Coalition Demands End to City’s Unconstitutional Towing Practices

News from LCCR – SF Bay Area and Bay Area Legal Aid – Press Release

October 11, 2018

Contact: Taylor Brady, TBrady@baylegal.org, (510) 250-5234; Matt Kovac, mkovac@lccr.com, (415) 510-9601

Civil Rights and Legal Aid Groups Demand End to City’s Unconstitutional Towing Practices

Groups issue letter to City Attorney over violation of low-income people’s 4th Amendment rights

SAN FRANCISCO – One day after a federal court ordered the City of San Francisco to return an impounded car to its homeless owner, the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, represented by Bay Area Legal Aid and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, is demanding that the City immediately cease towing and impounding vehicles over unpaid parking tickets unless the City determines the owner is financially able to pay.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Bay Area Legal Aid issued a letter to City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera this morning demanding an end to the current towing policy, citing Monday’s ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California…

“The City is taking and selling the cars of low-income people across the city simply because they cannot afford to pay parking tickets. We call on the City to end its current towing policy and adopt a constitutional, common-sense approach to collecting on tickets that does not punish low-income people,” said Elisa Della-Piana, LCCR legal director...

“No one wins under the City’s current towing practices,” said Rebekah Evenson, Director of Litigation at Bay Area Legal Aid. “Poor people lose their cars without any opportunity to show that they couldn’t afford to pay.  Residents of the City lose, with increased poverty and homelessness. And the City loses financially: the value of these cars rarely covers the cost of tow and storage, and the cars are often sold at a loss. It’s time for reform.”

The City Attorney has until Friday, October 19 to respond.

Read the full demand letter here.

.. (more)

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San Francisco Ordered To Return Car To Homeless Man Unable To Pay Parking Fines

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the city of San Francisco to return a towed car to a homeless man who couldn’t afford to pay the parking tickets he received while working as a food delivery driver.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Sean Kayode had raised “serious questions” about whether the March 5 towing of his car because of unpaid parking tickets violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

White wrote that in a situation in which a car owner can’t afford to pay overdue parking tickets, “it is not clear…that seizure is reasonable in an effort to secure repayment of the debt owed.”… (more)

Construction begins for new BART parking garage in East Bay

By Angela Ruggiero : eastbaytimes – excerpt

DUBLIN — Construction has officially begun on a new parking garage by the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station.

Despite the garage being built to assist commuters, BART is not involved in the project, which is instead being  being constructed thanks to an assemblywoman’s push.

Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty were among several officials on Tuesday afternoon who picked up their shovels to ceremoniously begin the construction of the 700-space parking garage.

Of the expected $30 million construction cost, $20 million is being covered by a state grant announced earlier this year by Baker and Haggerty… (more)

Wow, government officials who listen to the public and deliver what they want! Alameda County voters are lucky to have County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker working for them.

Judge orders SF to return impounded car to homeless man

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the city of San Francisco to return a towed car to a homeless man who couldn’t afford to pay the parking tickets he received while working as a food delivery driver.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Sean Kayode had raised “serious questions” about whether the March 5 towing of his car because of unpaid parking tickets violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

White wrote that in a situation in which a car owner can’t afford to pay overdue parking tickets, “it is not clear…that seizure is reasonable in an effort to secure repayment of the debt owed.”…

“We hope this opinion will induce the city to reconsider its towing policy and work with us to develop one that is constitutional and does not punish people for being poor,” said Eliza Della-Piana, legal director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil rights… (more)

Corporate Bike Rentals in the Mission

Open letter to the Mayor Breed and District Supervisors Cohen and Ronen:

Re: Corporate Bike Rentals in the Mission

We just got word that Motivate/Lyft is planning to install GoBikes on the southwest corner of Utah and 25th St. where there is a school and a Healthy San Francisco building. The East Mission Improvement Association, residents and nearby neighbors oppose this installation and request that the Board of Supervisors stop further installations of GoBikes in the neighborhood around General Hospital, where both neighbors and hospital employees are struggling with difficult problems on the street and violent behavior has escalated.

We understand that the SFMTA CAC passed two motions last week that will be presented to the SFMTA Board that detail important changes in the “shared bike program” that they would like to see considered. Please review these prior to approving more station installations.

There has been a huge backlash against corporate takeover of public streets in the Mission, there have been at least three public meetings to discuss the loss of public access to curb space, and more are anticipated.

Sincerely,

Mari Eliza

Download document SFMTA CAC motions
or read them online

Send letters and comments to the Mayor and Supervisors. Contacts are here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

 

Lime adds more drama to SF’s e-scooter saga

E-scooters can really rile people up — whether it’s cities trying to contain the onslaught of the mini motorized vehicles, or celebs such as actor-turned-venture-capitalist Ashton Kutcher fighting for their rights at a tech conference, it seems we are a nation divided.

And sometimes, it’s the scooter companies that can get all hot and bothered.

Take Lime, for example. Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency shut down any aspirations the scooter-share company had of operating in the city, instead giving two newer companies, Scoot and Skip, permits to test scooters within the city for the next year…

About five minutes before the panel, titled “Scooting Through Regulation,” which would have featured Emily Warren, head of policy and public affairs at Lime, Sanjay Dastoor, Skip’s CEO, and SFMTA official Tom Maguire, a Lime spokesperson issued a statement explaining that Lime would not attend the panel… (more).

As Cities Push Back Against E-Scooters, One Company Launches “GovTech Platform”

By Ben Miller : govtech – excerpt

The e-scooter company Bird’s offering is tailored toward some of the exact complaints of cities like San Francisco and San Jose.

First, the companies came in and deployed fleets of electric scooters on the street for anybody to ride with the touch of a button.

Next, the complaints started to bubble to the surface: Riders were being unsafe. They were leaving scooters in the way of pedestrians on the sidewalk. The companies weren’t asking permission from city governments to operate.

Then the cities started pushing back. Some created a new permit for scooters and made the companies promise to follow rules and encourage safe riding. Some enacted temporary bans… (more)

Privatization Issues are on the agenda at the SFMTA CAC September 6 meeting

Thursday, Sept 6, 5:30 PMagenda
Room 7080, 1 South Van Ness SFMTA CAC Meeting

Item 7. The Commuter Shuttle Program status report
Several new Citizens’ Advisory Council members have been appointed and travel season is over. The MTA staff presentation will start soon after 5:30pm. at the conclusion of the opening formalities. Your Attendance is critical if you care about the Commuter Shuttle Program, your two minutes of public comments are appreciated. The supporters at past MTA Board meetings always show up in droves with mostly cookie cutter positive comments how convenient and the personal time savings of their commuter bus services. Disruption to the community is never mentioned. The PDF report

Item 8. The Motivate Bike Share program, discussion, and possible action. Your Attendance is critical if you care about the Commuter Shuttle Program, your two minutes of public comments are appreciated on this as well.
Two pdf handouts –
SF Expansion and Bikeshare In Your Community

If you can’t make it to the meeting and want your voices and opinions taken into account, send your letters and comments to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor and the candidates for office who are running for the new Board positions. Use the authority in  Ordinanace 180089 to demand a hearing and an audit of the programs before any further erosion of our public access on our public streets is allowed.

IMG_3530.jpeg

Let the officials know how many empty GoBike stations you see in your neighborhood. Photo of late night GoBike truck at a station on Bryant and 17th Street shot by zrants.

The first order of business for SFMTA is to support the needs of Muni riders. How are these programs solving Muni problems and why are staff spending so much of the taxpayers’ time and energy supporting the corporations in their efforts to take over our public streets?

Here are some questions that you may want to ponder as you review the material.
What is the ratio of bikes to GoLive Stations and how much money has SFMTA collected from the GoBike program to date as part of the pubic/private enterprise arrangement? Will the contract that was signed with Motivate be extended to Lyft when the ride-share purchases GoBikes from Motivate? How have other cities dealt with these issues?

 

Thank You Mayor Breed and our District Supervisors

Thanks for passing Ordinance 180089 and stopping the ripoff of our public curb space by corporate entities.

I think I speak for most of the citizens of San Francisco who appreciate the work you have done so far to return a balance of power to the citizens of San Francisco who have been devastated by the constant havoc on our streets and sell-off of our public curbs.

As we move into the November election season it is good to reflect on mistakes that got us where we are now so we may avoid repeating them. All departments need oversight, respect for the public, and a balance of power. No one is about the law. We will be asking the candidates how they plan to protect our communities when they join the power structure at City Hall.

It is good to see continuity at the Planning Commission as the department attempts to balance the demands of nervous residents and businesses with those of the big money corporate entities who demand extraordinary profits from the large swaths of land they control. We need calm, cool minds to deal with the changes coming out of Sacramento and the mounting pubic push-back from every corner of the state. We know the problems. We need solutions. Some of these may come from the voters.

Thank you all for your support and we look forward to a peaceful and productive election season with hope in our hearts that we may move along the path of honesty and sincerity. We anticipate a fair and reasonable city government we can trust to keep our interests at heart, protect our fragile cultural rich communities, and resist the takeover by the state and federal governments of our local jurisdiction over land use and development decisions.

Supes, neighbors block Ford GoBike’s citywide expansion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ford GoBike’s expansion has been halted and slowed across The City, and the reason given is often the same — there wasn’t enough notice given.

From Glen Park to the Haight, the Mission District and most recently, the Marina, residents are pushing back against the rental bike docks, which are usually placed in parking spaces meant for cars.

And as the bike rental service is on the cusp of its planned expansion to 7,000 bikes Bay Area-wide, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is also increasingly pushing back against it and the Lyft-owned company that operates the program, Motivate, by saying that not enough notice has been offered to neighbors about new station installations…

But while each supervisor sees this problem through a neighborhood-focused lense, each individual battle adds up: The bikeshare-slowdown now stretches citywide… (more)

First we want to thank our supervisors for supporting the rights of residents and the public to determine how our streets are used. Stopping the spread of corporate controlled curb space is important. Some people may not be aware that the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 180089 to allow the public to make these decisions by giving the supervisors greater control and oversight of the SFMTA Board decisions. Look it up if you are not familiar with the ordinance: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/sfmta-review/

We need some data on the number of stations to bikes Motivate and other private entities have installed in the city and the number of vehicles assigned to private parking spots. We have noted a number of GoBikes parked in public bike parking spots that are meant for private bikes and a lot of empty Motivate racks.

Perhaps we need to ask Randy Rentschler, director of legislation and public affairs with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which negotiated Ford GoBike’s exclusivity contract to provide docked bikeshares within the Bay Area, what the intent of that contract was or is. He claims he just wrote the contracts and it is up to us to deal with them. If the public objects to them being placed on our streets they should honor our objections. We don’t need an excuse.

The above mentioned ordinance is a good start in taking back control of our streets, but the voters of San Francisco may want to consider a Charter Amendment as well if these matters and others are not resolved to our satisfaction soon. Let Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors and the candidates running for office know how you feel. They are in office to serve the public not the corporations.