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.

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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

Angela Alioto Talks About The Richmond Dist. with Resident Antonio White

Antonio White interview Mayoral Candidate Angela Alioto

Why are they Re-doing Streets Again? Angela Alioto wants to know. So do we.

There are a few quotable items here that may be of interest:

Angela was perplexed as we all are over why the streets are torn up repeatedly and asked one of the workers on Columbus why they were redoing a block again.”The gentleman working there was very honest. He is in independent contractor. He is not working for the city and he says, we still have money in our contract…We have a contract that still has money in it to pay us so we are not going to stop till we get all the money that is in our contract no matter what happens to the street.”… (more)

Angela raises one of my biggest beefs when she mentions that the parks are being re-done again. Now we may be getting to the bottom of what is going on within the departments. They have too much money in the capita budget so they are making work for themselves so they can spend the development funds, or whatever, instead of doing the work the public wants them to do. Then they can claim they need more money next year.

Wait until all the experimental curbs and slalom lanes have to be removed. The contractors who poured the $100 million dollar islands and bulbouts will be paid to remove them. And someone will have to dig up the trees or kill them off.

Another pedestrian breaks leg on yellow curbside bumps

By Gary Richards, Roadshow : mercurynews – excerpt

This is a response to your article about people slipping on those yellow buttons at crosswalks. On Feb. 26 at around 7 a.m. I was heading to work at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation when I slipped on the yellow sidewalk bumps and fractured both my tibia and fibula…

This is the second such incident reported to Roadshow where a person slipped like this and broke their leg. Keith says he is considering filing a claim against Palo Alto.

These are “truncated domes,” which are typically located at the bottom of curb ramps and have been required by federal law since 1991 to give warning to the visually impaired that they are leaving the sidewalk and entering the street. Their design is stipulated to include traction-enhancing features on the top of each dome to minimize slipping… (more)

The design is obviously flawed because hundreds of people fall on them. Even some bikes go down. Another dumb idea that got sold to the government that needs to go.

Public Transportation Industry Generates Profit out of Public Debt.

Op-Ed

When analyzing public debt sources, don’t leave the Transportation Industrial Complex out of your list of bloodsucking debt boosters. Look at who supports the candidates running for office, but, don’t stop there. Look at the product developers and manufacturers that are selling parking systems, paint, concrete, and parking meters and traffic control systems and all the other fancy new toys our cities are buying on credit. All those fancy apps and up-to-date signs and electronic gizmos are boosting sales and draining pubic coffers. Sit in on a meeting of experimental devices and you can hear the electronic cash register zing.

San Francisco’s largest employer is the city of San Francisco and the largest department is the SFMTA. This year, all city departments and agencies were told to cut back on new hires, but, SFMTA is trying to add more. Their budget is 1.2 billion dollars and that is just their spending money. The long term debt is indecently high and has been for too long. Do we really need more than 6,000 people to run the SF Muni system? If there is a cheaper, has disruptive alternative, the SFMTA will never approve it. They need the Cadillac model of everything.

How many other cities are going into debt to service their public transportation industry? San Francisco can’t be alone in this predicament. How many public servants can society support and why is there so much pressure being put on the public to depend on the government for transportation when it costs so much less for people to transport themselves? Forcing non-users to support the public transit system makes it easier to hide the extremely high cost of this program and the debt that the public is taking on.

We need a leaner, meaner transportation department. Instead of being forced to provide an affordable, reliable basic transportation system for people who need it, the SFMTA is blowing billions of dollars on the most expensive, least reliable, high tech system they can dream up. And they have no limits or boundaries until the voters wise up and demand a change. A couple of our Supervisors are working on an Ordinance and possible Charter Amendment to address some of the complaints citizens are lodging against the SFMTA.

Ask your public officials how much the public transportation system they are trying to force down your throat is costing each citizen in your county, and vote NO on RM3 when it comes up, to cut the powers of the regional MTC and send a message to the transportation industry and the government that supports it to cut costs.

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)

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.

 

 

San Francisco teachers allowed to request residential parking permits

By : sfcurbed – excerpt

“An $84 ticket for not having a residential parking permit is an economic hardship for a teacher making less than $70,000 a year”

It’s a small but important step in helping the city’s teaching force. Today the MTA Board will make changes to transportation code, which will give teachers in smaller San Francisco schools the chance to apply for residential parking permits.

As the law currently stands, schools with 15 or more teachers can access residential parking permits, but those with fewer than the required number (e.g., preschools) are out of luck. With restrictive parking in the city, and a lot of schools located in residential areas a good distance from public transit, this could prove a small yet effective move…

According to a MTA report, there are 141 facilities within residential parking permit areas. “Of these, 30 have been issued a total of 202 permits.”… (more)

As more parking permits are issued it becomes more important than ever to stop removing public access to public street parking spaces. A balance of public parking access and assets needs to be maintained before any further leases or private/public contracts are signed by the SFMTA that transfers public assets to private enterprises.

The Board of Supervisors, acting as the county SFCTA, should request a report on the effects these contracts have had so far on the economy, including, but not limited to, gentrification of neighborhoods, Muni ridership levels, and economic impacts to businesses and the city. Have these partnerships benefited the citizens of San Francisco? Have these contracts resulted in a net gain or loss of revenue for the city? Can they uptick in car break-ins and delivery problems be attributed to the loss of parking?

The Board of Supervisors should immediately put a stop to any further removal of parking spaces until the impact reports are completed.