Homeless SF residents sue to stop city from impounding their cars

By : curbed – excerpt

Unpaid parking tickets deprive homeless residents of only shelter

A San Francisco man has sued SFMTA in an attempt to keep the city from impounding the cars of homeless people for whom their vehicle is also their only shelter. It turns out he’s not alone.

KQED reports on the story of Sean Kayode, who had been living in his 2005 Mercedes Benz until the city seized it in March. The reason: unpaid parking tickets.

Kayode, who now resides at a homeless shelter, says in his suit that the car was not only his home but also his means of income as a delivery driver. Civil rights attorney Jude Pond alleges that the California law that permits cities to impound cars with five or more parking tickets is unconstitutional…

It turns out that the lawsuit in question, Smith v Reiskin (SFMTA director Ed Reiskin is named as the principle defendant), actually predates Kayode’s woes.

James Smith, described by his attorney as a “64-year-old lifelong San Francisco resident whose only source of income is $1,140 in Social Security each month,” lost his car months earlier and was the first to seek succor from the courts… (more)

RELATED:
Smith v Reiskin

 

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‘Eroding the Confidence’: SF Mayor Breed Blasts Muni Officials For Flawed Service

By Sam Brock : nbcbayareanews – excerpt (includes video)

One day after San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the Muni director in a letter, accusing him of “eroding the confidence” of riders in the system, the mayor took a ride on Muni and continued her criticism.

Breed said Tuesday you can’t push people to use public transportation and then have the transit not work. From widespread delays in service to the recent death of a construction worker, Breed said she’s fed up, and her concerns are echoing through City Hall… (more)

SFMTA Board reacted to the Mayor’s threats and the public’s outrage by ignoring it.

First, they ignored public request to limit the Geary BRT Red Lanes to Muni and taxis only, and retain some popular bus stops.

The Board approved recently unveiled plans to allow non-public transportation corporations access to Transit only Red Lanes.  Liz Brisson, SFMTA’s Project Manager for the Geary Project, claimed the definition of a bus is a vehicle transporting 9 or more people. This is news to many people who opposed the non-Muni vehicles at the meetings. When was this definition written and why was this intent not explained in previous presentations of the Geary BRT plan?

Were the Supervisors aware of this when they approved Phase I of the Geary BRT?

Will this new information be factored into the case against Phase II of the Geary BRT currently under litigation, or will City Hall settle the case rather than continue to fund the legal battles of this devious department?

Not only did we learn that Transit only does not mean public transit only, but, we also learned that the claims of time savings in the red lanes is not supported by factual analysis of existing red lanes. Perhaps we now can see the reasons why that may be the case. It seems that all red lanes are not created equal. It seems that the only time pubic transit only applies is when the lanes are “protected” inside a physical barrier. Otherwise you must read the signs to determine who is allowed on the red lanes. This begs the question, why paint the lanes red when the color is meaningless? Who is making a profit off this paint job?

After the startling bait and switch revelations and the Geary BRT approval, the Board went into private session for Ed Reiskin’s job review. As expected, the Board ignored the Mayor’s comments on the Director’s poor leadership and mismanagement of contracts.

The SFMTA Board commended Ed Reiskin on his work with the department, failed to scold or reprimand him for any of his mistakes or misdeeds, included those he admitted to, and announced their continued support for his leadership of the disgraced department.

What will our Mayor do about this rogue board and department that insults our intelligence by repeated attempts to deceive us? Will she appoint a strong new Director to the Board to replace the recently departed one hired by the department to handle the public through public outreach? Will the Board of Supervisors hand the decision over to the public in the form of a Charter Amendment? Will our Mayor support this option? You may want to weigh in if you have an opinion. Contacts with City Hall are here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

REALATED:

Private buses have driven in city ‘transit-only’ lanes for years — with the city’s blessing, and in spite of the law

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

… Does it make sense to allow private buses or other such vehicles in red carpet lanes — or not — on a Byzantine, lane-by-lane, project-by-project basis? If you’re a transit layman, you’d probably say “no.” And, it turns out, if you’re a transit expert you’d say “no,” too…

The city’s administration of its “transit-only” lanes has only grown more haphazard and opaque in the past dozen years — not that the citizens who came out Tuesday to yell about the Geary Rapid Project (or, quite possibly, the commissioners they were yelling at) ever realized this was happening…

But is it legal? That’s confusing, too… (more)

 

SF mayor Breed blasts Muni chief over delays, background checks and scooter permitting

By Rachel Swan : sfgate – excerpt

In a sharply worded letter, San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the director of the SFMTA over service delays related to its Twin Peaks Tunnel closure.

“In the weeks since I took the mayoral oath of office, a number of challenges have come to light related to the SFMTA and Muni service,” Breed wrote. She called for improvement in all 12 categories that the City Controller scores to evaluate San Francisco’s transportation systems.

As mayor, Breed wields substantial power over the SFMTA. She fills the empty seats on its board of directors — the body that sets the city’s transportation budget, determines its policy agenda and oversees department management. The board has the ability to fire Reiskin.

If that’s what Breed is angling for, it would be difficult for the board to resist, said political strategist Nathan Ballard, who worked closely with the three previous mayoral administrations…

Reiskin is scheduled for a performance review from the SFMTA board Tuesday… (more)

Let’s cut to the chase. Plausible deniability is no longer working. The unintended consequences of absolute power have reared their ugly heads far too many times to ignore. City Hall authorities need to give the voters a chance to remove that power from the SFMTA Board and the fastest easiest way to do that is to put a Charter Amendment on the ballot. The best the voters can do in November is to elect representatives who support this change. As you meet the contenders, be sure to ask how they will solve this problem.

RELATED:

City-sanctioned report finds SF has some of the worst public transit of major metros

SFMTA head’s job at risk after Breed calls for changes in leadership

Muni apologizes for systemwide failures

By : curbed – excerpt

Hundreds of service hours have lapsed citywide this summer

Muni service—which has never enjoyed a resounding reputation even at the best of times—has gotten so spotty and unreliable lately that SFMTA published an apology to riders Thursday. The agency vows to shore up weaknesses in the strained and struggling transit network. This comes one the heels of a report by Mission Local detailing how the city’s transit service failed miserably this year.

“Muni service in the past few months has been performing below our 98.5 percent service goal,” the public message reads. “We apologize and want to let you know what we’re doing about it.”

The service goal mentioned here is actually part of the City Charter, which specifies that “98.5 percent of scheduled [Muni] service hours must be delivered, and at least 98.5 percent of scheduled vehicles must begin service at the scheduled time.”… (more)

Please let the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors know if you are fed up and demand a change at the SFMTA. ENUF ALREADY! Apology for being the worst, most boastful, incompetent, breast-pumping, annoying, overpaid, disgusting, overbearing, least reliable city agency in San Francisco, NOT ACCEPTED! There is no solution other than a complete overhaul and new management that will heel the bad blood between the public and the SFMTA. There is no place to hide the mistakes and mismanagement of the most expensive city agency that can do no right.

King of the Roads: Uber takes the crown with this deal.

Op-Ed by Zrants

Uber partners with JUMP after SFMTA handed them an exclusive e-bike deal, sort of. It looks like Motivate/GoBikes will be adding some e-bikes to their stations soon. How they will handle the battery charging program appears to be up in the air at the moment.

Market Share: Uber, Apple and Amazon are driven by the same lust for power and dominance that drove GM, GE and Philip Morris to conquer their markets. I don’t trust Uber any more than I trust Elli Lilly or Bank of America. These corporations are expert at hiding their holdings.

Holding Companies: This article on Motivate describes some of the corporate entities in back of GoBikes and leaves no doubt what motivates them to invest in bike share companies. https://metermadness.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/love-citi-bike-you-have-a-real-estate-developer-to-thank/

Corporate Deals: According to articles in streetsblog, and SF Examiner, Uber not only made a deal with JUMP, but, SFMTA negotiated a compromise between Uber and Gobike/Motivate, to would assure they did not have to compete with each other. Will it take a Charter Amendment for the San Francisco voters to get this level of attention and concern for our well-being?

How do taxpayers feel about paying for Ed Reiskin’s time and attention to these corporations who are taking over our public streets for profit? SFMTA officials are focused on supporting corporate interests and planning for our future in 2045 instead of finishing the major capital projects that are behind schedule, way over budget, and disrupting our lives. Could this be why the Central Subway and Van Ness BRT projects are so screwed up and we have grid-locked streets? Ed spends his time making deals?

RELATED:

Uber’s latest venture is a bike-sharing service in San Francisco. It’s working with dockless bike-sharing startup Jump.

By Mallory Locklear : engadget – excerpt

Uber’s piloting a new service in San Francisco alongside dockless bike-sharing startup Jump. Uber Bike will let users rent one of Jump’s 250 bikes, charging $2 for the first 30 minutes and an additional per-minute fee thereafter. Jump was granted a permit by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency earlier this month, which made it the first company to operate a dockless bike-sharing program in the city. Jump’s 250 bikes should launch around the city between now and March and the SFMTA may allow the company to release 250 more after nine months, depending on how things go. The permit was issued for 18 months, during which the SFMTA will evaluate the program and the public’s response… (more)

Uber partners with JUMP on electric bike share pilot in San Francisco

by Monica Nickelsburg : geeklwire – excerpt

SINGAPORE — If Uber Technologies Inc. is planning a retreat from Asia, no one told Brooks Entwistle, head of the ride-hailing company’s business in the region.

The San Francisco-based company is planning an expansion in Japan and is offering faster booking and cheaper rides to gain share in Singapore, Mr Entwistle said in an interview…more)

For Uber, the trade-off is scale. If it pulls out of markets like India and Indonesia, that will improve profitability immediately — but it would sacrifice long-term growth. Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said recently the company would continue to be aggressive about expansion in 2018 as he sees Uber as being “everywhere for everyone.”… (more)

 

San Francisco’s unfair towing charges

by Emily Green and Lizzie Johnson : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s exorbitant towing fees represent an unjust penalty — and an unwarranted windfall for city government.

Tow trucks in San Francisco haul away more than wrongly parked vehicles. They effectively seize paychecks from drivers who need to fork over hundreds of dollars to retrieve their vehicles. It’s an unfair policy that city lawmakers must fix.

That change of direction can’t come soon enough. The penalties here are far higher than other major cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where strict parking rules are needed to keep traffic flowing. Along with sky-high rates go another troubling factor: San Francisco’s transit overlords use the annual haul of 42,350 vehicles to cover expenses barely related to towing…

Reporters Emily Green and Lizzie Johnson delved into the towaway numbers to produce another level of unfairness. Transit budget maestros are dumping other costs onto the towing bill in the name of the city’s overarching transit-first policies that downplay private vehicles. Curb painting, ticket-writing salaries and city vehicle maintenance are all chalked up to towaway work, which is carried out by private contractors. Even a slice of MTA Director Ed Reiskin’s pay is tacked on to the towing program. It’s a stretch that officials justify by saying other transportation programs would be cut if the towing fees weren’t so high…

There’s a need for serious parking restrictions on San Francisco’s crowded streets. Along with this simple mandate is another requirement for balance, fairness and honesty. The city’s towaway contract needs revamping… (more)

RELATED:
Towing fees to come down after SF supervisors complain :
The cost of getting towed in San Francisco is going to come down by at least $75 as the Municipal Transportation Agency agreed Tuesday to reduce its fees after supervisors criticized them for being exorbitantly high, unfair and unduly regressive…
The administrative fee pays for every cost directly and tangentially associated with the towing program, including the salaries and benefits of the citation enforcement officers who enforce towing restrictions, the paint to paint red zones on curbs, vehicle maintenance, and even part of MTA Director Ed Reiskin’s salary.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that is wrong. “I question why a portion of the MTA director’s salary is being passed on to these people who have their cars towed.”… (more)

How are cyclists paying for their costs? paint, signs, enforcement, Ed’s salary and official time attending bike meetings? How are those costs being covered?

 

Do More Tech Shuttle Stops Lead Directly To Higher Rents And More Evictions?

BY JAY BARMANN : sfist – excerpt

Tensions over tech shuttles live on, surprisingly or unsurprisingly depending on where you stand on the “San Francisco has been destroyed” vs. “all change is good change” spectrum. And now anti-shuttle and anti-eviction activists are continuing their effort to litigate the issue as the reach of tech shuttle buses expands citywide. As the Examiner reports, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and several other litigants including activist Sara Shortt are now suing the city — as well as several tech companies who sponsor the private shuttles for their employees — in order to get a full environmental impact study to happen looking into the local impacts of the Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program.

Over a year ago the same groups and activists filed suit against the city declaring that the entire program was illegal, and it appears that suit has been abandoned in favor of this one.

The Board of Supervisors approved the 18-month pilot program in January of 2014, and now the groups appear to be pushing for an in-depth review of the program, as it continues to expand beyond the pilot stage…

Meanwhile, the drivers of this army of shuttle buses continue to lead sub-par existences, andthe Chronicle just profiled one 53-year-old driver, Scott Peebles, who is currently homeless and living out of his car. He’s one of several drivers who have been part of a Chronicle investigation as a group of 180 of them, all employed by Compass Transportation and serving a variety of tech companies, continue to negotiate for higher wages with the help of the Teamsters(more)

If you don’t like gentrification let them know. Sign the petition: SF Needs a Better Plan: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/sf-actions/a-better-plan/

Bay Area Public Transportation

By Thuy Vu and Scott Shafer : kqed – excerpt – (video clip)

Getting around the Bay Area can be difficult. Traffic is a mess and public transportation isn’t always easy. KQED NEWSROOM’s Scott Shafer and Thuy Vu talk to the leaders of BART, Caltrain, Muni and VTA about what is and isn’t working with the Bay Area’s biggest transit systems.

Guests:
• Grace Crunican, general manager of BART
• Ed Reiskin, director of transportation of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
• Jim Hartnett, general manager of San Mateo County Transit District
• Michael Hursh, chief operating officer of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority… (more)

More Muni Money, More Muni Problems: Even a $500 million boost won’t help Muni

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfweekly – excerpt

…In the opening of John Oliver’s segment on crumbling infrastructure in the United States, which aired March 1, Ed Reiskin, transportation director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, got his 15 seconds of roasting.

“As much as I like to think otherwise, infrastructure is not very sexy,” Reiskin says on the show. His comments are played alongside a few other middle-aged Caucasian bureaucrats saying similar things…

To which Oliver replies, “Yes, infrastructure, like those men we just heard from, is important, but not sexy.”

Ouch. For the record, SF Weekly is no authority on bureaucrat sexiness — we’ll leave that one to the voters. It is worth noting that Muni’s infrastructure is a frequent topic in these pages. And at a Feb. 9 Capital Planning Committee meeting, Reiskin was making a similar argument as Oliver: San Francisco needs even more money for transit infrastructure.

The SFMTA’s infrastructure (of which Muni makes up the bulk) isn’t getting the attention or the money it requires, and over the next 10 years it will face a $4.9 billion in infrastructure obligations. That number will balloon to $11.5 billion in 20 years. In other words, that recent voter-approved $500 million bond for transit infrastructure won’t even put a dent in our needs.

“Spoiler: I’m not going to end by asking for a billion dollars,” Reiskin told the committee. Everyone laughed… (more)

A billion for Muni and another billion for BART. And they still can’t fix the potholes which the voters were promised several ballots ago. Even the bikers are complaining about the potholes. They hit on and go down. At least the four-wheeled vehicle don’t lose their balance over a pothole.

Dear Scott and Ed: About Sunday Parking for Religious Orgs

By missionlocal – excerpt

At least one Liberty Hill resident is unhappy. Elizabeth Zitrin sent this letter to Ed Reiskin, from the SFMTA and Supervisor Scott Wiener. She added a link to the church’s website.

If you would like to add your unhappiness, please comment or send Reiskin an email at ed.reiskin@sfmta.com and Wiener an email at Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org.

Dear Scott and Ed,

This picture was taken looking south on Guerrero between 18th & 19th Streets at 6:27 pm on Saturday, September 13, 2014.

This ongoing illegal parking by protected private churches who guard their privilege, and are protected by you and SFMTA, continues to create traffic hazards.

There is, as you well know, no application process for this privileged parking in a public roadway, no permit, no accountability, no person in the government or agencies of CCSF who claims to provide this special service and protection, no enforcement by SFMTA and years of absolutely no help from you for you constituents.

I ask you again to stop this dangerous and illegal occupation of active public roadways by private religious organizations… (more)

Thank you.

Elizabeth Zitrin

Liberty Hill

This is a divide and conquer tactic by the SFMTA. If you don’t like they are handling traffic and parking, privatizing public parking spaces, forcing more vehicles to double park, slowing traffic and creating gridlock, tell the city authorities you have had enough! Vote NO on A and B (no money without accountability) and YES on L: Restore Transportation Balance:
http://www.restorebalance14.org