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San Francisco’s Population Boom and How It Impacts You

July 18, 2014

By : sfist – excerpt

By some estimates, at least 30,000 extra people have moved into San Francisco since 2010. Where are we putting them all? That’s still being worked out, clearly. But in the meantime, we could be looking at 40,000 newbs by the end of this year, and with this extra-giddy rate of population growth comes some definite growing pains. Exhibit A: This Chron piece from the weekend detailing the city’s woefully understaffed 911 system. Good luck getting an ambulance to show up before you bleed out in New San Francisco!

But seriously, we are a relatively small American city of (possibly) 835,000 people (805,000 as of the 2010 Census, and let’s just say 10,000 people per year since then, with the official Census estimate for 2012 being 825,000), and adding this many new folks in such a short span of time is causing some serious problems that we’ll be trying to fix over the next few years. Add to that the 35 percent population growth by 2040 that’s been predicted by the Association of Bay Area Governments. It should be noted that about 28,500 people were added to the city’s population in the ten years between the two last censuses, 2000-2010, meaning that growth is happening 70 percent faster during the last three years of this boom than in any of the years of the last decade.

So, fasten your seat belts. And let’s walk through the various ways the town is having some trouble handling all these new bodies, with all their new needs, starting with the most obvious one… (more)

The Housing Crisis

Overloaded Emergency Response System

Muni and BART are More Stupidly Crowded Than Before

You Will Never Find Parking, Ever

Traffic Is Worse Than Ever Before

You Will Have a Harder Time Getting a Reservation Anywhere

Regular Taxis Are Even Harder to Find

Property Crimes On the Rise

Sewage. Lots More Sewage...

Also, the Power Grid Could Collapse

So, in summation, things are crowded, life is a bit more inconvenient, and there are more people to compete with for pretty much everything. But, in the good-news column, an earthquake or another major financial collapse could bring rents down for a little while, and calm things down. Always look on the bright side, right?

Contact the author of this article or email tips@sfist.com with further questions, comments or tips… (more)

 

App outrage over San Francisco start-ups

July 15, 2014

By Christina Medici Scolaro and Mark Berniker : CNBC – excerpt

There’s finally a way in to the trendy restaurant that’s been booked for months, but it’ll cost you.

Reservation Hop is an app that makes restaurant reservations under false names and then sells them for $10 to $12. It’s also at the center of a huge debate, and one writer at Wired magazine has called the app “irresponsible and sleazy.”

Reservation Hop is igniting outrage because the company is trying to make money off of something that’s free: making a dinner reservation. If people don’t show up for their Reservation Hop, then restaurants lose out on the money that they could make if they gave the table to another customer…

“I think these apps are really taking advantage of the market place. They’re giving incentives and advantages to the rich people,” said Jill Duffy, analyst at PC Mag.com.. 

Duffy suggests the city of San Francisco issue a challenge to developers to make apps that solve problems for the users. More competition among developers leads to more solutions… (Can they build an app that creates more physical parking spaces? That is what the voters will be voting on in November.)

Finally, people should speak with their wallets, don’t use these services if you don’t believe in them, Duffy said… (more)

 

What If USPS Offered Banking Services? A Proposal for Zero-Cost Economic Stimulus Gains Steam

July 12, 2014

uprisingradio – excerpt – recording

There was a time in the United States when you could walk into a post office to mail a letter and also do your banking. The Postal Savings System started in 1911 and allowed millions of Americans, many of them new immigrants, to save money. Although postal banking was shut down in 1967, at its peak the US postal service was holding $3.4 billion dollars worth of savings.

Today, sixty eight million Americans or about one in four households do not even have bank accounts. In January the Office of the Inspector General of the US Postal Service put forth a proposal to bring back banking services to postal customers. While bankers and payday loan companies vehemently oppose the plan, the United States Conference of Mayors at its annual meeting in June fully endorsed the proposal.

While there are 32,000 post offices in the country, 60% of them are located in areas that are called ‘bank deserts’ where there is only one bank or no banks at all. The postal service, which already provides money orders and transfers, could also provide small dollar loans, ATMs and online bill payment. Financial services provided by the post office could potentially generate up to $8.9 billion in revenue while also providing relief to the 12 million people who relay on payday loans with their exorbitant fees to survive.

GUEST: Marc Armstrong is the co-founder of the educational nonprofit Public Banking Institute and its sister advocacy organization, BankACT.

Visit www.bankact.org for more information… (more)

CARMAnation Tries Its App at Solving Parking Peeves

July 8, 2014

By Leslie Nguyen-Okwu :  missionlocal – excerpt

Little upsets San Franciscans more than the chronic lack of parking spots in the city and in the last year any number of apps have tried to solve the problem. The average driver wastes an estimated hour and a half each month searching for parking, according to a recent survey.

Another app trying to reduce that time is CARMAnation. Its angle? Sell your private parking spaces for an average of $2 an hour. Launched in February, CARMAnation is a peer-to-peer sharing community of several thousand users who are both listing their spots and renting other spots. The process is simple: drivers offer to share or swap their private unused parking spaces for free or cash value. They are also given the opportunity to donate towards a local charity.

“San Francisco is perfect when it comes to working as a community,” said Ilya Movshovich, the chief executive officer of CARMAnation. “By working with the sharing economy, we’re focusing on solving the problem, instead of monetizing the process.”

In a survey of 1,000 Bay Area residents, CARMAnation found that some 57 percent cited the cost and chronic lack of parking as the most “annoying” thing in San Francisco. There are 471,388 registered vehicles in San Francisco but only 441,541 public parking spaces available. It’s unclear how many private spaces are available.

“We know that parking is a big deal and everyone talks about it,” said Ashley Cummings, the co-founder and vice president of communication. “It’s about using this untapped resource of people who have parking spots. It’s a matter of leveraging that.”

In addition to helping alleviate parking issues, the start-up partners with local charities. When a user offers their spot for cash value, CARMAnation retains 15 percent on the transaction. But when a user offers their spot for charity, the money goes directly to community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Make a Wish and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The app differs from the Sweetch and MonkeyParking apps, which focus on public parking spaces. Another app, Parkola deals in giving drivers real-time data on available spots.

CARMAnation is not only after private spaces at one’s address, but hopes to expand to larger unused parking spaces at public companies.

“With the Salesforces and LinkedIns around, the employees work nine to five and after, the lots are open with nobody using them,” Movshovich said. “It’s a great way to give back, getting people to work together.”

CARMAnation has yet to get a buy-in from any company that also has employee parking that is unused in off-hours.

“We’re trying to find balance in transportation for those who do drive and those who do share,” Movshovich said. “We’re privatizing parking one space at a time.”… (more)

RELATED:

Transportation Balance
By Ilya Movshovich, CEO of CARMAnation

San Francisco – Let me begin by saying that I am an avid cyclist. I also, drive, walk, and use BART, Muni, and Caltrain. I am also a co-founder and CEO of a San Francisco based startup (Welcome to CARMAnation), a peer-to- peer sharing community that is making parking more convenient and affordable. I strongly believe in the sense of community/working together/balance and importance of recycling and the environment. I think the streets should be made to work for everyone. San Francisco has focused on re-shaping city streets to make bicycling more attractive. The city as a result has put in significant amount of money into re- allocating street space to make bicycling safer. In my humble opinion, I believe San Francisco is not working on striking a balance, but is punishing drivers (limiting parking, increase in meter prices, and other policy regulations to discourage driving as a whole). However in trying to “punish” driving, they have forgotten to regulate cyclists.

San Franciscans dislike cyclists (not bikes) because far too many riders behave with impunity towards the rights of others. When walking, I all too frequently have to ask cyclists to please ride in the street. The response is either a) the one fingered salute, b) a stream of profanity, c) justification for riding on the sidewalk, or d) all of the above. How does such behavior foster goodwill towards cyclists?

Stand at the corner of 3rd and Market between 8 and 9 AM on a work day, and count the number of cyclists who have moved from the right hand side of the street to the left in order to make an illegal left hand turn while running a red light, completely oblivious to the stream of pedestrians trying to cross with the right-of-way. There are many encounters between motorists and cyclists, with the motorist frequently being in the wrong, but how often have you seen an encounter between a pedestrian and a cyclist where the pedestrian is in the wrong? Personally speaking, I never have.

If San Francisco and cycling activists want fewer cars on the road, why do so many cyclists challenge pedestrians? Aren’t walkers part of the solution? Until rampant poor behavior on the part of cyclists is brought under control, the cycling community and the city of San Francisco will never garner the respect and voice in urban planning it so badly wants. Furthermore, as I stated in the beginning, “I strongly believe in the sense of community/working together/balance…” Lets not punish those that drive.

Sometimes proper balance of friendship is restored when we put fewer grains of friction. While services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have gained overwhelming popularity, not everyone can afford to sell their car and rely on these peer-to-peer offerings. Public transit in San Francisco is limited based on where you want to go and doesn’t always run on time. You also can’t carry all your groceries on a bicycle. The city of San Francisco has to remember that not everyone living in the city is single in their 30s and knows how to ride a bicycle either.

For seniors and the disabled, families with children, and many others in the community a car is part of their daily life, and the high cost of living in San Francisco. Many have to commute from outside the city for work. It is their livelihood and they are part of this great diverse community as well. Where can we park them at the right time for the right price, without punishing them for owning a car? “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg

Supes won’t let Pinterest move into Design Center

July 7, 2014

By J.K. Dineen : sfgarew – excerpt

It looks like Pinterest won’t be pinning its headquarters in Showplace Square after all.

A measure that would have replaced dozens of tenants at 2 Henry Adams St. with a San Francisco headquarters for the tech darling is all but dead after the Board of Supervisors Land Use & Economic Development Committee voted Monday to table the matter indefinitely.

RREEF, the owner of San Francisco Design Center at Showplace Square, had sought to take advantage of a city zoning ordinance that allows owners of designated historic landmarks to change zoning from so-called PDR – production, distribution and repair – to traditional office space. That would have allowed Pinterest to locate its offices there.

While Supervisor Malia Cohen said the Design Center building deserves landmark designation, she was uncomfortable with the property’s owner’s plans to move many longtime design businesses out. As the sponsor of the property’s landmark legislation, Cohen is the only supervisor who can revive it. She said she has no intention of doing so…

John McEvoy, an art dealer who has been in the design center for 24 years, said Pinterest is not the issue. “I use Pinterest. It could be State Farm Insurance. The problem is putting office tenants in the shrinking PDR space of San Francisco.”… (more)

Our thanks to Malia Cohen, her staff, and the Land Use Committee for helping preserve the Design Center for its intended purpose. We need to protect well-established non-tech jobs and businesses that have thrived for decades from extinction.

We look forward to seeing legislation that will protect historic landmarks from zoning conversions. Efforts to protect PDR businesses and jobs in San Francisco are ongoing as are efforts to protect the parking they rely on. The voters will have a few decisions to make this November that could shift policies at City Hall.

We are happy to report that the Restore Transportation Balance initiative handed in over 17,000 signatures today so residents will be voting on how they feel about the current SFMTA policies. Details on that campaign will be forthcoming: http://www.restorebalance14.org/

 

 

Democrats’ Florida push calls for US shift on Cuba

July 6, 2014

: AP – excerpt

MIAMI (AP) — When Charlie Crist went to Miami’s Little Havana recently, the Democratic candidate for governor stood before a crowd and said what few politicians have in decades of scrounging for votes in the Cuban-American neighborhood: End the trade embargo against Cuba.

“If you really care about people on the island, we need to get rid of the embargo and let freedom reign,” he said, shouting above a small band of protesters who responded with chants of “Shame on you!”

Crist’s supporters cheered louder.

It was a scene inconceivable just a few years ago, when politicians were careful about what they said on the issue, for fear of alienating Cuban-American voters, many of whom fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the 1960s.

But Democrats now sense an opening with newer Cuban arrivals and second-generation Cuban-Americans who favor resuming diplomatic relations with the communist island… (more)

Looks like Crist is going for broke. He is all in or all out. The citizens of Florida have choices they haven’t had in decades.

 

Now You Can Buy And Sell S.F. Restaurant Reservations Too

July 6, 2014

by : sfist – excerpt

The increasingly distasteful “sharing economy,” which is becoming more of an “a**hole economy” with every new greed-driven app, takes another step in a distasteful direction with ReservationHop, a site that lets people buy and sell restaurant reservations for $5 to $12 apiece. As CBS 5 reports, the startup is just now launching in San Francisco, offering hard-to-get and not-so-hard-to-get reservations on Fridays and Saturdays at restaurants like Nopa, Park Tavern, and even State Bird Provisions. They’re doing this by offering to pay people undisclosed sums (it says you can name your price) for reservations they already have in their name and are not going to use.

Available reservations then go up for sale on the site and are available up until 4 hours before the reservation time, at which point, if they’re not claimed, ReservationHop calls the restaurant to cancel. This of course would not work for restaurants like Benu, where you’re charged $195 per person if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice, or Saison, where you’re charged the full menu price if you cancel with less than a full week’s notice. And ReservationHop is trying to mitigate restaurant objections to their business model by saying, “We believe that we can reduce no-shows through a paid reservation system, without putting tables at risk.” They point to the ticketing system now being used at Grant Achatz’s Chicago restaurants Next and Alinea, and how they were able to decrease the number of no-shows by 75%… (more)

Good article on a steamy hot topic that is just starting to percolate. We need a serious public debate on the sharing concept and what sharing really means. Sharing economies are not benevolent endeavors. If you look up the meaning of “share” in the dictionary, what
you will see is: split, apportion, participate in. The commodity is data and participation is not free.
Sharing sounds more like a business deal than a desirable act of unselfishness and generosity. Looking at it that way makes all the contracts SFMTA is signing with sharing companies for exclusive use of public property less defensible, since they are picking winners and losers.

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