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.

Reopening California: Here’s how commuting will change for drivers, public transportation when we go back to work

By Dion Lim : abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

Planned changes come as an eye-opening study from Vanderbilt is released, showing if three out of four workers chooses to take a car versus public transportation, drive times increase a whopping 42 minutes.

It’s one of the issues during Thursday’s Bay Area Council webinar with heads of various transportation agencies.

One change already implemented March 20th: The Bay Area Toll Authority decision to switch to all electric tolls on area bridges. That could continue.

“It seems to be working relatively smoothly… We’ll work with the commission on how we’re going to work toward to an all-electric toll future… Stay tuned for that,” says Therese McMillan, Executive Director for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission…. (more)

It is refreshing to hear transportation directors accept the major changes needed in their industry to avoid the spread of COVID-19. One hopes they will allow a lot more involvement by the drivers and riders in re-designing the new system. We also hope they will drop the anti-car actions.

Will the transportation agencies change from standing room only cattle-car vehicles to smaller, shuttle size vehicles with more space between the seats? Will city authorities and Muni riders insist on it? Will the Supervisors refuse to fund the larger vehicles? They are already threatening legislation to stop Muni fare increases.

RELATED:

‘Congestion pricing’ suspended on Bay Bridge, toll to remain at $6 everyday amid COVID-19 pandemic

Total shutdown of Muni service might be best way to curb COVID-19 spread, Union President says

Santa Clara Co. proposal would allow more employees to work from home after pandemic

The Washington Report–COVID-19 Crisis Edition: NMA E-Newsletter #589

By Rob Talley : motorists – excerpt

Editor’s Note: The Washington Report is a regular feature of the NMA’s quarterly Driving Freedoms member magazine. Our representative in DC, Rob Talley, wrote the original version of this newsletter for the spring issue of the magazine before the pandemic halted its publication. So Rob recently updated his dispatch to include more recent developments on Capitol Hill,..The outlook in Washington for any issue, much less transportation policy, was completely upended with the outbreak of the coronavirus and associated US responses beginning in February…

Before the national crisis, House and Senate policymakers were working on transportation-related legislation that would have established funding levels for major highway and transportation safety programs for the next five years. In 2019, the Senate Committee working on the legislation passed a bipartisan proposal that authorized $287 billion in funding over five years.

In January, key Democratic leaders released a much more comprehensive infrastructure framework that would authorize $760 billion in funding. A significant portion, $329 billion, would go toward highways infrastructure according to discussions with staff working on the proposal. Another $105 billion would go toward improving public transit. Also included were non-traditional transportation proposals such as funding $34.3 billion worth of clean energy investment, and modernizing the electric grid to allow for more electric vehicle charging stations. House Republicans have not endorsed the proposal, expressing concerns about the expansive nature of the bill and objecting to some of the priorities.

While policy differences are an overarching problem in finding middle ground, the difference in funding levels is also a significant hurdle to passage. Even the more modest Senate proposed a $287 billion funding level that requires new funding mechanisms as the current gas tax fails to keep up with infrastructure funding needs. Before the pandemic, policy leaders were looking at options that include the vehicle miles traveled tax and even surcharges on electric vehicles to cover EV road use, but these have proven politically sticky…(more)

One assumes the financial priorities have shifted since the pandemic struck and the Federal government will take a break from non-essential funding until is known about the virus. The one thing we do seem to know is that we don’t know enough yet. We need to rely on our scientists and medical talents to help us through this crisis and we need to put a much stronger focus on educating and supporting science and medical staff to prepare for a less stressful future.

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.

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

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.

Chase Center: A giant roomba that is still a bad idea

By Stuart Schuffman : sfexaminer – excerpt

Given this incredible propensity for screwing up huge projects, none of us should be surprised that The City went ahead with this absurdly placed arena.

With the official opening of the Warriors’ new home, the Chase Center, just a few weeks away, I’d like to take this moment to remind the Bay Area what an absolutely stupid idea it was to build this thing. For a town that likes to pride itself on being on the forefront of everything, San Francisco is irredeemably shortsighted when it comes to urban planning…

Given this incredible propensity for screwing up huge projects, none of us should be surprised that the city went ahead with this absurdly placed arena, despite plenty of public outcry…

From when this arena was first announced, much of the opposition to it centered around not just the fact that we’ve somehow decided to make traffic even worse for 50+ extra days a year, but the question of “How can emergency vehicles get through.”… (more)

For the last 10 years the Port and the SFMTA have conspired to turn SF into Battery Park West. Nothing they have done to improve the Bay or access to it has improved anything. We now have complete gridlock as planned. And that is not just private vehicles we are talking about. Try moving on the T-Line, The L-Tarval, or the BART. People are tired of the game. What is going to happen if PG&E shuts down service for a day? Five days? Better have an exit plan. It will not be pretty.