A San Francisco man was living in his car when it was towed. Now he’s suing the city

: kalw – excerpt (include audio tape)

Last December, James Smith’s car was towed as a consequence of unpaid parking violations. Smith was homeless, and the car was his only shelter. Now, Smith filing suit against San Francisco, arguing that towing for debt-collection is unconstitutional.

James Smith, a 64-year-old San Franciscan, used to volunteer for the Coalition on Homelessness. He would help families find places to stay for a night. Sometimes he’d even open up his own little apartment.

Smith never expected that one day, he’d be the one living on the streets.

“Never, ever,” says Smith. “I asked myself, ‘what did I do wrong?’”… (more)

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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.

Protesters toss scooters into street to block tech buses in SF

By Sarah Ravani : sfgate – excerpt

Protesters in the Mission District blocked tech buses from leaving San Francisco on Thursday morning, tossing scooters into the street to waylay the commuters.

The activists, blocking buses at the intersection of 24th and Valencia streets, set off smoke bombs and carried signs that read “Techsploitation Is Toxic,” and “Sweep Tech Not Tents,” in reference to the city’s recent efforts to clear homeless encampments(more)

They couldn’t have picked a better foil to protest tech. Those scooter things are like mosquitoes. You just want to swat them away. Too many and too annoying. They should be a minimum radius for wheels allowed on the streets. Have you heard the one about the two scooters on the Bay Bridge?

2 people with motorized scooters on Bay Bridge cause traffic jam.

If you watch the video you can see that the “riders” ran into an obstruction. Of course they have no helmets. Toys do not belong on the roads. They should be off-road vehicles only. If you agree, tell the SFMTA Board and the Board of Supervisors.
(Contacts here)

More Scooter Scoops:

Activists block tech bus commute, say e-scooters treated better than homeless

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Tenants-rights activists blocked at least nine tech buses Thursday morning in San Francisco’s Mission District with a scooter blockade, claiming “shared” scooters are treated better than The City’s homeless.

Nearly 60 protesters piled a dozen of the controversial e-scooters in front of a Google bus at Valencia and 24th streets, placed an orange smoke grenade atop the pile and lit it. Plumes of orange clouds puffed above the protesters, who were wearing hazmat suits, as they cried out “One, we are the people! Two, a little bit louder! Three, we want Google off our streets.”…

It’s absurd scooters have more rights than the homeless do,” said Chirag Bhakta, 30, a San Francisco native from the Tenderloin who participated in the protest. He said while the scooter companies were treated politely in city hearings that were expedited by officials respectful of monied interests, homeless denizens were simply wiped away.

The homeless, he said, “deserve the same consideration in City Hall.”…

Protesters decried “techsploitation” of San Franciscans, and held aloft signs that said “your disruption is our displacement” as they blocked traffic…(more)

Equal time and respect for humans. If corporations can get a pilot program approved by the SFMTA, citizens should receive the same option to design a pilot program to test our theories on the street. Where is the data behind the scooter pilot project that proves it does anything other than provide entertainment for some people while annoying others?. Does entertainment belong on our streets or in the parks and off-street playgrounds? We know there is a problem with loud annoying noises. How about annoying toys?

Legislation reduces risk of e-scooters

By Christopher B. Dolan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Long story short, if you see a scooter blocking the sidewalk or you are injured by a scooter, moving or parked, you have rights. You should report any injury to the SFMTA and obtain the advice and counsel of a good trial lawyer to help you hold the drive and company responsible… (more)

S.F. Will Be Scooter-Free While City Chooses Permit Holders

By Ida Mojadad : sfweekly – excerpt

Sidewalks will be largely free of scooters in June, while SFMTA demands tech companies abide with a new permit program.

Starting June 4, San Francisco will go nearly a month without seeing scooters on its sidewalks, city officials announced Thursday.

Any shared electric scooters found on the sidewalks after June 4 will be confiscated and used as evidence, City Attorney Dennis Herrera says Thursday. In turn, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency is accepting permit applications for a 12-month pilot program and hope to issue the permits by the end of June… (more)

 

Supes grant themselves power to appeal SFMTA decisions

by Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to give itself the power to hear appeals of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency decisions on issues including stop sign installations, some bicycle routes, parking meter rules and creating or modifying so-called Private Transportation Programs…

The legislation was introduced by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai, who had previously considered placing a charter amendment on the ballot to split up the transit agency but instead opted to move forward with this “compromise” proposal.

“Supervisor Peskin and I have worked on this legislation for over a year,” Safai said. “The genesis of this, colleagues, was the general frustration that many of us have felt on this board with our interactions with the SFMTA.”

The legislation was approved in an 11-0 vote…

Paul Rose, an SFMTA spokesperson, told the Examiner Tuesday that “we look forward to working with the Board of Supervisors as we continue to make progress on improving all transportation options and making the streets safer for everyone.”

He added that the new appeal process covers “certain MTA decisions, including Residential Parking Permits, color curb coordination, meter time limits, and commuter shuttles.”…(more)

Congratulations to all our readers and supporters! You made this happen by your efforts and demands for changes and improvements to the agency that had until now very little oversight and no reason to listen to complaints or demands. We still have a lot of work to do but now there is a way forward. Put together your request, get the backing of your supervisor and put in your requests. You should expect to see a new noticing system and a new civility at the department. If things do not see any improve, let the authorities know. Details on what is covered are here:
Legislative language: Leg Ver5, Legislative digest: Leg Dig Ver5

 

 

 

 

City says Central Subway contractor laid down 3.2 miles of the wrong kind of track, prompting new delay

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Construction contractors on the $1.6 billion Central Subway project laid down 3.2 miles of the wrong kind of steel track, The City is alleging in a letter obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.

In the April 19 letter, The City ordered contractor Tutor Perini to pull out that track and lay higher-strength steel down in its place.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency staff wrote to Tutor Perini alleging the contractor laid down 17,000 linear feet of “standard strength” steel, allegedly violating a contract with The City calling for “high strength” steel. The SFMTA said the higher-strength steel was selected to last longer before maintenance is required.

“This is not a safety issue,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose wrote in a statement. But it may lead to another Central Subway delay…(more)

We appreciate the work the Supervisors have done on implementing their ability to review and possibly reverse some SFMTA Board decisions. Now can we figure out a way to take away their SFMTA contracts and oversight on construction projects next? San Francisco taxpayers are not getting the value they deserve from the SFMTA when they repeatedly mismanage projects as they have done with this one.

A while ago we were looking at the horrible slalom run on Potrero Avenue and the excuse we got for those mistakes was that there was no full time project manager on the job. It seems they had one project manager assigned to two projects at the same time.

What more reason do we have to stop adding new projects and digging up more streets before the ones underway are complete? And don’t tell us the funding depends on it. That excuse has no validity coming from the insatiable SFMTA.

Angela Alioto Talks About The Richmond Dist. with Resident Antonio White

Antonio White interview Mayoral Candidate Angela Alioto

Why are they Re-doing Streets Again? Angela Alioto wants to know. So do we.

There are a few quotable items here that may be of interest:

Angela was perplexed as we all are over why the streets are torn up repeatedly and asked one of the workers on Columbus why they were redoing a block again.”The gentleman working there was very honest. He is in independent contractor. He is not working for the city and he says, we still have money in our contract…We have a contract that still has money in it to pay us so we are not going to stop till we get all the money that is in our contract no matter what happens to the street.”… (more)

Angela raises one of my biggest beefs when she mentions that the parks are being re-done again. Now we may be getting to the bottom of what is going on within the departments. They have too much money in the capita budget so they are making work for themselves so they can spend the development funds, or whatever, instead of doing the work the public wants them to do. Then they can claim they need more money next year.

Wait until all the experimental curbs and slalom lanes have to be removed. The contractors who poured the $100 million dollar islands and bulbouts will be paid to remove them. And someone will have to dig up the trees or kill them off.

Reviving SF’s taxi industry: The city is looking at solutions

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s taxi industry, bludgeoned in recent years by Uber and Lyft, needs to catch up with the changing times to survive.

That’s the assessment of a pair of consultants whose report, released Wednesday, recommends that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the city’s taxi industry, work with cab companies to improve their service and reduce the number of taxis on the streets to match reduced demand but increase the number of cabs capable of carrying persons with disabilities.

What it doesn’t recommend, despite the wishes of taxi drivers, is what the city and the agency are not allowed to do: Regulate the transportation network companies, specifically Uber and Lyft, that have nearly decimated the taxi industry since their drivers arrived in San Francisco over the past decade.

That oversight falls to the state Public Utilities Commission, not the city…

“the MTA is really looking to get the right regulations in place so that the taxi industry can compete,” Toran said.

To accomplish that, the report recommends taxi companies become more customer-friendly by offering mobile-phone apps…

Those companies should also be released from current restraints that prohibit them from offering special or discounted rates …

To help boost interest in operating taxi vans to carry wheelchairs, an often time-consuming effort, the report recommends that drivers be offered up to $300 a month to help buy a van and the same amount per month to cover maintenance and operating costs… (more)

 

 

Sharks sue to slow BART San Jose extension in parking dispute

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

The San Jose Sharks, locked in an NHL playoff battle, unleashed a different kind of fight this week, filing a lawsuit to slow the BART extension to downtown San Jose until a dispute over parking can be resolved…

 

The suit comes a month after the VTA approved environmental studies for the BART extension through downtown San Jose to Santa Clara, and a week after BART agreed. Plans include a stop at Diridon Station, across Santa Clara Street from the arena, which hosts not only Sharks games but concerts and other events.

“We strongly support the BART project through downtown San Jose,” said Sharks President John Tortora in a statement. “However, we don’t think the current plan addresses several important issues for SAP Center, including a promise to ensure adequate parking in the Diridon area and a safe and accessible environment for our customers during construction.”… (more)

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.