Posts Tagged ‘public works’

Ooh, Harsh: City Attorney Dennis Herrera Throws Down – Goes After Ed Lee’s Failed Record on Infrastructure

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Turns out that our “world-class City” is ranked below Boston, New York, Oakland, San Jose, and Seattle, believe it or not. See below.

Now, just how purple do you want to see your fighting City Attorney.

Better A, as seen here?

Or B, after a little Replace Color and Shadows/Highlights?

You Make The Call.

Now, a little background and then the News of the Day. Let’s list the endnotes first for a change – they are that good:

[1] Government Barometer: August 2011, City and County of San Francisco, Office of the Controller, City Services Auditor, October 18, 2011, http://www.sfcontroller.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=2581
[2] City and County of San Francisco City Survey 2011, Final Report, prepared by the ETC Institute, October 6, 2011, http://www.sfcontroller.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=2573
[3] Voter Information Pamphlet, Nov. 8, 2011, Proposition B: Road Repaving and Street Safety Bonds, page 46, http://www.sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/NOV2011_VIP_EN.pdf
[4] Management Audit of the Department of Public Works, by the San Francisco Budget Analyst, January 9, 2007, http://www.sfdpw.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/sfdpw/director/DPWAuditReport.pdf

The latest from the Dennis Herrera for Mayor campaign:

“New Controller’s report confirms streets survey, audit on Ed Lee’s failed record on infrastructure

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Appointed Mayor’s decade-long mismanagement as DPW chief, City Administrator now require quarter-billion dollar streets bond to ‘finally accomplish what Ed Lee didn’t’

SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 18, 2011) — City streets and public works continue to deteriorate under interim Mayor Ed Lee, according to a new report published today by the Controller’s Office, extending Lee’s decade-long record of mismanagement and neglect as the appointed bureaucrat in charge of San Francisco’s infrastructure. Today’s bimonthly Government Barometer[1] mirrors a highly critical survey released just two weeks ago that found San Francisco’s satisfaction rate with the current quality of its infrastructure to be the lowest among five benchmark cities to which it was compared. Lee’s history of lax oversight of streets, sidewalks and public works projects was also the subject of a devastating independent management audit of the Department of Public Works that the Board of Supervisors first commissioned in May 2005, while Lee was DPW director. That audit was released in 2007.

Today’s new Government Barometer identified negative trends in the City’s maintenance of streets and public works in terms of the percentage of street cleaning requests responded to within 48 hours, which have worsened both since the previous reporting period and as compared to the same period last year. A negative trend was also observed from the previous reporting period for the percentage of graffiti requests on public property responded to within 48 hours.

“For the last decade, Ed Lee did an abysmal job as the person in charge of San Francisco’s infrastructure,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “The Budget Analyst’s audit proved it in 2007; the streets survey proved it again two weeks ago, and the new Government Barometer proves it once again. Ed Lee’s record of failure is why most city streets are dirtier than ever, and in desperate need of major repairs. Now, San Franciscans need to pass a quarter-billion dollars for a streets bond, to finally accomplish what Ed Lee didn’t.”

Lee was DPW director from 2000 to 2005, and until January of this year served as City Administrator, a role whose major duties under the City Charter include coordinating capital improvement and construction projects, and appointing and removing DPW directors. As such, Lee is more responsible for the current state of San Francisco’s infrastructure than any other city official. Lee’s decade-long record contrasts starkly with his new campaign promise to be an “infrastructure mayor” who will fix San Francisco’s “roads, schools and parks.”

On October 6, 2011, the San Francisco Controller’s Office published its final report of the biennial City Survey for 2011[2], which found that:

* San Francisco had the lowest satisfaction rate with the quality of its infrastructure among five benchmark cities to which it was compared: Boston, New York, Oakland, San Jose, and Seattle.

* Overall satisfaction with San Francisco city streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure rated a woeful 31 percent, according to the survey — far below other cities. In fact, San Francisco’s rating for infrastructure was also lower than both statewide and national averages.

* San Franciscans were least satisfied with the condition of pavement citywide, with nearly 44 percent of residents grading city performance “poor/failing,” and another 38 percent describing it as merely “average.” Only 18 percent rated infrastructure “good” or better.

The new Government Barometer and streets survey from two weeks ago come as San Franciscans begin voting on a proposed $248 million bond for road repaving and street safety.[3] The nearly one-quarter-billion-dollars in new bonded indebtedness is required, according to proponents, because half of San Francisco’s 850 miles of streets — together with public structures that include bridges, tunnels, and stairways — need major repairs and upgrades.

Both the Government Barometer and streets survey also mirror a devastating independent audit of DPW that the Board of Supervisors commissioned in May 2005, while Lee was DPW chief. Even before Budget Analyst Harvey Rose’s final 269-page DPW Management Audit[4] was published in January 9, 2007, then-DPW Chief Fred Abadi responded that he “came to DPW after your audit had begun,” and that the report’s 120 recommendations “will prove useful to me as I continue to reengineer parts of the Department.” Abadi agreed and accepted all but three of the Budget Analyst’s 120 recommendations.

Among major findings of the performance audit’s of DPW under Ed Lee:

* DPW’s overall mismanagement, inefficiency and uncollected revenue combined to waste more than $5 million in taxpayer funds.

* DPW-led projects were routinely mismanaged, over-budget, and late — and city street repair projects were late by a shocking 172 days, on average.

* DPW failed to routinely track average project labor costs or productivity to ensure that Street Resurfacing and Pothole Repair Projects were completed efficiently

* DPW could not demonstrate that tax dollars being spent for street repair and maintenance (despite an amount that increased during Lee’s tenure) were spent appropriately.

* DPW allowed more than $1 million in litter fines to go uncollected.

* None of DPW’s eight bureaus fully measured performance to ensure that the bureau achieved the best possible outcomes.

* And DPW inspectors did not conduct routine inspections of streets to identify safety hazards.”

Audi Avenue: Powell Street Promenade is a Big Fat Joke – A Series of Eight Parklets to Market Audi’s Cars

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

[During all of this Powell Street Promenade stuff, please remember:

"...the benches draw their inspiration from the aluminum chassis of the all-new A7, the Audi ASF® frame."

There will be a test later.]

[Chronicle Urban Design Critic John King just weighed in. Uh, John, the original plan was supposed to relieve "pedestrian congestion," as this recent design concept from Audi shows, but the current design won't do that. And "parklet" is a pejorative in this case. And those "abstract oars" you see are "inspired by" a 2012 Audi. Thusly:

The hockey stick behind the rear wheel - see it? That's where your oars came from.]

Get up to speed on the new Audi Avenue / Powell Street Promenade Project right here.

Let me tell you, the Powell Street Promenade in Union Square will look nothing like this:

Click to expand.

Instead, it will look like this, with aluminum grating and paddles and twisted things. See?

Are these tables? I think they’re tables:

We were promised no advertising, but you make the call:

“…like much of the promenade, the benches draw their inspiration from the aluminum chassis of the all-new A7, the Audi ASF® frame. While the twisting and sculpting of the metal is intended to reflect the dynamic styling of the luxury sedan…”

Is this why Audi owners make such bad drivers, generally, the boldness? (I’d call it hubris, frankly.) Anyway, let’s let Audi make the case:

“We believe that a boldly designed car, like the new Audi A7, deserves a boldly designed world. So today we’re breaking ground on an urban design initiative to re-imagine Powell Street in San Francisco.”

I’ll tell you, the last thing Audi drivers need is anything to do with boldness.

Oh, and Foursquare too: Audi Powell Street Promenade

This is the primary surface. Number one will pass right through, number two not so much:

Now, the original idea was to have a widened sidewalk but that would have caused issues with area hotels (like them suing the City and County for starters). So we’re going to get cutouts on both sides of both blocks. Thusly:

Here’s parklet eight of eight, near the Cable Car turnaround:

Now let’s thank Gaia that the aluminum hasn’t been arranged in interlocking rings to further advertise Audi and its million-dollar Audi Avenue. But there will be Audi’s name onsite and that’s too much, IMO. Oh well.

And I can’t think of any other carmaker that’s as closely associated with aluminum as Audi, so there’s that.

Was this marketing deal put out to bid, like maybe some other car companies might want to market their vehicles using the streets of San Francisco as well, right? Anyway, I don’t know.

Feel free to share your thoughts with SFGov – oh, whoops, comments be closed, just like the way they have it at BeyondChron, which is also financed with your taxpayer dollars.

All right, which particular Audi did the Powell Street Promenade draw its inspiration from? All together now, the A7! Get one today – starting price is merely $60K.

Hurray!

Lively SocketSite has some deets along with reaction from the commonweal.

SF Streetsblog

Progress on Powell 

[Earworm of the day: We're going rock down to-oo/ Audi Avenue.]

[UPDATE: And a commenter from FineInternets.com frets over the metal theft issue. I wonder how much this aluminum would be worth melted down. See comments.]

Introducing Audi Avenue! (Nee Powell Street) Or, Should We Call It Powell Street, by Audi USA?

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Will Reisman has the deets about how Audi USA is spending seven figures to buy Powell Street, or something.

So now, Audi, adding to its reputation of selling its wares to the most extreme jackass drivers on the planet*, will also be known for having its own street in the 415.

Wouldn’t it be cool if they took down all the Powell street signs and replaced them with just the four rings of Audi’s logo? There’d be no text at all but everybody, tourists and citizens alike, would know exactly how to say the name of the street. Hurray!

It’ll look a little like this unfinished model – seems as if they forgot to add in the bodies of dead German tourists shot down on the street, but anyway:

Click to expand

Now of course “Audi of America”** is claiming credit for the entire idea, but actually, we had this thing going 1.5 years ago.

Check it:

It wasn’t a success.

Anyway, here’s Audi’s spiel. Apparently, this whole thing was their thang all along, even before they knew about it, somehow:

“The Audi Design Project: Progress on Powell Street was launched with the purpose of improving the pedestrian experience on Powell Street in a way that transforms it into a vibrant destination and alleviates the congestion. So, working with the city of San Francisco, we’re doing something that might normally be considered unfathomable for an automaker — removing cars from the road. That’s right, we’re eliminating the parking lanes on both sides of the street and, in their place, creating a new public space that sits on top of the pavement.”

Read along after the jump to see how extra wide sidewalks on two blocks of Union Square Are Going To Change Everything.

*Yes, even worse than BMW drivers. The problem is that Audi drivers think that they’re extra special, that’s the problem…

**Is that your new name, Audi? Guess you have bad memories of the old one, Audi USA? Remember that whole unintended acceleration (sudden acceleration) thing back in the 1980′s and 1990′s? On behalf of America’s idiot drivers, I’d like to apologize for that whole deal. You were right, we were putting our feet on the wrong pedals. Our bad :(

(more…)

Reverse Pwnage: Turns Out That Some of Those Chinese Elm Trees in the Western Addition Got Executed Anyway

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

First it was all like this, then it was all like this (but that was a false alarm), then, just recently, it was all like this.

But then, T2, Judgement Day, Rise of the Tree Chipper Machines.

That was yesterday on McAllister. See?

The Chipperman Cometh:

Click to expand

It was just like the end of that Fargo movie, except with trees.

At the end of the day, some of the 14 trees on death row were spared, some, like these, were not:

Maybe the unhealthy trees were destroyed and the healthy ones were left alone?

That’s one theory, anyway.

Courage.

A Day in the Life of McAllister: #3, Entire Block of Ulmus Parvifolia Trees Outlive Their Death Notices, Posted Back in 2010

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Remember last year, when these “13 or 14″ Ulmus parvifolia got death notices wrapped around their trunks?

Well, they’re still here in 2011, which is well past they date that they were supposed to be turned into woodchips. See?

Click to expand

Now, I’m not a big fan of trees in the City personally, as they cause a lot of trouble and, occasionally, kill people. But Trees First, People Second is the Law of the Land, so once a tree goes in, it can never ever ever come out, regardless of the circumstances. Oh well.

Anyway, as far as the Chinese Elms of McAllister are concerned:

Ha ha!

It’s your move, City. Care to try again?

The Green Mile: Is This Judgment Day for 14 Large Chinese Elms of McAllister Street?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Don’t know if this is what the tree removal crew looks like but late last year all these trees were scheduled for destruction, so you don’t know what to expect.

Oh well.

As seen yesterday:

Click to expand

Uh, Sorry City Officials, That Thing You Did on Powell Last Year Was Not a “Success.” But, Thanks Audi!

Monday, December 20th, 2010

[Sarcasm Mode = OFF. You know, Audis are kind of expensive for what they are, right?]

Remember that thing The Powers That Be did to Powell in Union Square last year?

It was all like this:

IMG_6403

Click to expand

Well, turns out that “city officials” consider that fail whale a smash success:

“City officials admitted that pilot, which was conducted on a rainy weekend using only barricades, was not really a good example of re-purposing the street but it turned out to be a success nonetheless.”

Uh, no it wasn’t.

Strike One.

And is this new deal with Audi an really an example of Pavement to Parks reclaiming:

“…unused public right of ways* and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public plazas and parks?

Uh, no it’s not. Pray tell, which part of Powell Street is an “unused” public right of way? And isn’t PtoP 100% run by the govmint? What, if anything does San Francisco government do “quickly and inexpensively?” Absolutely nothing, that’s what.

Strike Two.

And to top it off, Audi* USA gets to use this project for their advertising / marketing?

Strike Three.

Doing this to Powell is not necessarily a win-win, right? Srlsy, even if Audi ends up footing for a small part of the bill. What you’re involved with is scarcity and choice in resource allocation. What you’re involved with is something that might not work out. That would be something to acknowledge before printing up those signs telling people how appreciative they should be to you.

And Audi.

And will this improve business for the what’s-good-for-General-Motors-is-good-for-America Union Square Business Improvement District? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Only Time Will Tell.

See a report from last year below, and a fresh news release after the jump.

*Or rights of way, just saying, bro.

**Audi drivers, you have good reflexes and loads of “active safety” at your disposal, and yet, as a general rule, collectively, you’re worser-than-average drivers in the 415. Discuss.***

***It’s cause you all are in too much of a hurry, that’s why. You, Audi Driver, are not the Lord of Driving. Try to remember that.

“I don’t know, are the sidewalks of Powell so shopper-clogged that pedestrains appreciated the option of walking in the street for part of two blocks this past weekend?

Not that I could tell. The trouble with the execution of this New Idea is that peds needed to enter and exit the pedestrian ”passing lane” twice each block. Oh well. At least this program provided room for the cops to cite drunken Santas loitering about the Gold Dust during SantaCon ’09 on Saturday, so I guess that’s something.

Here’s the concept, from a time when all men wore suits and hats and women wore dresses and skirts every day, and everybody was white, of course. Check out the babe magnet loiterers “walking” or pitching woo or whatever in the road.

Powell Street Is For Lovers and cable cars and police fencing, in this fantasy world:

powell

Click to expand

The reality:

IMG_6398

See the potted palms? Did it improve your “pedestrian experience” or whatnot? If so, thank Walgreens.

And don’t forget to call up 311 to tell them how grateful you are:

IMG_6403

Anyway, we can tell that at least some peds made use of the extra space by clicking here.

And check out this premature, self-congratulatory video.

Here are the deets. The term “world class” is only used once, non-ironically. (Feel free to substitute “northbound and southbound” for “east and westbound.”)

UPDATE: Or, in the words of local designer Shawn Allen:

Half-assed temporary projects like this make me embarrassed to live in San Francisco. Seriously, why even bother?

Testify, brother.

UPDATE: The StreetsBlog SF is all over this. Let’s hear from Donna Ficarrotta, Managing Director of the Union Square Association:

Ficarrotta indicated that she had been to the site on Sunday during the rain and that she hadn’t seen many people using the space. ‘I think people didn’t know quite what to make of it. Between the weather and people being in a hurry, I don’t think people really understood what it was for.’”

“A longer-term trial could happen in the spring, said Ficarrotta, up to four weeks, but the details of that depended on feedback from the city and her membership. She was hopeful a longer trial would also attract more use.”

I think if people understood it, obviously they would use it.”

(Perhaps we should wait for a winter / Christmas / holiday / Sol Invictus shopping season when it doesn’t rain and the people aren’t in a hurry and maybe then we can try this again?)

But see how you can tell this woman doesn’t work for any of the numerous City agencies that spent time on this program?  She gave journalist Matthew Roth an Acknowledgement of Reality. How refreshing!

Are peds really so stoopid? Or maybe they’d prefer to walk on the actual sidewalk instead of stepping down into the street?

Anyway, the deets:

MAYOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES CITY PILOT PROJECT TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE DURING PEAK SHOPPING SEASON
Parking lane closures to provide extra walking space

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced that San Francisco is expanding the walkway for pedestrians in the Union Square area as part of a pilot project under the Better Market Street Program. The Powell Street Pedestrian Improvement Project is allowing more walking space and access along two blocks of Powell Street, Geary to Ellis Streets, to improve and enhance the public’s experience during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

“This pilot project will create a festive and unique experience for holiday shoppers and tourists visiting the Union Square area,” said Mayor Newsom. “We hope this pilot makes our city more welcoming for shoppers and drives more business to our union square merchants.”

Beginning Friday, December 11 at 2 pm, the east and westboundparking lanes on Powell between Geary and Ellis Streets will close to vehicles. The Powell Street Cable Car line will not be affected by this closure.

Emergency vehicles will have full access and vehicles may continue to use designated white zones. Signs will be posted to direct traffic and pedestrian access. Planters will be temporarily installed and holiday decorations donated by Walgreens will be placed along the walkway to enhance the pedestrian experience. Parking lanes will reopen to vehicles on Monday, December 14 at 9am.

The City will monitor and evaluate this closure over the course of the weekend and provide results of this pilot and future projects in the coming months. Feedback from local partners and merchants will also be collected during this process.

“Union Square is widely known as a world-class destination for its mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and hospitality accommodations. Our hope is that this project will further enhance the visitor experience by providing greater access to pedestrians on what is widely considered one of San Francisco’s most heavily traveled pedestrian corridors,” said Linda Mjellem, Executive Director of the Union Square Association.

This test project is part of the Better Market Street Program; which aims to revitalize Market Street and connect streets by undertaking a series of pilot projects. The results of this pilot and future projects and input from the community and stakeholders will be used to inform the final improvements and long-term design of Market Street.

“Over the next few months, these pilot projects will provide us with the knowledge and the opportunity to collect feedback from people that share this roadway. These coordinated initiatives will help us deliver tangible improvements that are aligned with our vision for a better, a safer, a smarter, and a more modern Market Street,” said Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works.

The Better Market Street Program is a collaborative initiative between the City and community partners, businesses, and non-profits including the Department of Public Works (DPW), Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Transportation Authority.

For more information and to learn how to get involved, visit the http://marketstreet.sfplanning.org or call 3-1-1.

No, we’re still not done.

(more…)

Pirate Cat Grafitto Defies DPW’s “Anti-Truck Blight” Initiative

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Do you think the grafitti on this truck makes the Panhandle area “look abandoned?”

If so, you’re not alone.

Click to expand:

Pirate Cat/ Pirate Cat/ It’s Not Your Fault

Could This Graffitoed Truck Get a Ticket for Causing Blight? Yes, if DPW Gets Its Way

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The DPW wants truck owners to get cited if they allow their rides to get covered in graffiti.

Of course, the City doesn’t have this issue with its own trucks as they get locked up at night.

Monica’s Florist blighting up the Financial:

Click to expand

I don’t know how this would fly in the courts…

Dead Trees Walking: 14 Large Chinese Elms Slated for Destruction in the Western Addition

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

This tenth of a mile of  Chinese Elms on the 1300 block of McAllister Street just got scheduled to walk the green mile next month.

Why? “Weak canopy vigor” ‘n stuff.

Check it: 

Click to expand

All the deets:

The response from one resident? “Fuck that.” Actually, that phrase got repeated several times until this closing line: “I know an arborist.” Well, I guess if you want to fight a tree removal, that’s the first person you’d want to talk with.

But I think the Bureau of Urban Forestry already has its mind set on chopping these trees down by the end of summer and entmoots can take months to set up

Oh well.

There is unrest in the NoPA/ There is trouble with the trees…