Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Breaking: BART to San Jose may pass after all

Update to the story below as of 1720h PST: The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that with 9800 ballots remaining, Measure B has passed the 66.67 percent mark.

The ballot initiative to fund a BART extension to San Jose may have squeaked by, KNTV was reporting this afternoon. Though initial balloting showed the measure falling short of the required two-thirds majority, mail-in ballots are turning the tide.

With 17,000 of 42,000 mail-in ballots still to be counted, the vote to fund the 22-mile BART extension with a 1/8-cent Santa Clara County sales tax was 66.61 percent yes; the measure, like any tax increase in California since the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, requires at least a 66.67 percent yes vote.

If the Bart-to-San Jose tax passes, it would complete a surprising trifecta of voter support for mass transit projects at a time when local and state budgets are tight. Earlier this month, voters in Marin and Sonoma Counties passed a rail initiative, and statewide Proposition 1A also passed, kicking off the state’s bullet train project.

NYTimeser gets it slightly wrong

The New York Times today began a Road To November series of mood-testing with voters across the country, beginning their survey in San Francisco, where “It’s frustrating to live in a city where everyone assumes that because you share airspace you also share political views,” according to the quantifiably named Joel Muchmore.

Among the slightly arresting details of life in the city discovered by the Times’ reporter are the “Ferry Terminal Market” — she means the Ferry Building Marketplace — and “last Sunday’s ‘leather/fetish’ street fair,” that is, the Folsom Street Fair. She cites the city’s universal health care initiative and the ban on plastic bags, though she fails to point out the ban applies only to markets and pharmacies.

But one bit of controversial public policy she missed completely is the ban on sales of tobacco products at pharmacies, which went into effect today. I just visited a Walgreens, and the cigarette display case was as bare as a Trick-or-Treater’s bag on Election Day.

Nancy’s a Natural @ Naturalization This Saturday

This Saturday is Nancy Pelosi’s annual free workshop for future citizens to be delivered at a location on the edge of the Civic Center neighborhood… (I wonder if any of the notorious immigrant crack dealers with “Amnesty” who work around the corner near Hyde & Golden Gate will drop by…)
(more…)

A note from Gav about the prop 8 kickoff rally saturday

Should be a good event, especially equal rights matter to you. This fall is going to be enlightening to see how the california populous ends up on this issue.

Dear Friend, Please join me Saturday in fighting for marriage equality at the No on Proposition 8 kick-off rally in San Francisco:

No on 8 Kick-off Rally
Saturday, September 6, 2008 – 10:00am
2278 Market St., 2nd Fl. (map)
San Francisco, CA

Let’s work together to stop discrimination from being written into our constitution.

I look forward to seeing you Saturday.

Sincerely, Gav

A tech support approach to a better community

That decaying building on the corner — haven’t you wanted to report it to someone? Those idiots speeding down your block — can you get the city to install a speed bump? How about that gaping hole in the sidewalk outside your neighbor’s house — somebody could get hurt. Why doesn’t someone do something?

If you’ve ever wanted City Hall to work like tech support, your dream has sort of come true. A new website, SeeClickFix, will take your complaint and create a trouble ticket. More than that, in San Francisco they’ll automatically forward the problem to the appropriate SF Supervisor’s office.

more after the jump

Stupid idea of the year

Supervisor Chris Daly wants to close Market Street to all but mass transit traffic.

As I wrote in May, that idea has failed in city after city. In Chicago, State Street — “that great street” — utterly died when they tried it there. They re-opened the street to all traffic a few years ago, and the street is recovering.

Market Street isn’t some quaint pedestrian mall like Boulder’s Pearl Street, and it never will be. It’s a living artery in a major city. Daly’s plan would be an economic and social disaster.

Smart(er) Parking in the Future

Parking Meter
[Photo by Nate Enyedi for Wikipedia.]

A few years ago, the Port of San Francisco wanted to study parking-use patterns at a third of the 950 meters it controls along the Embarcadero, using a technology developed by the SF-based Streetline Networks Inc. — little sensors glued to the street that transmit a wireless signal to a central database when a parking space is occupied or vacated. Now SFMTA has picked up the idea for another purpose: to (hopefully) make free spaces easier to find on the fly, by transmitting the data to a service you will apparently be able to subscribe to, according to this NPR story. (An iPhone app, perhaps? Maybe by the time it’s ready Apple will be done hosing their own servers.) The same sensors will be capable of monitoring the speed of traffic past the spaces, and that data will be transmitted as well. SFMTA intends to analyze the data they collect from this network, and based on that, they will set policies to adjust the price of parking in response to demand, aiming for a vacancy rate of 15%. (Expect a glacial pace on that, with lots of legislative bickering once it comes down to choosing actual prices. Dynamic server-to-meter price adjustments are a distant dream.) Reportedly San Francisco is the first city to reach this stage with the technology.

(Unrelated, but the question occurs to me: why do I have to rely upon the New York Times and NPR to bring me local news of this potential significance? And then the Chronicle wonders why they’re losing money.)

Obscure SFO-related firm screws up other airports too

epic-fail.jpgIn the current SF Weekly, Matt Smith documents how a mysterious corporate entity called SFO Enterprises, formed by San Francisco International Airport managers to extend their reach beyond SFO itself, ruined a project to upgrade the airport in the capital city of Honduras. According to Smith’s article, the project was so messed up that it led to at least one fatal incident when an airliner ran off the end of a runway, killing five and injuring 65. Smith goes on to detail the project, the tortured relationship between the Honduran government and SFOE, and the economic “chaos” that resulted when the government shut down the airport for large jets after the accident.

A Google search points to many SF Weekly articles on the mysterious SFO Enterprises going back at least to 2001, but this latest one is so damning it’s a wonder Mayor Gavin Newsom doesn’t do something.

Newsom walking Castro for Prop. G, no on Prop. F

Newsome Visiting Bars in Castro June 1, 2008

Gavin Newsom was walking from bar to bar in the Castro district of San Francisco yesterday urging voters to vote YES on Prop. G. No on Prop. F.

Proponents of Prop. G say it will clean up the shipyard; make new housing, shops and park area available to San Franciscans. They also say the deal with Lennar Corp. to develop the area will not go through if Prop. F is passed.

Opponents of Prop. G say Prop. F will guarantee 50% of all developed housing be affordable to people who already live in the area. The proposed townhouses for the area would start at least $500,000, and be out of reach of the neighborhood families financially.

Whatever you choose, get out and vote on Tuesday!

State-Approved Art?

My wife works for the city, and she recently got a letter in the mail that promised to contain something of culturally uplifting value:

Official Ballet Enclosed

Wow! Wonder who the choreographer is?

Actually, it just turns out that somebody at the Health Service Board can’t spell:

HSB Envelope

On that note, don’t forget to cast your own ballets in ten days, and joking aside, please vote NO on 98!

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