To Donald, from Ben: Don’t fund Honolulu’s train

By Catherine Cruz : kitv – excerpt (includes video)

HONOLULU – Former Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano took out a full page ad in Friday’s Washington Post newspaper.  The letter calls on the President to terminate Honolulu’s Full Funding Agreement for transit.

“Honolulu’s rail project does not deserve a single dollar more from the federal government.  It has become a poster boy of how politics, incompetence, disinformation and outright lies are at the root of wasteful  projects which do little for the public except raise taxes.”

The ad also notes that the city is at least $3 billion short and six years behind schedule.

The ad comes as the legislature decides next week on whether to extend the half percent excise tax an extra two years or another ten.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell released the following statement:

“The people of O’ahu have now gone through three election cycles where rail was the issue of the day, and each time affirmed that rail should be completed as originally planned with 20 miles of guideway and 21 stations. In each of those elections, ads like the one that appeared in today’s Washington Post were paid for by those who oppose the project, as is their right under the First Amendment. I remain focused on working really hard to extend the city’s half-percent rail surcharge for at least another 10 years. This will allow the country’s first driverless train to reach all the way to Ala Moana Center and ensure a viable project. That’s what the people of O‘ahu expect, and that’s what I’m concentrating on.”

Tune in to KITV Island News at 5, 6 and 10 as rail proponents react to this latest campaign… (more)

California is not alone in the quest for bogus transit project funds. Governor is already under attack for the “pothole” gas tax he just signed. People are watching that money and there is already a recall effort out of San Diego.

Head of California high-speed rail project calls it quits

yahoo – excerpt

The head of California’s $64 billion high-speed rail project said Friday he’s stepping down after five years pushing forward a vision of 220-mph trains that still faces stiff resistance from lawmakers and the public. Jeff Morales, 57, told The Chronicle that uncertainty over the project’s future had nothing to do with his resignation, only a genuine desire to move aside after breaking ground on the nation’s largest infrastructure project. Morales, who sent his resignation letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, plans to remain chief executive officer of the California High Speed Rail Authority through June 2, long enough to find his replacement. In May 2012, Morales was hired by the rail authority’s board as the project struggled to get off the ground, with agency staffing stalled, lawsuits looming over rights-of-way, and the Legislature yet to commit to construction. […] the agency has bought up more than 1,000 parcels of land and hired a handful of contractors to begin building 119 miles of rail line between Madera and Bakersfield. […] in Sacramento, the state’s cap-and-trade program, which essentially sells pollution credits to industry to fund projects like high-speed rail, has failed to meet revenue expectations. […] he worked as a senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international transportation firm that has been a primary contractor for the rail authority…(more)

The 22nd Street Caltrain Station To Stay, But Needs Better Accessibility

by Shane Downing : hoodline – excerpt

Earlier this week, Socketsite suggested that the 22nd Street Caltrain station could be removed or relocated, based on a new study.

But Planning Department spokesperson Gina Simi says that suggestion, which appeared in a number of other local publications, is “simply inaccurate.”

What is happening is that a study on railyard alternatives and the I-280 boulevard is currently being conducted. As part of the study, the Citizens Working Group (CWG)—comprised of 21 members without decision-making power—was asked to weigh in on priorities and concerns about the forthcoming Transbay Transit Center, redeveloping the Caltrain depot at 4th & King streets, and tearing down I-280’s northern terminus in San Francisco…

However, the real issue at stake was not the removal of the 22nd street stop. Instead, improving ADA access and connecting the 22nd Street station to San Francisco’s street grid and other transportation, which were supported by 90 percent of respondents, are bigger priorities for Planning… (more)

Tech Shuttle Sign of Growing Inequality

Op-ed By Mari Elizapublished in The Potrero View

Lingering controversy over “tech buses” – shuttles conveying high technology workers here, there, and everywhere – is related to who gets to ride them and how far a would-be passenger has to walk to catch a public or private bus. The free ride and exclusive social element sets the tech buses apart, and causes animosity between tech shuttle riders and everyone else.

Muni riders are having their bus stops cut, and seats removed.  Shuttles appear to be free, clean and comfortable. They also seem to be closer to a door-to-door service, while Muni is forcing its riders to take longer walks by eliminating stops.

It could be an illusion, but it’s certainly a perception. A new privileged class system is rearing its ugly head.  The wealth and privilege associated with tech buses adds to feelings of social inequality.  Shuttles have become the catalyst for anger that needs an object to lash out against because they’re so visible and appear to be unregulated, ignoring laws and getting away with it. 

Neighborhoods want to kick the shuttles out.  Developers want to eject low rent tenants.  Both sides are lining up to protect their turf.

 

California’s bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns

By Ralph Vartabedian : latimes – excerpt

California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule…(more)

Polk Streetscape Construction Update

Only the SFMTA and the DPW would use a construction photograph as a greeting. They must think we appreciate the appearance of the mud and orange cones as much as they do. Guess what, to us ROAD CONSTRUCTION SUCKS! No one except you thinks they look attractive, so quite sending us these hideous photos of broken streets in your cheerful greetings. You are looking a head to spending more of our tax dollars disrupting our lives. We are NOT! How tacky can you get.

29463164-24ff-4fa9-9a8a-d1854bdc42d5.jpg
Water work on North Point Street, January 11, 2017 – San Francisco Public Works

9b48ec82-e298-4bfd-85f6-f6ff3bfb7911.jpgJanuary 13, 2017
Greetings Polk Street Community Member and Happy New Year!
View the latest construction information for the Polk Streetscape Project. Project Activity Summary – Crews have resumed work in segment 5 on North Point Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Larkin Street performing water main replacement work.

Week of January 16, 2017
Crews will continue water main replacement work on North Point Street from Van Ness Avenue to Larkin Street. Work will resume Tuesday January 17, 2017.

Week of January 23, 2017
Crews will continue water main replacement work on North Point Street from Van Ness Avenue to Larkin Street.

Anticipated construction schedule for Segment 5:
Water work: 01/02/17 – 03/27/17
Concrete Flatwork: 01/09/17 – 02/01/17
Final Grind & Pave: 03/31/17 – 04/03/17

Anticipated construction schedule for Segment 4:
Sewer work: 11/2016 – 04/2017
– Bay to Greenwich
– Filbert to Union
Water work: 01/2017 – 04/2017
– North Point to Bay (16″ Main)
– North Point to Chestnut & Chestnut from Van Ness to Polk (8″ Main)
– Lombard to Filbert (8″ Main)
Concrete Flatwork: 04/2017 – 09/2017
Electrical work: 04/2017 – 05/2017
Final Grind & Pave: 09/2017 – 10/2017

Looking Ahead: Construction for the Polk Streetscape Project is anticipated to be completed in six segments over a 24 month period. Construction in segments 5 & 4 are currently underway, with segments 3, 6, 2 and 1 pending. Work for the Polk Traffic Signal Upgrade Project (Contract No. 2568J) is anticipated to begin January 2017 and will occur at nine intersections from Union to Post streets in segments 4, 3 and 2. We will be working closely to coordinate construction activity in these segments.

Polk Streetscape Project – Things to Know… (more)

Transit crisis in San Francisco

Op-ed by By Gerald Cauthen : sfexaminer – excerpt

Joshua Sabatini provides a nice summary of what The City’s transportation planners want to do to reduce traffic congestion in San Francisco. The problem with their plans is that they won’t work. What is being proposed is akin to trying to fly an airliner using just the ailerons. What’s currently in vogue in San Francisco illustrates what’s wrong with City Hall’s response to its growing transportation crisis.

Most transportation planning are left to people who are well-intentioned but inexperienced. As a result, the proposed solutions tend to be half-baked and over-simplified:

“San Franciscans drive too much; we must walk more.”

“The restraints on parking will ease traffic.”

“More people should ride Muni.”

“We need more bicycle lanes.”

All of these warrant discussion and consideration, but none come even close to fully addressing the real problem. If people are to leave their cars at home, there will have to be non-automotive travel alternatives that work. Here are some considerations that tend to get shoved under the rug:

• Good decisions are not made by the seat-of-the-pants. One has to ask: What works; what doesn’t? What has been shown to work elsewhere? What is cost-effective? What are the alternatives? These essential elements of good planning tend to get lost in a seemingly endless series of politically inspired “bright ideas.”… (more)

Millennium Tower residents and Mission Bay Alliance in court

Millennium Tower Resident Files Conspiracy Claim Against City

nbcbayarea – excerpt – (includes video)

Condo owner, a lawyer, says building inspectors conspired with Transbay terminal and developer in cover-up

In extraordinary legal claims filed Tuesday, Millennium Tower owners accuse officials with the San Francisco building inspection department and the next-door Transbay Transit Terminal of conspiring with the high-rise’s developer to hide evidence that the building was sinking. Jaxon Van Derbeken reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016)..(more)

Beware of retired patent attorney, claims Both City and Transbay knew about the sinking and tilting and hid it from the public and home owners, admits it will be hard to prove but looks forward to the effort.. (more)

and

Mission Bay Alliance appeals Ruling

Members of the Mission Bay Alliance will be appealing a ruling that was levied earlier this year quashing their desperate legal fight to put a hold on the Golden State Warriors’ new arena. Pete Suratos reports..(more)

Proponents claims include: the proposed arena “violated a zoning established by a current redevelopment plan.. the city’s transportation plan can’t accommodate the new arena.. ” They also cite possible health issues from possible contaminants being emitted from this proposed arena … (more)

SF voters approve better transit, reject tax to pay for it

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

San Francisco voters voted overwhelmingly to approve $150 million for improved transit and homeless services Tuesday night — while rejecting by a similar margin a sales tax increase that would provide the funds.

Election night results in San Francisco show Proposition K, a three-quarter sales tax increase that would have taken effect in April of next year, failing with 67 percent of voters against the increase.

The 0.75 percent sales tax increase — to 9.25 percent — would have provided funds for Proposition J that would create the Homeless Housing and Services Fund and the Transportation Improvement Fund… (more)

“San Francisco’s current sales tax is at 8.75 percent, but will decrease to 8.5 percent after Dec. 31, 2016.”

Voters need to look forward to lower taxes in this volatile, unpredictable economy with high rents and evictions looming. They are watching SFMTA roll out one ridiculous future project after another non-stop while they are being squeezed out of the city.

In spite of all the back-slapping at City Hall the public does not appreciate the constant “improvements” being slapped down on the streets at our expenses, and no amount of PR and advertising dollars will convince us to spend another dime on systems we will never live to see.

Supe. Peskin predicts death of the sales tax

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the last one before next week’s election, Supervisor Aaron Peskin predicted the defeat of a sales tax assumed in Mayor Ed Lee’s city budget, offering some last-minute election drama.

Peskin was the only supervisor who voted against the budget earlier this year, citing objections to balancing the budget by assuming revenues The City had yet to receive. He also voted against placing the sales tax, Proposition K, on the ballot in the first place.

In 2017, San Francisco’s sales tax would decrease from the current rate of 8.75 percent to 8.5 percent, but if Prop. K passes it would increase by .75 percent, to a total of 9.25 percent.

With 25 local measures, supporters of multiple measures have talked about the challenge of reaching voters and getting them to vote down ballot.

“Many of those items are conflicting with one another,” Peskin said during Tuesday’s board meeting. “I want to say as the only member of this body who voted against the budget on the theory that it was being predicated on a tax that would have to pass next week, which is polling terribly, we’ve got to get this right the next time we go to the ballot.”…

Propositions D, H, L and M would, respectively, strip the mayor’s board appointment power, create the position of a public advocate, allow the board to appoint some members of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Commission instead of just the mayor, and create a housing commission, which would oversee the Mayor’s Office of Housing(more)

San Francisco Public Press writes:

Proposition D – “Proposition D Drains Mayor’s Power in Filling Supervisor Seats, Other Major Vacancies” – By Zachary Clark

Proposition H – Creating a ‘Public Advocate’ Watchdog

Proposition L – Giving Supervisors More Say Over Transit

Proposition MThis Charter amendment would make two major city agencies accountable to a new, third body, called the Housing and Development Commission.