May Day Media Headline Blitz

Today marks the beginning of a tense month in California politics as we line up to vote on a lot of issues that may effect the social fabric of our state. We will touch on the media headlines regarding the two major ballot initiatives that are in the news us today.

The SB-1 Gas Tax Repeal: for the November Ballot
Conservatives Turn in 940,000 Signatures for Anti-Gas Tax Initiative
California gas tax repeal heading for the November ballot, campaign says

Regional Measure 3 – A Bridge Toll increases and changes in the voter approval process for future bridge toll decisions:
Voters to Decide on Toll Increases for Bay Area Bridges  Bay Area voters in June will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to pay another dollar in tolls on seven bridges starting next year, according to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority… (more)

We have to take exception to this statement. This bill does not add another dollar it adds at least $3.00. This is an example of how the media is being used to sell lies to the public. But the public is on high alert for FAKE NEWS so they are a lot less gullible than they were during previous election cycles.

Beyond cost of living increases, RM3 authorizes the Bay Area Toll Authority to increase tolls above $3 without consulting the electorate, if deemed necessary to service BATA’s huge debt.The law makes the agency’s first commitment to its creditors.) 

To understand RM3, its opponents considered what it would fund as well as how the funds will be raised. They are promising projects to all the counties in the hopes of convincing enough people to support the bill, NBC is labeling a $1 bridge toll increase.

One of the promises made to San Mateo commuters is that their share of the funds would be used to create express toll lanes on 101 from San Francisco to Mateo County, I-680 and other highways in the region. This does little for commuters, while it adds more to the coffers of the MTC. Will the voters see this?

 

 

Dustup over Google buses parks itself in Los Gatos

by Quinn : santacruzsentinel – excerpt

LOS GATOS – It’s hardly the open antipathy tech shuttles have faced in San Francisco or Oakland.

No one is blocking the sleek vehicles, deflating their tires or crying out that the Google bus is a symbol of gentrification that must be stopped.

But make no mistake, just below the radar in Los Gatos, there’s a little tension simmering over the shuttles… (more)

The private shuttle buses are not just a problem in San Francisco. The problem is much more widespread and more reason to control it at the state level.

Senator Glazer on BART

Steve Glazer, Representing the 7th District – excerpt – including videos

BART Must Prove Fiscal Responsibility Before Taking Bond Measure to Voters

At a press conference on Feb. 25, Sen. Steve Glazer laid out the reasons he and more than 30 other local elected officals have vowed to oppose BART’s anticipated multi-billion dollar bond proposal. Sen. Glazer said BART management and employees must negotiate a new contract before the November elections, so that when the current contract expires in 2017, voters can be confident there will be no more strikes.
  • Negotiate a new contract now
  • Refuse to give higher salaries to bad performance by management
  • They must re-negotiate to train new workers
  • They must clean the trains… (more)
Sen. Glazer hits transit agency for $1,000 perk

Lawmaker wants to establish a ‘Parking Bill of Rights’ for California

by Dianne de Guzman : sfgate – excerpt

Prohibiting cities from ticketing motorists who park at broken meters. This is already a law in California, but is set to expire at the end of the year.

Any California driver who has been on the receiving end of a parking violation might perk up at a set of proposed reforms to our current state of parking laws.

Legislation debuted by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, on Tuesday is looking to save you all from the tricky world of parking policies set by city government.

Dubbed the “Parking Bill of Rights,” the set of reforms is just a list of ways that Gatto hopes to improve the state of parking laws in California.

“Occasionally, the state needs to step in and remind our local governments that parking a vehicle should be an efficient practice, and not another big hassle designed to separate motorists from their money,” Gatto said in a released statement. “These simple and practical policy changes will make life easier for Californians who just want to park their cars and go about their business.”…

Most San Franciscans will also be thrilled with Gatto’s call to make spaces immediately available once street cleaning has been performed. The reasons behind the measures, Gatto said, is to “end some of the most unfair and unjust parking practices throughout the state.”…

“It is to the point where cities are using these tickets as another source of revenue, almost a hidden tax. I think cities can be a little more straightforward,” Gatto said in an interview with KCBS Radio. “But gouging people with these outrageous fines, I think is the wrong way to go.”… (more)

Assembly Member Mike Gatto of Glendale, seems to be on the drivers’ side. Find out more about him and perhaps suggest some more legislation to protect drivers. http://asmdc.org/members/a43/

Police captain against Bike Yield Law

By  : sfexaminer – excerpt

The man who started the “bike crackdown,” ramping up ticketing of cyclists rolling slowly through stop signs or blowing red lights, has now come out publicly against the proposed Bike Yield Law.

San Francisco Police Department Captain John Sanford, who heads Park Station near the Panhandle, torched the new law in his newest Park Station Newsletter.

“Being such a dense city, with so many visitors and distracted drivers, I will never be convinced it is safe to disobey any of the traffic laws, especially stop signs and red lights,” Sanford wrote in the newsletter.

The Bike Yield Law was proposed by Supervisor John Avalos, and was passed on first reading at the Board of Supervisors without a veto-proof majority. It will be voted on a second and final time Jan. 12. Mayor Ed Lee vowed to veto it.

The law would task the SFPD with deprioritizing enforcement of cyclists who safely yield at stop signs, and come to a full stop if they see autos or pedestrians. If neither are present, cyclists may roll through the intersection without stopping…

The man who started the “bike crackdown,” ramping up ticketing of cyclists rolling slowly through stop signs or blowing red lights, has now come out publicly against the proposed Bike Yield Law.

San Francisco Police Department Captain John Sanford, who heads Park Station near the Panhandle, torched the new law in his newest Park Station Newsletter.

“Being such a dense city, with so many visitors and distracted drivers, I will never be convinced it is safe to disobey any of the traffic laws, especially stop signs and red lights,” Sanford wrote in the newsletter.

The Bike Yield Law was proposed by Supervisor John Avalos, and was passed on first reading at the Board of Supervisors without a veto-proof majority. It will be voted on a second and final time Jan. 12. Mayor Ed Lee vowed to veto it.

The law would task the SFPD with deprioritizing enforcement of cyclists who safely yield at stop signs, and come to a full stop if they see autos or pedestrians. If neither are present, cyclists may roll through the intersection without stopping… (more)

Maybe the recent media coverage about the strong police presence around the wiggle is causing cyclists to drive more carefully through those intersections, making them safer.

Phil Matier: Proposed California Law Requiring Adult Cyclists Wear Helmets Not Gaining Traction With Some Bicycle Advocates

By Phil Matier : cbslocal – excert – (audio track)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A proposed California state law that would require adult cyclists to wear a helmet while riding or face a fine is not gaining much traction amongst bicycle advocates. SB192 would make California the first state that require helmets for those over the age of 18…

San Francisco has already started to spend $3 million on bicycle awareness and will continue to do so for the next few years. This will include safety campaigns and improvements to bike lane infrastructure. The city has also called to increased citations to motorists by 50 percent in the next two years in an effort to cut down on injuries.

But when you turn it around on the bicycle groups, they don’t want to adhere to things like mandatory helmet wearing or even chipping in money on the new bike lanes. This is making state lawmakers and politicians wonder if this is a one-way street.

Last week I called around to get reaction from Mayor Ed Lee and members from the Board of Supervisors. It’s not necessarily a debate about safety; they just don’t seem to want this to be debated at all… (more)

Be careful what you wish for. The less cars on the road the more cyclists will have to pay. SB 192 is a rational first step.

S.F. parking fee plan for disabled goes nowhere

By Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross : sfgate – excerpt

Convinced there’s widespread abuse of disabled parking placards, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency passed a series of recommendations to crack down on the problem – only to have them deep-sixed by the city’s own lawmakers in Sacramento…

One idea was to start charging the placard holders for parking, something that a number of cities already do. The transportation agency said there should then be subsidies for low-income placard parkers.

The locals, however, needed approval from the state Legislature… (more)

Thanks to efforts made by Assembley memebers Ammiano, Yee, and Hernanadez, and San Francisco’s FDR Democratic Club, and Disability Rights California, this is a dead issue for now.

SFMTA doesn’t know when to quit attacking people. Now they have raised the ire of placard holders. The best way to kill the plan to charge placard-holders is to Vote No on A and B and Yes on L.

Even the SFMTA is confused by those crosswalk countdown signals

No wonder everybody’s confused by those countdown clocks at crosswalks that alert pedestrians to how many seconds remain before the solid red “don’t walk” hand lights up. Even the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency can’t get it right.

We asked the agency’s spokesman, Paul Rose, to clarify matters after a spate of letters to the editor in The Chronicle debated whether pedestrians are allowed to enter the crosswalk throughout the countdown or not.

Rose told us in Sunday’s City Insider column that the countdown is “an awareness tool” for pedestrians and that they cannot be ticketed for entering the street as the countdown clock flashes, even as it approaches zero.

“They can start whenever they want,” Rose said.

Shockingly, just because a government official says something doesn’t mean it’s right.

Sure enough, several readers e-mailed to say Rose had it flat wrong and that pedestrians cannot legally start crossing after the countdown clock has started. They may only enter the crosswalk when the walking person is illuminated in white lights, but can finish crossing if they’ve already entered when the countdown begins.

Rose acknowledged his flub. “I passed on wrong information,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

One city official who does know the in’s and out’s of crosswalk signals is Commander Mikail Ali of the San Francisco Police Department, who e-mailed to say pedestrians cannot enter the crosswalk after the countdown has begun — or risk a citation or being struck by a vehicle.

One thing isn’t so clear: whether countdown clocks work. Ali said some studies show they’re helpful for pedestrians, while others show they contribute to erratic behavior on the part of walkers such as trying to sprint across the street with two seconds left on the clock.

Pedestrians behaving erratically in San Francisco? There’s something we can probably all agree on…. (more)

We finally have something everyone agrees on. Lack of consistency does not make the streets any safer. It breeds confusion, which leads to erratic behavior.

There are state laws on the books which could be followed if we all agreed to abide by them and quit trying to create exceptions.

The SFMTA has avoided following state laws by setting up quasi-legal exceptions under the guise of pilot programs and now we see the results. Different driving patterns and changing lanes from one street to another has added to the confusion and the stress levels.

Elected officials should take note of this and restrain the SFMTA from any further deviations from state laws. That way we could all go back to following the same set of rules.

Next, we need to communicate more clearly with the public what the state rules are.

Traffic signals are designed to do more than start and stop traffic. They should give us the ability to predict the behavior of everyone else on the road. When no one knows the rules you have a lot of stressed people acting erractically. How do we get back to the point where everyone knows the rule?

We start by agreeing on what they are.

Let’s start by following the state laws and limit the number of “exceptions to the rules”.

  • Yellow lights should be timed so that a pedestrian crossing the street has enough time to reach the other side before the light turns red, not set for a couple of seconds to catch cars running red lights. 
  • Countdowns should be treated like yellow lights. Maybe the countdown color should be yellow instead of red and the hand should go away.
  • Everyone should stop at red lights, and stop signs.
  • Whoever is in the intersection first should have the right of way to pass through it regardless of how they got there. Civilized behavior is the safest approach.

Tow truck regulations limited by appeals court

By Bob Egelko : sfgate – excerpt

The ruling means S.F. can charge license fees only to companies whose main office is in the city – even though other firms can still tow cars here. Photo: Chris Hardy, SFC

A state appeals court has limited San Francisco’s authority to regulate tow trucks, saying a city can license and collect fees only from towing companies located within its borders.

San Francisco, like many cities in California, requires tow truck companies and drivers to get permits and pay fees in order to do business in the city, regardless of where they are headquartered. The California Tow Truck Association challenged the city’s regulations and won a ruling Wednesday from the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

A 1985 state law allows local authorities to license and regulate towing companies whose “principal place of business or employment is within the jurisdiction of the local authority.” That means San Francisco can charge license fees only to companies whose main office is in the city, the court said.

The Legislature clearly “intended that the regulation come from a single local jurisdiction” rather than the multiple cities where the trucks might be sent, said Justice Maria Rivera in the 3-0 decision….

San Francisco could ask the state Supreme Court to review the ruling. City Attorney Dennis Herrera‘s office declined to comment…  (more)