Posts Tagged ‘City’

Uh, Did Target Stores Pay the DPW $250,000 to Install Traffic Lights That Favor Cars Over Peds at O’Farrell and Masonic?

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Mmmm…

Here’s my beef from yesterday about the newish traffic light scheme at Masonic and O’Farrell.

But where did this scheme come from?

Oh, here we go - DPW Contract No. 2108J:

It’s all:

“The contract work will be funded through private developer funds for work at two signals along Masonic Avenue.”

See?

The two locations:

“Masonic Avenue and O’Farrell Street” and “Ewing Terrace and Masonic Avenue”

Now Ewing Terrace I know about. One woman living on that street showed up both at the Target-sponsored and SFMTA-sponsored meetings complaining about how hard it was for her to head north on Masonic when pulling out of Ewing. She said it sometimes took her “20 minutes” of sitting at the stop sign waiting for a break in traffic in order to accomplish this task.  So SFGov accommodated her with a big traffic signal that they’re putting in now.

But at Masonic Avenue and O’Farrell Street? I don’t know. It’s almost as if the lighting scheme was designed by somebody who works at Target.

The upshot is that northbound traffic and all the peds on the east side of Masonic have to wait for southbound drivers to make an awkward U-turn followed by a quick right to get into the small, lower-level Target / Starbucks parking lot.

I can think  of a couple similar situations about town. At Market and Octavia, everybody on outbound Market has to wait for car drivers on inbound Market to turn left onto Octavia. Why? Because selfish Hayes Valley denizens had waaaaay too much input into the process. Nevermind that legal lefts are a rare thing on Market for a reason, never mind that lefts were already legal one block before and one block after Octavia…

And at Fell and Masonic, the traffic signals were rejiggered for ideological reasons so now three lanes of Masonic get green lights but not the fourth lane. Drivers will never get used to this arrangement, IMO.

And, similarly, peds will never get used to the current setup at Masonic and O’Farrell.

IMO.

Anyway, I don’t have a problem with the new Target being there. I’m just wondering who paid for the crazy lights that just got put in next to the new Target.

An Unusual Traffic Scheme at Masonic and O’Farrell: Left-Turning Cars > Pedestrians? The Planning Gods Must Be Crazy

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

For some reason, the Golden Gods of the Planning Department / the SFMTA, the very same people who clamored for parking meters to operate on Sundays until they got it only to then say that they DIDN’T want it after all, unanimously, have set up an unusual traffic timing scheme at Masonic and O’Farrell. It’s unique.

Southbound drivers turning left get to go first, before car and bus drivers coming north and before peds on the east side of the street.

This is so that southbound drivers can make a U-turn and then a quick right to make into the small lower-level parking lot of the new City Target. About four drivers go left / hang a Louie at the start of each light cycle:

Click to expand

I approve not.

Now if you want to say that SFGov had a rational basis for doing this after some big study, well then maybe. But having peds wait seven seconds to go after the light turns green is contrary to every impulse every ped has.

For some reason, Planning or the SFMTA or whomever feel that its their responsibility to be at the forefront of experimentation with traffic. Like its their sacred duty or something.

I understand that they would freely admit that this is a kludge fix to accommodate the newly-opened Target store. I understand that they would say that this is temporary until the New Masonic Plan gets going. I understand that there’s a concern about southbound traffic backing up and possibly blocking eastbound and westbound traffic on Geary. BUT EVEN SO, this left arrow scheme at O’Farrell is NOT THE WAY TO GO. There are other ways of doing of what SFGov is trying to accomplish.

There are better ways of doing this.

Can You Name the Extreme Points of San Francisco – North, South, East, and West? It’s Hard!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

[UPDATE: Oh, man, you people are clever:

1. So what about SFO airport as southernmost? Well, that place is “owned and policed by the City and County of San Francisco, but is located in and entirely surrounded by adjacent San Mateo County.“ So that’s why the San Mateo County Coroner was involved in the SFFD’s bungled handling of the Asiana 214 crash landing. Another situation would be with San Francisco’s O’Shaughnessy Dam up in Hetch Hetchy near Yosemite - a murder on top of that dam would be prosecuted by the Tuolumne County DA (or maybe the Feds – you all might be right, IDK), not by the SFDA. Don’t ask me about which DA would handle a stabbing at San Francisco Jails #5 or #6 down in San Bruno, San Mateo County. (Perhaps the counties have an agreement over prosecution? IDK.) OTOH, a crime on the western tip of Alameda Island would be handled by the SFDA.

2. And Candlestick Point (and the entire southern border of mainland SF)? It’s ever just ever north of the southernmost part of the Farallones – that’s a real close call.)

This is hard, this game of identifying the northernmost, southernmost, westernmost, and easternmost points of San Francisco.

If you guess, you’re going to make mistakes.

All right, in no particular order, here are the answers:

Seal Rock, aka Saddle Rock

Red Rock

North Farallon Islands

Alameda Island 

I’m srsly.

1. Northermost: Red Rock Island. It’s about eight miles north of Fisherman’s Wharf. Seems as if it’s always for sale. You can get there by kayak and then hike to the top if you want – put that on your bucket list.

As seen from the mainland of San Francisco. The Richmond San Rafael Bridge and East Brother Island are in the background:

Red Rock at 600mm on a very clear day. Don’t try this with your iPhone camera – your shot might not come out so hot.

2. Southernmost: Seal Rock, South Farallon Islands. It’s south of Southeast Farallon Island. It can be seen on the left side here.

And here it is as seen from Twin Peaks:

840mm, on a very clear day.

3. Westernmost: North Farallon Islands.

Actually, it’s this islet in the upper left here, seen with North Farallon Island and St. James Island in the lower right. (I’m surprised that this unnamed rock hasn’t yet been named for a longtime local political strongman like Willie Brown or Rose Pak):

4, Easternmost: Alameda Island. Surprise! Work out your denial issues here.

As seen from the (old) Bay Bridge, the eastern span, the one that was never named for a local political strongman, like Willie Brown or Rose Pak: 

Here are the four points, underlined, to sum up:

Oh, even better is if you let Google Maps highlight the county line in red. (If you zoom in on the linked page, you can also see a couple of places on Angel Island that Google similarly correctly ID’ed as parts of San Francisco.)

Thanks for playing!

Introducing the “Sunset Duck Tour” from Ride the Ducks San Francisco – What It’s Like to Ride an Amphibious Vehicle on the Bay

Monday, July 14th, 2014

IMO, writer Tony Hicks has got things spot-on right here in the San Jose Mercury News:

Taking the Kids: Quacking up and around the city by the bay

I just took the media cruise for the new-ish “Sunset Duck Tour” from Ride the Ducks San Francisco - it starts at 7:30 PM.

Here’s Captain John:

Quacking away with people in another duck boat while passing by:

So that’s how things start in Fisherman’s Wharf. Then you begin a circuitous trip to the launch ramps down south of AT&T Park. I’ve never been up so high in an open vehicle, so this was a new experience, kind of like what I imagine the “hop-on hop-off” city bus tours are like.

So off you go, past the working part of Fisherman’s Wharf…

…past the Gary Danko (perennial No. 1 in the Bay Area for “Food, Service and Popularity” per Zagat)…

…through North Beach and on to Chinatown, where you look down upon the #30 Stocktons as you pass them by…

…and then through the tunnel to Union Square and then through SoMA to the launch area.

I gotta say that that was the touristy part of the tour, so check out Beth Spotswood’s take on that in the Tourist Trapped Culture Blog of the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com if you want more on that.

So finally you get to launch – it looks like this:

And then you’re slowly cruising the bay, albeit near to shore for the most part.

This was the late-starting 7:30 PM sunset cruise so things were getting darker as we made our way past AT&T Park:

You might catch a little spray from the bay but most likely you won’t.

This riding-on-the-water part in a military-style vehicle with not all that much freeboard is an experience – I recommend it.

Then after puttering around on the water, you drive out of the water to take the Embarcadero back to the Wharf.

Looking back at the Bay Bridge through Doris and Don Fisher’s Cupid’s Span skate park / tourist hiking platform – plenty of oohs and ahs at this point here:

Interacting with happy passersby on the way home…

…while zipping past the historic F-Market streetcars:

These ducks look somewhat menacing at night, huh?

And there’s your trip:

So, you need to show up at least 15 minutes early to keep your reservation, I think.

And this tour can get quite cold and windy, needless to say.

If you want to see some more photos, there are some good ones on Yelp.

This was a great experience – I think it’d be good for tourists and locals alike.

 

Dennis Herrera Throws Down: Tells “Monkey Parking” to Drop Mobile App for Auctioning City Parking Spots – $300 Fines?

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

[UPDATE: SFist (lots of comments already), Slate, and the San Francisco Chronicle are on the case.]

Gotta say I sort of saw this one coming.

And it’s not just Monkey Parking that’s in trouble today. Check out the craigslist ad from ParkModo (cached website) (@ParkModo – no Tweets yet, or maybe they were deleted?), posted on June 17th, 2014:

Earn $13.00 P/H Just To Park! (mission district)

Our company is launching an awesome app that rewards people to sell their on-street parking spots before leaving to people who need a spot.

To help us promote the app, we are looking for 20 people with cars and iPhones to park around the mission and use the app to offer their parking spots to people looking for parking.

The hours will be from 5:30-9:00 pm Thurs-Sat starting June 26th.

This is how it works:

1. You download the app from the app store.
2. When you want to work, you will contact our field manager to check in.
3. The field manager will then instruct you as to what area and type of spot you are to park in.
4. You will then find a spot in the area and park.
5. Once you are parked, using the app, you will offer the spot for sale. 
6. While you are waiting for someone to purchase the space, you will distribute postcards and promote the app.
7. Once someone purchases the spot, you will complete the transaction with the buyer and then find another space to park in and start the process all over again!

If you are interested, please click on the link below (Paste into your browser) and provide your information so we can contact you and get you started.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1To5Ck5FrPBMrh35SvJp-WDRg0WDyaLLyuo1_MS8pyV8/viewform?usp=send_form

We look forward to working with you!”

I think ParkModo’s operations will now be on hold, for a little bit at least. But do you want some more from them? See below.

Now, all the deets about all these troubled businesses, from Herrera’s office:

“Herrera tells Monkey Parking to drop mobile app for auctioning city parking spots

Motorists face $300 fines for each violation under existing law, City Attorney says — and three startups could be liable for penalties of up to $2,500 for each transaction

SAN FRANCISCO (June 23, 2014) — San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today issued an immediate cease-and-desist demand to Monkey Parking, a mobile peer-to-peer bidding app that enables motorists to auction off the public parking spaces their vehicles occupy to nearby drivers.   The app, currently available for iOS devices, describes itself on the Apple iTunes App Store as the “the first app which lets you make money every time that you are about to leave your on-street parking spot.”

The letter Herrera’s office issued this morning to Paolo Dobrowolny, CEO of the Rome, Italy-based tech startup, cites a key provision of San Francisco’s Police Code that specifically prohibits individuals and companies from buying, selling or leasing public on-street parking.  Police Code section 63(c) further provides that scofflaws — including drivers who “enter into a lease, rental agreement or contract of any kind” for public parking spots — face administrative penalties of up to $300 for each violation.  Because Monkey Parking’s business model is wholly premised on illegal transactions, the letter contends that the company would be subject to civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation under California’s tough Unfair Competition Law were the city to sue.  Such a lawsuit would be imminent, Herrera’s office vowed, should the startup continue to operate in San Francisco past July 11, 2014.

Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work — and Monkey Parking is not one of them,” Herrera said.  “It’s illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate.  Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving.  People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so.  But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit.”

Herrera’s cease-and-desist demand to Monkey Parking includes a request to the legal department of Apple Inc., which is copied on the letter, asking that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant immediately remove the mobile application from its App Store for violating several of the company’s own guidelines.  Apple App Store Review Guidelines provide that “Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users” and that “Apps whose use may result in physical harm may be rejected.”

Two other startups that similarly violate local and state law with mobile app-enabled schemes intended to illegally monetize public parking spaces in San Francisco will also face legal action in the form of cease-and-desist demands this week, according to the City Attorney’s Office.  Sweetch charges a $5 flat fee when its users obtain a parking spot from another Sweetch motorist.  Sweetch drivers who pass their spots off to other Sweetch members are refunded $4 of that fee.  ParkModo, which appears poised to launch later this week, according to recent employment postings on Craigslist, will employ drivers at a rate of $13.00 per hour to occupy public parking spaces in the Mission District.  As with Monkey Parking and Sweetch, ParkModo then plans to sell the on-street parking spots to its paying members through its iPhone app.  Sweetch and ParkModo members who make use of the apps to park in San Francisco are also subject to civil penalties of $300 per violation, and both companies are potentially liable for civil penalties of $2,500 per transaction for illegal business practices under the Cali04fornia Unfair Competition Law.

A copy of Herrera’s demand letter to Monkey Parking and additional information about the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office is available at: http://www.sfcityattorney.org/.”

And here’s a little more from ParkModo:

“We are currently rolling out the beta in the following cities…

San Francisco – As beautiful as city it is, parking is just as bad! Not only is there way to much demand for the supply, but the parking police will catch you if they can! Be among the first 1000 people to download the app and get $5 in free parking!

New York – Instead of calling it the city that never sleeps, they should call it the city that never has parking! Get in on ParkModo and earn some serious cash and stop wasting your time. We know every minute in ny is precious.

Chicago – There may be wind here, but there is certainly no parking! Use ParkModo and fly like the wind when you need a space!”

Ah Berkeley, Nuclear-Free Since 1986, Sort of – Shutting Down the UC Berkeley Nuclear Reactor at 2521 Hearst Ave in 1987

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The More You Know:

University of California officials have decided to shut down a 20-year-old nuclear reactor on the Berkeley campus, saying the “political hassling” it sparked outweighed its usefulness. University of California officials have decided to shut down a 20-year-old nuclear reactor on the Berkeley campus, saying the “political hassling” it sparked outweighed its usefulness.

The gymnasium-sized basement of Etcheverry Hall (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering) once housed a complete nuclear reactor. It was removed when the City of Berkeley declared itself nuclear-free…”

Here’s How San Mateo Handles Day Laborers: Huge Signs Telling You Where To Go To Find Them

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Thusly, just off the 101

Click to expand

This place has been around for a long time.

Of course, some cry foul:

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the arm of the federal government in charge of enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, said her office is focused on fighting terrorism, but still wants employers to know they are violating laws and subject to sanctions if they hire people who are not authorized to work in the country — including the workers from the San Mateo center. “That said, our primary concerns now are fighting human smuggling, counterfeit employment documentation and helping ensure domestic security,” Kice said.

Don’t Call It San FranSokyo! Disney’s Animated “Big Hero 6″ Film Imagines SF as a Japanese City – HD Video Clip

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Well, here you go:

Coming out in late 2014

All the deets

“Big Hero 6 is an upcoming American 3D computer-animated comedy superhero film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name.[5] The film will be directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, and will be the 54th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. Big Hero 6 will be the first Disney animated feature to feature Marvel characters since The Walt Disney Company‘s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment in 2009.[6] The film will be released on November 7, 2014[4] byWalt Disney Pictures

Here’s What It Looks Like to Coast Down the New Devil’s Slide Trail, Just South of Pacifica

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Joshua Cassidy of KQED has all the deets on the soon-to-open Devil’s Slide path.

And here’s what it looks like to coast down, via CoastSider:

1049 Market Street Tenants Win a Reprieve in Their Mass Eviction – Presser at City Hall Today at 4:30 PM

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Word comes from tommi avicolli mecca:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1049 Market STREET Tenants Win a Reprieve in Their Mass Eviction

San Francisco – Tenants of 1049 Market, who are facing eviction at the hands of a landlord wanting to turn their live/work apartments into office spaces, will be holding a press conference today at 4:30pm on the steps of City Hall (Polk Street side) to announce that they have won another reprieve in their battle to stay in their homes. Their landlord has withdrawn his appeal of the suspension of THE permit that would have allowed him to demolish their apartments and evict them.

The appeal on that suspension was scheduled to be heard today at the Board of Appeals at 5pm.

Officials of the Department of Building Inspections (DBI) suspended the permit after a walk through of the building. DBI officials DETERMINED that they had discretion in requiring the landlord to install light wells, a very expensive renovation, to fix a major code violation cited in a 2007 Notice of Violation: the lack of natural light in some of the apartments. Other violations are minor and can be easily addressed by the owner.

Tenants received eviction notices last September, but with the help of Housing Rights Committee, legal support from Tenderloin Housing Clinic and the involvement of Supervisor Jane Kim and DBI, they organized to stay in their homes and fight back.

“It’s a clear victory for us tenants,” said 1049 Market resident Marcele Wilson, “This is about evicting working-class tenants and artists so that they can convert our apartments into offices and cash in on the mid-Market tech boom. But these are our homes, we’re not leaving.”

Tenants will be on hand for interviews today at 4:30pm.”