When the City Sells Your Street

By Laura Bliss : citylab – excerpt

Fordbikes.jpg

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.

Man screaming death threats terrorizes BART train

 By Otis R. Taylor Jr. : sfchronicle – excerpt

Imagine settling in for your morning commute on BART when a man yells this at the top of his lungs: “I’m going to kill you.”

Mike Hohndorf and dozens of other passengers got a body-shaking jolt, not unlike a train lurching out of a station, during their commute early Friday morning from a belligerent rider who terrorized a train car for seven stops — even though Hohndorf said the man first made threats at the North Concord/Martinez BART Station and that he told a BART police officer about the man at the station.

“I’m going to stab all of you,” the man yelled as the passengers clustered waiting for the station gates to open. The officer allowed the man to board the train, where he continued to threaten passengers. Hohndorf and another passenger contacted BART officials to report the problem. BART told them they would mobilize at the 12th Street Station in Oakland — several stops later. By then, the man had gotten off… (more)

Keep this in mind the next time you see a BART cop. “There is nothing he can do.” Why are we hiring police to patrol BART if there is nothing they can do about a man yelling threats at people aimlessly? The Richmond Mayor witnessed an attack at a BART station last week. BART and the city cops claimed confusion over “jurisdiciton” of the area. Who is running this zoo?

We all know that Muni is not safe and the streets and sidewalks are not safe. Now we have to worry about BART too?

Supervisor Sheehy testified at the SF County Transit Authority meeting this week, that is made of of the Board of Supervisors, that “Muni is not safe” as he was speaking in behalf of parents who drive their children to school and need a place to pull over to let the kids out at their schools.

Before SFMTA gets away with any more parking or drop-off eliminations, the city authorities need to deal with this issue of safety at and around stations and on the public transit. This lack of safety could be a large factor in the drop-off of Muni riders, along with the loss of seats on buses and the reduction of bus stops. SFMT is pushing people off the public transit into car-shares, Ubers and Lyfts. Is this what SF residents want out of their public transit system?

The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

How the Bay Area took over the self-driving car business

 By David R. Baker and Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

The small white cars topped with what look like stubby metal antennas swarm in and out of an unmarked San Francisco building like bees around a hive.

They’re a daily sight in their South of Market neighborhood, to the point that smartphone-obsessed pedestrians rarely even notice them. Passersby also may not realize that much of the time, the cars are driving themselves.

These cars, equal parts Detroit and Silicon Valley, are the creation of a San Francisco startup, Cruise Automation, and General Motors, which bought Cruise last year for well over half a billion dollars. They are just one component of a burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry that has developed with startling speed, one that could, very soon, fundamentally reshape our economy, our cities and our society.

For close to a century, vehicles that could drive themselves belonged to a future that forever seemed a few decades away, a jet-pack dream just out of reach. Now the technology is advancing fast enough that many of those developing it predict human-driven cars will be obsolete within a generation…

The creative engine for this world-shifting technology, its main laboratory and testing ground, is the Bay Area. More than 60 companies in the region — some based here, others drawn from as far away as China, France and Japan — are chasing the dream of robotic driving.

They include some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names: Tesla, Apple and, of course, Google, the Internet search giant whose willingness to throw its vast resources into self-driving research over the past decade forced skeptical automakers to follow.

.. (more)

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.

Despite safety concerns, Upper Market protected bike lanes approved

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Upper Market Street will be transformed following the unanimous vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday to make it safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Though the Upper Market Street Safety Project was heavily lobbied for by dozens of everyday-bicyclists who attended the meeting, it had one major detractor:

The San Francisco Fire Department.

SFFD Deputy Chief of Operations Mark Gonzales told the board that the department wasn’t opposed to the entire project, just the parking protected bike lanes...(more)

An Appeal was filed on this project and will be heard by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, July 11. Stay tuned.

 

Central Subway Is Almost A Year Behind Schedule

: sfist – excerpt

All of San Francisco has been anxiously awaiting the completion of the $1.6 billion Central Subway, and the agonizing construction required to build it. But we’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer. Somewhere in heaven, Rose Pak is rolling her eyes.

The San Francisco Examiner brings us the disappointing news that the Central Subway project is projecting a 10-month delay and no one is willing to fess up to exactly why. Again, if Chinatown power broker, Central Subway enthusiast, and low-key world leader Rose Pak were still among the living, it’d already be open.

Catch up on the Central Subway drama with all of our previous coverage(more)

While a bunch of hard hats argue over who screwed up some pieces of paper, businesses are suffering because a bunch of jack-hammers are blocking their entrances, and everyone else is suffering because construction results in road closures and traffic delays and loud noise and dust. Construction on the Central Subway began in 1783 2012 and was expected to be completed on December 26, 2018. As of the most recent Project Management Oversight Committee monthly report on San Francisco’s albatross, the Central Subway will open on or around November 14, 2019…

If and when it is ever completed, the Central Subway will connect Chinatown with BART and a network of Muni subways. It will also solve world hunger and cure cancer… (more)

The Central Subway is a prime example of San Francisco’s new disruptive architectural form I call “restructionism”. The possibilities are endless. There is no beginning, only an endless effort to keep the project afloat for as long as possible. The artist is in a constant state of frenzied confusion, while everyone tries to guess the next move so they can get out of the way. As some have observed that is a billion-dollars-a-mile tunnel and counting.

RELATED:
San Francisco’s Central Subway Gets Delayed In Chinatown (includes video)

Which city does Transit Better – LA or SF?

Comparing city transit systems

SF Public Transit Solutions

I asked a transit expert to compare the two cities. Here is the response.

TAR:  LA and SF are two of the worst, overall, in the U.S.  If you look at
the rankings, LA is almost always the absolutely worst.

However, as a practical matter, it comes down to particular commutes in each
place.

Transit is different in LA.  To a large extent, the only place where transit
can really be competitive is peak-hour commutes to the central business
district — and LA has, by far, the smallest CBD relative to urbanized area
population in the U.S., if not the world.  Also, believe it or not, greater
LA is, by far, the densest urbanized area in the U.S. and is almost dead
last in freeway center-line miles and total road miles per capita (I win a
lot of bar bets on these two).  But, much of LA has a very…

View original post 425 more words

Federal approval will see Muni red lanes spread to 50 streets across SF

By : sfexaminer – excerpt (includes map)

Muni is about to paint the town red.

If we don’t stop them!

Muni’s latest experiment, the “red carpet” transit-only lanes has split San Franciscans’ opinions, but now the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is contemplating at least 50 new streets to play host to the transit lanes.

Bus riders and numerous studies say they’re a boon to transit, speeding up the previously molasses-slow buses and trains during commute hours. An alliance of homeowners and merchants, however, decry the lanes for making traveling by car more difficult, potentially driving away customers from mom and pop shops.

Love them or hate them, however, newly granted federal approval will now allow Muni’s red lanes to sprout all across The City, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

A list of “Potential Future Red Lanes” provided to the Federal Highway Administration as part of the lane approval process, which was obtained by the Examiner, show nearly 50 new proposed sites for red lanes…

“Red Transit Lanes are still an experimental device,” Doug Hecox, a spokesperson for the administration, wrote to the Examiner in an email, and added that soon may change.

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has a technical committee that determines new street markings — yellow cannot be used in pavement coloring, for example, but purple is allowed in lanes for electronic toll collection.

So San Francisco may pave the way for the legalization of red… (more)

Stop the spread of Red! We Need Your Voice to Remove The Red Carpet Mess on Mission Street and stop the spread to other streets like the Geary BRT.
Write a letter: Government Transportation Contacts
Sign the petition: redcarpetmess.org
Join SF for Sensible Transit
Sign the petition to Stop the Red Carpet Mess

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: