Privatization of our Streets

Multiple media stories over the last week prove that corporations plan to control our streets. They are fighting for them. What are we doing to keep them?

Lyft’s Big Bike-Share Buy Is About Ruling the Streets: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/lyfts-big-bike-share-buy-is-about-ruling-the-streets/

The SFMTA has not done a great job of protecting our interest and may come under fire. Follow the action this week: https://cancalendar.wordpress.com/special-events/

Supervisors passed an Ordinance to help us. We need to ask for their help now.
Ordinance: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/sfmta-review/  
Charter Amendment: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/charter-amendment/

Stay in formed. Demand Respect. Support the candidates running for supervisor who will protect our city and our streets. Put SFMTA needs listen the voters, not their staff.

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SFMTA launches new ‘community response team,’ hires board member to lead it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transit arm is hiring a director from its politically appointed board to lead a new community outreach team.

Joel Ramos, a seven-year member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, was hired near the end of May to lead the agency’s new Community Response Team, which is aimed at reaching out to neighbors about new stop signs and other small-scale street changes…

The SFMTA estimates there were around 575 such decisions in 2017, all subject to potential appeal with the Board of Supervisors.

Ramos’ departure from the SFMTA Board of Directors leaves a vacancy on the seven-member body, all of whom are appointed by the mayor. The body approves projects both great and small, from the $1.6 billion Central Subway project to the recent red painted transit-only lanes throughout The City. He recalled the approval for the Central Subway as a particularly heated moment in his board career…

Farrell, who will be replaced by a newly elected mayor by mid-July, said he will decline to appoint a new member to the SFMTA Board of Directors in his remaining few weeks in office.

“As mayor, I am focusing on appointments to boards and commissions that lack quorum, require key appointments or have ongoing searches for a director,” Farrell said in a statement.

That leaves the task of appointing a new SFMTA board member to the next mayor — whoever that may be… (more)

Lyft Nears Acquisition of Motivate, U.S. Bike-Share Leader

By Amir Efrati and Cory Weinberg : theinformation – excerpt

Lyft has agreed to buy Motivate, which runs some of the biggest U.S. bike-share programs, according to two people briefed about the deal. The acquisition, which is likely to be worth $250 million or more, will quickly insert Lyft into the small but fast-growing U.S. bike-sharing market.

The two companies have agreed on the terms of the deal, although it hasn’t been finalized, one of these people said. If a deal is consummated, it would put Lyft ahead of ride-sharing rival Uber, which acquired another bike-share service called Jump in April for around $200 million…(more)

That is what we really need on our streets. A takeover by Lyft and Uber. No doubt Conway has his fingers in this pie and will grease the wheels of the PUC and anyone else who needs convincing that Lyft and Uber are going to make them rich, or whatever motivates the sell-out to tech.

We called it the corporatization of our streets, and that is what it looks like. Lyft and Uber are the new Airbnb menace. There is no point in new entrepreneurs coming to set up shop in SF and because if there is am app that has not been crated to extract money out of our streets, these geniuses will invent it.

I suspect we will see a lot more street actions and disrupted traffic as soon as people figure it out. The only play voters have, is to oppose Regional Measure 3 and all the tax and bond proposals to pay for their roads. Don’t give them any more money. The 11 billion dollar budget is enuf. (Hope that is a typo and the real figure is still 10 billion.)

When you vote for Mayor and Governor think about who is most likely to support the public instead of corporations.

The other side of the toll hike story

By Dave Price : padailypost – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Bay bridge at sunset photo by zrants

There are two sides to every story, and there’s another side to the story about the proposed 60% toll hike on seven of the bridges that cross the Bay.

What’s come out in the press so far is that the increase will pay for “three-dozen much-needed regional public transportation and roadway improvement” projects, as the Chronicle put it in a news story. The italics are mine.

That’s the spin: Give us more of your money for these much-needed projects and we’ll reduce traffic.

But it never seems to happen. We have one of these transportation measures on the ballot every year or two, and the traffic keeps getting worse. The money is shifted to mass-transit projects like BART while little or no capacity is added to the freeways. Mass transit doesn’t work for most people (less than 1% of residents use Caltrain regularly) and carpooling and carpool lanes have been a flop.

As a result, it gets longer and longer to get from one point to another. And the people who use those congested highways to get to work are asked to shell out more, not the fat cats like the tech companies.

Highways get short-changed

In the case of the toll hike, called Regional Measure 3 on the June ballot, just 22% of the $4.5 billion raised will be devoted to highway improvements, with most of that going to the East Bay. In the mid-Peninsula, a mere $50 million will be earmarked for highways — money to fund a fraction of the cost to rebuild the Highway 101-92 interchange in San Mateo.

Oh, I forgot to mention that there is $300 million on the spending list to give us toll lanes on our freeways, where a lane that could be devoted to free-flowing traffic will be restricted to carpoolers or those willing to pay a toll that will be electronically collected using Fastrak type devices. Toll lanes make people pay twice for their roads.
If you put toll lanes into the category of highway improvements, then the percentage of the toll hike going to highways increases to 28.6%. But I don’t see toll lanes as an improvement…

It just doesn’t stop. And they’ll keep putting these increases on the ballot as long as voters keep saying “yes.” It’s time to say “no.”.. (more)

Lot’s of reasons to oppose RM3. One of them is the big money being thrown at it.

Big business funds campaign to convince voters to raise tolls

Lot’s of reasons to oppose RM3. One of them is the big money being thrown at it.
Why don’t the tech titans who are paying millions of dollars to pass RM3 and other pro-developer pro-growth bills just pay for the projects they support instead of turning it into political currency? Vote NO on RM3. Keep controls in the hands of the taxpaying public.

Supes grant themselves power to appeal SFMTA decisions

by Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to give itself the power to hear appeals of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency decisions on issues including stop sign installations, some bicycle routes, parking meter rules and creating or modifying so-called Private Transportation Programs…

The legislation was introduced by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai, who had previously considered placing a charter amendment on the ballot to split up the transit agency but instead opted to move forward with this “compromise” proposal.

“Supervisor Peskin and I have worked on this legislation for over a year,” Safai said. “The genesis of this, colleagues, was the general frustration that many of us have felt on this board with our interactions with the SFMTA.”

The legislation was approved in an 11-0 vote…

Paul Rose, an SFMTA spokesperson, told the Examiner Tuesday that “we look forward to working with the Board of Supervisors as we continue to make progress on improving all transportation options and making the streets safer for everyone.”

He added that the new appeal process covers “certain MTA decisions, including Residential Parking Permits, color curb coordination, meter time limits, and commuter shuttles.”…(more)

Congratulations to all our readers and supporters! You made this happen by your efforts and demands for changes and improvements to the agency that had until now very little oversight and no reason to listen to complaints or demands. We still have a lot of work to do but now there is a way forward. Put together your request, get the backing of your supervisor and put in your requests. You should expect to see a new noticing system and a new civility at the department. If things do not see any improve, let the authorities know. Details on what is covered are here:
Legislative language: Leg Ver5, Legislative digest: Leg Dig Ver5

 

 

 

 

City says Central Subway contractor laid down 3.2 miles of the wrong kind of track, prompting new delay

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Construction contractors on the $1.6 billion Central Subway project laid down 3.2 miles of the wrong kind of steel track, The City is alleging in a letter obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.

In the April 19 letter, The City ordered contractor Tutor Perini to pull out that track and lay higher-strength steel down in its place.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency staff wrote to Tutor Perini alleging the contractor laid down 17,000 linear feet of “standard strength” steel, allegedly violating a contract with The City calling for “high strength” steel. The SFMTA said the higher-strength steel was selected to last longer before maintenance is required.

“This is not a safety issue,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose wrote in a statement. But it may lead to another Central Subway delay…(more)

We appreciate the work the Supervisors have done on implementing their ability to review and possibly reverse some SFMTA Board decisions. Now can we figure out a way to take away their SFMTA contracts and oversight on construction projects next? San Francisco taxpayers are not getting the value they deserve from the SFMTA when they repeatedly mismanage projects as they have done with this one.

A while ago we were looking at the horrible slalom run on Potrero Avenue and the excuse we got for those mistakes was that there was no full time project manager on the job. It seems they had one project manager assigned to two projects at the same time.

What more reason do we have to stop adding new projects and digging up more streets before the ones underway are complete? And don’t tell us the funding depends on it. That excuse has no validity coming from the insatiable SFMTA.

Seconds for safety: SFMTA increases crosswalk times citywide

by Nathan Falstreau : hoodline – excerpt

Today, nonprofit Senior and Disability Action (SDA) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced a citywide increase in crossing times at signaled crosswalks.

At an event at Geary Boulevard and Presidio, District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and representatives from the SFMTA joined community members and staff from SDA and Walk SF to commemorate the move… (move)

Great. It was about time. Now, if we could only get longer consistent yellow light times as well, we would see a lot less accidents. Traffic people should drive to set the rules for drivers. Drivers drive into the future and must anticipate what will happen to prepare for it. The longer the signals last, the more time everyone on the street will have to decide when to stop with less stress.

June Measure Calls for Bay Area Bridge Toll Hikes

By Jodie Hernandez : nbcnews – excerpt (includes video)

Night-Bridge

Crossing the old span of the Bay Bridge into San Francisco photo by zrants

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/June-Measure-Calls-For-Bay-Area-Bridge-Toll-Hikes-481987161.html

Some quotes:
1. “We are asking people to dig a little bit deeper to pay for projects that won’t come from any other source.” Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council. (Most people do not believe it is possible to pay for all the promised improvements using bridge tolls alone. We have evidence to the contrary.)

2. “expanding the express lane network.” (this is where it hits everyone who doesn’t cross a bridge, including the peninsula residents, many of who are opposing RM3.)

3. Two big problems… It won’t work and it isn’t fair. Transit Advocate, David Schonbrunn.

4. Only 18% of the money in the toll measure directly effects bridge corridors. David Schonbrunn. www.occupymtc.org

SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.

California CPUC is to blame for the corporate takeover of our streets. We need new leadership at the CPUP.

Video by Spenser Michael, PBS NewsHours : KQED  – excerpt (video included)

This story ran in 2014.

Every weekday morning, dozens of sleek buses roll through the heart of San Francisco, picking up a cargo of workers commuting south to companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. But critics say the buses are clogging city bus stops and are symbolic of the disparity in wealth between the new tech workers and the long-time working class residents… (more)

Matters have gone from bad to worse. The SFMTA turned public parking spaces over to the buses and now we dealing with more buses and TNCs. As the street parking disappears a new parking need arises for delivery services.

Nothing the state, county, city agencies have done with the millions of dollars in federal, state, regional, county, or city taxes, fines and fees, has put a dent in the traffic problem.

California citizens all over the state are calling for a halt in the failed projects until major changes are enacted to stop the flawed plans that are not working.

RELATED: National coverage has been building on this subject for years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs7N0023ziw

Fast forward to 2018:

We now know a lot more about the “healthy economy” and it is unhealthy for most people.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) does not work for the public. At their last meeting they determined that because they are spending less money than anticipated on enforcement, the fees should be lowered on the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) they are supposed to regulate.

Cities have no way to combat this agency. The only thing they regulate is the routes and the stops.

This is a perfect example of why we need to stop the state from usurping power from local governments. As the state legislature gives itself the right to regulate land use and traffic laws though such bills as Wiener’s SB-827 and 828, neighborhoods are being turned into futuristic holding cells for transients out to make a fast buck. They better grab fast, because they are killing the golden goose. Cities are crumbling under the weight of expectations and unrealistic priorities.

California has a number of regulatory agencies that make the rules and enforce them at their own discretion. There is no separation of powers here. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority has a similar problem. Too much power and too much money has a bad influence on performance. The process does not work for the public. It works for the corporations and their lobbyists who control the agencies.

Because over 2% of the corporate bus trips cross into other local jurisdictions, they are regulated by the state. This encourages more regional traffic, not less, as TNCs scramble to grab those rides.

Uber’s new CEO admitted that his company is in competition with Muni and wants to run the city bus programs. We need  new cop in town and City Hall who can work some magic in Sacramento by taking back local control.

As it stands now the only thing the voters can do is stop the flow of money into the coffers of the agencies until City Halls get the message that the plan is flawed and the citizens are not going to take it anymore. The next tax on the ballot for transportation will be the regional RM3 bill that would increase bridge tolls to pay for more of same.

Fighting back means replacing people who are responsible for this untenable situation, and have not learned by their mistakes. It is one thing to posit an idea that doesn’t work. It is another to pretend like the world is your oyster when millions of people are suffering because of a flawed plan based on false assumptions.

We now know that algorithms can be manipulated thanks to Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation that uncovered massive manipulations by facebook algorithms. Next time someone tells you they based a zoning plan or a traffic pattern future project on an algorithm run for the nearest exit. Computer models are only as good as the input. When there are no recent studies based on current conditions, the computer models are flawed and the algorithms meaningless.

There is a new kid on the block intent on fighting back with renewed public outreach. http://brokenheartsf.com is taking on the buses that are ravaging the Noe Valley neighborhood. See the recent action at the last stop at 29th and San Jose. Marvel at the chutzpah of the huge empty buses as they head for the 280 freeway.

State legislators need to take control the CPUC just as our Supervisors need to control the SFMTA. Let them know how you feel.