The SFMTA touts license plate recognition tech

By Eve Batey : curbed – excerpt

It will be interesting to hear what San Francisco privacy advocates, who’ve previously opposed things like speed-limit enforcement cameras, will respond to a press release sent by the SFMTA this morning. Intended to tout the “new parking access and revenue control systems” in the city’s 22 SFMTA-owned garages, the release says that one of the improvements that “will make parking in city-owned garages Hassel-free [sic]” is a “New system [that] will address lost tickets with a license plate recognition system.”

It appears that this system was nearly a year in the making, as a June 3, 2016 press release from the SFMTA announced the kickoff of the systems’ installation. And it’s not like this is the MTA’s first foray into license plate recognition, as it’s obviously used to send tickets to double-parkers that block camera-enabled Muni vehicles.

A July, 2016 article from Parking Today, reports that a German company called SKIDATA was awarded a $19 million contract for the parking lot upgrades. That includes the “License Plate Recognition (LPR)” which “will be deployed in most garages to secure revenue and add exciting new use cases.” According to SKIDATA’s site, those who oversee the new system have the ability to see “operational data in real time,” including the license plate information of those who arrive and depart the parking facilities. On the plus side, as the SFMTA notes, you likely won’t get stuck with that “full day” ding for a lost ticket. On the possible negative, your movements just got tracked a little bit more (more)

Muni changes course on millions in bond funds

By Jerrold Chin : sfbay – excerpt

Muni is shifting millions in bond funds away from delayed transit improvement projects and toward improvements of bus yards and other agency facilities… Bus barn in the Mission, photo by Zrants

Delays in spending a voter-approved 2014 bond measure on transportation infrastructure in San Francisco has prompted transit officials to reprogram some of the bond money into other projects that are ready to go and in need of funds.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved redirecting $26.2 million from the first bond issuance of the 2014 Transportation and Road Improvement General Obligation Bond from Muni transit improvements to Muni facility upgrades.

Along with the reprogramming of the bond money, directors also are requesting to a second issuance of $92.8 million from the Board of Supervisors…

The SFMTA will spend $21.1 million in upgrading its Burke Warehouse facility that will eventually house overhead wires and provide extra capacity storage for the transit agency.

Another $11 million will go towards the second phase of Islais Creek project. The project includes the construction of a 65,000 square foot motor coach maintenance and operations facility, according to the SFMTA.

Other projects the second bond issuance will fund toward the electrification of Caltrain ($20 million), the BART canopy project ($3 million), and a number of bike and pedestrian safety projects…(more)

 

Tired of that pothole? Report it today and DPW will fix it in June as part of Fewer Potholes Month

By Sarah B : Richmondsblog – excerpt

IMG_1289

I adopted Carolina (between 16th and 17th Streets) because the street is one large pothole that and wins the prize as the largest continuous pothole in town. photo by Zrants.

We’ve all been there. You’re driving down a street in the Richmond District when, BAM, your wheel hits a pothole, rattling your vehicle and making you grit your teeth in frustration. Inevitably you ask, “Why can’t this city keep our roads in good shape?”.

Our new District 1 Supervisor Sandra Fewer wants to do something about it. She has declared June to be “Fewer Potholes Month” in the Richmond District and has convinced the Department of Public Works to commit a repair crew EXCLUSIVELY to the neighborhood for the month to repair all potholes reported by residents.

That’s where you come in – we need your pothole reports!…(more details and the application form attached.)

Our state government passed a gas tax to fix the roads so let’s fix the potholes. Thanks to Supervisor Fewer for taking this on. Other supervisors need to join the “Fewer Potholes” movement. Invite your constituents to adopt their favorites.

This is the one thing everyone agrees on. Potholes effect ALL MODES of travelers, creating dangerous conditions for everyone who must deal with them. This often involves by swerving in and out of lanes to avoid them or slowing down as you approach them, and creates unnecessary friction between cars and bikes. Bus riders complain of “bumpy rides” and lose precious moments as the drivers are forced to slowing down or swerve to avoid them on the narrow streets. We spend millions of dollars a year on repair bills. Fix the Potholes now! Report details:

File a complaint with DPW. Take a picture. Make note of the address. File a report on it with DPW using the Mayor’s 311 complaint system. You may call 311 and speak to an operator but this can be time-consuming. It may be easier to file a complaint online http://sf311.org to get it entered into the record. They claim that all feedback is linked to the 311 system and offer you a referral number, which you can use to check on the status of your pothole. If you use that system report back on how long it takes to get it fixed.

New App Helps Dogpatch Residents Report Neighborhood Problems

by potreroview – excerpt
In March, a new website, Dogpatch Solutions Tracker, launched at https://dogpatch.dillilabs.com. A community service aiming to improve neighborhood safety and cleanliness, the site features a digital map application where registered users can pinpoint such concerns as potholes, graffiti, trash, and vandalism in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill…(more)

YIMBYs: The “Alt-Right” Darlings of the Real Estate Industry

By Toshio Meronek and Andrew Szeto : Truthout – excerpt

Rising city skyline from Bernal Heights by zrants

In San Francisco’s Mission District, flyers pasted on mailboxes and light poles warn longtime residents of the new “conquistadores,” the hordes of wealthy tech industrialists who’ve descended on the neighborhood en masse over the past few years, displacing many in the Latinx-heavy neighborhood to the outer reaches of the Bay Area.

But it’s not just lower-income people who are feeling set upon. Rich newcomers also see themselves as an interest group in need of a voice. “Someone needs to represent people who haven’t yet moved into a neighborhood,” said pro-development activist Sonja Trauss, who moved to Oakland in 2011, at an April real estate industry soiree in Vancouver. In San Francisco, “the people who haven’t yet moved in” most often means the tech industrialists, lured by high salaries, stock options and in-office employee benefits like massage therapists and handcrafted kombucha.

But these new tech “immigrants,” as Trauss refers to her kinfolk, spell disaster for current San Franciscans. In 2015, the city-funded homeless count found 71 percent of homeless San Franciscans were housed in San Francisco before being pushed onto the streets…

A Campaign to Legitimize the Luxury Condo Boom

A founder of the Yelp.com web empire, Jeremy Stoppelman, bequeathed $100,000 upon new Oakland resident Trauss in 2015, with the stated goal of clearing the way for more housing units, even if those units were only accessible to the richest of the rich. That investment helped to spark a libertarian, anti-poor campaign to turn longtime sites of progressive organizing into rich-people-only zones…

A Grassroots Facade…

YIMBY brings together community groups, advocates, and grassroots organizations,” reads the Toronto YIMBY Party’s website. But North America’s first YIMBY convening, YIMBY2016, was funded by groups, such as the National Association of Realtors and the Boulder Area Realtor Association…

Are the people-of-color-led community groups like Causa Justa that supported a moratorium on luxury condo construction “just as bad” as anti-immigrant Trump supporters? Trauss thinks so, calling people who didn’t support new market-rate condo projects in central San Francisco “nativists” because they don’t welcome with open arms the construction cranes building lavish condos with butterfly gardens and valet parking in traditionally working-class neighborhoods… (more)

The BARFERs (Ms. Stauss YIMBIEs are known as BARFERs) got in trouble when they used the term “nativists” at a Board of Supervisors hearing after Trump was elected. None of the supervisors appreciated that moniker and the project Ms. Strauss was supporting has been radically changed. It is slated to be a temporary homeless shelter.

Deadly Neoliberal Policies

Infill, with its self-aware, geek-chic name, is the podcast that Trauss co-hosts with another YIMBY-to-watch, Laura Foote Clark. When Truthout asked for evidence that the YIMBY trickle-down model would benefit people who aren’t making tech salaries, Foote Clark was quick to send a dozen papers that claim to show how neoliberal deregulation will end the housing crisis, and that rich NIMBYs are the main benefactors of further regulation…(more – Leave comments here if you can.)

This fresh look at San Francisco politics on the national stage contains helpful new observations and about our political divide. Most people want to same thing, they just disagree about how to get there.

“…rich NIMBYs are the main benefactors of further regulation…”

This statement is evidence of a misplaced jealousy of people who own homes, and a misunderstanding of the concept of liquid assets, true values, and security. People who own homes are just as stuck as people who rent. The only thing they have going for them is a little more control over their finances until they lose their source of income and are foreclosed on if they bought into an equity loan scheme.

If you do sell your home to realize an increase in equity value, where do you move? You can hardly afford to trade up in the market.

One of the major things that sets Yimbies apart from the rest of us is that along with a strong sense of jealousy, they live in the perfect future while the rest of us live in the present. Waiting for the world to turn into a perfect vision is not something that appeals to people who live in the present. We built the city to live in, not as a get rich scheme.

The amazing thing is that WE are accused of being the obstructionists, while THE YIMBIEs and BARFERs, along with SFMTA and SPUR are the real obstructionists. They are creating havoc on our streets impeding our movement, while claiming we are impeding their ability to stop us.

Everyone does agree that we have too many homeless on our streets and we need to enforce the eviction laws to keep people in their homes. The entire Board of Supervisors are intent on fixing that problem.

RELATED: Comments on the above article
With development activists compared to the ‘alt-right,’ the housing crisis debate jumped the shark

 

Bill to Allow Cyclists to Roll Through Stop Signs Fails

Bike crossing on Panhandle path en mass at traffic light – photo by zrants.

A proposal to allow bikes to roll through intersections has come to a skidding stop — for now.

AB 1103 would have let bicyclists treat stop signs like yield signs. On Monday, the measure stalled in committee.

The American Automobile Association opposes the measure, as does the California Police Chief’s Association.

Supporters of the measure are holding off until next year when they plan to re-introduce the bill. They decided they needed more time to convince their fellow lawmakers… (more)

Everyone is safest when we all follow the same rules.

 

 

Bikes win, Fire Department loses in Market Street redo

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Impossible to move in traffic like this, photo by Zrants

Score a big victory for the politically potent San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which won approval the other day for protected bike lanes along several blocks of upper Market Street — despite a Fire Department protest that the reconfiguration will interfere with ladder trucks in an emergency.

“The design materially compromises the safety of firefighters and local residents,” Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White warned in a letter to the Municipal Transportation Agency commission.

At issue is a nearly mile-long strip of Market between Octavia and Castro streets. Under the plan, the city will install protected bike lanes in both directions.

The redo includes a bike lane on two blocks near Octavia that will be located next to the curb and be buffered from traffic by a lane for parked cars.

And therein lies the rub — because, as Hayes-White tells us, the parking lane will be right in the spot where a ladder truck would normally pull up to an emergency scene…

Mayor Ed Lee himself signaled his support for the biking crowd last year when he issued a directive pledging support for protective bike lanes in the city, and calling for at least 13 miles of additional bike lanes and related infrastructure annually.

Safe for bikes, perhaps, but maybe less so for anyone needing help in an emergency… (more)

The self-centered attitude of people who treat the streets as their playground has gotten out of control and City Hall needs to put some breaks on these antics that are putting us all at risk.

How is this different from the leaning sinking tower?

Experts are warning that the public is at risk? Where has the media been on this story as it has been developing over the last few months or years? The first we heard about this was a few weeks ago, after the SFMTA Board had already decided to support the Bike Coalition, with their 300 letters.

How can the public weigh in when they are the last to know about these issues?
Where are the Supervisors who are supposed to protect us? Setting up a study to count the minutes it takes to get to an emergency after the fact is pointless and insulting to the Fire Department and the public it serves.

Where were the meetings held on this matter and where are the minutes of those meetings that were held leading up to this decision?

Where are the letters that were written and arguments made against this plan. How will these documents be protected so as not to disappear like the famous disappearing volumes of engineers reports on the tower?

Who will the Bicycle Coalition members who ignored the Fire Department’s warning blame, when the vehicle coming to their aid fails to get to them in time?

I cannot figure out how to comment on the source site, even though I am signed into it. Please post some comments there is you can figure it out.

San Francisco sinkhole swallows big rig

by

On Seventh Street, between Brannan and Townsend, a big rig fell victim to the open mouth of a hungry sinkhole, which partially swallowed the vehicle during the morning commute.

“The San Francisco Fire Department estimates the size of the sinkhole at five feet by 14 feet,” repots Patch, adding, “A tow truck has arrived at the scene to pull the truck out of the sinkhole.”

The truck was carrying bags of cement, as well as two bulldozers. Heavy stuff, indeed.

“The truck driver had just pulled up and was about to park when the pavement gave out and the truck shifted on its side, causing the sidewalk to break and give give way,” notes SFGate.

No injuries have been reported…(more)

Despite SFFD Complaints, SFMTA Board OKs Upper Market Parking-Protected Bike Lanes

by Carrie Sisto : hoodline – excerpt

Clogged traffic on Masonic before they cut out any lanes.

Despite objections from fire department officials, San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s board voted yesterday to approve new parking-protected bike lanes and other changes to the roadway in the Upper Market area.

“The item was passed unanimously with the understanding that we would work with SFFD to develop a plan that includes the features of the project, while ensuring that first responders have the necessary access,” SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose told us.

Easily-installed improvements like painting new protected bike lanes should be installed this year, but large-scale construction improvements like adding bulb-outs and islands will occur in 2019… (more)

This is not about traffic laws or safety regulations. This is about science and physics and the fact that no two objects can occupy the same space at one time.
I just witnessed a traffic jam on 18th Street with a fire department ambulance stuck in traffic. It was being held up by what appeared to be a school bus coming from the opposite direction.
The totality of the traffic and anti-traffic flow tactics being unleashed on SF streets is the problem. Left unchecked, a fire can double in size, or so fire department personnel have claimed. Do you really want to second guess the Fire Department when they tell you they can’t serve the public under these circumstances?
If you think it is more important to promote traffic nightmares that hamper emergency vehicles and stop traffic flow, I hope you are prepared to take your friends and family who need assistance on your bike to the hospital next time they need help because the ambulance you count on may not make it in time.

 

Is Distracted Driving the new Drunk Driving?

motorists – excerpt

Ever wonder why someone might take the wrong turn? Given this image, you can see that the “Do Not Enter” sign is on the right side of the triangular land mass that separates the streets. People who are not familiar with the area, might think the sign is directing traffic away from that street. Is driving down a Muni tunnel entrance like this a case of distracted driving, bad signage, or both?

Distracted driving of any kind can be instantly dangerous. Each April the federal and state governments conduct a public awareness campaign on the dangers of distracted driving that bombards motorists with media messages which leads to increased command-and-control enforcement. There can be many different distractions for drivers but among the most controversial is the use of a mobile electronic device while driving. Drivers should normally refrain from texting while driving. The best way to encourage behavioral change is through ongoing driver’s education and awareness not through government micromanagement. Motorists need to beware that distracted driving does not become the new drunk driving in both stigma and penalties.

Much has been written about the increase in overall traffic fatalities for the past two years which many attribute to distracted driving. The federal government cannot ban distracted driving and instead has encouraged statehouses to deal with the problem. Thirty-nine states have already banned text messaging while driving. Ten states plus Washington DC have banned the use of hand held phones entirely. Should states then criminalize behavior that all drivers engage in?... (more)

Traffic Safety Advocates Form Human Chain To Protect Tenderloin Bike Lane

by Walter Thompson : hoodline – excerpt

Calling attention to what they say is the city’s failure to protect bike lanes in high-injury corridors, approximately 15 traffic safety advocates formed a human chain this morning on Golden Gate Avenue near Market Street.

Dressed in yellow T-shirts donated by road-safety advocacy group San Francisco Municipal Transformation Agency (SFMTrA), participants stood in a bike lane and joined hands to create a barrier between motorists and cyclists…

Last month, Muni proposed scaling back a parking-protected bikeway on Turk Street—another corridor in the High Injury Network—to a paint-buffered bike lane, similar to the one on Golden Gate Ave. The change was proposed after fire department representatives said the new configuration made the street too narrow for emergency vehicles… (more)