California speeding toward fight over driving limits in age of climate change and electric cars

By Joshua Emerson Smith : sandiegouniontribune – excerpt

Top air-quality regulators at the state Capitol may be on a collision course with local power players when it comes to how frequently Californians should drive their cars in the state’s internationally lauded fight against climate change.

Many regional lawmakers and other officials have started pushing back on the notion that commuters need to limit their daily driving — which overwhelmingly consists of people cruising to work alone in their cars and trucks…

As the California Air Resources Board tightens its standards for greenhouse-gas emissions from regional transportation sectors, many local authorities have started arguing that adoption of electric vehicles will make it unnecessary to reign in so-called vehicle miles traveled, or VMT.

“I think it’s a very bad metric to hang our hat on,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who also serves on the region’s premier transportation and planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG…

“We know that more needs to be done to make transportation more reliable and to reduce vehicle miles traveled across the state,” Mary Nichols, long-time chair of the air board, told members of the California Transportation Commission at a first-ever joint meeting in June…

“If everyone … had a zero-emission vehicle, give me the breakdown of how that would not help us meet our greenhouse-gas goals?” Commissioner Paul Van Konynenburg said at the gathering, seemingly somewhat perplexed…

While the air board is tasked with cleaning up pollution from vehicles, the commission is responsible for doling out nearly all of the transportation dollars in the state that aren’t locally controlled

The state celebrated last week when it announced that it had already satisfied its 2020 target years ahead of schedule, thanks largely to low-carbon fuel standards, renewable-energy requirements on electric utilities and a wet winter nearly two years ago that generated lots of low-carbon hydropower.

The news seemed to bolster the idea that efforts to fight climate change may not require people to radically shift their driving habits…

“You do transit or roads. You can’t do both,” she added. “It’s going to be a fight for the soul of our transportation future.”… (more)

Lots of arguments here for voters to have their say in the matter. The Gas Tax Repeal will give us a better picture of how the state wants to go. As we have recently learned there are states doing a better job of generating clean cheap energy. That does not seem to be the goal in California. The goal here is to tax and spend. The more the better. We need to look at the best way to produce clean cheap energy not how to incentivize behavior. As we found out with cap and trade, incentivizing is expensive and does not always work.

 

 

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Why we oppose Regional Measure Three (RM3)

rm3-300

It would take too long to explain all the reasons why we oppose this inflationary bridge toll so we will quote some of the opposition sites. Current tolls are confusing already, and explain the differing figures on the end results of RM3. It depends on when you drive and how big are. See them here. Trucks are already paying $15-$35 to cross the Bay Bridge depending on axle size. This sort of explains our high costs of living in San Francisco.

Let’s start by saying the geniuses in Silicon Valley who are bankrolling RM3, do not have the public interest in mind as they expand their empires, and passage of RM3 would greatly benefit them. Even though Silicon Valley has no bridges, the bridge toll funds would be used to establish toll roads and HOT lanes where there are no bridges, so everyone would pay. This has not been lost on some of the elected officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara County who have campaigned against RM3.

Nine-County-Coalition on RM3 Campaign:

The Regional Measure 3 campaign — whose backers include Facebook, Salesforce, Google and a number of other businesses — had its informal kickoff the other day, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced her support during a “fireside chat” hosted by the tech-boosting Silicon Valley Leadership Group… So far, the campaign has amassed a $2 million war chest, including $350,000 from Facebook, $250,000 from Kaiser Permanente Health Care, $125,000 from Dignity Health Care and $125,000 from Salesforce. – passage of RM3 would greatly benefit Silicon Valley…

We cannot help but wonder why such big “power players” are willing to spend so much time and treasure on ensuring the passage of RM3 — as they did with Measure AA — if indeed “there has been no organized opposition.”

Maybe it is because they know other legislators besides Mark deSaulnier and Catharine Baker are questioning the efficacy and transparency of RM3.  This from another Matier & Ross article,

Even with the sweeteners, there was opposition from Contra Costa County, with state Assembly members Jim Frazier, D-Brentwood, Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, all voting “no.”  Frazier, who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee, said that while there was a need for transportation improvements, “adding another tax on commuters is not the answer.” He likened an $8 toll to “highway robbery.”

Or maybe it is because they know there is opposition from small players like smaller businesses that need to truck goods across California’s state-owned bridges, or lower-income folks whose realities of life prevent them from taking public transit to and from their workplaces, or people who see through a poorly managed RM3 plan.  These smaller unorganized players are the quiet threat to the big and powerful… (more)

There was no money spent to defeat the last transit sales tax in San Francisco either and that one lost. San Francisco residents are so fed up with the SFMTA they convinced the Board of Supervisors to do something to take back control over the agency that ignore the public, miss-manages projects and excels only in backslapping, self-aggrandizement, and pissing off the public. The message to starve the beast worked to stop the sales tax and there was no publicity. This time there are a lot more vocal opposition covered by the media. We shall see who is listening soon.

RELATED:
Regional Measure 3: Empty Promises
Occupymtc.org
Savesfmuni

New RM3 Flyer for printing and distribution or posting on your website.  Contributed by a Nine-County Coalition participant.  Download.

Brown Assails Gas Tax Repeal As Republican ‘Loser’ Stunt

By California News Wire Services : patch – excerpt

Gov. Jerry Brown frames the gas tax as a “test of American strength,” but repealers say, “we’re taking back our money.”

LOS ANGELES, CA — Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a sharp defense of his new gas tax Friday at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, saying efforts to repeal the legislation by a group of Republican leaders was nothing short of a test of America’s ability to maintain a central place on the world stage.

“The test of American strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress. And we’re not going to let that happen,” Brown said during a Mobility 21 conference attended by several hundred state and local transportation officials.

SB1 raised gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 20 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, along with hiking vehicle registration fees. The new taxes are expected to raise $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit projects in the state…

“The cost of living is already on the increase in California and families are struggling to survive. This is unacceptable,” said repeal organizer and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio in April. “Gov. Jerry Brown and his special interests … need to prepare themselves. We’re coming and we’re taking back our money.”… (more)

The losers collected over a million signatures, so expect this repeal on the November ballot. Stay tuned for more reversals on the governor’s favorite projects.

Why I oppose the Bay Area $3 bridge toll hike

Op-Ed by DeSaulnier : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Weekend traffic on the Western span of the Bay Bridge at Sunset photo by zrants

The region urgently needs new investment in transportation. But Regional Measure 3 is not the answer.

Regional Measure 3, the $3 bridge toll hike on the June ballot that would raise money for transportation improvements, is a highly flawed initiative born out of dysfunctional policy-making. Voters should reject it.

There is no question that the San Francisco Bay Area urgently needs new investment in transportation. The fact that many voters are willing to pay substantially higher tolls reflects their frustration with traffic congestion. Workers are facing too many hours stuck in traffic, stressful commutes in crammed BART cars, lost family time and reduced productivity.

As I and others have argued, if the Bay Area fails to address the challenges of traffic and affordable housing, we will lose our competitive edge. However, Regional Measure 3 is not the answer…

The Bay Bridge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters acquisition and renovation, and the Transbay Terminal are projects that have involved billions in cost-overruns and undermined confidence in governments’ ability to plan and prioritize.

Now is the time to stop this cycle of waste and frustration and to engage in serious and coordinated planning, because the Bay Area needs and deserves better. Without greater transparency and accountability, Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, serves on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and previously served as chair of the California Senate and Assembly transportation committees... (more)

VOTE NO ON RM3. This controversial bill has been cobbled together by a regional group of transportation politicians with no successful track record that has lost the public trust due to cost overruns on wasteful projects like the Transbay Terminal and MTC headquarters.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  The laundry list of projects was created to offer something to everyone, but no guaranteed deliverables, and the bill contains a poison pill that will allow unchecked inflationary rate hikes in the future without voter approvals.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  If passed this bill will add considerably to the cost of living in the Bay Area and will guarantee inflationary rate hikes on all goods that are delivered by trucks that cross the bridges.

VOTE NO ON RM3. This bill, in conjunction with gas tax hikes, will make commuting into the city impossible for many employees, who will choose jobs in the suburbs closer to their new homes.

VOTE NO ON RM3. As DeSaulnier points out, Regional Measure 3 is a flawed bill that provides:

  • No framework for performance measures or oversight to gauge progress
  • No vision for how residents and commuters will benefit.
  • No analysis to show how congestion on major corridors would be reduced, or when the improvements may kick in.

Muni Metro stop at Warriors’ new SF arena is one pricey platform

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_3178.JPG

Arena with passing T-Line car going up at 16th and Third Street shot by zrants

The cost of building a bigger Muni Metro platform to handle fans at the Mission Bay arena is growing faster than the Warriors’ injury list.

The plan is to tear out the 130-foot-long Metro platform, just down Third Street from the under-construction Chase Center, and build a 320-foot replacement right in front of the arena.

Building the new platform, however, is just part of the job…

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Torres’ concern is prompted in part by news that Muni already is coming up short on the project and will need borrow $10 million from the city to complete the job.

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

“This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board… (more)

Government needs to remember that the real world does not exist on a piece of paper and a handshake with the biggest money man in the room. Government officials need to serve the people not themselves.

Even if money did grow on trees, willing contractors do not. Labor is lacking and not easy to import with the current climate in Washington. Materials and financing costs are going through the roof, and the mood among likely voters favors big changes at City Hall.

“Leno’s first-place finish was “a real boost” for him and “a vote for change at City Hall,” said former Supervisor David Campos, the committee’s chair.”

The likelihood of passing another regional tax and spend scheme among the nine county voters is getting slimmer with the increase in weather temperatures followed by the increase in anger and frustration with the current policies and practices that got us where we are now.

Trust in government is at an all time low. If San Francisco is to survive as we know it, a change must come. Spending $62 million dollars to shift priorities to a sports arena that will serve only the wealthy few who can afford expensive tickets, is a bad idea in this climate. A recent D-10 Superviosor race found NOT SUPPORT among hte candidates at who spoke.

A number of departments heads may soon find themselves without their exorbitant salaries if these schemes continue to roll through. The residents will have the chance to vote against a litany of controversial  projects and waste by opposing Regional Measure 3, the bridge toll $3 increase.

California voters may also have the chance to repeal SB 1 that could roll back the gas tax that is raising the costs of products being brought in on trucks that are hardest hit by this tax. $25 dollar burgers and $8 avocado toast is not joke to the people who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

These two bills alone will determine how the city and region continues to deal with the traffic problems and the transportation schemes they are developing. Our state representatives who are pushing unpopular legislation in Sacramento may also find themselves out of work as the voters will have the chance to replace them soon. Senator Josh Newman is facing a recall election, after being blamed for casting the deciding vote that passed SB1.

More changes in Sacramento may come as a result of Scott Wiener’s unpopular SB 827 bill that would up-zone the entire state around a transit-based up-zoning scheme by “allowing  the state to seize control of your neighborhood” planning and zoning decisions.

With the recent power grabs in Washington, citizens may not be prepared to relinquish any more powers to any government bodies they feel are chipping away at their personal freedoms by centralizing control.

Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…

BAY AREA MAP > TALLER BUIDINGS NEAR TRANSIT? (maps)

In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827

Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities

: kcra – excerpt (includes video)

One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…

“The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion,” Wilson said…

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that on a typical weekday, ride-hailing drivers make more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips, and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city…

“I would prefer to have the Uber take me there directly rather than having to transfer several times and wait at a bus stop,” said Wu, who doesn’t own a car…(more)

SMART technology is not so smart when it comes to understanding humans.

Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters

Here is the first draft of the language put forth to as a proposal to amend the charter that establishes the authority of the SFMTA, referred to as the SFMTA Charter Amendment ballot initiative. Please review this and let your supervisors know how you feel about this amendment. Contacts are here.

As of this week, the Supervisors have announced a new Ordinance that would take place a lot sooner and would bring the control over neighborhood issues into the jurisdiction of the Supervisors. The plan is to try that out for a few months to see if a Charter Amendment is needed to straighten out the problems that the public is having with the SFMTA department.

The Ordinance will be posted soon. Sorry for any confusion that was caused by lack of detailed information. We generally track the media and on this issue the media is confused. Therefore we are getting mixed messages. As of Wednesday, January 24th, the deadline for the Charter Amendment was amended to be on the November ballot. There is plenty of time to work with your Supervisor to find out how this new Ordinance may apply to your problem.

FILE NO. 171309 First Draft, 12/12/2017 : LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS  [Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters, sponsored by Peskin and Safai

Read it here and follow the updates here.

Describing and setting forth a proposal to the voters at an election to be held on June 5, 2018, to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to eliminate the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s jurisdiction over parking and traffic regulations; to grant the legislative authority over parking and traffic to the Board of Supervisors; to create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department to manage parking and traffic; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Existing Law:

Currently the Charter grants the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) exclusive jurisdiction over local public transportation, taxis, and a variety of parking and traffic related functions. The SFMTA Board has legislative authority to adopt regulations related to parking and traffic. The SFMTA Board also serves as the Parking Authority Board with responsibility over a number of garages.

Amendments to Current Law:

The proposed Charter Amendment would eliminate the SFMTA’s exclusive jurisdiction over parking and traffic issues, and taxis. It would create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department that would have authority over parking and traffic functions and taxis. The Livable Streets Commission would be comprised of the members of the Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. The Board of Supervisors would have legislative authority over parking and traffic. Under the amendment parking and traffic functions under the responsibility of the Livable Streets Commission include:

  • Setting rates for off-street and on-street parking, and all other, rates, fees, fines, penalties and charges for services provided or functions performed by the Department;
  • Controlling the flow and direction of motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic;
  • Designing, selecting, locating, installing, operating, maintaining and removing all official traffic control devices, signs, roadway features and pavement markings;
  • Limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading as provided by state law and establishing parking privileges and locations subject to such privileges for categories of people or vehicles as provided by state law;
  • Establishing parking meter zones, setting parking rates, and selecting, installing, locating and maintaining systems and equipment for payment of parking fees;
  • Establishing policies for the enforcement of regulations limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading and the collection of parking-related revenues and, along with the Police Department, have authority to enforce parking, stopping, standing or loading regulations;
  • Cooperating with and assisting the Police Department in the promotion of traffic safety, among other things;
  • Having authority over taxi-related functions and taxi-related fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel; and
  • Coordinating the City’s efforts to address emerging mobility services.
  • The proposed Charter Amendment also provides that the Livable Streets Commission would serve as the members of the the Parking Authority
    Commission. The Livable Streets Commission would have authority over City-owned off-street public parking facilities, except those specified as under the jurisdiction of other City departments.

The proposed Charter Amendment provides for an operative date for the transfer of jurisdiction and the creation of the Livable Streets Commission of July 1, 2019.

(First Draft, 12/12/2017)

Gas tax repeal sponsored by Assemblyman Travis Allen fails to qualify, but another effort could reach the ballot

By Casey Tolan : mercurynews – excerpt

A ballot measure to repeal California’s controversial new gas tax sponsored by Assemblyman and Republican governor candidate Travis Allen failed to submit signatures by its deadline this week. But voters could still have a chance to have their say on the law in November, as a separate ballot measure to repeal it continues to gather signatures.

Allen’s campaign was unable to collect signatures due to a series of legal battles with Attorney General Xavier Becerra last year over the wording of the ballot measure, Allen said in an interview Friday afternoon…

separate ballot measure campaign to repeal the gas tax — sponsored by Allen’s Republican rival for the governor’s office, businessman John Cox, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — is still collecting signatures and has a May 21 filing deadline. That petition has gathered 400,000 signatures of the necessary 585,407, the campaign said in a statement Friday.

Allen said he would support that campaign, and that all funds raised by his ballot measure campaign — $87,188, as of the latest filing in September — would go to the Howard Jarvis campaign and to legal costs. His campaign will send all of his donors a form to sign to support the other anti-gas tax ballot initiative. “The movement to stop Jerry Brown’s massive tax increase is larger than any one person or any one group,” Allen said…

poll conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies last month found that 52 percent of likely voters in California backed the repeal… (more)