City Hall firebrand Larry Bush quits Ethics group after leading quarter century of reforms

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez: sfexamminer – excerpt

Larry Bush, 72, who helped create the San Francisco Ethics Commission and guided numerous ethics reforms since the 1990s, is calling it quits…

The trailblazer of ethical derring-do announced his resignation from the citizen group he co-founded in 2010, Friends of Ethics, in a lament-laden email blasted with fire from the fingertips following a joint Board of Supervisors and Ethics Commission meeting. It was such a grand, spectacular failure that it surely caused some city policy wonks to weep…

The two bodies were poised to pass a sweeping package of ethics reforms April 3, intending to shine light on housing developers seeking to influence politicians to pass their projects, speed up the revelation of big-money backers funding local Super PACs, disclose money behind social media political campaigns and curtail you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours favors for politicians in the form of “behested payments” to pet causes…

The effort did not completely fail, and portions of it will be revisited at a further Ethics Commission meeting.

However, none of those reforms will come in time to root out political favors in this mayoral election, as they would have, had they been considered two years ago when supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim, who offered different elements of the package, first proposed them… (more)

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Ethics chair resigns over failure to place campaign finance reforms on June ballot

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Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters

Here is the first draft of the language put forth to as a proposal to amend the charter that establishes the authority of the SFMTA, referred to as the SFMTA Charter Amendment ballot initiative. Please review this and let your supervisors know how you feel about this amendment. Contacts are here.  Read FILE NO. 171309 and follow the updates here.

LEGISLATIVE DIGEST
(First Draft, 12/12/2017)

[Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters]

Describing and setting forth a proposal to the voters at an election to be held on June 5, 2018, to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to eliminate the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s jurisdiction over parking and traffic regulations; to grant the legislative authority over parking and traffic to the Board of Supervisors; to create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department to manage parking and traffic; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Existing Law

Currently the Charter grants the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) exclusive jurisdiction over local public transportation, taxis, and a variety of parking and traffic related functions. The SFMTA Board has legislative authority to adopt regulations related to parking and traffic. The SFMTA Board also serves as the Parking Authority Board with responsibility over a number of garages.

Amendments to Current Law

The proposed Charter Amendment would eliminate the SFMTA’s exclusive jurisdiction over parking and traffic issues, and taxis. It would create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department that would have authority over parking and traffic functions and taxis. The Livable Streets Commission would be comprised of the members of the Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. The Board of Supervisors would have legislative authority over parking and traffic. Under the amendment parking and traffic functions under the responsibility of the Livable Streets Commission include:

  • Setting rates for off-street and on-street parking, and all other, rates, fees, fines, penalties and charges for services provided or functions performed by the Department;
  • Controlling the flow and direction of motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic;
  • Designing, selecting, locating, installing, operating, maintaining and removing all official traffic control devices, signs, roadway features and pavement markings;
  • Limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading as provided by state law and establishing parking privileges and locations subject to such privileges for categories of people or vehicles as provided by state law;
  • Establishing parking meter zones, setting parking rates, and selecting, installing, locating and maintaining systems and equipment for payment of parking fees;
  • Establishing policies for the enforcement of regulations limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading and the collection of parking-related revenues and, along with the Police Department, have authority to enforce parking, stopping, standing or loading regulations;
  • Cooperating with and assisting the Police Department in the promotion of traffic safety, among other things;
  • Having authority over taxi-related functions and taxi-related fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel; and
  • Coordinating the City’s efforts to address emerging mobility services.

The proposed Charter Amendment also provides that the Livable Streets Commission would serve as the members of the the Parking Authority Commission. The Livable Streets Commission would have authority over City-owned off-street public parking facilities, except those specified as under the jurisdiction of other City departments.

The proposed Charter Amendment provides for an operative date for the transfer of jurisdiction and the creation of the Livable Streets Commission of July 1, 2019.

(First Draft, 12/12/2017)

The two related stories below describe why government agencies are expanding public transportation programs. It is not about cars, parking, transportation or affordable housing. It is about controlling public access to housing and transportation while increasing land values.

RELATED:

Transportation gentrification: How Bus Rapid Transit is displacing East Oakland

SB 827 (Skinner, D-Berkeley) will destroy local land use control

“…A dramatic increase in new housing near transit stations could be on its way across California under new legislation proposed by a Bay Area legislator. Subject to some limitations, the measure would eliminate restrictions on the number of houses allowed to be built within a half-mile of train, light-rail, …

URBAN DESIGN GUIDELINES

New Details on this most complex plan to change the process and priorities within the Planning Department concerning who is notified and when a project goes before the Planning Commission and when it is pushed through by the Planning Department without public review or notice. The final Draft of the Urban Design Guidelines can be found here:

If this concerns you, send  letter to the Planning Commissioners and Jeff Joslin and John Rahaim requesting a postponement of approval until after the holidays to give people time to review the final draft.

***

UPDATE ON UDGs:

Already our letters requesting a postponement have resulted in a postponement of the approval. A new email went out yesterday laying out a new schedule of community meetings and a new date for an informational meeting in January. Keep writing letters and comments in response to the latest final Draft above See the attached page for a sample letter: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/urban-design-guidelines/

The Department staff will hold two public meetings to discuss the final draft of the Urban Design Guidelines:

The project is scheduled as an informational presentation to the Planning Commission on Thursday, January 11, 2018. KEEP THOSE LETTER COMING.

 

The Hidden Systems at Work Behind Gentrification

By Corin Faife : motherboard – excerpt

The cafes and craft breweries are just pawns in a much bigger game.

“Someone who learned about gentrification solely through newspaper articles might come away believing that gentrification is just the culmination of several hundred thousand people’s individual wills to open coffee shops and cute boutiques, grow mustaches and buy records. But those are the signs of gentrification, not its causes.”

So writes journalist Peter Moskovitz in How To Kill A City, a book on gentrification in America, published this week. It’s a study of four cities—New York, Detroit, San Francisco and New Orleans—that are all in the process of coming to terms with widespread gentrification, which in the case of the latter three has happened at dramatic speed…

“The most surprising takeaway I had [when writing the book] was how unsecretive and how blatant politicians had been in the past with pro-gentrification policy, especially in New Orleans and Detroit,” says Moskovitz. “The economic czar of the Detroit government actually said, ‘please bring on gentrification we need more of it’. It would sound like a conspiracy if it wasn’t laid out in plain English.”…

Part of the aim for the book, Moskovitz says, was to try and steer the conversation around housing in the US towards that which can be found in parts of Europe, where rent control measures and pro-squatting movements are more common. Towards this end, having set up gentrification as a powerful systemic force, the book closes by chronicling various resistance tactics, and outlining policy-based strategies for working towards a less gentrified future.

“I’m optimistic when I meet with activists who’ve been doing this for a long time,” says Moskovitz. “Gentrification might be a new term, but housing inequality has been going on for hundreds of years. People have been coming up up with new and inventive tactics to fight these systems for so long, and that gives me hope that these people know what they’re doing. What remains to be seen is how we can motivate all the people who haven’t started to do that work.”

How To Kill A City is out now published by Nation Books/Perseus/Hachette…(more)

 

What Donald Trump Owes Wall Street

posted by itute – excerpt

Wells Fargo. JPMorgan Chase. Fidelity Investments. Prudential PLC. Vanguard Group. These are among the major financial institutions that own business debt held by Donald Trump, according to an investigation just published by the Wall Street Journal…(more)

New information on conflicts of interest that would challenge even a saint

By Conor Friedersdorf : The Atlantic – excerpt

While the president-elect’s finances remain murky, due largely to his refusal to release his tax returns, the newspaper reports that he owes at least hundreds of millions of dollars, that the debt is held by more than 150 institutions, and that some of it is backed by his personal guarantee. “As a result, a broader array of financial institutions now are in a potentially powerful position over the incoming president,” it states. “If the Trump businesses were to default on their debts, the giant financial institutions that serve as so-called special servicers of these loan pools would have the power to foreclose on some of Mr. Trump’s marquee properties or seek the tens of millions of dollars that Mr. Trump personally guaranteed on the loans.”

One wonders whether to be more worried about Big Finance using its leverage to influence the president or the president abusing his power in order to thwart his creditors… (more)

Some important things to think about if you haven;t already. As the above author comments, he could use his power to avoid paying the debt. as easily as using it to profit the banks. Or he could play favorites and rub them against each other. We all have a ringside seat whether we want to or not.

Supervisors attempt to reduce mayor’s powers with suite of new measures

By Riley McDermid : sfbusiness – excerpt

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have introduced a suite of measures aimed at taking power away from Mayor Ed Lee in five major departments, as the deadline to introduce charter amendments for the November ballot arrived Tuesday.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a charter amendment introduced at the meeting by Supervisor Aaron Peskin would reconfigure how much oversight the mayor has over the Department of Real Estate, Workforce Development and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

In addition, Supervisor Norman Yee introduced a charter amendment that would allow the board to appoint three of the seven board members of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors, while taking away the mayor’s power to appoint all seven.

The mayor’s office immediately pushed back against the measures late Tuesday, saying the moves came as a surprise and weren’t necessary – or in some cases, had already been settled.

These departments already have an incredible amount of oversight, including at the Board of Supervisors,” Christine Falvey, the mayor’s spokeswoman, told the paper.“The mayor hasn’t seen this proposal, but he would look at it and ask: How does this provide more affordable homes or more jobs for our families? At first blush, it doesn’t appear to address either of these pressing needs in our city.”

Both Yee and Peskin disagreed with that assertion, saying at the meeting they believed more oversight was needed, considering the high impact all the departments targeted have on public policy.

“This Charter Amendment is the evolution of many good government requests for more oversight and transparency in our city government,” Peskin told the Business Times.

“Working with a diverse coalition of community advocates, we have improved upon a similar proposal from half a dozen years ago and authored a thoughtful and measured approach to good government. A split commission that oversees critical city offices with little to no oversight currently of their collective $100 million budget is just sound policy,” he said. “Voters have consistently supported transparency and accountability measures that offer an appropriate amount of checks and balances, and that’s exactly what this Charter Amendment does.”

Representatives for Yee and Lee did not return requests for comment for the Business Times on Wednesday… (more)

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