When the City Sells Your Street

By Laura Bliss : citylab – excerpt

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A new corner of a public street next to a public park and across the street from a Muni parking lot sprung up overnight without warning. photo by zrants

The San Francisco millionaires who had their street bought by real-estate investors might not get much sympathy. But when cities sell off real public assets, it’s everyone’s concern…

In a statement provided to CityLab, the HOA puts its perspective this way:[Lam and Cheng] waited over two years to notice the HOA presumably so the property sale would be more difficult to rescind. From their quotes in the newspaper it appears they are opportunistic, know exactly what they bought, and would like to exploit a bureaucratic oversight to their advantage…The mansion-dwellers who lost their street don’t need anyone’s pity. But on second glance, the story is instructive for anyone concerned about the rise of privatized public space and services.

Why did these rich people own a street in the first place?

The mansion-dwellers who lost their street don’t need anyone’s pity. But on second glance, the story is instructive for anyone concerned about the rise of privatized public space and services.

Central to this strange tale is the neighborhood homeowners association. The Presidio Terrace HOA states in its lawsuit that it had owned and maintained the oval-shaped street in question since 1905, when the neighborhood was developed. Its roots go back much further than most...

“Things can sometimes get done in a very off-the-record way, which can also affect what we’d expect from an entity that provides public services: to provide them fairly and efficiently,” says Cheung. Accidental or not, the sale of a road at an obscure city auction, without the knowledge of residents, is an extreme example of what can happen in a neighborhood in the hands of a quasi-private governing body with perhaps questionable management skills.

Similar questions of transparency and accountability come up when cities decide to sell off assets like water systems and parking meters, or contracting out services like trash collection or even police.

And what can the new owners do with it?

The fact that Presidio Terrace was sold to a new private owner—this time, a couple living in another city, with the full intention of turning a dime—echoes another concerning dimension of the privatization trend. When the agenda is profit, public space is no longer fully public…

when actual public streets turn over to private hands, it’s like a little bit of democracyerodes away. Rarely can people organize, gather, or rally in a space where a private owner is liable for injuries and lost business. Clearly, government does not always excel at upholding freedoms of speech and protest. But by nature, in the U.S., private owners are more restrictive...(more)

For a number of years we have been watching and writing about the privatization of public property and hoping that someone with means would take up the fight against the trend.

Hopefully that day has arrived and the courts can deal with the matter in a broader sense than this one event and this one taking and selling. Many excuses for taking public property and handing it over to private enterprises involve the government’s embracing of the so-called “sharing” economy, that is being exposed as a not-so-friendly corporate culture intent on disrupting our lives be convincing us we have not choice but to succumb.

This story raises a number of issues that need to be resolved and hopefully will get more media attention and generate more public involvement.

  1. Noticing is at the top of the list of every complaint being filed or mentioned. In this day of constant communications and overload of information, somehow, the simple task of properly noticing has been lost or abandoned. How can this be fixed? If you can’t notice a few people on a private street that they are in arrears of tax payments, how can you hope to notice a neighborhood that a large project that will change their neighborhood forever is under consideration?
  2. Taking of public property by a government from the pubic with intent to sell or lease it to private entities is a highly questionable practice for many of the reasons the author indicates and effects us all. Many questions need to be answered about this practice.
  3. Where does he authority come from to remove public property from public use?
  4. Who is benefiting from the taking, selling and leasing?
  5. Who is harmed by this practice?
  6. Who is upholding the private property rights? Are public tax-paid officials used by private entities to uphold private rules and regulations on these private properties? Do they send in the sheriff to tow a car or contractor’s vehicle as they send in a sheriff to evict a tenant?
  7. How does this work with the public streets that are being leased to corporations for their private parking use?
  8. What can the public do to take back control of the property?
  9. How can the pubic weigh in on the practice and perhaps reverse or stop it?
  10. Who will take the lead on solving this problem?

RELATED:

San Francisco’s privately owned streets: Do you live on one of them?

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-s-privately-owned-streets-Do-you-11746359.php

You may want to check this list. It is not a small list of privately owned streets.

Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots

Kevin McCoy : usatoday – exceprt (includes video)

Searching for parking is more painful than ever for U.S. drivers.

Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for spots on streets, in lots, or in garages, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The hunt adds up to an estimated $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel, and emissions, according to the analysis by INRIX, a leading specialist in connected car services and transportation analytics…

Hunting for parking “imposes significant costs on our pocketbooks that we often don’t think about,” and also adds to (traffic) congestion,” said Bob Pishue, an INRIX transportation analyst and co-author of the report. “This is a problem not only drivers face, but local shops and businesses, too.” … (more)

Thank you Supervisor Yee for requesting a Controller’s analysis of the effect of large street projects on our local businesses, but, do we need more evidence that local businesses are at risk when parking is removed, lanes are reduced and getting round the city is a pain instead of a pleasure?

San Francisco residents need to be put on notice that the anti-parking and cars movement is purposefully being used to kill our local economy in favor of the Amazon jungle SFMTA planners envision for us. According to them we have too many retail businesses. Everybody should shop online and take deliveries. Not that there is a plan for delivery parking either. They were probably planning on sidewalk robots, but, that plan was put on hold to protect the walkers.

Who needs safe streets to walk down when you can put on your army boots and pack your weapon of choice as you stroll down the crowded sidewalk ankle-deep in waste to the street corner. If you are lucky we will picked up by a self-propelled vehicle or make your way up to the roof for the Drone delivery of your lunch. The not so fortunate must make their way to a crowded bus or walk if walking is still free.

This is where we are headed if we continue along the path they have chosen for us. Look at the designs of all the buildings and you can see the plan in action now. What does it take to change this picture? Stay tuned.

The anti-car traffic congestion and parking problems and street obstructions did not happen by accident. This condition was planned and implemented by the people you see and hear from every week at the SFMTA. They are the power brokers who are running the show. You can read their treatise and see exactly how rose to their positions of authority.

SFMTA Pulls Another Lucy on Us – This time giving our curbs to Scoot

City-Owned car parked in the daylight, and and pedestrian zones one day after SFMTA Board passed the resolution removing curb rights from property owners.

Day One After the SFMTA Board passed the Scoot Resolution giving Scoot a license to park at will FOR FREE on our city streets, including in our RPP zones, and in the painted red zones “curb cuts” next to our driveways, that they like to ticket us for parking in, a homeowner snapped the above photos of a city-owned vehicle “Air quality control” vehicle in a driveway on the corner, overlapping both the pedestrian intersection and the “daylight” on the corner, making it difficult to see around the corner and drive in and out of the  driveway.

This was on Wednesday, one of the spare-the-air days, so SFMTA is breaking a lot of their rules here by allowing this car out on the street on a spare-the-air day, when their employees could easily take a ride on one of the many Muni lines in this transit rich area, and stand on the street corner to do their counts.

After shooting the photos, The homeowner approached the car, tapped on the closed window. to get it rolled down, and told the driver he couldn’t park in the driveway on the corner. He said, and I quote, “We have work to do and there is a parking problem here.”

After accusing the guy of being sent here to gather data to remove more parking on 17th Street, the resident pointed out a  parking space across the street and let him know that there was ample shade over there so he could park and stand in the shade and do his job without being a nuisance. He ignored the request to move.

What did we learn this week?

We learned that the SFMTA Board has quietly removed our rights to park across our driveways without any public comment or discourse, in spite of warnings by Supervisor Fewer, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, and Board members Heineki and Hsu, that it may backfire on the Scoot program to throw so many wrenches into the works at one time. RESIDENTS may respond negatively to the Scoot program.

How do you feel about removal of curb rights for property owners?

The reasons given and the conversation about turning day-light parking areas over to Scoot are pretty infuriating. Thornley and Brikman got into a conversation about “curb rights” for property owners that have fed the SFMTA ticket machine for decades as they handed out tickets when owners complained. Thornley said SFPark, his baby, has been thinking of using corner areas for Scoots and shared cars and Brinkman decided now is as good a time as ever to change the tradition of curb rights for property owners.

A lot more was said but, the bottom line is that SFMTA pulled a Lucy by removing public parking rights under the guise of safety and is now turning those rights over to the private share enterprises that we are being inundate with in the name of clean air, safety, and you name it.

Why did the media not report this?

To their credit, there was a lot to report from the SFMTA Board meeting of June 20, 2017. They caught the big stories that required some digging to do a proper job on. I’m sure there will be plenty of complaints and negative Scoot stories out in no time. The SFMTA is testing our tolerance levels, putting Scoot in the cross-hairs, making Scoot the canary in the coal mine.

It is time for property owners, residents and merchants to rise to the occasion and demand a reversal of this plan. Call your supervisor and request a public hearing on this issue.  If you object to corporate giveaways to the disruptive technologies that are killing the cultures of our city through gentrification and displacement, avoid Scoot and let the owners know why you are avoiding Scoot. Pedestrian groups that supported day-lighting may have something to say about this as well as property owners since their protections are on the line.

Get your concerns into the Board, Ed Reiskin and your supervisors when you see something wrong. Complaint programs are explained here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/sfpark-compaints/

Many complaints about the way this meeting was conducted. People are looking into the manner in which the resolutions and amendments were passed. People who were there were not sure what happened and looking at the tape doesn’t make it any clearer.

 

Almost every speed limit is too low

By Alex Mayyasi : qz – excerpt

“We all speed, yet months and months usually pass between us seeing a crash,” lieutenant Megge tells us when we call to discuss speed limits. “That tells me that most of us are adequate, safe, reasonable drivers. Speeding and traffic safety have a small correlation.”…

This “nationally recognized method” of setting the speed limit as the 85th percentile speed is essentially traffic engineering 101…

Luckily, there is some logic to the speed people choose other than the need for speed. The speed drivers choose is not based on laws or street signs, but the weather, number of intersections, presence of pedestrians and curves, and all the other information that factors into the principle, as lieutenant Megge puts it, that “no one I know who gets into their car wants to crash.”.

So if drivers disregard speed limits, why bother trying to set the “right” speed limit at all?…
This is important because, as noted in a US Department of Transportation report, “the potential for being involved in an accident is highest when traveling at speed much lower or much higher than the majority of motorists.” If every car sets its cruise control at the same speed, the odds of a fender bender happening is low. But when some cars drive 55 mph and others drive 85 mph, the odds of cars colliding increases dramatically. This is why getting slow drivers to stick to the right lane is so important to roadway safety; we generally focus on joyriders’ ability to cause accidents—and rightly so—but a car driving under the speed limit in the left (passing) lane of a highway is almost as dangerous.

Traffic engineers believe that the 85th percentile speed is the ideal speed limit because it leads to the least variability between driving speeds and therefore safer roads. When the speed limit is correctly set at the 85th percentile speed, the minority of drivers that do conscientiously follow speed limits are no longer driving much slower than the speed of traffic. The choice of the 85th percentile speed is a data-driven conclusion—as noted lieutenant Megge and speed limit resources like the Michigan State Police’s guide—that has been established by the consistent findings of years of traffic studies…

If people and politicians do want to reduce road speeds to improve safety, or make cities more pedestrian friendly, Megge says “there are a lot of other things you can do from an engineering standpoint.” Cities can reduce the number of lanes, change the parking situation, create wider bike paths, and so on. It’s more expensive, but unlike changing the number on a sign, it’s effective…

In its 1992 report, the US Department of Transportation cautioned, “Arbitrary, unrealistic, and nonuniform speed limits have created a socially acceptable disregard for speed limits.” Lieutenant Megge has worked on roads with a compliance rate of nearly 0%, and a common complaint among those given traffic citations is that they were speeding no more than anyone else. With higher speed limits, Megge says, police officers could focus their resources on what really matters: drunk drivers, people who don’t wear seat belts, drivers who run red lights, and, most importantly, the smaller number of drivers who actually speed at an unreasonable rate.

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s a formula Americans should love: Raise speed limits, make roads safer…

Lose your car over a parking ticket? San Francisco scrutinizes harsh punishments

…Around 4,000 cars get sold off in San Francisco every year because their owners can’t pay. Rowe herself knows two other people who have lost their cars because of parking tickets. I spoke with one man who was living in his car while he worked a retail job. After his car got towed, he not only lost the place he slept every night, but he also lost his job. His car was eventually sold off by the towing company…

Financial Justice Project

To many in city government, these punishments are too severe–among them are San Francisco’s treasurer. So the city established a program called the Financial Justice Project to look for ways to make smaller fines more fair to poorer residents…

Ferguson is a city of 20,000 people; in 2013 there were 30,000 citations in a single year. After that report on Ferguson, San Francisco City Treasurer José Cisneros wanted to start tackling the problem locally. He started the Financial Justice Project in the fall of 2016…

Basing fines on a person’s income

Income-based fines are already common in parts of Europe, and was attempted in the U.S. thirty years ago. Judith Greene, who created those programs in New York City and Phoenix, AZ says they worked well. “More people paid in full and the court system actually ended up collecting more money.”…

San Francisco is in a good position to tackle this: it’s a well-off city with a lot of economic inequality. But Stuhldreher worries that other municipalities might not have the same momentum…

 

Traffic safety is no easy fix

Examiner readers – comments
Make traffic deaths a thing of the past,”
In My View, April 18

Traffic safety is no easy fix

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin proclaims that “each [San Francisco traffic fatality] is preventable” as though this is somehow self-evident simply because he proclaims it. It is no such thing.

As SFPD Cmdr. Mikail Ali discovered in his detailed analysis of 2013 and 2014 street fatalities, the majority of fatalities are due to “really, really bad behavior” on the part of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Anyone who cycles and walks in San Francisco every day, as I do, will be as confounded as I am at the notion that red-light-running, inattentive jaywalking and failures to yield at crosswalks can be prevented by “Vision Zero,” which is a slogan pretending to be a panacea.

Reiskin cites “data analysis” as the basis for ever more expensive and intrusive mismanagement of our traffic flow. Yet despite having more than 5,000 employees at his service, the SFMTA has been slow to publish its annual collisions reports so we, citizens, can review the data ourselves.

The latest canard is “speeding,” something we all know is nearly impossible to do on tight, congested inner-city streets. Yet, it will be cited as justification for massive new camera surveillance. I’m sure the vendors of the speeding cameras are pleased by Reiskin’s endorsement of their solution to a nonexistent problem, as well as Uber and Lyft, who smile upon his efforts to divert our attention away from the true current scourge: distracted ride-hail drivers.

Deane Hartley
San Francisco

Ed Reiskin has admitted that Vision Zero has failed to put a dent in traffic deaths. So, his solution is MORE OF SAME.

According to a February 7 report titled “SFMTA Board Workshop”, in 2016 there were 3 bicycle fatalities, 16 pedestrian fatalities and 11 people were killed in vehicles. Bus and rail collisions and traffic congestion was up.

 

That parking ticket could be a scam

Got a parking ticket on your windshield, or a notice in the mail, when you thought you were parking legally? Investigate before you pay, said Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and author of “How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler.”

A long-time scam involving fake parking tickets is revving up, thanks to cheap and sophisticated hand-held printers that can make fake tickets appear real. Elliott, who invites defrauded consumers to complain on his website, said numerous consumers have contacted him about suspicious tickets. Scam sites like Snopes and DefensiveDriving.com are also warning about fake citations… (more)

Good reason to stop more scams by opposing AB-342

ACT NOW TO STOP SPEED TRAPS IN CALIFORNIA

ACT NOW TO STOP SPEED TRAPS IN CALIFORNIA
Sign the petition and contact your state representatives

Assembly Bill 342 which would allow speed cameras to be used in California for the first time. The bill makes the vehicle owner responsible for the ticket, not the driver and takes away your right to a trial.

Assembly Bill 342 would eliminate virtually all current protections afforded to motorists in speed related cases and allows jurisdictions to run speed traps in their cities, ensuring that the program will be used as a revenue generation scheme, not for public safety.

Assembly Bill 342 would add to the license-scanning cameras on our streets that is part of the growing surveillance system that may be used against the public. The ACLU is alarmed by this and has filed complaints about the SF Airport scanners, that were supposedly meant to track and charge taxis, but are now tracking all the vehicles entering and exiting the area.

THIS IS A PRIVACY AND DUE PROCESS ISSUE.
ACLU opposes the San Francisco Airport scanners, that will hold the data for four years. WHY?
We don’t need to add any more surveillance cameras to our streets. You can read here about all the terrible things that will happen if AB-342 becomes law.

WE NEED YOU TO TAKE ACTION TODAY! CALL THESE NUMBERS AND REQUEST A NO VOTE. More details here.

Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee Members:
Call and post on their  facebook pages.
Ed Chau (Chair) Dem – LA Area (916) 319-2049. Facebook
Kevin Kiley (Vice Chair) Rep – Rocklin/Auburn Area (916) 319-2006 Facebook
Catharine B. Baker Rep – San Ramon (916) 319-2016 Facebook
Marc Berman Dem – Mountain View (916) 319-2024 Facebook
Ian C. Calderon Dem – LA Area (916) 319-2057 Facebook
Matthew Dababneh Dem – LA (916) 319-2045 Facebook
Jacqui Irwin Dem – Oxnard (916) 319-2044 Facebook
Ash Kalra Dem – San Jose (916) 319-2027 Facebook
Jay Obernolte Rep – Hesperia (916) 319-2033 Facebook
Eloise Gómez Reyes Dem – San Bernardino (916) 319-2047 Facebook

Once you have completed those calls, call David Chiu’s Capitol office at (916) 319-2017 and tell him you don’t appreciate him introducing legislation that takes away your rights!

Update on CA AB342 (Speed Cams) and Please Support AB1094 Today!

Dear California NMA Members,

Thank you for all your emails and phone calls this past week to oppose AB 342 (speed cameras in CA).  Jay Beeber of Safe Streets L.A. told NMA yesterday that the bill has been tabled by the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee for now, but there is still a possibility that it can come back in April.  Keep the pressure on!  Beeber mentioned that phone calls and faxes get the most attention.  Call and write your elected Assembly representatives TODAY!
Here is a link to an L.A. Weekly article that appeared this morning featuring Beeber and AB 342.

Another bill that has the potential to be voted on a consent agenda this week in the Assembly is AB1094. Safer Streets L.A. (mentioned above), an organization dedicated to the adoption of scientifically sound and sensible transportation and traffic laws, strongly supports the passage of AB 1094. So does the National Motorists Association.

AB 1094 clarifies that violations of the traffic control signal at freeway on-ramp meters is properly cited under CVC 21455. By providing more specificity as to the requirement to heed the controls imposed at at freeway on-ramp meters and how this violation should be cited under the vehicle code, AB 1094 helps both law enforcement and the general public better understand their obligations and responsibilities with respect to this violation. This should help avoid unneeded confusion and provide savings in both time and resources. NMA and Safer Streets L.A. supports measures such as AB 1094 which provide greater clarity within the vehicle code.

You can send your letters to Nathan.Skadsen@asm.ca.gov who is the staff member for the bill’s author, Assemblymember Steven S. Choi. Or contact by mail or by phone: Capitol Office, Room 2016, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0068; (916) 319-2068
Copies should also be cc’d to the Transportation Committee analyst Victoria.Alvarez@asm.ca.gov.

If you would like to contact your own elected representatives, find he or she HERE.

Keep those phone calls, faxes, emails and letters going! Persistence makes a difference!

Thank you for your support!

RELATED:

Speed-Camera Tickets Could Be Legalized in California

By Dennis Romero : laweekly – excerpt

A new state legislative proposal would legalize cameras that issue speeding tickets, as part of a pilot program. Jay Beeber, an Angeleno who’s a longtime warrior against the perceived unfairness of the city’s parking tickets, has mounted a campaign against the speed-camera bill by Assemblyman David Chiu. Although the five-year pilot program would apply only to Chiu’s hometown of San Francisco and to San Jose, there’s fear that the bill, AB 342, eventually would open the floodgates to speed cameras statewide…

He argues it’s all about getting more money out of taxpayers without actually having to do the difficult and politically perilous job of raising taxes. Jay S. Carsman, a former Los Angeles Department of Transportation parking systems coordinator, who is credited with moving parking tickets from the courts to administrative hearings, has joined Beeber in the fight against the bill.

“Unfortunately, the unrelenting demands for substantial revenue growth, the blanket authority granted to each local agency to adjust their schedule of fines and late payment penalties, and the time limits and monetary demands placed upon motorists wishing to contest their [parking] citation(s) allied to a corrupted system of inflated fines and penalties and the routine denial of any meaningful justice to literally millions of California motorists,” he writes in a letter opposing the bill. ” … I urge you to not compound the mistakes we made with parking citations by adding any motor vehicle moving violations to a similar legal status.”… (more)

 

 

 

Stop the Speed Camera Pilot Program in San Francisco and San Jose

AB-342 is scheduled to be heard in the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. The link to the committee members is here: Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. Please send your request to them directly online and call them if you can.

STOP THE SPEED CAMERA BILL AB-342, AUTHORED BY DAVID CHIU.
SIGN THE PETITION. CALL AND EMAIL YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVES IF YOU OBJECT TO A FIVE-YEAR PILOT PROGRAM IN SAN FRANCISCO AND SAN JOSE.

www.saferstreetsla.org has a full explanation of the bill, a petition to sign, and phone numbers of legislators to call. Call David Chiu at (916) 319-2017 and tell him you don’t appreciate him introducing legislation that takes away your rights!

Assemblymember David Chiu from San Francisco has introduced legislation to allow speed cameras to be used in California for the first time. The bill, AB-342 does not simply allow enforcement of speed laws using an automated enforcement system rather than a live police officer.

AB-342 drastically changes California speed laws and enforcement in very negative ways. While some might view the use of speed cameras as a tool in promoting roadway safety,

AB-342 is seriously flawed. It eliminates virtually all current protections afforded to motorists in speed related cases and allows jurisdictions to run speed traps in their cities, ensuring that the program will be used as a revenue generation scheme, not for public safety.

AB-342 makes the vehicle owner responsible for speeding tickets and takes away a defendant’s right to a trial. Instead, the ticket is treated as a civil violation which will be adjudicated in an administrative hearing without traditional due process rights.

Now sign the Petition to Protect Your Rights! Tell David Chiu you don’t appreciate his legislation that takes away your right to a trial, makes you responsible for the actions of others, and eliminates protections against cities running speed traps.

A BETTER CHEAPER SOLUTION TO SAFER DRIVING: EXTEND THE TIMING ON YELLOW LIGHTS TO GIVE PEOPLE MORE TIME TO STOP.

RELATED:
Violations Plummet with Longer Yellow Light Time