The bizarre argument in favor of Wiener’s housing bill

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – expert

Sup. Vallie Brown tries to make the convoluted case for letting the private market solve our housing crisis.

A Board of Supes committee has passed a resolution opposing SB 50, the Scott Wiener bill that would allow a lot more market-rate housing in California cities without any new funding or mandates for affordability.

But the debate at the Government Audit and Oversight Committee offered a window into how the supporters of the bill are prepared to frame their debate – and how they are badly twisting history to make a political point…

The No vote on the committee was Sup. Vallie Brown. Her speech against it was remarkable both for its incoherence and its repetition of talking points that amount to this:

If we allow developers to build higher and denser, prices will come down to the point that low-income people will not be displaced by tech-boom driven gentrification.

At least, I think that’s what she was trying to say.

Check it out yourself; the relevant part starts at about 4:01(more)

Call or write your comments to the Supervisors: contacts

If You Think SB 50 will be Bad, Think Again: It will Actually be Much Worse

By Dick Platkin : citywatch – excerpt

PLATKIN ON PLANNING-By now most CityWatch readers are familiar with SB 50, California State Senator Scott Wiener’s reboot of last year’s SB 827, a bill that died in committee…

But many people do not yet know that despite a slick PR campaign, SB 50 is worse than SB 827. It will not only fail to reach its goals, but it will instead produce gentrification, traffic congestion, and more Green House Gases. The reason? SB 50 is based on two utterly false premises.

False premise 1. Homelessness and the high cost of housing result from municipal zoning laws. A simple peek at the booms and busts of the real estate market quickly reveals the irrelevance of zoning to the cost of housing. Unlike rapidly fluctuating interest rates and lending requirements, consumer demand, rent control laws, fuel prices, road conditions, mass transit fares, tax laws, government housing programs, and economic inequality, zoning is fixed. A stable variable, zoning, cannot cause wild gyrations in residential prices and building rates, all shown on the following graph… (more)

Gentrification started with the war on cars. Remember “parking is not a right it is a privilege?” That turned into “cars are evil and parking is the problem”. Now we see the real goal, coming at us, that parking removal soften us up for – citizen displacement. Single family homes are evil. Only multi-family homes, preferably small and confined units, are the “right for all”. If you own a single family home you are a selfish so and so who should sell to the developers and take your supposed profits out of town.

Not only is that a strange message to give to homeowners, but it is severely flawed. First, you are assuming because all homes are worth a million dollars, the sellers will be rich when they sell. There are many reasons this is not the case, starting with the fact that many homes are financed and most of the money will go to the banks to pay off the loans. Even for those homeowners who are not sitting on debt, there is the daunting task of moving somewhere else. Where will they move?

Why not take the jobs to the housing in the valley to cut out the commute time and commute traffic. The homes are already built and waiting for jobs. Share the wealth of jobs with the communities who need them. Build the office space where it is wanted and needed. Create you new tech-based communities in new cities, without disrupting peoples lives.

Find out more about SB50 and why you may want to encourage the Supervisors and Mayor to oppose it:

Open Forum: Trickle-down housing won’t solve our affordability crisis

By Gordon Mar : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco has the highest income gap, one of the fastest-growing wealth gaps, and some of the highest housing costs in the world. This isn’t news, but it bears repeating as we consider how best to address our affordability crisis…(more)

Ridesharing nibbling away at public transit ridership in Peninsula, South Bay

By David Louie : abc7news – excerpt (including video)

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) — Ridesharing services are taking a bite out of public transit on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. Ridership is down between four and five percent for both SamTrans and VTA, the Valley Transportation Authority.

“If ridership does continue to decline, yes, maybe some hard decisions will have to be made,” said Dan Lieberman, a media relations representative at SamTrans…(more)

Building A Better Bay Area: Rideshare realities

No one is happy with the current state of our streets and highways and everyone blames someone else. Let’s change the failed system and not worry about why it isn’t working. Public transit agencies need to prioritize moving people where they need to go when they need to get there and drop the emphasis on resigning the streets.

For more than a decade the public has given the government a chance to figure out how to manage the streets and plan for a “future better bay area”. Government goals and priorities have been largely focused on re-directing the public, not in serving the public. This has resulted in bad decisions like bus seat and stop removal, that reduced public transit use. Just as the public predicted, they got off the bus. Riders do not trust the system and are fleeing the chaos and violence.

What do you expect the results to be when public transportation agencies partner with competing enterprise corporations? Who is benefiting from these partnerships? Instead of hiring lobbyists to force more controls, fines and fees on the citizens they are supposed to serve, public agencies like the SFMTA should hire lobbyists to work on returning the control of the TNCs to the local communities they are effecting. CHANGE THE STATE LAW instead of using it as an excuse for the gridlock they are producing to change the behavior of the people they are supposed to serve.

We need to relax the stranglehold the CPUC has on our local governments and stop the state power grab over local jurisdiction. We need a return to local control over local matters. Streets are local and require local control. Public transportation is a local affair and needs local solutions.

Remember what life was like before the TNCs? We had a transit system that worked and people with cars were able to take transit when it was convenient without worrying about having to re-park their cars. Taxis were easier to find on the street. There were less cars on the street and traffic moved more smoothly. Reducing lanes and parking has not brought the benefits we were promised. We need to pause and reset our priorities.

Building A Better Bay Area: Rideshare realities

Many Muni drivers sleeping in their cars due to long commutes

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Operators priced out of San Francisco argue for better wages, safe spaces to rest

San Leandro. Antioch. Hayward. Stockton.

San Francisco’s Muni operators hail from cities across the Bay Area, in part due to an exploding housing market that’s driven them farther and farther from The City.

And with that distance comes long commutes and sleep deprivation.

To avoid long hours on the road, Muni operators are increasingly sleeping in their cars on San Francisco streets or in city-operated garages, according to drivers and union officials.

Six Muni operators who consistently sleep in their cars while working for Muni spoke to reporters on Monday, alongside representatives of their union, the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A. They were hoping to sound the alarm on the link between low pay, distance to work and lack of sleep.

“There have been countless times when I finish a shift and have to sleep in [my] car,” said Alex Sobolev, a Muni operator…(more)

Commute Challenge: Taxi vs. Rideshare

abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — San Francisco-based companies Uber and Lyft have changed the face of transit here in the Bay Area and around the world.

This has happened at the expense of the taxi industry, but many people still believe that taxi cabs have advantages that ridershare cars can’t offer.

Namely, the drivers are more familiar with the cities they service which can result in a faster ride and they don’t have surge pricing, so the ride can be cheaper depending on when you take it.

ABC7 decided to put this idea to the test with another commuter challenge to see which is faster and cheaper — rideshare versus taxi…(more)

Despite ‘Car-Free’ Hype, Millennials Drive a Lot

By Laura Bliss : citylab – excerpt

Despite the buzz around ride-hailing and bike lanes, car ownership among younger Americans looks a lot like that of older Americans.

Millennials, so famous for killing things, were poised to deliver the death blow to America’s auto addiction. We were supposed to put off our driver’s licenses, choose Lyfts over car loans, and settle in cities rather than suburbs, using mass transit and bike lanes instead of the traditional private car. We were supposed to make greener choices than our gas-guzzling older kin.

But research based on years of data rather than trend stories and anecdotes paints a different picture of how Generation Avocado Toast chooses to get around, compared to its predecessors.

A working paper posted by the National Bureau of Economic Research this week offers an empirical examination of Millennial car ownership and driving practices against the backdrop of earlier generations. Controlling for factors like marriage and living in city, it finds that Americans born between 1980 and 1984 are just as likely to own cars compared to, say, their parents’ cohort. What’s more, when driving habits are measured in terms of vehicle-miles traveled, some Millennials really are the worst…

But when factors like educational attainment, marital status, number of children, and whether they’ve settled in a city are factored in, it turns out Snake People actually rack up slightly more VMT than Baby Boomers did.…(more)

Are bike lane improvements working on Valencia Street? We asked the neighborhood

By Abraham Rodriguez : missionlocal – excerpt (includes video)

A pilot program to study protected bike lanes on Valencia began this January, but was limited to only two blocks between Duboce Ave and 15th street on Valencia. We asked area residents what if they thought the new bike lanes were making things safer… (more)

Depends on who you ask. Bikers feel safer but the emboldened bikers threaten pedestrians and traffic is worse. Drivers have more problems parking, loading and unloading, double parking.

Bay Area Ford GoBike employees vote to unionize

By Joe Firtzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt


Workers voted 35-24 to join the Transport Workers Union of America

Those little blue Ford GoBikes are now officially union-backed bicycles.

Bay Area Ford GoBike workers voted to join the Transport Workers Union of America in an election, Thursday.

The workers voted 35-24 to approve unionizing, according to the TWU, which released the results Friday morning.

“The ultimate act of democracy in a workplace is joining a union. By voting to join the TWU, San Francisco’s bikeshare workers have greatly strengthened the economic security of families,” said TWU international President John Samuelsen in a statement.

Ford GoBike maintenance workers are employed by Motivate LLC, a spinoff of the former company Motivate, which was bought by ride-hail giant Lyft last year. Lyft operates Ford GoBike but the unionized workers are not Lyft employees, though the announcement also comes on the heels of Lyft debuting its stock on the public market…(more)

Not so fast. There is a lot of interest in turning contractors into employees. Now that they are union workers, that might happen rather soon. It is just a matter of time before the radical new tech corporations become part of the old school and they are looking out of the next big thing that will replace them.

Editorial: San Francisco’s escalating war on cars

by Chronicle Editorial Board : sfchronicle – excerpt

Gas prices are bouncing up. So are bridge tolls. San Francisco’s car insurance rates, parking charges and auto break-ins are infamously high. If there was a further inducement not to drive, here’s another: congestion pricing.

The concept finding favor with transit planners and environmentalists would charge drivers a fee for entering the downtown area. The benefits would bring the city more money for public transit and give paying drivers more room on the streets. Other blessings include less pollution, fewer dangers from zooming cars and quicker transit travel times…

It’s all good unless you have a hard time paying up. Critics aren’t sold on what translates as a tax on low-income drivers. There are significant details to work out: what to charge ride-share goliaths like Lyft and Uber, how to treat commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks, and where the money goes from congestion fees. Get ready for pressure for carve-outs for hybrids and electrics, drivers with disabilities, and unsuspecting tourists and conventioneers…

As with New York, San Francisco would need permission from Sacramento, where opponents such as major auto clubs and trucking associations are cool to the idea. Biggest of all is how drivers feel about another levy in the name of a traffic cure. Voters last year rejected a repeal of a gas tax increase, suggesting they favor spending more money on traffic improvements. Local bond measures for BART and other transportation upgrades have also passed…

Getting around in a car can be a maddening experience in San Francisco. Plenty of financial and logistical disincentives to driving are in place. An additional burden on those who need to drive is not a panacea to the daily quagmire.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form:

With the demise of many local businesses and a new determination by many to leave the Bay Area soon, further car wars may be a bridge too far for the residents and businesses struggling to survive the highest cost of living in the country.

With the highest rate of IPO over-valuation on tech companies that consistently lose money, San Francisco may want to keep some non tech businesses thriving to weather the next economic downturn. We need to conduct some surveys to find out why the businesses are failing.

It appears some efforts are already underway in Sacramento to may level the playing field between tech-based contractor-dependent corporations and other businesses. Our heavy dependent on delivery services may also be cut short soon as internet sales taxes, rising shipping costs, and package thefts put a damper on online businesses.

San Francisco’s heavy move into sports arenas may be a poor long-term gamble as well. Sports gambling and gaming along with expensive tickets amy not draw the large audiences over the long term. There is a fatigue factor that sets in after a while. SFMTA and City Hall have made a lot of assumptions on how the pubic would act and they have not always been right. Massive traffic jams may dampen tickets sales as they have dampened retail sales.

Paris to tax scooter and bike services

By Romain Dillet: tech crunch – excerpt

According to the City of Paris, there are 15,000 free-floating vehicles of all forms and shapes in the city, from electric scooters to fluorescent bikes and motorcycle-like scooters. And the City of Paris announced today that companies that operate free-floating services will have to pay a tax depending on the size of their fleet.

If the plan goes through and if you’re running a bike-sharing service, you’ll have to pay €20 per bike per year. For scooter companies, they’ll pay €50 per scooter per year. Motorcycle scooters will be taxed €60 per scooter per year.

According to Le Parisien, it will be a tier system. Every time you go over the basic tier, you’ll have to pay more. Companies will pay 10 percent more for vehicle No. 500 to vehicle No. 999, 20 percent more for vehicle No. 1,000 to vehicle No. 2,999, and 30 percent more for any vehicle after No. 3,000… (more)