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)

RELATED:

Bird Graveyard

If a bird or lime scooter has died, please send us pictures or video so we can honor its death. RIP https://www.instagram.com/birdgraveyard

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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?

Recent senior pedestrian deaths prompt hearing

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt (includes a video on the HAWK system.)

Seniors in San Francisco are disproportionately affected by traffic collisions, said city officials who work on achieving The City’s goal of zero traffic deaths by 2024, also known as Vision Zero…

Supervisor Norman Yee held a hearing on Thursday at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Neighborhood Services and called for city agencies working towards Vision Zero, which included the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Department of Public Health and the Police Department, to report on data and solutions to keep seniors safe when crossing city streets.

The City recorded its lowest number of traffic fatalities last year — 20 deaths — but Yee said city agencies need to do more to make streets safer, especially those who are most vulnerable crossing the street:…

Olea said the transit agency has already begun retiming traffic lights in The City after senior advocates called for the transit agency to allow more time for seniors and people with disabilities to cross the street…

Dmitry Scotkin, 69, was struck and killed by a vehicle on July 17 at a crosswalk where Caltrans installed a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK). Caltrans has jurisdiction over Sloat Boulevard, also known as State Highway 35…

Supervisors had concerns after the death of Scotkin that drivers might be confused about the HAWK system, including what they do on some of flashing lights…

Yee said, “I think that’s half of the solution. The drivers are the ones who are confused.”

Yee said himself he was confused by the lights when the Caltrans installed the first HAWK and also watched drivers not know what to do:

Log into YouTube to let Cantrans know what you think about their HAWK system : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ3OJD6gWT4

CONFUSED DRIVERS AND PEDESTRIANS ARE NOT SAFE!

What happened to basic human communication skills? Quit confusing everyone with new tech gadgets and systems that distract people. Drivers have enough to pay attention to and so do pedestrians. They need to watch each other and not traffic signals and signs. Changing systems are the most stressful and the most confusing thing you can do to a human being. Drivers know how stop on red and wait until the light turns green. Pedestrians know the same thing. Most pedestrians over 60 learned how to drive at some point and know what to expect from drivers. In the daylight you can even exchange glances with a driver. I try to do that when I am walking and may even gesture to confirm that I am going.

All you need to do is lengthen the timing on the red lights and the yellow lights to give people enough time to cross the street. Longer yellows give drivers more time to stop. If you can’t figure it out, hire someone who has a system that works. There are cities with systems that work. San Francisco used to be one of those. Get rid of all the expensive stupid different signals and signs and get back to the old-fashioned system where people paid attention to what was going on around them instead of a machine in their hands.

By the way, there are some colorblind people who see shades of gray who tell me that they judge the color light by the position on the lit light. If you start rearranging the lights and blinking the lights they will not know what is going on at all. The more you change a system the less safe it is!

Beyond Blocking Sidewalks

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

Scooters1.jpg

The pervasive invasive nature of the rideshares is getting on everyone’s nerves. San Francisco is not a simcity gameboard that anyone should be allowed to test their latest idea on. This is the lineup of companies listed in the article, minus Razor. Scoot is on the streets now. Ridecell is an autonomous vehicle company and should not be included in the list of scooter rideshares.

Scooter companies claim their devices reduce S.F.’s dependency on cars — but that doesn’t mean they’re clean and green.

It’s been more than six weeks since San Francisco demanded that three scooter companies — Lime, Bird, and Spin — pull their hundreds of unpermitted vehicles off city sidewalks and apply for operating permission from the SFMTA. Since then, more than a dozen companies sent in their requests for the 1,250 scooter spots, making their case in PDFs spanning anywhere from 24 to 117 pages.

Investors, CEOs, and scooter enthusiasts wait with bated breath to see if the SFMTA will select Bird, Hopr, Jump, Lime, Lyft, ofo, Razor, Ridecell, Scoot, Spin, UScooter, or Skip — or a combination of several —  for its pilot program, but the city is in no rush to make a decision…

Leading the charge against the rampage of the rogue motorized scooters is Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who drafted a vital piece of legislation limiting scooter companies’ presence on city sidewalks, and who has not minced words regarding his distaste for the “act first, ask for permission later” attitude…

Making massive profit always trumps protecting the public, and innovation is only possible by cutting corners,” Peskin said during a Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting in April. “Our laws, the very foundation of our democracy, are here to be scoffed at, and San Francisco is only here to quite literally — pun intended — be given the bird by tech CEOs who jump from one company to the next after they overstay their welcome.”... (more)

If you think the scooters are green or healthy for the planet because they are taking cars off the street, ready the entire article. The author did his own research without any help from the tech CEOs and what he found does not agree with the claims the CEOs of these companies and their supporters are making.

This is a good time to send your letters to the Board of Supervisors to let them know how you feel about these corporate entities taking over our streets and sidewalks. Link to the Supervisors.

Don’t forget the State representatives and the CPUC. Remind them that you vote and they need to listen to you. If you would like to do learn more about what goes on at the state level, follow Livable California.

Regulating merging tech companies has not proven easy or successful. Now that they are merging and emerging under different business models the companies may be more difficult to control if “their properties and privileges” can be easily manipulated under the present contracts.

Judging by the poor job of contract writing and management we have seen so far coming out of the SFMTA where the street projects are concerned, we hope the Board of Supervisors will insist on some truly independent oversight and strong legal language that will allow City Hall to pull out of future agreements if unforeseen circumstance, or better options, arise.

We need to avoid future public/private partnerships in favor of actual payments for the privileges of doing business on our public streets and sidewalks. How many enterprising projects can one city agency run at one time? SFMTA needs to stick to running the Muni and get that right before they expand.

We also need to insist on better reasons for doing business with these enterprising startups than claims that they are lean and green and taking cars of the street. Most of the traffic these days appears to be theirs not our.

Thanks to Peskin and Fewer for their leadership, and we look forward to more support from the rest of the supervisors and our new mayor.

 

As National Park Service regional HQ struggles with soaring Bay Area costs, Sen. Feinstein pushes back on plan to move out of state

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals.- excerpt

The U.S. National Park Service has become the latest casualty of San Francisco’s soaring office rents and housing crisis.

The federal agency plans to uproot its west regional office, which supervises 60 national parks throughout the western United States, from San Francisco’s Financial District for Vancouver, Washington.

“We have struggled with recruitment in San Francisco for years due to the high cost of living,” said Regional Director Stan Austin in a staff memo obtained by KQED. The move could save the agency $1.8 million a year with less money allocated toward paying its staff… (more)

The Park Service is not alone in its fight to attract workers as housing prices rise far faster than compensation. Just last month, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state’s largest power companies, said it will be relocated many of its jobs from San Francisco to Sacramento. This move to decentralize comes after a more than 100-year stint in the city by the bay. The California Association of Realtors recently reported that a household in San Francisco needs to make $333,000 per year to afford a median-priced home of… (more)

How is this not somewhat amusing to those of us who are calling the PUC out for failing to regulate tech buses, Uber, Lyft, and the whole menagerie of “sharing” on-demand transportation systems that is largely responsible for the gentrification they are now fleeing. Does no one else see the irony in this? PUC is leaving the nightmare they created for San Francisco. How is this fair?

2018 mayoral candidate questionnaire: Mark Leno

hoodline – excerpt

Mark Leno interview re: how he anticipates supporting small businesses:

Many small business owners we interview complain about the city’s permitting and approval processes. What are your plans for making it easier for San Franciscans to become entrepreneurs?.

Today, one of the greatest roadblocks to the expansion and success of our small business community is the difficulty many face when working their way through our permitting and approvals processes. No small business owner or prospective entrepreneur should have to hire an expediter to do what city government itself should be doing. Far too often I’ve heard from small business owners who find themselves forced to pay for services that city government should provide. As mayor, I will be looking closely at the many hurdles our small business community faces, including the permit and appeals processes.

Rising commercial rents have driven many small businesses out of business, leaving vibrant corridors with an abundance of vacant storefronts throughout the city. Furthermore, delays and construction costs on transit improvement projects have been a major source of frustration – for residents, merchants and visitors. As a small business owner, I absolutely understand the negative effects merchants in the impact zone are facing.

One of my first priorities will also be to ensure there is a small business voice on the SFMTA, where the lack of small business representation is so clearly hurting our small businesses citywide. One example of this impact can be seen in the ongoing delays of the Geary BRT. Small business owners and prospective business owners along Geary struggle with the uncertainty of the completion of a project which would greatly affect their ability to attract and retain customers amid construction. SFMTA should be working with business owners to ensure important decision-making takes into consideration the impact on merchants and merchant corridors… (more)

Mark Leno promises to shake things up if he is elected Mayor and we anticipate some new faces at City Hall if that happens, as the status quo is obviously not working for the average citizen. The status quo is turning San Francisco into a corporate sports and entertainment arena. Our biggest effort to compete with Time Square for gaudiness is a giant pulsing tower raised to the skies.

Regardless of who is elected Mayor we will have new Commissioners and Board members. Hopefully new SFMTA Board members would consider unwinding the corporatization of our streets that has flourished under our current Board and, if it is Mark Leno, he can use some influence in Sacramento to suggest for changes to the PUC and state legislature. For some time we have been pointing to the PUC and we will continue to point that way until someone gets the message and takes action at the state level to reign in the corporate takeover of our state.

Can Big Tech Be Tamed?

by Gary Kamiya : modernluxury – excerpt
(includes Photo-illustrations of Tech Titans by Clark Miller)

As the tech industry grows to unfathomable proportions, San Francisco needs to grow to match it. A call to arms for a city under siege.

I. A MIGHTY RIVER

Cities, it’s been said, are like rivers, and San Francisco has always been a leaping, unpredictable one, constantly jumping its banks and fed by the most varied and unlikely springs. I’ve been splashing in this unruly current for almost half a century. But several years ago, something happened upstream. A great deluge of money of a magnitude not seen since the bonanzas of the 19th century began to crumble our protective levees, hoisting San Francisco’s skyline, swamping its housing, stalling its traffic, and profoundly altering its character…

The combined market value of Apple, Facebook, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, all headquartered within 40 miles of downtown San Francisco, is more than $2.2 trillion—about the same as the gross domestic product of Italy, the eighth-largest economy in the world… (more)