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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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

 

 

 

 

Credit union files taxi medallion suit against SFMTA

By Julia Cheever : sfbay – excerpt

A credit union that helped The City of San Francisco sell taxi medallions has sued a city agency over financial losses caused by the collapse in value of the medallions amid the rise of ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft.

The lawsuit was filed against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday by the nonprofit, member-owned San Francisco Federal Credit Union.

It seeks $28 million in compensation plus an order requiring The City to buy back unsellable medallions for the $250,000 purchase price.

The lawsuit charges the SFMTA violated alleged promises to keep the taxi business vibrant, shore up the value of the medallions and buy back any medallions that it couldn’t resell.

Instead, the law suit claims:

“…[SFMTA] has elected to stick its head in the sand while the credit union and hardworking taxi driver medallion owners are saddled with all the burdens.”… (more)

Ordinance introduced at Roll Call January 23, 2018: Board of Supervisors Review of Certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions

We hope this clears up the details of the Supervisors’ plans to address some of our problems with the SFMTA by adopting an ordinance and consider a Charter Amendment that addresses neighborhood issues at the district level. We are looking forward to further explanations as the Supervisors work out the details. Stay tuned.

Ordinance: 180089  [Transportation Code – Board of Supervisors Review of Certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions] Sponsors: Safai; Peskin

Link to Ordinance Language

Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions. ASSIGNED UNDER 30 DAY RULE to Land Use and Transportation Committee.

Existing Law

Notwithstanding the SFMTA’s exclusive authority to adopt various parking and traffic regulations, Charter section 8A. 102(b)(8) permits the Board of Supervisors to establish procedures by which the public may seek Board of Supervisors review of certain SFMTA decisions ; however, the Board of Supervisors have not yet adopt procedures to provide for such review.

Amendments to Current Law

This ordinance amends Division I of the San Francisco Transportation Code to establish procedures for review of certain SFMTA decisions by the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance: (1) creates definitions for “Final SFMTA Decision,” “Private Transportation Program,” and “Proximity to Final SFMTA Decision”; (2) establishes a procedure for the public to request review of a Final SFMTA Decision by the Board of Supervisors; (3)  requires that notice of the review hearing be posted in the Clerk’s Office; and (4) provides a procedure for the Board of Superiors to affirm or reverse a Final SFMTA Decision following the review hearing.

Background Information

Supervisors Safai and Peskin requested legislation to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of certain SFMTA decisions.

YOU WON! The Supervisors heard your demands for relief from the excesses of the SFMTA and calls to decentralize the department.

All your efforts to get the attention of City Hall paid off. You have a chance to take back control of your streets. You also have some good questions to ask the candidates who are running for office in your district.

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)

Transportation gentrification: How Bus Rapid Transit is displacing East Oakland

by youth scholars at Deecolonize Academy and POOR Magazine : sfbayview – excerpt

We youth scholars from Deecolonize Academy and POOR Magazine submitted 14 FOIAs – Freedom of Information Act requests – to 14 departments in the City of Oakland, only to receive a series of messages from two of the departments saying, “We have no documents,” and no word from the others.

On Jan. 16, we will be making a demand to the City of Oakland and AC Transit that, with the money they received for BRT, they support Oakland residents to be able to stay here as reparations for the millions of dollars they are receiving to displace us out of here. If you would like to join us, please email poormag@gmail.com(MORE)

This article basically sums up what we have been observing and reporting on for the last five or six years. Public transit funds are being used to displace “vested” residents here and on a world-wide basis. The gold standard has been replaced by the biggest LAND GRAB in history. Instead of relying on cornering a commodity, the robber barons are rapidly grabbing up the one truly limited resource on earth.

They started by grabbing control of our public streets, claiming our once free streets “streets are not free”. Once they “take” our streets, they take our homes, that they refer to as “housing”, claiming we can’t afford  any more.

Unfortunately, our early warnings were correct. Now what can we do about it? This series of articles offers helpful information and suggestions on ways to fight back.Let your political leaders know that you know what they are doing,and who they are serving whether they know it or not.

Some action items and contacts at the state and city level:
https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/sf-actions/

Low-income housing units lost in Oakland, study shows Anti-eviction Mapping Project shows how housing for poor people is being replaced with housing for tech workers…(more)

MUNI to split into transit and traffic, again!

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco supervisors want to divide Muni’s parent agency into two departments. Concerned with The City’s allegedly mismanaged transit policies, supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai have told stakeholders.

Under the proposal, one agency would handle just Muni, and the other would handle San Francisco’s parking and streets, sources with knowledge of the measure told the San Francisco Examiner…

The proposal would also allow supervisors to make appointments to the SFMTA’s seven-member Board of Directors. Right now, directors are only appointed by the mayor.

Peskin and Safai have approached stakeholders with the ballot measure over the last week, and discussed introducing it as an amendment to The City’s charter at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, according to sources with knowledge of the measure…

I think [Peskin is] having buyer’s remorse about his role in Prop. A,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of the nonprofit Livable City.

The DPT of old was ideologically committed to moving cars through The City, and transit, walking and cycling always got short changed,” Radulovich said.

But while the SFMTA has tried to focus more on transit and the creation of bike lanes over vehicle traffic, Radulovich feels those efforts are lackluster. He said another major reason the SFMTA was created was to free it from political influence; supervisors would sometimes stop transportation changes that would benefit thousands for the sake of one angry constituent.

But the politicians still throw monkey wrenches into modern-day SFMTA operations, Radulovich said.

The reforms just allow that to happen “behind the scenes,” Radulovich said...(more)

The City is reeling from the disruptions on our streets. We need to shed light into the dark corners of the SFMTA and dissect the billion dollar budget that they have controlled while creating a traffic nightmare. Radulovich is right about the backroom dealings. The fact that the SFMTA Board members have no private emails to communicate directly with the public they are supposed to serve should alarm voters. Who are the gatekeepers who determine what the Board sees and when they see it? Who benefits from the removal of bus seats and stops when the Muni riders overwhelmingly oppose them?

Perfect timing! A change in priorities and policies is needed now. Peskin and Safai are coming through with a brilliant move at the right time. An initiative aimed at changing the power structure of SFMTA would force the candidates for supervisor to take a position showing their true colors, making it easier for voters to determine who to support in those important races.

Top Down Government is losing public support. If the voters approve the move to alter the power structure of SFMTA, making it more accountable to the public, they will send a warning to other government entities that there is a popular revolt against government overreach.

SF mulls Uber and Lyft fees, gas tax for transportation funding

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Transportation Task Force 2045 is weighing possible measures for future ballots to fund Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure in The City…

2045? They can’t get 2017 right so they are skipping ahead a few years to fix those problems. Who are they kidding?

San Francisco is mulling a 20-cent-to-$1 fee for Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco to fund local transportation, like Muni, among a suite of more than 20 potential tax measures.

From a tax on companies in the “gig economy” like TaskRabbit, to a gas tax, those measures are aimed at raising millions of dollars for Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure throughout The City.

The new ballot measures in the form of taxes, fees and bonds may be introduced in the near and far flung future, with some measures introduced as early as 2018 and others — including the potential Uber fee — in years to come, because they require changes in state law, according to city documents…(more)

City Hall is living beyond its means. That is the message the voters sent when they opposed the sales tax. Gentrification is not just based on rent rates. Each tax adds to the cost of living. Property taxes raise rents. Gas taxes and fuel tax raises the cost of goods that need to be transported, such as food. Now that we are using less water they want to tax the tap water.

Pandora box has been flung open.

You are no longer dealing with just Ford GoBikes.

Thousands more are coming unless the pubic does something to stop them. Its plastered all over FACEBOOK that LIME bikes expanding into San Francisco and they are already signing up new members.  https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/15/limebike-raises-12-million-to-roll-out-bike-sharing-without-kiosks-in-the-us/  and another company called SPIN started dumping hundreds more on streets across the financial district. The only thing that will stop this is legislation.

We heard that a company called Arup was awarded a $550 Million contract to construct a bicycle lane across the Bay Bridge. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/13/bay-bridge-bike-lane_n_1146310.html

It is said that the lead designer for the $550M Bay Bridge bike lane is married to Ms. Brinkman, the chair of the SFMTA Board. See the following: https://bridge2017.sched.com/richard.coffin?iframe=no&w=100%&sidebar=yes&bg=no.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why all of these bikes are getting shoved down our throats for the sole purpose of removing parking from our streets. Is this what the voters wanted when they handed over management of the streets to what became SFMTA? Is this what City Hall supports? The complete privatization of our city streets and thoroughfares? If this is what our city leaders want do we want them?

If this is what our taxes are paying for do we support higher taxes?

Read about the holding company behind Motivate if you missed it to see who and what is behind the Ford GoBikes for proof that the bikes are being used to clear the way for dense urban development and luxury housing. Each day more proof of this comes out. What will you do about it? Leave or fight to stay. Pretty soon your choice will be made for you.

Fight gentrification: https://www.change.org/p/hillary-ronen-no-corporate-bike-rentals-in-the-calle-24-latino-cultural-district

San Franciscans want happy trails — not rocky roads

by Aaron Peskin: marinatimes – excerpt

Budget season has drawn to a close, and the city has made a significant investment in our city streets with the Board of Supervisors approving an additional $90 million in road work and resurfacing funds to be spent down over the next two years.

These are the funds that will be used to repave our city streets (600 blocks annually), extend or repair our sidewalks, paint our bike lanes, and fill pesky potholes. San Francisco Public Works is hiring more workers, and San Francisco has slowly increased its Pavement Condition Index Score…

The wrong signs get posted for the wrong projects on the wrong streets, construction equipment lies inactive for months in on-street parking spots, while a seemingly never-ending parade of orange-and-white striped A-frame signs line the streets letting merchants and residents know that they should brace for yet another construction project that might or might not have an actual public benefit. At the very least, it could be coordinated much better.

In addition, the hearing revealed that some repetitive projects are dropped from the city’s database, in violation of the city’s moratorium on digging up the city streets more than once in a five-year span. For example, the corner of Green Street and Columbus Avenue has been dug up at least four or five times in the last six years, yet San Francisco Public Works did not have that data for those jobs on file.

I am working with Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee on legislation that would create stricter conditions for subcontractors and would trigger a construction mitigation fund for projects that run over budget or drag on endlessly.

The time has come to make sure that we are managing San Francisco taxpayer money responsibly when it comes to our city streets; these safety and road resurfacing projects are priorities that shouldn’t have to be painful… (more)

This pretty well covers the frustrations that residents and businesses are feeling with the street construction repair program being set up and “managed” by the SFMTA. The subcontractors were a problem for the residents dealing with street trees and damaged sidewalks and the Supervisors solved that one. Now it is time for them to take on the street subcontractors.

At the top of the list of issues, is the lack of skilled labor in the construction business due to the overwhelming number of projects underway. We are doing too much too fast and the quality of the work is suffering because of the unrealistic pace. This is why we need to slow it down. We will be having talks this month over various options for solving this problem. Thanks to supervisors Peskin, Yee and Kim for taking this on.

NO NOTICE: A number of other issues were raised at the meeting described here. One is the most familiar of all that accompanies every complaint being raised from “overnight” tow-away signs to sudden contractors tearing up sidewalks without a visible permit – NO NOTICE ahead of the sudden pop-up construction work. Obviously the multi-million dollar noticing system that SFMTA is using to communicate with the public is failing to do the job. We need a new procedure of noticing.

As Supervisor Breed pointed out at the meeting, unnecessary controversial bulblouts and other street “improvements” are going onto small side streets with no accident history under the guise of “Safe Street improvements.” The SFMTA staff had no real excuse for this when quizzed on the matter.

A similar issue is ongoing with regard to the hated Red Lane “experiments” that were put into areas of the city, in including Mission Street, that were not designated as “experimental” areas, and the required “studies” for the “experiments” were not done in a timely fashion.

Concerned citizens conducted their own “unpaid” studies and discovery, and obtained documents showing an uptick in accidents on certain Red Lanes were not included in the final reports given to the state agency in charge of approving the extension of the Red Lane “experiments”. The SFMTA cherry picked the test areas that proved the Red Lanes improved the speed of the buses yet neglected to “share” the data that showed an increase in accidents on some of the “experimental streets.

Complaints were filed and if the judicial system works, the matter should be investigated.