Contractor in SF Muni tunnel death had record of safety violations

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The company that hired the worker killed by a steel beam during construction on the Twin Peaks Tunnel did not tell transit officials it had a history of workplace safety violations when it applied for the project, public records revealed Tuesday.

The records show Shimmick Construction has been linked to nearly 50 workplace safety violations over the last decade, including citations for serious violations related to the death of a forklift worker in 2016.

The California Occupational Health and Safety Administration also fined a partnership between Shimmick Construction and another company more than $190,000 for willful and serious violations in 2011.

Yet Shimmick Construction and its business partner answered “no” when asked if either had “been cited for any serious and willful violations by Cal/OSHA” over the past ten years in a November 2017 questionnaire from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency…(more)

This is really sad. When does it end? You almost wish they would do something right for a change. The constant missteps get old after a while and you hope the SFMTA will get something right for a change. The workers are over stressed and probably not being as careful as they should be and the contractors are probably pushing them to work faster. We need to limit the number of projects and take greater care with implementing them. How do we pass a resolution that declares there is a limit to how many construction projects can be done at one time?


Fed-up locals are setting electric scooters on fire and burying them at sea

: latimes – excerpt

They’ve been crammed into toilets, tossed off balconies and set on fire. They’ve even been adorned with dangling bags of dog droppings.

As cities like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills struggle to control a rapid proliferation of electric pay-per-minute scooters, some residents are taking matters into their own hands and waging a guerrilla war against the devices. These vandals are destroying or desecrating the vehicles in disturbingly imaginative ways, and celebrating their illegal deeds on social media — in full view of authorities and the public…

In Santa Monica, where Bird is headquartered, City Council members voted to cap the number of scooters on city streets while officials craft longer-term regulations. Beverly Hills officials ordered them banned for six months. Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz asked officials last week to take “all available measures” to outlaw the scooters within the city.

While most tech entrepreneurs expect some criticism and calls for regulation when they introduce new and potentially disruptive products, they don’t necessarily anticipate the outright destruction of their property. They also don’t expect to see such carnage celebrated and encouraged on social media.

Yet mayhem directed at dockless scooters is the order of the day on Instagram’s “Bird Graveyard,” whose contributors relish publishing photos and videos of scooters that have been set aflame, tossed into canals, smeared with feces and snapped into pieces. The account has more than 24,000 followers… (more)


Bird Graveyard

If a bird or lime scooter has died, please send us pictures or video so we can honor its death. RIP

Costa-Hawkins Repeal on November Ballot – It’s Complicated!

nine-county-coalition – excerpt

California voters will see Proposition 10 on their ballots on November 6, 2018.  Proposition 10, The Affordable Housing Act of 2018, a voters’ initiative, aims to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995.  Costa-Hawkins was sponsored by Senator Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Assembly Member Phil Hawkins (R-Bellflower), became Assembly Bill 1164 which passed both chambers of the California Legislature, and was signed into law by then California Governor Pete Wilson.

Proposition 10 is the latest battle in the ongoing war between California renters and landlords.  The 1970s were plagued with “stagflagtion,” stagnant wages in the midst of inflation.  In response, cities passed rental controls in an attempt to keep housing prices down.  Then came Proposition 13 in 1978, and the hope that landlords would share their property tax savings with renters thus significantly lowering rents.  When that did not happen, renters started to organize in earnest. But so did landlords, and the result was Costa-Hawkins, which prohibits imposing rent controls on new construction, single-family homes, condominiums, and vacant housing units.  Controls were thus limited by Costa-Hawkins to rental buildings in existence at the time cities passed their rent control ordinances, and limited to the period of time each tenant occupies each unit.

The animosity between renters and landlords over rent control is especially remarkable because at present there are only 15 municipalities (cities and towns) out of California’s 482 with some form of rent control….

Although the populous progressive coastal cities in California will likely expand rent control should the repeal of Costa-Hawkins occur, they could also provide sufficient incentives to avoid bringing construction of rental housing “to a halt.” Dialing down the current focus on construction might actually be helpful to residents not happy with all the stacking & packing going on. Hopefully, city leaders will comment between now and November.

Voters opposed to state-wide mandates such as the recently demised Senate Bill 828, could consider capitalizing on all the talk about repealing Costa-Hawkins in order to bring decisions on rent control back to the cities. The downside of that approach is that if those same voters are also opposed to expansion of rent control, it will take some effort to prevent expansion in their cities… (more)

Please read this most excellent article that explains the facts of how we got here and where we might be going with and without the repeal of Costa-Hawkins. We appreciate authors who take the time to show us the facts and let us decide after careful deliberation.

Legislation would undermine city and county control

Opinion By Lily Mei and Don Tatzin : mercuynews – excerpt

‘We endorse policies that help BART support rather than co-opt local efforts to develop housing’

We face a housing shortage. Prices are too high, areas that create jobs offer insufficient housing, and commutes are too long. We, our families and our residents feel the stress, and we are concerned about our residents’ quality of life.

Assembly Bill 2923 purports to address the housing problem by giving BART total zoning control over BART-owned land in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties. BART could override local city or county zoning and adopt its own zoning standards — standards that increase densities and heights for residential development. Additional land BART acquires would be zoned following BART’s rules. Parking might not be replaced.

As written, AB2923 has numerous flaws:… (more)

What can you do? Legislators throughout the state need to hear from residents and businesses regarding this bill. Silence implies consent.

The bill should be defeated as written. We endorse policies that help BART support rather than co-opt local efforts to develop housing. Cities and counties already build housing close to BART. BART does not have a better “track” record than they do.

Lily Mei is mayor of Fremont. Don Tatzin is mayor of Lafayette. Other signatories include Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Alameda County; Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, Contra Costa County; Mayor Peggy McQuaid, Albany; Mayor Edi Birsan, Concord; Mayor Newell Arnerich, Danville; Mayor David Haubert, Dublin; Mayor Barbara Halliday, Hayward; Mayor John Marchand, Livermore; Mayor Tom Butt, Richmond; Mayor Sean Wright, Antioch; Councilman Salvatore Evola, Pittsburg; Councilman Michael Harris, Pleasant Hill; Councilman Philip O’Loane, San Ramon; Councilwoman Cindy Silva, Walnut Creek… (more)

Please read the article and if you agree with these city officials that this legislation is a bad idea, take action to oppose this legislation by emailing and calling the Senate Appropriations committee and your state representative.  Actions you can take to stop the bill:


Court overturns eviction of North Beach poet

By Julie Cheever of Bay City News : sfexaminer – excerpt

A state appeals court has overturned a ruling allowing the eviction of North Beach poet Diego De Leo.

A state appeals court in San Francisco has overturned a judgment allowing the eviction of an 83-year-old man who has lived in a cottage in the North Beach district of the city for more than 30 years.

Diego De Leo’s landlord, Martin Coyne, sought in 2016 to evict him by invoking the state’s Ellis Act, which allows owners to go out of the rental business if they withdraw all units on a property from the rental market.

At a Superior Court trial in 2016, a civil jury ruled by a 9-3 vote that Coyne had a good-faith intention to leave the rental market and could therefore evict De Leo.

But in a decision issued on Monday, a three-judge Court of Appeal set aside that verdict. It said De Leo should have been allowed to present evidence on his claim that another tenant on the property received a sham ownership deal, allegedly indicating that Coyne did not have a good-faith intent to go out of rental business.

The ruling clears the way for a new Superior Court eviction trial, also known as an unlawful detainer proceeding, in which De Leo will be able to present the alleged evidence… (more)

Why can’t we fix the DMV?

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Assemblymember Phil Ting is taking on a problem that affects almost everyone in the state — and that plays right into the Republicans’ hands.

State Assemblymember Phil Ting is taking on an issue that has pretty much everyone in California angry right now – the lines at the DMV – and he seems to be the only one willing to do something about it…

Ting is going to hold a hearing Aug. 7, to “get to the nitty gritty of why this is happening,” Miranda told me. But I think it’s clear why this is happening; The DMV vastly underprepared for the Real ID crush – and nobody in the Governor’s Office cares enough about the working people who are suffering from the outcome to do anything about it.

A hearing is good, but it’s just a start. We need legislation to overhaul this entire process of getting a state ID. Like so many things, the state has gone to such great lengths to prevent what is really a very small chance of fraud that it’s made the vast majority of law-abiding folks miserable… (more)



Waymo begins experimenting with self-driving taxi prices

By : theverge – excerpt

Alphabet unit is also taking early steps to position itself as a link to public transportation

Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, has kept mum about how much it will eventually charge people to ride in its autonomous taxis. But according to Bloomberg, the self-driving company has begun testing out trip fares with its early riders as it moves closer to launching its commercial ride-hailing service in Phoenix.

In interviewing members of Waymo’s “Early Rider” program, reporters from Bloomberg got to see a mock-up of the company’s still-underwraps ride-hailing app, complete with probable fare prices. Waymo insists those numbers are just placeholders, but they would appear to be aligned with preexisting services like Uber and Lyft…

Like its Silicon Valley brethren, Waymo is sensitive to its impact on public transportation and is trying to cushion itself from any possible blowback that suggests it is poaching transit riders or adversely affecting service. Those criticisms have been leveled at companies like Uber and Lyft, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Waymo come under scrutiny as well. And with fares as low as Uber and Lyft, it will be hard for Waymo to overcome the argument that it is drawing customers away from public transportation, which could effect how cities fund its buses and rail projects. .. (more)

All these companies plan to get rid of drivers and put robot cars on our streets. Is SFMTA management helping them by enacting the policies that are pushing Muni riders off the bus?