets while protecting our businesses.  And best of all, it would cost us nothing because doing less costs less.

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)

Will a “front door” help San Francisco steer the stampede of emerging technologies testing on its streets?

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

Electric scooters. Delivery robots. Uber and Lyft. Even the soon-to-be shuttered van service Chariot started operating without the approval of San Francisco, with city policies as a secondary thought.

Now San Francisco, which has been ground zero for many emerging technologies, is looking to better keep tabs on the various startups keen on testing or operating their new products in the city. After six months of meetings attended by representatives from over 100 companies, city agencies, think tanks and community organizations, a new report was released Thursday by the Emerging Technology Open Working Group, led by city administrator Naomi Kelly.

“It is clear that technology is part of the social fabric of life in San Francisco,” the report says. “Yet as keepers of the public right-of-way and other public spaces, we must develop appropriate policy measures to mitigate risks and unintended impacts on San Franciscans and our infrastructure.”

The report will next be presented to city’s board of supervisors, likely sometime in January, followed by a hearing… (more)

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Paradise narrowed its main road by two lanes despite warnings of gridlock during a major wildfire

: latimes – (excerpt from November 20, 2018 article)

After a fast-moving fire swept into town a decade ago, burning more than 200 homes and trapping thousands of fleeing residents on gridlocked mountain roads, a grand jury called on officials to improve evacuation routes.

But six years later, the city decided to narrow a portion of the main road through town from four lanes to two as part of an effort in the downtown area aimed at boosting commerce as well as traffic and pedestrian safety.

Two other roads in the city were also narrowed, records show..

The so-called Skyway “road diet” slowed traffic, and a local civic group donated benches and landscaping to beautify the zone.

Nearly two weeks ago, Skyway was the scene of unspeakable horror when the worst wildfire in California history besieged Paradise. Up to 27,000 residents trying to escape the flames instead were stuck in traffic, the buildings around them burning. Some died in their cars when the fire roared over them… (more)

A number of people have raised this issue with San Francisco authorities. How are the evacuation plans supposed to work in San Francisco? We have very few lanes for traffic to flow from the Bay side of of the city to the Western side. Only two streets cross both 101 and 280, and one of those is up for major alterations. How is this making San Francisco safer? How does removing street lanes from evacuation routes make these neighborhoods safe?

City impoundment of RV dwellers’ vehicles challenged as unconstitutional

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Advocates for the homeless filed a lawsuit against The City and other agencies Wednesday for towing, impounding and selling RVs and other oversized-vehicles without a warrant, alleging that it violates the rights of an already at-risk population.

Under current policy, vehicle owners who have received five or more unpaid parking violations in a given time frame are subject to towing.

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday names The City, its Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Francisco Police Department and towing contractor Auto Return. It alleges that owners are often not provided with proper notice or an opportunity to dispute the seizure, even if their vehicles are legally parked, “not involved in any crime or traffic urgency” and provide their only means of shelter… (more)

We were expecting this would go to court. Courts in southern California have so far upheld the rights of the citizens against seizure of property in these cases.

 

 

Towing worsens hardships of Oakland’s homeless

: sfchronicle – excerpt

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has been advising people to stay indoors as smoke from the Camp Fire makes air quality hazardous. I’ve been concerned about how the smoke is impacting people living in the Bay Area without homes.

I thought about Kelly Thompson and his friends, some of whom sleep in tents. Thompson is retired and a Vietnam veteran who lives in a small camper in a West Oakland field. I wrote about him this month after his pickup truck was towed at an RV encampment near 20th and Campbell streets…

The East Bay Community Law Center is part of a coalition of legal aid and civil rights organizations reviewing constitutional issues around the towing of vehicles belonging to homeless people. On Nov. 7, Osha Neumann, a supervising attorney at the law center, sent a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf chiding the city for towing vehicles before it opens places for people to park their RVs and campers without hassle… (more)

RVs in the News

City bans RVs on small Ingleside street, promises to offer services first

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Homeless RV dwellers will soon need to vacate an Ingleside Street after a vote by The City’s transportation board Tuesday.

City officials are rushing to research solutions for homeless RV dwellers, who, much like tent encampments, draw complaints from the communities surrounding them.

However, despite the lack of a clear policy on such bans, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted to ban oversize vehicles on De Wolf Street in an unusually contentious vote, 4-3…

Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she would introduce legislation Nov. 13 calling for public land to be used for RV dwellers to park and be offered homeless services, and the Department of Homelessness has launched a vehicle encampment resolution team, social workers who target homeless people living in RVs to offer them help and a way out…

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told the board if they approved the RV ban on De Wolf Street that enforcement would not occur until Kositsky has time to send homeless social workers to help those living in RVs there.

Ultimately, SFMTA board directors Heinicke, Cheryl Brinkman, Lee Hsu, and Art Torres voted to approve the De Wolf RV ban. Eaken, Cristina Rubke, and Gwyneth Borden voted against it… (more)

For once we are able to thank the SFMTA Board and Director Reiskin for doing the right thing by holding off on enforcement of the RV ban until there is a sanctioned place for them to go. We support Supervisor Ronen and Director Kositsky’s efforts to work on a solution.

Big drop in tent camps in SF, but now RV dwellers are a problem

By : sfchronicle – excerpt

For the first time in years, San Francisco officials are reporting that there are no large tent encampments in the city.

“And I am determined to have San Franciscans see and feel a difference,” Mayor London Breed said.

By “large,” the city means 10 or more tents… (more)

Ways San Francisco nickels and dimes its residents

By Amy Graff : sfgate – excerpt (includes a gallery of ripoffs)

Parking meter rates: Up to $7 an hour Depending on demand meter prices vary from 50 cents to a maximum of $7 an hour. Thankfully meters can be paid with credit cards, because that’s  a lot of quarters…

While many of the various taxes, fees, and prices might make sense for the city’s budget, they can also make you sick and tired of San Francisco’s high cost of city living… (more)

Don’t you love living in an exclusive expensive and unhealthy city? Don’t you think adding a few thousand more jobs is the most important thing our government can do to make your life better? Or have you had enough and are ready to go elsewhere?

 

 

The transportation equity conundrum: 6 ways cities can improve mobility without displacement

By James Aloisi and Jarred Johnson : greenbiz – excerpt

What do we think about when we think about transportation equity?

There is regional equity — the question whether every region in a state, or every neighborhood in a city, is equitably treated from a funding perspective. There is modal funding equity, which goes to whether public sector decision makers treat each mode fairly when it comes to the allocation of limited public funding resources. Then there is ridership equity — are users of the transportation system being provided reasonably equal, meaningful modal choices, enabling access to jobs, healthcare, education and opportunity? Social equity, which builds the bonds that knit together the durable fabric of a healthy moral society, has a broader meaning. Fundamentally, social equity relates not simply to treating all people fairly, but also recognizing, acknowledging and acting on righting historical wrongs. Often that means stepping up investment in neighborhoods and communities that historically have been shortchanged when it comes to transportation funding…

While many planners and policymakers genuinely want to be responsive to rider needs, the reality is that inequities remain ingrained in large part because of habitual neglect… If a person or family cannot afford to remain in a gentrifying neighborhood the egalitarian and social cohesion benefits of a sustainable mobility system are being lost…

The author proposes a six-point approach to guide planners and advocates as they face the challenges of introducing transit improvements in underserved neighborhoods that are skeptical of change or fearful of displacement (or both):

  1. Ensure that the transit rider is heard
  2. Remember the unbanked
  3. Clean the power sources
  4. Educate, train and fund transit riders
  5. Attract and keep transit ‘riders of choice’
  6. Deal with the displacement issue head-on

 

Geary Rapid Project gets underway

By Michael Toren : sfchronicle – excerpt

Construction began this week on the first phase of the Geary Rapid Project, intended to bring safety improvements and more reliable bus service along Geary Boulevard and O’Farrell Street, officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Tuesday.

The first set of improvements includes almost two new miles of transit-only lanes in each direction on most blocks between Stanyan and Gough streets, and new bicycle markings to help bicyclists cross Geary Boulevard at Webster, Steiner, and Masonic streets… (more)