Supes reject SFMTA board appointment after fare hikes approved against their wishes

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A disability activist’s reappointment to serve a third and final four-year term on the body overseeing Muni was rejected Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The board voted 6-5 to reject Mayor London Breed’s reappointment of Cristina Rubke, a trademark attorney, to continue serving on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

The rejection comes after Rubke defied the board’s wishes last month in voting unanimously with her colleagues to approve on April 21 a two-year transit budget with fare hikes. The board had called for no fare hikes(more)

Good work. When they are left with few options the Supervisors need to use the power they have to reign in independent agencies like the SFMTA as they did in this case. The MTA Board of Directors should listen to the public and the Board of Supervisors. During the sheltering episode the public is paying a lot more attention to city politics and finding many programs lacking. There is no guarantee the Board of Supervisors will approve the first pass at the SFMTA budget this year if the public is vocal on that as well.

Sweeping Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleges Racial Bias In Implementation Of California Climate Policies

By Michael Shellenberger : forbes – excerpt

Top civil rights leaders are suing California for climate policies they say disproportionately harm its poorest residents, particularly Latinos and African Americans.

“California politicians are using anti-racist and environmentalist words to hide the regressive impact of their climate policies on the poor and people of color,” said John Gamboa, the co-founder of The Two Hundred, a coalition of prominent civil rights leaders, which filed a lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in Superior Court…

“California’s climate leaders have decided to intentionally increase traffic congestion — to lengthen commute times and encourage gridlock — to try to get more people to ride buses or take other forms of public transit,” the legal complaint alleges…

Lefcoe, who is not involved in the case, said the lawsuit’s challenge to transportation policies is particularly powerful. “Automobiles are the survival mechanism for low-income people,” noted Lefcoe. “If you try to increase the cost of automobiles, you hurt low-income people...(more)

This is one of the most interesting lawsuits to come out that ties low and middle income earners to private vehicles. Given the new distancing guidelines and the importance of drive-through services this is an important case. Allegations of misuse of the cap and trade funds is an interesting component.

Transit Has Been Battered by Coronavirus. What’s Ahead May Be Worse.

By Emily Badger : nytimes – excerpt

“The number of scenarios that we have to plan for is staggering.”

Fare revenue has vanished across the country as transit riders have. Even those essential workers still taking the bus or train aren’t generating much money for agencies strained by the coronavirus pandemic. Many systems have moved to free service, or stopped policing fares. It’s just too risky for bus drivers if anyone comes near the farebox a foot away.

As dire as this moment seems, however, something more worrisome lies ahead…

Uber and Lyft taxes, gas taxes, highway tolls, advertising dollars — all of these ways communities fund transit are shrinking. In Philadelphia, free rides for older passengers are paid for in part by revenue from the state lottery. During the last recession, even lottery proceeds plummeted

“The number of scenarios that we have to plan for is staggering,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, the director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

What if agencies have to maintain this strange status quo, running nearly empty buses for second-shift nurses, into the summer? What if unemployment reaches 30 percent? What if they idle vehicles for so long they fall out of working condition? What if they must lay off the only mechanics who know their way around streetcars?… (more)

Hate to say “I told you so”, but for some time there have been obvious signs that the system is not sustainable.

 

Open Letter to London Breed and the Board of Supervisors

March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor, SFMTA Board of Directors and Board of Supervisors:

You may anticipate seeing a lot of emails and messages coming from the residents of San Francisco who are “sheltering in place” regarding the parking regulations that have been announced by the SFMTA Director this week. I was hesitant to add my voice to the issue at first, since I understand the intense pressure people are under to mitigate the many problems relating to the new order.

After seeing an article that indicates SFMTA is still towing homeless vehicles and that the city is losing 4.7 million dollars a year on the towing program, I decided to act. We heard the towing program has stopped so I hope that article is inaccurate.

Ticketing is still a problem according to residents who are protesting it, so I decided to add my voice to theirs and request a Sunday parking program be enacted during the crisis.

There is a lot less traffic without the commuters streaming in to work and the streets are empty.  The need for parking turnover was given for parking meters and time limits and since that problem is temporarily suspended all parking restrictions should be suspended as well.

The city needs to support those who are still working and volunteers in every way possible. The last thing they should worry about is parking tickets. Volunteers and health care workers are distributing food, taking care of people aging in place and sheltering in place. Residents need to take care of their families. There is no excuses for ticketing and towing during a national “shelter in place” emergency.

Federal, state and local governments are rushing to establish programs to keep small businesses alive. Making parking easy is one of the cheapest ways to support the businesses that are open. Eliminating the fear of tickets will eliminate some stress for the workers who are losing income.

Please rethink the parking policy and establish a Sunday parking policy for the City of San Francisco as long the “Shelter in Place” program is in place.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

Monster mashed: Developer pulls plug on contentious 1979 Mission project, puts land up for sale

By and : missionlocal – excerpt

Community groups make play for coveted 16th and Mission site

Maximus Real Estate Partners, the developer that for nearly seven years has endeavored to build a 331-unit project 16th and Mission derided by opponents as “the Monster in the Mission,” has put the property up for sale. And now a group of community organizations say they’re bidding to purchase it.

“The Plaza 16 stands victorious in its fight against the Monster in the Mission,” said Chirag Bhakta of the Plaza 16 Coalition, a consortium of activists and community organizations who have long opposed Maximus’ project.

On Monday, he was joined with other members of the coalition at Mission Housing Development Corp.’s office to make the announcement.“The victory sends a clear message that projects of this magnitude that don’t meet community needs are not acceptable and will meet opposition,” added Roberto Alfaro of the coalition… (more)

This looks like the place to put another navigation center or service center for people who were previously taken care of across the street. Why wait to use the empty space that already has utility services and could be used on at least a temporary basis by the community that is serving the displaced people in the Mission. There are a few milling about there all the time. Maye open up a pubic shower and laundry facility. Lots of ways to use the space on a temporary basis that would the neighbors and the the neighborhood.

With cars banned on SF’s Market Street, top official eyes next target: Valencia

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

As the dream of banning cars becomes a reality Wednesday on San Francisco’s Market Street — an idea dating to when horse-drawn buggies jockeyed for space among puttering Ford Model Ts — one top transportation official is already pitching ideas for the next car-free thoroughfare.

During a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting Tuesday, Chair Malcolm Heinicke called for automobiles to be purged from Valencia Street, a bustling strip in the Mission District.

“I’m not very patient here. I want the next one,” Heinicke told The Chronicle outside the meeting where he and the other six directors discussed themes for the coming year.

He predicts that Market Street sans cars will reap huge benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. Analyses by SFMTA suggest that Muni’s buses and streetcars will run 15% to 25% faster. Planners also expect to substantially reduce collisions, providing a safe path for the 500,000 people who walk along Market Street daily.…

His pitch had activists cheering on social media. But the vice president of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association was stunned.

“I personally think it would be devastating to our business,” said Jonah Buffa, co-owner of Fellow Barber at 18th and Valencia streets. Many of his customers arrive by car, whether driving their own vehicles or riding an Uber or Lyft… (more)

Let’s find out if Market Street merchants really pick up business as Heinicke expects before we role out the plan to further streets.

Mohammed Nuru, head of SF Public Works, arrested by FBI

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

The head of San Francisco Public Works Mohammed Nuru has been arrested by the FBI on suspicion of public corruption, according to multiple sources.

Records show Nuru, 57, was booked into County Jail on Monday for felony safekeeping, meaning that he has a case pending in federal court.

Nuru no longer appears to be in custody at County Jail as of Tuesday morning. It is unclear whether he remains in federal custody.

Nuru was arrested alongside Nick Bovis, the owner of the famed sports bar Lefty O’Doul’s, which closed in Union Square in 2017.

Bovis, 56, also appeared in County Jail records Monday…(more)

RELATED:

NBCbayarea : Sources confirmed to NBC Bay Area that Nuru was arrested Monday under allegations that he took bribes associated with airport concession contracts.

 

Why is it so hard for the Bay Area to build megaprojects?

By Benjamin Schneider : curbed – excerpt

Major infrastructure projects are necessary for the Bay Area to address climate change and keep its growing population moving

When the newly opened Salesforce Transit Center closed to repair cracked steel beams in September 2018, local-news junkies and transportation boosters felt a sense of deja vu. The steel beam situation was eerily similar to the saga of the defective “steel rods” on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which needed structural reinforcement just as the new bridge was about to open. Both projects shared another defect: ballooning budgets that bore no resemblance to initial estimates.

These recurring difficulties with the Bay Area’s megaprojects have become the stuff of negative headlines around the country, and are seized upon as ammunition by opponents of visionary infrastructure projects. But a frank reckoning with the state of megaproject delivery in the Bay Area is just as important for supporters of mass transit and green infrastructure as it is for the naysayers. With even more (and more complex) projects on the horizon—including the high-speed rail, which will connect LA with SF via the Central Valley, and a second Transbay Tube—the Bay Area needs to get megaproject delivery back on track.

Curbed SF spoke to experts in this field to better understand where the Bay Area’s megaprojects have gone wrong, and what they can do differently in the future. It all starts with extensive preplanning, according to Karen Trapenberg Frick, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote Remaking the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge about the arduous replacement of the eastern span…

“As soon as we’re angling for the first dollar, when this thing’s real, we need to establish independent external peer review,” she says. With both the Salesforce Transit Center and the Bay Bridge, comprehensive, external oversight only came after major problems were detected. Planning and peer review can also help with budgeting and project management. Experts should be in the room with planners and policymakers, telling them, “These projects are hard, they take a long time, they’re going to cost more than we think,” says Trapenberg Frick….

“Don’t, unless absolutely necessary, try to invent anything new. Look at what is being done in other places where costs are low and performance is high, and just copy it.”

(more)

Considering all the problems we have seen unfold with megaprojects, the public should not trust the government process based on “optimism bias” as the author so aptly puts it.

Much the problem, as in the case of the Millennium tower, comes from lack of communication, between departments, designers, and engineers. Perhaps an earlier peer review would help.

Hiring experts who have successfully completed projects is a no-brainer as, is using existing systems.

Why traffic laws are not being enforced

Comments from a concerned citizen

The city outgrew the infrastructure and LOS (level of service) some time ago. There are too few police, firemen, Muni drivers, teachers, 911 emergency call center operators, etc. for the current level of population. Not only do we have more people living in San Francisco, the population swells during the day making it impossible for the traffic control officers to do a proper job. To make matters more difficult, City Hall dedicates huge amounts of money to planning for future growth instead of fixing the problems we have today. SFMTA can’t hire and train enough operators but they did manage to push their PR department from 4 employees to 55 to try to convince you that you should be happy with “their service”. Are you?

Keeping police officers on the streets is one aspect of the development policy that the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) was supposed to take into consideration, and did until recently. Now they just create a record that shows they took CEQA into consideration and found that they could do nothing to mitigate the “harm” that might come from the new project under consideration and approve it anyway. You may thank your state government and the courts for overriding the local government laws and policies and protections our residents voted for to keep a healthy balance between growth and services. Now we just have forced growth.

If you are paying attention to local Planning Commission hearings you have heard residents and local neighborhood organizations warning about the lack of infrastructure growth to support the increased population. Instead of taking these concerns into consideration, our state representatives have rewritten laws to avoid slowing growth to match LOS (the level for service needed to serve the community.)

In the next few days you will see a number of street actions that are an attempt to bring this unbalanced growth to the attention of the public and an attempt to suggest a better plan going forward to return the city to a more pleasant standard of living. You will also see some new faces running for office that offer a different narrative.

If you don’t like the way things are, you might consider making some changes when you can.

State Legislature & Governor Approve 18 New Housing Bills & Eliminate Single Family Zoning

By Sharon Rushton : marinpost – excerpt

On October 9th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed 18 bills designed to promote housing production. A number of these housing bills take away local control of land use, substantially increase housing density and population potential, and establish streamlined ministerial approval processes for housing projects, thereby exempting these projects from public engagement and the California Environmental Quality Act approval process.

And SAY GOODBYE TO SINGLE FAMILY ZONING!

The subsequent housing densification and population growth will increase the risk of adverse impacts on the environment, public health and safety, traffic congestion, infrastructure, utilities (water supply), public services (schools), views, sunlight, privacy, neighborhood character, and quality of life.

The bills will create unfunded mandates due to the fact that there is no funding for dealing with the above listed significant impacts. Communities will be forced to substantially increase taxes to try to alleviate the adverse impacts, although many will be unavoidable… (more)

RELATED:

Newsom Rejects California Housing Bill that would have raised Billions for Projects

By Hannah Wiley : sacbee – excerpt

… The legislation would have, for the next 30 years, shifted millions of dollars from local property tax revenues to pay for a variety of affordable housing projects. Local jurisdictions would have applied for the funding, to be used for initiatives like transit-oriented development and infrastructure planning…

State Sen. Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat and author of SB 5, said the legislation would have added financial urgency to the state’s housing crisis… (more)

This is relevant to the changes coming to our streets because the Land Use and Transportation are now being driven by a joint effort to force changes through transit controls. The Transportation Authorities are now in the Housing development and funding business. These bills are a part of the larger plan to divide, disrupt and control. Elect people you trust to listen to your needs when you can.