Transit ridership declining in the Bay Area, according to UCLA study

By Kris Reyes : abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A UCLA study commissioned by the Metropolitan Transit Commission shows that ridership in the Bay Area is declining.

The full results of the study will be presented to a transit commission meeting on Wednesday.

The study identified three categories of riders: Choice or commute-oriented, Transit dependents and occasional riders.
In a period between 2009-2017, transit dependents and occasional riders both decreased by about 10 percent, while choice riders were up 13 percent… (more)

FASTER Bay Area

At a meeting with one of the main proponents of FASTER Bay Area (FBA) – the proposed nine-county 1% public transit sales tax to raise $100 billion over 40 years – we got an update on their plans…

The short version is that it is going forward and we need to be very wary…

Last year, Senator Beall (D, 15th, Silicon Valley), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation, introduced SB278 on MTC reform, which, idle since March, became a two-year measure for this year. It is the place-holder for FBA. Since the objective is to place FBA on the November 2020 ballot, where it will need two-thirds of the voters to make it happen, it will need the urgency measure to be effective immediately, meaning two-thirds approval of both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s signature by approximately June…

The answer we got was, it is now anticipated that it will be another four-week weeks before it is populated – but the plan is that SB278 will be voted out of the Senate as is – namely, not a word on the tax, then be populated later, passed by the Assembly, then back to the Senate, and to the Governor in time to be enrolled so that the sales tax will be on the November ballot. This is a variation on the classic California Legislature cut-and-amend process; which, as we all know, often works – well, “works” in the sense that the matter becomes law…

Watch S278 on MTC reform as it changes throughout the process.

Assemblymember may ‘force’ state to reveal ‘dark data’ of hidden Uber, Lyft crashes

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A California politician is taking aim at Uber and Lyft’s hidden crash data, which state regulators have for years hidden from the public.

That data has long been out of reach of local San Francisco politicians as well as state regulators, as reported this week by the San Francisco Public Press, a local nonprofit investigative news outlet

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) sent a letter Thursday requesting the California Public Utilities Commission make annual crash data reports submitted by Uber and Lyft public record.

The CPUC requires Uber and Lyft to file annual reports containing detailed safety and traffic data, yet after what the Public Press called “intense industry lobbying,” the commission’s rules were written to include a confidentiality clause shielding those reports…(more)

Santa Monica to Consider EV Charging Fees

By Jorge Casuso : surfsantamonica – excerpt

January 13, 2020 — With electric vehicles eating into parking revenues and boosting charging station costs, Santa Monica is rethinking its policies encouraging their use.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider imposing a fee to use City owned charging stations, which are currently free, as well as charging a $1 per minute “overstay fee” for those who exceed the posted time limit.

The Council also will consider revisiting a program that allows EVs displaying the proper decals to park for free at City parking meters that are losing potential revenues.

“As the demand for EV charging grows and more stations are installed throughout the City, it is increasingly necessary to have a clear strategy to deploy, manage, and reinvest in the City’s EV charging program,” staff wrote in their report to the Council.

In addition, staff noted that the rise in the number of EVs parking for free at meters “will contribute to existing parking meter revenue declines, though precise amounts are unknown.”… (more)

Let’s see, the more EVs the less pollution but lost parking revenues. What is the goal? Eliminating greenhouse gasses or collecting revenue?

Where Has the Money Gone?

By Phillip Sprincin : cityjournal – excerpt

In 2009, San Francisco’s municipal budget totaled $6.5 billion—$8.6 billion in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation and population. San Francisco’s budget for 2019 is an eye-popping $12.2 billion, a 10 percent increase just since 2018. The city has failed to match this staggering budget growth with a similar increase in capital investment or services, however, providing an object lesson in the limits of what money can do.

Companies like Google, Salesforce, and Uber, headquartered in and around the city, pour sky-high salaries and stock-option windfalls into the local economy, which has seen real estate values—and the cost of everything else—soar. City coffers overflow with tax revenue. Though the effect has been most pronounced for the past decade, it extends as far back as the first dot-com boom, 20 years ago—in 1999, the city budget was $4.2 billion, equivalent to $7.7 billion today. The excess budget above inflation and population growth over those 20 years totals an astonishing $23 billion…

The paltry results from exceptional budget growth are also a story of mismanagement. The Central Subway, though one of the most expensive subway projects in the world, has almost run out of money; its opening was recently delayed another 18 months. Last year, Muni made critical upgrades to the century old Twin Peaks tunnel, requiring additional busses to substitute for trains during the work. Muni didn’t plan for the extra drivers and took them from other routes, leaving the city short on service and causing a system-wide “meltdown.” The “Grand Central of the West,” despite having no tunnel or tracks, still cost $2.2 billion; it closed only six weeks after opening, due to structural cracks. The city spent $2 million to build a public bathroom at $4,700 per square foot, a construction cost similar to high-rise luxury condos. As successful as the OneSF capital plan has been, searching for a list of projects on its website returns the message, “the requested page could not be found.” San Francisco demonstrates that throwing in more money will compound mismanagement, not solve it.

The story of San Francisco’s budget over the past two decades shows that the city’s leadership doesn’t really value many of the issues—transit, affordable housing, clean energy—that it says it does. Given how little the city has done with its incredible windfall, year after year, it’s not clear what it values at all… (more)

Interesting article on national site that focuses rather narrowly San Francisco’s surreal budget. One must ask the question, what are they doing with all that money?

 

 

California Law Loophole Creates a Staggering Car Theft Crisis

By Leslie Eastman : legalinsurrection – excerpt

Law enforcement is stymied by a state law that says it only counts as a felony burglary if the car doors were locked, according to the Los Angeles Police Department…

“It’s ridiculous that under current law you can have a video of someone bashing out a car window, but if you can’t prove that the door is locked you may not be able to get an auto burglary conviction,” Democratic state senator Scott Wiener, who proposed changing the law but got pushback for the second year in a row, told the Los Angeles Times in December.

According to a tracker published by the San Francisco Chronicle, an average of 66 “smash-and-grab” car thefts were reported each day in San Francisco in December. Many more go unreported.

Wiener stressed that many of the victims of car theft are tourists who have no way of returning to testify that their car doors were, in fact, locked…(more)

It looks like it is time to write letters demanding an amendment to the state law that requires proof that trashed cars were locked. Contact your state legislator. Contacts here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

Housing justice protesters disrupt Wiener housing bill news conference

By Bay City News : sfexaminer – excerpt

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, came to Oakland on Tuesday to promote a bill that would boost construction of apartment buildings and condominiums in an effort to address the state’s housing shortage.

But Wiener and other speakers at a news conference on the steps of City Hall were drowned out by protesters, including people from the homeless activist group Moms 4 Housing, who said Senate Bill 50 wouldn’t provide enough affordable housing.

Wiener has tried for several years to get the state Legislature to pass his bill, which he said would eliminate restrictive low-density zoning near public transit and job centers and create new zoning standards for those areas. SB 50 must pass the Senate Appropriations Committee and then the full Senate by the end of January in order to move forward in the new legislative session… (more)

If you want to remove the option of building new single family neighborhoods in the state of California, you may want to support this bill. That is Senator Wiener’s intention. Even though he owns a home in San Francisco, he claims that building them removes affordable housing since he claims it is not possible to build affordable single family homes in the state. People beg to differ will be opposing the bill.

It is also important to note the plan to pay for the growth is not expected to come from those who benefit. Part of the package know as Compact, includes a plan to raise taxes on the current residents to pay for the expansion of infrastructure required to accommodate the growth. Guess who benefits?

Actions may be taken now if you oppose the SB50 you may call the Senators on the Appropriation Committee and let them know your position. Contacts and details.

Electric Scooter Injuries Rapidly Rising: Study

By NBC Bay Area Staff : nbcbayarea – excerpt

More people are being injured while riding electric scooters, according to a new study.

Researchers from UC San Francisco, looking at national hospital data from 2014 to 2018, found the number of scooter-related injuries doubled to more than 39,000. The number of hospitalizations related to e-scooter injuries quadrupled, and nearly a third of patients suffered head trauma, the study found… (more)

Riding in a responsible manner on the right side of the rode and not winding in and out of lanes might be a good start. You can’t expect people who have no boundaries to be safe or to be responsible for their actions.

Inner Sunset first to benefit from fresh take on city curbs

By Meyer Gorelick : sfweekly – excerpt

Special to the S.F. Examiner (Is this the new definition for an add?)

Trucks loading merchant goods and drivers seeking a parking spot may soon find a legal space to stop in the Inner Sunset, thanks to a relatively new group within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Curb Management Team…

The team, which was formed in early 2018 to provide citywide guidelines and holistic solutions for traffic flow and parking challenges, cut its teeth shaping streets around the new Chase Center Arena…

Before the Curb Management Team was formed, curb regulations were issued on an individual application basis in response to complaints. Now it will be based on citywide planning…(more)

The parking program around Chase Center is designed to remove parking and jobs and businesses that need it. If your goal is to close businesses such as restaurants that rely on longer term parking SFMTA will do that for you. The only people who benefit from the Chase Center plan are the Uber and Lyft drivers who have their own special pickup curbs and a wealthy clientelle. Hope they are paying for them cause they are killing a lot of other businesses and jobs.

Does San Francisco’s smart parking system reduce traffic?

By Sponsor (?) : sfweekly – excerpt

It is not news to anyone that San Francisco’s parking system has gone high tech. The Municipal Transportation Agency introduced in 2011 smart parking meters that enable citizens to pay with a credit card or debit card. These devices can be found throughout the city, on public streets and city-operated garages. The price is based on demand, which means that a person can pay anywhere between $0.25 to $6.00 per hour. It all depends on how many available free spaces there are. The parking system represents a mixture of time-based pricing and technology that leverages deep-seated roadway sensors to monitor the availability of parking spaces. When that information is available, it is passed on wirelessly to a data feed… (more)

I spite of all the public financed PR SFMTA puts out, Nothing SFMTA has done has eased traffic or parking. Whatever they are doing is increasing congestion and making parking more difficult during workings hours and during school days. When we are in a school holiday period, such as we just experienced, and many people avoid commuting, there is less traffic and miles of parking available, leading one to believe that the issue is the commuters who are not being properly serviced during working hours.

You may blame SFMTA and those who created the unlimited up-zoning for the loss of retail businesses all over the city and expulsion of the jobs and workers who are moving out in droves. It is a lot easier to live and work and run a business in a less dense, more easily accessible neighborhood outside of the city. That explains why San Francisco lost 40o restaurants last year and many talented skilled construction workers prefer to live and work closet to their new homes in the suburbs. Once the move out to make way for new wealthier tenants, they are not commuting back to work.