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.

Lyft Nears Acquisition of Motivate, U.S. Bike-Share Leader

By Amir Efrati and Cory Weinberg : theinformation – excerpt

Lyft has agreed to buy Motivate, which runs some of the biggest U.S. bike-share programs, according to two people briefed about the deal. The acquisition, which is likely to be worth $250 million or more, will quickly insert Lyft into the small but fast-growing U.S. bike-sharing market.

The two companies have agreed on the terms of the deal, although it hasn’t been finalized, one of these people said. If a deal is consummated, it would put Lyft ahead of ride-sharing rival Uber, which acquired another bike-share service called Jump in April for around $200 million…(more)

That is what we really need on our streets. A takeover by Lyft and Uber. No doubt Conway has his fingers in this pie and will grease the wheels of the PUC and anyone else who needs convincing that Lyft and Uber are going to make them rich, or whatever motivates the sell-out to tech.

We called it the corporatization of our streets, and that is what it looks like. Lyft and Uber are the new Airbnb menace. There is no point in new entrepreneurs coming to set up shop in SF and because if there is am app that has not been crated to extract money out of our streets, these geniuses will invent it.

I suspect we will see a lot more street actions and disrupted traffic as soon as people figure it out. The only play voters have, is to oppose Regional Measure 3 and all the tax and bond proposals to pay for their roads. Don’t give them any more money. The 11 billion dollar budget is enuf. (Hope that is a typo and the real figure is still 10 billion.)

When you vote for Mayor and Governor think about who is most likely to support the public instead of corporations.

Brown Assails Gas Tax Repeal As Republican ‘Loser’ Stunt

By California News Wire Services : patch – excerpt

Gov. Jerry Brown frames the gas tax as a “test of American strength,” but repealers say, “we’re taking back our money.”

LOS ANGELES, CA — Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a sharp defense of his new gas tax Friday at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, saying efforts to repeal the legislation by a group of Republican leaders was nothing short of a test of America’s ability to maintain a central place on the world stage.

“The test of American strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress. And we’re not going to let that happen,” Brown said during a Mobility 21 conference attended by several hundred state and local transportation officials.

SB1 raised gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 20 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, along with hiking vehicle registration fees. The new taxes are expected to raise $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit projects in the state…

“The cost of living is already on the increase in California and families are struggling to survive. This is unacceptable,” said repeal organizer and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio in April. “Gov. Jerry Brown and his special interests … need to prepare themselves. We’re coming and we’re taking back our money.”… (more)

The losers collected over a million signatures, so expect this repeal on the November ballot. Stay tuned for more reversals on the governor’s favorite projects.

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

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

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.

Muni Metro stop at Warriors’ new SF arena is one pricey platform

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_3178.JPG

Arena with passing T-Line car going up at 16th and Third Street shot by zrants

The cost of building a bigger Muni Metro platform to handle fans at the Mission Bay arena is growing faster than the Warriors’ injury list.

The plan is to tear out the 130-foot-long Metro platform, just down Third Street from the under-construction Chase Center, and build a 320-foot replacement right in front of the arena.

Building the new platform, however, is just part of the job…

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Torres’ concern is prompted in part by news that Muni already is coming up short on the project and will need borrow $10 million from the city to complete the job.

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

“This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board… (more)

Government needs to remember that the real world does not exist on a piece of paper and a handshake with the biggest money man in the room. Government officials need to serve the people not themselves.

Even if money did grow on trees, willing contractors do not. Labor is lacking and not easy to import with the current climate in Washington. Materials and financing costs are going through the roof, and the mood among likely voters favors big changes at City Hall.

“Leno’s first-place finish was “a real boost” for him and “a vote for change at City Hall,” said former Supervisor David Campos, the committee’s chair.”

The likelihood of passing another regional tax and spend scheme among the nine county voters is getting slimmer with the increase in weather temperatures followed by the increase in anger and frustration with the current policies and practices that got us where we are now.

Trust in government is at an all time low. If San Francisco is to survive as we know it, a change must come. Spending $62 million dollars to shift priorities to a sports arena that will serve only the wealthy few who can afford expensive tickets, is a bad idea in this climate. A recent D-10 Superviosor race found NOT SUPPORT among hte candidates at who spoke.

A number of departments heads may soon find themselves without their exorbitant salaries if these schemes continue to roll through. The residents will have the chance to vote against a litany of controversial  projects and waste by opposing Regional Measure 3, the bridge toll $3 increase.

California voters may also have the chance to repeal SB 1 that could roll back the gas tax that is raising the costs of products being brought in on trucks that are hardest hit by this tax. $25 dollar burgers and $8 avocado toast is not joke to the people who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

These two bills alone will determine how the city and region continues to deal with the traffic problems and the transportation schemes they are developing. Our state representatives who are pushing unpopular legislation in Sacramento may also find themselves out of work as the voters will have the chance to replace them soon. Senator Josh Newman is facing a recall election, after being blamed for casting the deciding vote that passed SB1.

More changes in Sacramento may come as a result of Scott Wiener’s unpopular SB 827 bill that would up-zone the entire state around a transit-based up-zoning scheme by “allowing  the state to seize control of your neighborhood” planning and zoning decisions.

With the recent power grabs in Washington, citizens may not be prepared to relinquish any more powers to any government bodies they feel are chipping away at their personal freedoms by centralizing control.

Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…

BAY AREA MAP > TALLER BUIDINGS NEAR TRANSIT? (maps)

In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827

SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.