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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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.

My turn: Public-private partnerships are an industry gimmick that don’t serve public well

By Cathrina Barros : calmatters – exccerpt

The start of a new legislative session inevitably brings calls from industry for lawmakers to authorize privatizing state highway projects through so-called “public-private partnerships.”

That would be a mistake.

Proponents claim multiple benefits such as cost savings and efficiency. But they fail to mention that previous highway projects in our state built with the same scheme they seek have not delivered as promised.

In fact, they are marked by taxpayer bailouts, cost overruns and bankruptcies.

Let’s take a look at the record…

People who want to hand public highway projects over to private interests claim that cost overruns are the responsibility of the developer, not taxpayers.

Tell that to the California Transportation Commission, which in 2017 spent $91 million to cover unexpected cost overruns to the Presidio Parkway developer… (more)

On a local level, SFMTA and their enterprise partners have taken over large swaths of public space in various public/private enterprises that are hard to pin down. It is extremely difficult for the public to access information on the financial details of these agreements, though many attempts have been made. Ask the taxi drivers how their medallion investments have turned out or the firm that financed them. What we end up with is privatization of public property. Rarely does the enterprise benefit the public. If anything, the public/private enterprises become an easy way to hide disbursement of funds from the public.

It appears that Governor Newsom is giving up on the largest boondoggle in recent memory that was supposed to be a public/private enterprise but never caught the imagination of any big money investors. He is suspending High Speed Rail, limiting it to the area that has already been built. Putting the rest of the project on ice. It seems that no one really expects that train to bring in the billions it will take to break even.

Bullying, verbal abuse, a ‘culture of silence’: independent investigator makes first report on sexual harassment inside SFMTA

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency is a haven for bullying and verbal abuse — but there is hope for change.

Those are the conclusions of the first report from Mayor London Breed’s independent “ombudsperson” Dolores Blanding, who in October last year was assigned to investigate an alleged culture of harassment, including sexual harassment, at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni.

Blanding’s appointment by Breed on October 5, 2018 followed a series of stories by the San Francisco Examiner that exposed unresolved complaints from women who were groped by colleagues and, in at least one case, allegedly bullied into sex by a superior… (more)

SF Transit boss catches heat for Muni Metro rush hour breakdown

By Rachel Swan : masstransitmag – excerpt

Feb. 06–A switch failure that caused major Muni Metro delays Tuesday morning drew a scalding rebuke from the chair of San Francisco’s transit board, who said it pointed to larger problems with the bus and rail system.

“I have to say this isn’t acceptable,” Chairman Malcolm Heinicke said during Tuesday’s board meeting. Heinicke said that malfunctioning switches have been an issue at Muni for years. He noted that the city’s transportation chief, Ed Reiskin, formed a rapid response team to handle them — which apparently didn’t work…

Reiskin blamed “staffing and communication issues” for preventing Muni from fixing the broken switch more quickly. Normally the San Francisco Transportation Agency keeps two staff members at the switch near Church Street and Duboce Avenue, and another two at the tunnel near Embarcadero Station. But on Tuesday morning only three workers showed up at Embarcadero, and no one was stationed at Church and Duboce… (more)

Muni’s HR director out after allegations sexual harassment complaints were mishandled

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Employees at San Francisco’s transit agency have for months alleged that sexual assault and harassment allegations go largely unheard…

SFMTA Director of Human Resources Don Ellison’s “last day in the office” was Friday, according to an email sent by SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to all 6,000 SFMTA staff on Monday, which was obtained by the San Francisco Examiner and verified by the SFMTA…

Ellison’s role will be filled, at least temporarily, by interim Acting Director of Human Resources Derek Kim…

Ellison’s exit is not the only SFMTA leadership turnover that appears related to these allegations — John Haley, SFMTA director of transit, retired from the agency last October following a lawsuit from a subordinate alleging he groped her… (more)

Scoot, Skip fail to deliver on promises in first e-scooter accountability report

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : examiner – excerpt

Scoot and Skip pledged helmet lockboxes, low-income programs and more in the applications to The City that helped them earn highly-sought e-scooter pilot program permits.

But in their very first compliance report to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which the agency required after 90 days of permitted operation, those companies revealed they’ve yet to deliver on some of those promises.

“Those were critical promises and commitments made in their original applications. We’re working to ensure their compliance,” said Ben Jose, a spokesperson for the SFMTA.

He added that failing to come into compliance with promises to San Francisco that earned those permits in the first place could lead to dire consequences for the e-scooter companies…

SF’s legal e-scooters, by the numbers
Oct. 15, 2018 — Scoot and Skip launch in SF
22 — Riders who signed up for Skip’s low-income discount program
39,015 — Drivers Licenses approved by Skip to join its platform
4 — Scoot “Kicks” riders caught driving unsafely and warned by the company
39 — Scoot “Kicks” riders caught parking badly and warned by the company
58 — Self-reported collisions on Skip e-scooters… (more)

How can this business plan work when there is little incentive to rent the things, and so many people hate them? They are really cheap to buy, take up no space in your house or  and lightweight enough to carry up stairs to store in an apartment or leave in any bike rack. Just buy one if you want one.

If only our former Mayor now Governor would take it upon himself to take control of the CPUC we might be able to solve some of the problems our state is faced with. CPUC was set up to regulate, not support the public utilities. They are supposed to manage them for the benefit of the public.

When you think about the power the CPUC has over our lives you should worry about the people wielding that power. They unleashed private corporations on our streets and denied local governments the right to regulate them. The traffic jams they created are bad enough, but now they are poised to allow PG&E to pass their legal costs to the ratepayers in the form of higher rates.

Now the Governor plans to tax our drinking water to finance the needs of millions of new citizens moving to California to fill the millions of units of new housing being built. CPuC will likely support that tax on drinking water. If that doesn’t get your attention, not much will.

 

Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees

By Richard Speed : theregister – excerpt

And if traffic is slow, that’s just another efficiency saving

New research anticipates congestion problems as owners of self-driving cars allow their steeds to prowl the streets instead of forking out for parking charges.

The paper by Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was published in the rivetingly named “Transport Policy”.

Millard-Ball makes the point that far from requiring automated parking abilities, such as those trumpeted by the likes of Volkswagen, a self-driving car need never actually park at all. The robotic chariots can simply putter around the streets until the driver is ready for collection… (more)

Is this the nightmare our CPUC is planning to unleash on us next? Constantly prowling auto autos, that never park will congest our streets, waste fuel, and add to the emissions a lot more than private cars that park will. Everyone has noticed the increase in traffic since TNCs arrived on the scene. All hte TNCs at least park at night, while the drivers sleep so the streets are clear at night. Allowing corporation to flood the streets with cars that never park means the traffic will never stop.

We need to implore our Governor to take control of the CPUC.by appointing a new board that will regulate the industries not support them. No one is happy about the PG&E fiasco. Suing them while the CPUC gives them free reign is a waste of taxpayer money. If we had a regulatory agency that regulated the industry we would not need to take it over.

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.