Skip to content

Recent Comments

  1.  

    RichLL

    They did. Murph ducked and you are doubling down on your mistake.

  2.  

    jonobate

    Whatever. Those reading can judge for themselves.

  3.  

    RichLL

    I see no admission there. I allowed Murph to think what he wanted to think, to entrap him into claiming in a precious prissy way that he always obeyed the law, so that I could then nail him by pointing out that he breaks laws he disagrees with, like the bike stop law.

    I employed a rhetorical device as a tactic to entice him into a position of hypocrisy, in order to debunk his posturing here.

    Evidently it was too subtle and nuanced for both of you.

  4.  

    jonobate

    You – “I don’t blindly follow all laws regardless of their merit and justness. Nor did Rosa Parks.”

    Murph – “I see – you refused to pay your taxes because civil rights.”

    You – “Let’s put it this way. I did the same thing that you do when you are on a bike and there’s a stop sign ahead.”

    Seems pretty clear to me. If you’re saying that you admitted doing something that you didn’t actually do, and were therefore lying to murphstahoe, then any fallout from that lie is your own problem.

  5.  

    RichLL

    No, you misread or misunderstood. There was no such admission. I did set an inference trap for Murph which he fell for, and evidently you did too.

    Of course, neither you nor he voluntarily pays CA sales tax on your out-of-state purchases, as you are supposed to do, because nobody does. So you’re a tax evader too.

    But I’d rather debate the issues than throw dirt around. It’s telling that you don’t feel the same way.

  6.  

    jonobate

    As for “data”, politics is far more about values than data.

    Facts are tricky things, aren’t they?

    Anyone can cherry-pick “data” to support their case.

    That’s true, but there’s no indication that that was done in this case. I really don’t believe that Eric Fischer fabricated or cherry-picked his data to cover up the evils of rent control.

  7.  

    jonobate

    The fact that you think all landlords are tax evaders shows your own personal bias.

    I didn’t say that I think that all landlords are tax evaders. I said you are a tax evading landlord, and I said that because you admitted as much in a reply to murphstahoe below.

  8.  

    RichLL

    I never said that rent control was the only factor, but it should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for more than a minute that rent control suppresses the provision of rental housing by making it financially unattractive to offer it.

    You only have to look at the thousands of no-fault evictions where the owner then puts the unit to another use to see that effect at work.

    I agree that NIMBYism and a good local economy are factors too, along with the geographical constraints. But it is simply common sense to understand that the best way to encourage owners to make their units available is not to punish them for doing so.

    The fact that you think all landlords are tax evaders shows your own personal bias. The tax breaks are actually fairly good for landlords (for the reasons I cited above) and their activity is public, so there is zero incentive to do that. You betray your prejudice in suggesting otherwise.

  9.  

    davravidumn

    One year in county jail is not sufficient, relative to Mr. Calder’s willful negligence. His girlfriend should have been charged as an accomplice, too.

  10.  

    jonobate

    Thanks, that actually makes a ton of sense. I’m starting to be convinced.

  11.  

    reedm

    I’ll try to find a way to create a visualization of the model. It surprised me quite a bit, but on the high level it has to do with:

    1. The amount of time spent merging into the tunnel
    2. The amount of time spent backed up in the tunnel
    3. The existing frequency of trains in the tunnel
    4. Boarding times are reduced underground

    In order to get 2-3 minute frequencies underground between Embarcadero and West Portal, including turnarounds, it takes 10 trainsets. During rush hour, we actually have frequencies as low as every minute or less in the tunnel, which is unnecessary and rooted in the need for 6-7 minute frequencies above ground. 2 minute frequency 300 foot trains is plenty for the underground corridor, particularly as it allows us to remove turnaround backups. During rush hour with backups, monitoring the trains over 6 months, we saw that there can be as many as 34 trains in the tunnel at any given time. Those are trains that could be providing service to above ground passengers.

    Shifting merging time from train travel time to passenger travel time gives back the time to the network, on the order of 160 hours per day. Removing backed up train time gives back on the order of 230 hours per day. That alone winds up being over 500 extra runs per day in saved time.

    Based on our research for boarding times, during peak hours, our outbound train dwell time is far higher than comparable systems underground (averaging over 20 seconds), which is not only due to non-optimized subway trains, but also to having 6 lines boarding at the same platform, creating platform crowding and “swimming through crowds” to board. In a single-line scenario, every person boards every train.

    All of these gains get put back into the above-ground network, adding 3-8 trains per line, bringing anywhere from 33% frequency improvements to over 50%.

  12.  

    JustJake

    Can’t get rid of it, true. Best hope is to keep it in proper size and retain accountability. We’ve had the city/county type government for centuries. Not perfect, but way better than regional government. If you want cooperation, respect the needs of the various counties. Which is opposite to what just happened in the MTC hostile takeover of ABAG. Collectively, SF, Oakland and SJ are 30% of the Bay Area. The other 70% should have twice the voice and twice the power. A complete flip from the status-quo.

  13.  

    Chris

    Politics is part of the problem, but how do you get rid of it? Politics is inherent not only to representative democracy, but to any other actual form of government that I’ve heard of. (I don’t count philosopher kingship as an actual form of government.)

  14.  

    JustJake

    ” Reasonable. Moderate. Government “. This. It will never happen. Politics are the problem, not the solution.

  15.  

    RichLL

    I agree that all these Bay Area towns are quirky and different, but that is exactly why we should instead have regional government, so that there is a reasonable moderate government rather than some left-wing crank in Berkeley and some right-wing bigot in Tracy or Solano County somewhere.

    And since transit is the issue here, look at what works: BART, CalTrain, the ferries, the airports and the freeways. All regional.

    What doesn’t work? Buses (see article earlier today) and a couple of ponderously slow light rail systems. All municipal rather than regional, and with pitiful farebox recovery rates.

  16.  

    JustJake

    And this is the choice we have. Do you want to become LA? Absolutely nothing “bizarre” about the existence of counties that have millions of residents to govern and provide services for. A semblance of independence and accountability in government. SF is a circus, with clowns in charge. Other cities and counties have zero desire to share in the choices and paths that SF is taking. Atherton isn’t Vacaville. Berkeley and Alamo are very distinguishable. To think that there is some commonality that can be addressed via governmental powers is absurd, at minimum unrealistic. Transit? Yeah whatever, I’ve been on BART perhaps a dozen times in 30 years. To each their own. If people can vote, regional government will never happen. Right now it’s regulators and appointees, nothing that the residents have wanted.

  17.  

    RichLL

    I disagree 100%. The real city is the Bay Area. But bizarrely it is divided up into 9 counties and dozens of “cities”, all with their own quirks and fiefdoms. This directly harms things like transit and housing policies, as the Balkanized fiedoms play beggar-thy-neighbor with each other.

    Take the furore over Twitter’s threat to leave SF, for instance. SF capitulated rather than lose Twitter and gave them a tax break. But where were they threatening to move to? Brisbane, maybe a dozen miles away but, crucially, in another city and county.

    Or SF trying to blame the South Bay cities for its own housing affordability problems.

    The real problem is that cities and counties that should be working together actually seeing each other as the problem. We need more regional government and co-operation

  18.  

    JustJake

    Simply this: No to regional government. It would serve to expand the too big, too corrupt, too unaccountable and fiscally irresponsible people that already call the shots. Get rid of MTC, BAAQMD, BCDC and the always hated “Bay Area Council”… then come back and we can talk about the future of regional government.

  19.  

    RichLL

    ” Latterman said that passing the BART bond will depend on turning out yes votes β€œin San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, and hope it does okay in the rest of the region. But this city is willing to pay for bonds and transit, so . . “

    Although Oakland and Berkeley do have a lot of parcel taxes – the result of passing bond measures – San Francisco really does not have that same history. Take a look at a property tax bill in SF and there are only a few, meaning that the tax assessment isn’t so far from the neutral Prop 13 basis. Whereas in Oakland and Berkeley there are a lot, and it’s something you really need to take into account when you buy a property in either city.

    Also critical to getting a bond measure passed in SF is the pass-through provision to the tenants. Otherwise you would have the anti-democratic situation where 2/3 of the voters would approve every one because it wouldn’t cost them anything. The SF Rent Board allows bond increases to be passed through to tenants, meaning that tenants can and do vote against them.

    That in turn shows the problem with trying to stick these costs only on property owners rather than all residents. Less of an issue outside the big cities because of the higher rate of home ownership elsewhere. Especially since tenants probably use transit more than the typically wealthier property owners, they should bear some of the cost.

    SF has rejected a lot of bond measures, including a number for affordable housing. While Oakland and Berkeley love to spend other peoples’ money. And you have to ask why SF voters would want to pay more tax to mostly benefit people in the East Bay?

  20.  

    FDW

    Geary is way denser than you think it is, while Mission Bay (and SOMA) really doesn’t need any more than what’s already planned for it. Mission Bay’s density is something that I’ve overstated again and again and again, but it really isn’t impressive at all.

  21.  

    RichLL

    I never said I evaded tax . I said I responded to the law in the same way that you do when you encounter a law that you don’t like or agree with, and you assumed the rest.

    But at least you have been dislodged from your formerly precious position of being impeccable with the law. Turns out you’re just like the rest of us.

    And maybe that’s nothing to be ashamed about. The correlation of someone’s adherence of any law is typically related to how much they believe that law is fair, reasonable and just.

    “Done with you” = “You got me there”.

  22.  

    jonobate

    You’re going to have to explain how you magically find enough drivers and trains to increase the N-Judah to 3 minute frequencies simply by splitting the line at the point where it goes underground. If you increase cars and drivers on the surface, you have to remove them from somewhere else – where do they come from?

  23.  

    RichLL

    Andy, that’s a fair point. But nothing in Flatlaner’s diatribe explains why Muni operators are paid much more than other local bus operators. And moreover why their contract says that they have to be.

    Whenever Muni offers operator jobs there is a huge number of applicants, almost as if those applicants understand it’s a good deal.

    Or do you have another totally different explanation of why Muni’s operating costs are so high relative to almost everywhere else?

  24.  

    Linda L. Day

    I enthusiastically support this change. I own a one bedroom condo that includes a deeded spot in our garage. I do not own a car. Given that there are only 9 residences in my building, often I am not able to rent to someone in the building. I think changing the ordinance supports having fewer cars take up street parking spaces. Having to register as a business and file quarterly taxes is an undue burden. I have to pay a homeowner’s fee each month, a share of which maintains the garage. What evidence is there that allowing persons such as me to rent out her parking space will encourage more car commuting and discourage property owners from converting parking spaces to housing units?

  25.  

    jonobate

    I’m more interested in the data compiled by Eric Fisher, and the correlation he finds to jobs, salaries, and housing availability, than the Guardian’s commentary on it (although I do happen to agree with what they say.)

    People tend to believe whatever supports their own worldview rather than what is objectively true, and this is particularly the case in debates such as this. You want to believe that rent control is to blame because it fits your libertarian worldview, and because ending rent control will benefit you financially as a tax-evading landlord.

    Likewise, the folks protesting the Google buses and new residential developments want to believe that those are to blame because that fits in with their anti-corporate, anti-developer worldview. And some people just want to blame anything new for the housing crisis, and attack Google buses, new housing, bike lanes, bus lanes etc. simply because they are fearful of any sort of change.

    If we agree that destroying the city’s economy is probably not the best way to reduce rents (and not everyone does agree on that, of course) that leaves us with increasing housing supply as the only way to mitigate the crisis. How we achieve that is then another matter for debate, but blaming false causes for ideological reasons – whether that’s rent control or Google buses – will not solve the crisis.

  26.  

    murphstahoe

    Guilty. I have zero tolerance for tax evaders. Done with you.

  27.  

    Flatlander

    You “hear” that Muni operators make twice that? From whom? Some internet troll who hates gubmint? This is easily google-able, and you’re very wrong.

    You also underestimated the salaries of tech shuttle operators (at least for the big companies). So you know, exaggerate one number one way, exaggerate another number another way, and voila! Outrage! With “data”

    And the idea that driving a bus in San Francisco is no harder than doing most minimum wage jobs…wow…

    If you feel like you are underpaid, that’s your problem, not Muni’s

  28.  

    Cameron Newland

    I used to ride buses in Seattle and Los Angeles, however, in San Francisco, I rarely use them. In SF, I ride my electric bicycle for most trips, but I also ride BART, walk, and use Uber.

    For me, the bus isn’t convenient because it’s much slower than BART, and ridesharing offers a door-to-door solution for me and my girlfriend that’s roughly equivalent to the cost of two MUNI fares, so we prefer the convenience of Uber over taking the bus.

    Back when I rode the bus more often in LA and Seattle, it was either by necessity (there were no other ways to make that trip other than driving) or convenience (Sound Transit Express buses in Seattle, which operate like BRT). I think that MUNI should focus on BRT and let Uber cover low-demand routes. I also think that BART should build another line in SF, but it’s not clear where the best route would be. I used to think Geary would be best, but considering that Geary isn’t as dense as SoMa, perhaps building a BART line southward from one of the Market Street stations that would cover SoMa would be a better idea. That way, instead of building a line and encouraging density after construction, you’d be serving a high-density area right away.

  29.  

    Andy Chow

    The reason why it takes years to earn the full pay rate is because the transit agency is required to give paid training for about a month and a half. Not a lot of jobs these days provide paid training, but rather expect the employees to pay to get trained.

    Employees are free to quit their job at anytime, but the training is expensive. So there needs to be some kind of incentive to retain employees after training, or otherwise you will get a bunch of people sign up with Muni to get paid training, and then quit after they get their CDL and instead drive for Facebook or tour bus company that don’t provide paid training.

  30.  

    RichLL

    Most remedies that you have against a bad neighbor are against the owner of that property and not the tenants. So while such remedies are not unreasonable, I would not single out short-term guests and home sharers.

    But my real beef is that this law isn’t really for that purpose at all, because there are already existing remedies against neighbors who have loud parties, sell drugs from their stoops etc.

    The real point here is a blatant attempt to manipulate owners into renting out their units long term. The best way to get me to do that is to repeal rent control, as PaleoBruce noted.

  31.  

    Jame

    Yup! 100% agreed. AC Transit service in the evening is pretty sucky. And some dense neighborhoods have little service (ahem Adams Point).

  32.  

    Jame

    I ride AC transit daily (transbay route). I generally ride my bike for some of the things I might have taken a bus for previously. But as for on the weekend and evenings? Well the routes that go where I need to go hardly run. For example yesterday I wanted to go from ~ Grand Lake Theater to downtown. Midday. I checked the bus schedule for the 12. The next bus was coming in 16 minutes (and it is about a 5-7 minute ride). The walk was 18 minutes. Obviously I got there before the bus would have arrived. Heaven forbid you need to go west to east in Berkeley or Oakland, there are few routes that cross that direction so the bus isn’t an option. If I want to take the bus to Temescal, it would take 2-3 transfers and 30 minutes or more to go those 1.5 miles. Better to ride my bike or walk.

    The one bus I find most useful only runs 1x an hour from 8-8 on the weekend. So there goes that one.

    I’d ride the bus more if the schedule was better. Now those trips have been replaced by ridesharing.

  33.  

    reedm

    Well, it handles the mismatch by allowing above ground trains to run at higher frequency to handle more capacity, without needing an increase in vehicles or drivers over what we have today. There’s far more than underground capacity here.

    That is, it allows us to run the N Judah at 3 minute frequencies to double the capacity above ground, with 30-50% frequency increases above ground on every other line as well. We don’t have a way to do that today, and adding three-car trains above ground not only requires substantial investment at every stop and possible station location realignment, but it does nothing to increase frequency, which is a cornerstone of an effective transit system. Plus, a 3-car train only gains you 50% capacity increase. The best part of doubling above-ground frequency is that it gets you 100% capacity increase AND double the service. And again, this can be done without adding a single train or driver. If we add more trains and more drivers, these numbers only get better. Imagine bringing back N-Judah service to match the 1920’s: every 2 minutes.

    The benefit in travel time is actually substantial during rush hour. The model showed up to a 32% reduction in travel time simply by removing the bottlenecks at the merge points and traffic in the tunnel. Factoring in the reliability in timing improvements and frequency of service improvements across the board, and your time savings only grows. It’s also fascinating to see that even today, without any provisions for a transfer, you can disembark an inbound J-Church, go downstairs, wait 3 minutes for an inbound KLM, and handily beat that very same J to Van Ness.

    The system not only provides capacity and frequency improvements, it also ensures that a single failure under market doesn’t shut down the entire city’s rail system. And given that, over the 6 months we monitored the Muni Meteo, there was a failure almost every day, that’s not something to ignore. We can hope that the new vehicles will have a lower failure rate, but it’s still a system that’s built to fall apart on a dime.

    The last point is that it allows you to run faster boarding low-platform trains above ground, and wide-door open gangway platform length trains below ground. Comparable metro system cars in Japan and France have over double the boarding widths as our above-ground LRVs can handle.

    So there’s a lot of opportunity here, and yes, the transfer point is the hardest piece of the puzzle. But any good transit network has transfers, and we can use these as an opportunity to create far more reliable, frequent, and high-capacity service across the city, while also helping shape a bigger transit network vision. (Eg., the south-crossing Zoo-West Portal-Balboa Park-Bayshore line, the mid-city north/south Fillmore-Church-Balboa Park line, the central east-west Judah-Duboce-Design district-Soma or Mission Bay line, etc.)

  34.  

    Donovan Lacy

    Rich,

    I just read up on the UK project you cited. It seems the project has virtually nothing to do with congestion, but rather speed and more probably more importantly English national pride (the rest of the world has HSR, so should we). The real issues are the commuter lines, rather than the inter-city lines that are served by HSR, which seems a lot more germane to this discussion.

    It seems that the HSR discussion is a bit of a tangent to the larger intra-city and commuter transportation issue. With that I will bow out of this conversation as it seems I have been guilty of taking this train / discussion off the tracks.

  35.  

    Donovan Lacy

    Rich,

    There are a number of reasons for HSR, and you are entitled to your opinion, but to suggest that the primary reason is for increased daily capacity does not seem to fit the facts, and your suggestions that “it is fairly well known that the main reason for HSR was capacity”, is fairly condescending.

    Rather than the UK example, we could just have easily used an HSR example much closer to home, the California High Speed Rail. Are you suggesting that the primary reason for the California HSR is to increase daily capacity? That seems like a bit of a stretch.

    Here is a link to the US High Speed Rail Association, http://www.ushsr.com/benefits.html. They provide their list of top reasons for HSR. It is a good read.

  36.  

    RichLL

    Seems to me that you support zero tolerance for laws you personally agree with, and zero enforcement of the laws that do not suit you.

    If you’re now telling me that cyclists who break the law should be punished, then my work here is done.

  37.  

    RichLL

    Where in the wording of Prop B is the assurance that every route and service is immune from cuts regardless of economic or operational reasons?.

  38.  

    murphstahoe

    I recall you – not me – saying “the law is the law”.

  39.  

    RichLL

    Let’s put it this way. I did the same thing that you do when you are on a bike and there’s a stop sign ahead.

  40.  

    murphstahoe

    I see – you refused to pay your taxes because civil rights.

  41.  

    murphstahoe

    That proposition specifically addressed the percentage of the city budget that should go to MUNI. Which means that they are deciding on where their taxes go – not just “do you want a better muni”

  42.  

    RichLL

    In San Francisco? Or somewhere else where regulations are much looser and taxes are lower?

    I don’t blindly follow all laws regardless of their merit and justness. Nor did Rosa Parks.

  43.  

    RichLL

    Yes, faster trips will attract more traffic, as will lower fares, nicer seats, better on-board amenities and so on. I never denied that.

    However I maintain that the primary reason why train authorities want faster trains is to increase capacity. And particularly when a system is already operating close to capacity.

    I thought it was fairly well known that the main reason for HSR was capacity. For instance, a new HSR is currently being planned in the UK which will run for about 100 miles. It will only take about 15 minutes off the journey time. The real reason for it is that the existing route is at saturation point.

    Running at higher speeds increases the daily capacity for each train AND you can add more trains as well.

    My last paragraph was an attempt to explain that I regard funding infrastructure as different from funding investment in operating businesses.

  44.  

    RichLL

    My understanding is that newer operators make less than the average. Partly because they are more junior and inexperenced, obviously. And partly because newer recruits are on a newer and less generous contract.

    I agree it’s not a pleasant job. But I’ve never been paid what I thought I deserved either – only what someone else thought I was worth, and that was mostly related to my replacement cost.

    When Muni advertizes for operators, a lot of people apply.

  45.  

    RichLL

    You cherry-picked one voter initiative out of hundreds to try and make your point. The voters have also approved new road systems in the past. Does that means that private vehicular traffic is also a “citizen priority”?

    Asking the voters if they want a better Muni will get a positive response. Asking them whether they will personally pay $N,NNN a year in extra taxes so that the 37 can meander the city’s hill with (usually) one person on it might yield a different answer.

  46.  

    murphstahoe

    long term tenants can be dealt with. Short term tenants are a moving target.

  47.  

    murphstahoe

    Funny – I’ve managed to be in compliance on two short term rentals for 20 years. Guess I just like following the law – or I am just a sucker.

  48.  

    RichLL

    Funnily enough, the biggest problem tenants on my block are from the one building that is tenant-occupied and rent-controlled.

    Two other homes on the block where I live are Airbnb’ed all the time and have never been the slightest problem. The average European guest who typically frequents these Airbnb homes is delightful, and certainly more pleasant than the controlled long-term tenants desperately clinging to their unit.

    The focus should be on problem tenants and not the duration of their tenancy.

  49.  

    RichLL

    Before Airbnb came along, short-term letting was small scale. Most people who did it, like me, used CraigsList,

    Back then there was little public discussion of the topic, and few people knew about needing a permit, or having to pay taxes as if you were the Hilton.

    And there was zero enforcement indicating that the city did not regard the odd mom ‘n’ pop hosts who were doing this represented a public policy problem.

    So it was a non-issue. When Airbnb started rattling cages, the controversy began, and smart disrupters moved onto the next new thing.

    If I were Airbnb, I’d move the entire operation offshore and give the city a big fat finger.

  50.  

    OperatorGrouchy

    May I direct you toward the recent posting for 9163 Transit Operator hires? A high school diploma IS required, many of my fellow operators have Bachelor’s degrees, and there is absolutely no way that first, second, and third year operators under the new contract are making $80,000 per year.

    9163 Job Announcement:
    http://www.jobaps.com/sf/sup/BulPreview.asp?R1=CBT&R2=9163&R3=058996

    9163 Pay Scale (look at the section for operators hired after July 1, 2014, which takes five years to progress through):
    http://citidex.sfgov.org/cgi-bin/dhr/findClass.cgi?MTA=true&MyID=9163