"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Muni Just Killed the 18-46th Avenue: 30 Minute Waits

I'm watching the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting live at sfgovtv.org and I'm really pissed-off at Muni's planned announcement to change bus frequencies for the 18-46th Avenue.

The SFMTA representative on the microphone specifically mentioned the 18-46th Avenue bus line on their PowerPoint presentation and clearly said that midday service on the 18 will be going to 30 minute frequencies.


The 18-46th Avenue is the only north-south service on the far western edge of San Francisco. It's like Muni just ruined the great reputation of one of the best bus lines in the city. Why do I consider it the best bus line in the city? Before all this re-route bullshit through Balboa, the best and most senior bus drivers had first choices on what bus lines they can drive, and they always chose the 18-46th Avenue. When the drivers say the 18 is the best, the passengers can totally agree.

Midday service has always operated on the 18-46th Avenue runs on 20 minute frequencies, which is totally appropriate for a bus line where the nearest other bus line is over a dozen blocks away at Sunset Blvd (the 29-Sunset).

If Muni moves the frequency to 30 minutes, that means literally destroying the bus line. Assuming a bus goes out of service on the 18, your wait can be up to ONE HOUR. That's like waiting for the Owl bus late at night. Would you like to wait up to an hour with buses that have so much deferred maintenance?

And how about the SF State students, staff, and faculty? How about the Lowell High School students? How about the people who do grocery shopping at the Safeway "at the beach" (LaPlaya and Fulton) and the folks who shop at Stonestown? Will you disenfranchise service to the young, the adults who don't want to pay the $5 parking fee at SF State, and the elderly?

Hey Muni, here's an answer for all of your problems. FIRE NAT FORD. Hell, why not just kick off the Board of Directors.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Next Fiscal Year for Muni: $53 Million in the Hole or could even be $103 Million

Muni is a total failure. Word from the City Insider is that Muni will be $53 million in the hole starting the next fiscal year, and could even become $103 million if they don't take any action right now.

Yeah, I've heard this all before. Scare the crap out of the public that their beloved transit agency (cough! Bullshit! Excuse me, a bad coughing spell) that the agency will go broke, so we can bend over backwards to pay more and get less service than the cuts we got on December 5th, 2009.

Who in their right mind would pay more for less service? That's what's going to happen if Muni gets their way.

$5 F-Market fares are totally absurd, especially just yesterday there was a massive MELTDOWN with the Muni Metro for the N-Judah and J-Church lines when they forced passengers to walk to the Church station or find an alternate way to get to work. Many packed themselves on the F-Market line, the only other service other than the metro serving above ground on Market from Van Ness to Castro. If the $5 fare was in effect during this meltdown, the metro would be even more crowded, or people would illegally board the F-Market to at least get a shot at arriving at work slightly late.

How about denying boarding the express buses with the "M" pass? Another stupid idea by the transit agency.
  • The 8X-Bayshore express is heavily used by the folks in Chinatown for the short hop to Market street and if the folks need the premium pass, they will have to ride the always crowded 30 and 45 lines.
  • And how about the Richmond district express buses? Would anyone pay an extra $120 a year to Muni just to ride it? My answer is a big fat NO. The 1AX, 1BX, 31AX, 31BX, 38AX, and 38BX helps to relieve the crushing capacity on the other Richmond district lines, especially the 38L that gets packed when it reaches Presidio Avenue and the people trying to save money would ride the local and limited lines to save dough in exchange for arriving to their destination about 10 minutes later than the express.

Cable Cars for a premium pass too? WTF? Are the folks at SFMTA so nearsighted that they think the Cable Cars are always for tourists?
  • Locals who work or live near the California Cable Car line depend on that line to go grocery shopping and get to their job. The California line may be a moneymaker for the agency as a tourist attraction, but it's for the LOCALS.

Muni needs to think smarter and not raise prices or put restrictions on our passes.

What does it take for Muni to consider TransLink to be a permanent part of the agency?
  • They keep saying "well it's still beta" or "we are still testing it" is a bunch of crap. Get the Cable Cars in motion and you have the system fully ready to go.
  • This means no waiting to pay the fare box, no more wasting money printing transfers, less mass production of fast passes, less mechanical breakdown of fare boxes and fare gates, and less time spent counting the change and dollar bills collected.

How about more timed transfer points? It works perfectly for BART when you need to go to Richmond or Pittsburg/Bay Point.
  • A perfect example of a timed point is at SF State where the 28-19th Avenue passengers can transfer at SF State (19th/Holloway) and quickly transfer to the 29-Sunset for the ride to City College.
  • They used to tell you about the timed transfer on the published time schedules Muni did back in the day, but the time schedules on 511 don't even tell you if the stop is a timed transfer point anymore.
I'm ticked at Muni. You can do a better job without giving the royal screwjob to the public.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Death of Casual Carpool: $2.50 on the Bay Bridge

The free rides across the Bay Bridge during rush hours for those who have three or more passengers in their vehicle ends on July 1, 2010.

The Bay Area Toll Authority approved a hike on the Bay Area bridges for all regular can go up to $6, and carpools now will pay $2.50. Really? $2.50?

Here's why charging carpools is so stupid:
  1. The need for tolltakers in the booths, and why should the tolltakers handle quarters? It will also slow down the smooth traffic.
  2. Requiring Fastrak? That'll be a pain in the ass to regulate. Not every commuter uses Fastrak and waits in line at the plaza to pay their toll.
  3. The death of casual carpool is the worst problem because it's been tradition that carpooling is always FREE and slugs are NEVER supposed to give money to the driver for a faster commute.
I thought San Francisco was going to hell with the bad Muni service, but toll hikes? Screw you BATA.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The San Francisco Restaurant Health Surcharge - It's Confusing

You might have noticed it on your restaurant bill, and maybe not at another place you visited... it's that 2-5% fee tacked-on to your meal. Restaurants call it a "health fee," others call it a "health surcharge" and others call it a "health tax."

It's really confusing, ain't it?

Since the City and County of San Francisco requires all employees to have some form of health insurance, some city restaurants decided to get all whiny about it by charging a percentage surcharge to every bill. Others have decided to obey the law by not offering a percentage surcharge and may simply just absorb that cost or just revise the prices on their menus.

Today, I'm going to target those pesky restaurants who sneak in that little surcharge.


Here's the rules I do understand if a restaurant wants to do a health fee/surcharge/tax:
  1. It must be clearly noted on every single restaurant menu (even if it's in small print). That's called informed consent; you have a right to know of any additional surcharges being tacked on, other than the sales tax. This is similar to the 18% gratuity charge for parties larger than 6 people and must be clearly noted on the menu.
  2. The restaurant must clearly note this charge on their receipts.

Here's what I don't understand:
  1. Can it legally be called a "tax" on the receipts and/or menu? For the consumer, it's pointless which phrase/word(s) used because you pay the same. But in a legal standpoint, it can be risky to call it a "tax" as it is only used for a government collection purpose.
  2. How is the health percentage charge applied? Here's three possible examples of potential problems: (1) Using the subtotal, calculate the health percentage and the sales tax separately; add them together for the grand total. (2) Using the subtotal, calculate the health percentage, add the two together, and calculate the sales tax. (3) Using the subtotal, calculate the sales tax, add the two together, and using the new total, calculate the health percentage.

To understand the difference between taxes and surcharge/fee, here's a great example:
  • California State University students pay "fees" but not "tuition" since California residents get their education tuition-free; legally, CSU campuses cannot use the word "tuition" unless the student is not a legal resident of California.
Here's an example of a restaurant that calls their health percentage charge a "tax:"
  • McCormick and Schmicks in San Francisco charged my gift card a "SF Health Tax" of 62 cents, and this was calculated by using the subtotal of my food and beverage cost (pre-sales tax) and adding 3.5%. The sales tax was calculated using the food and beverage total (not including the health percentage charge) at 9.5%.

I don't like these health percentage charges. It pisses me off when I'm being charged extra when I get my bill and they could have easily sneaked it into their menu by just charging a couple of dimes to the prices (or using cheaper ingredients). It's like the airlines advertising great fares, but not including the $20-$35 fees until you start booking it online.

Legal note: I am not a lawyer or attorney. This is not legal advice. Consult with a lawyer, city attorney, district attorney, or someone with a law degree for help. I may sound like some kind of lawyer, but I'm not one... I'm an Administrative Assistant.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pro Wrestling Back at the Cow Palace?

It's a gloomy Thursday around here with the pouring rain, and I got an interesting e-mail from Ticketmaster late last night.

They told me that WWE's Smackdown and ECW crews will be wrestling at the Cow Palace on Sunday, March 14th at 5PM (sorry, it's not January) and tickets will be sold starting this Saturday at 10AM. From the looks of the ticketing website, it's going to be a non-televised event based on the seating arrangements within the Cow Palace. Tickets range from $15 to $75 and parking will be $15.

Save money on parking by taking Muni's 8X-Bayshore Express.


Pro wrestling is back at the Cow Palace? The last time I recall the Cow Palace hosting a major wrestling organization is when the WWE hosted a pay-per-view event known as "No Way Out" in 2004 and I believe the late Eddie Guerrero won the title belt. WCW also hosted a pay-per-view event as well.

Just an odd question: I remember there's this old lady in the front row of the wrestling events at the Cow Palace, will she be back again?

For the past few years, I've been noticing a lot of national event touring companies like "Disney on Ice," and the "Harlem Globetrotters" avoiding the Cow Palace and always hosting their events in venues like the Oakland Arena and San Jose HP Pavilion. It used to be all three venues at once.

I've always wondered why a lot of the national entertainment touring organizations are avoiding the Cow Palace. Surely bringing big events can help the local economy (ok, not SF's because it is technically on Daly City's land), plus no hassling with driving across the Bay Bridge and paying both toll and parking at Oakland Arena, taking the torture walk from BART to Oakland Arena, or driving a huge distance to San Jose.

Maybe this is a comeback for the Cow Palace to host big events.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tell the SFMTA Muni board to Shove It on Tuesday

Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 19th) at 2PM in City Hall room 400 will be the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting, and things will not be very happy...

Two very special items will either be discussed or be mentioned during public comment:
  1. Muni's budget is allegedly bleeding so badly that more cuts and changes in policies would be necessary; and it could come as soon as May.
  2. SFMTA Board will decide if they want to renew SFMTA Chief Nathaniel Ford's contract for another four years. This is brand new news straight from the "City Insider" of the SFgate.
These two items are going to cause some major problems. The public is already angry at Muni for the pass hikes, service cuts, and fare hikes. Also, nobody likes Nathaniel Ford for having such an enormous salary and turning our transit agency into the worst piece of trash in the country.

The SFMTA Board represents the people of the City and County of San Francisco, DO YOUR JOB AND FIRE NAT FORD IMMEDIATELY.

If you are pissed-off at everything about SFMTA/Muni, tell them!

Friday, January 15, 2010

$5 ride on the F-Market and Premium Charge on Express Buses - IS MUNI NUTS?

Our city's public transit agency is a complete insult. With SFMTA/Muni trying to fill-in their massive budget gap of $16.9 million, the problem gets worse and worse every single time the agency opens their mouth.

Streetsblog San Francisco reports
that as soon as May, Muni could be doing the following:
  1. Fare on the F-Market line would increase to $5.
  2. Cable Car service would require use of their "A" pass and the brand new "M" pass would be rejected.
  3. Express buses would also only allow the "A" pass and refuse the "M" pass.
  4. Discount passes would increase to $30/month.
  5. New service fees for SFMTA services online and at their customer service center on Van Ness.
  6. An extra $1.50 fee per citation issued by the SFMTA.
  7. Neighborhood parking permits would be raised to $96 ($20 hike).
  8. Reduction in service on all Muni lines (means less buses and trains on the road).
All these ideas are terrible. Muni should not be screwing with their loyal (and sometimes not loyal) customers. The city should be investing more into our public transportation system.

Muni tried some of these tactics before during the Frank Jordan era, and it FAILED so badly that Muni retracted their premium fare for express buses, gave back bus transfers, and issued a single pass for all adults.

Who in their right mind would ever ride the F-Market if the fee is $5? People could just wait at bus stops, gather four people and get to Fisherman's Wharf in a taxicab in faster time, and the taxi fee per person would be definitely less than $5 a head. What next, charge $5 for the 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness Mission because it gets to the tourist spots at the Wharf?

Express buses for a premium fee? I can understand charging a higher price for the Candlestick and Bay to Breakers express buses, but not the peak hour express buses. Those buses help reduce the passenger congestion on the local routes, especially the 1, 38, 38L, and 31 in the Richmond district. If pass prices stay the same and you can only use your premium "A" pass on the peak hour expresses, you would be spending an extra $120 a year just for that feature; for those penny pinchers, that means buying the "M" pass and riding the local bus lines just to save money.

And less frequency on bus lines? Some bus lines only operate every 20 minutes, so adding another 10 minutes would be terrible and ruin the good reputation of some of our best bus lines. Plus, if a bus breaks down, have a nice time waiting up to an hour.

Gavin Newsom promised that our city would be a "transit first city," but more of these bullshit price hikes and transit cuts makes us look more like a "car first city."

The citizens are fed-up with everything about Muni. Muni is the WORST managed agency in the entire city. If the SFMTA Board can't do the job, we the people must start yelling at the top of our lungs and demand change, starting with the IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION OF SFMTA CHIEF NATHANIEL FORD.

The next board meeting is: Tuesday, January 19th at 2PM in City Hall room 400. If you cannot be there, e-mail them. More info at: http://tinyurl.com/SCREWmuni

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TransLink card program is improving, but still needs work

I noticed a few changes to using the TransLink card I wanted to share with you. Other than the controversy over the possible changing of the name to "Clipper" and no word of the management board's next meeting which should discuss this topic (no meetings scheduled from now until 2/12/10), there are some improvements that I'm impressed with, but there are also a few noticeable problems as well:

Positive improvements:

  1. There are upgrades happening on all the vehicle card readers. If you ride Muni buses, you will notice a small white sticker on the right side of the reader. From the looks of the sticker, TransLink has upgraded the memory and the battery backup for their equipment. The memory upgrade is a big plus and I find the readers to be even more responsive than before. As for the battery backup, it's a feature you will hardly notice.
  2. Another improvement is their response time for history reports. Instead of waiting several business days in the past for card transaction history reports, users can still make their request online and TransLink will e-mail you your history report within a matter of hours. My last request only took four hours, a dramatic improvement. TransLink claims they automated the online request process and will result in reports being generated within 24 hours.

What needs work:
  1. The card readers are still very unreliable on the F-Market cars because they are either not turned-on, have the red light with the "DC Not Responding" message, or the readers constantly trying to restart but continuously failing to operate in normal condition. I feel it is possibly due to the age of the vehicles, frequent power fluctuations (the lights flicker on the train when the overhead wires cross another wire); the SFMTA claims it's due to a power related problem.
  2. A second problem is Muni has not installed TransLink readers on their remaining F-Market vehicles that are not the PCCs and Milan cars (e.g. "boat" car, "Desire," and Melbourne). These are the "rare" cars that typically don't operate on Market, but run the shortened routes from Fisherman's Wharf to the Ferry Building.
  3. While the card user report is being generated at a much quicker pace, there's a need to allow the website to access immediate viewing of history reports instead of waiting for an e-mail.
  4. While I understand the TransLink management board is talking about our city's Cable Cars having portable card readers, Muni will never be fully TransLink ready until all the cable car conductors have the technology with them. I have a monthly Muni pass on my TransLink card, but I can't use them. If fare inspectors and Caltrain conductors have the new wrist strapped card readers, where are they for the Cable Car conductors?
  5. Is there a plan to install stationary TransLink card readers at the 4th & King metro platform for after AT&T Park sports events? If TransLink is in full swing on Muni and there's thousands of cardholders riding the metro, wouldn't it be beneficial to have an express line or an easy way to simply tag at the platform entrance and board the trains? Currently, the fare inspectors usually tell cardholders to tag on the trains, but due to the sardine packed crowds on the train, you may not get a chance to tag your card.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why so many illegally dumped Christmas trees on SF streets?

If you drive around the neighborhoods, it's common to find a lot of Christmas trees illegally dumped on the sidewalks and near public trash cans (it's an eyesore). It makes me wonder what the city has done to stem this problem.

I always remember that Sunset Scavenger (now goes by the name Recology) would tell everyone that they will pick-up the trees on a designated week (usually the same day they pick-up your black, blue, and green bins).

What makes it a little strange is why weeks after Christmas ended, there is so many trees out in the streets. Which agency is now responsible for picking up illegally dumped garbage?

Is it DPW's responsibility where it costs us taxpayers thousands of dollars (or even millions) a year for picking up illegally dumped trash off our streets or is it Sunset's responsibility?

Here's a question for Sunset Scavenger, if a person wants to dump their old tree (legally) , how can they do it? Do they just throw it in their compost bin or leave the tree next to their cans during pickup day?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SF Supervisor Chris Daly to use F-word at Every Board Meeting

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly may be known as a wild man for stirring up some controversy from time to time at the Board of Supervisors meetings. Who would have ever believed that his first public meeting for this year (Board of Supervisors Rules Committee), he would commit to something totally outrageous?

Yes folks, Chris Daly promises you, the public, some first class entertainment. He promises to use the "F-word" in every single meeting.

Here's a direct quote from 1/7/10's meeting:
"I just updated my Facebook status update, vowing that in 2009 I will use the word f**k in uh, every Board of Supervisors meetings; my apologies. [Audience member applauds]"

(I think he meant 2010, I screw that up at my job on occasion)


Hey Daly, keep stirring the controversy pot. The city's pants has fallen down and the underwear is next. Good for you to stir up some attention by providing a belt and suspenders (a.k.a. the f-word).

Maybe more people will now watch SF Government TV on a regular basis and make pool bets on what time he's going to swear.

Daly for Mayor? I want to be Mayor and say out loud on a microphone in front of city hall: "Muni is f**ked up!"

To watch an UNCENSORED clip of Daly's vow to swearing, click here.

Photo from Flickr user "geekstinkbreath" using a Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Consolidate Muni's 17-Park Merced and 18-46th Avenue?

Things are not pretty with Muni and all the service changes and the recent cost increase in passes is not saving enough money. It made me think, what bus lines could be consolidated to save Muni money, but still keep the service consistent?

My answer for Muni is to consolidate the 17-Park Merced and 18-46th Avenue into a singular bus line. I was looking over an article written by SF Appeal's Matt Baume about what bus lines are most at risk, and the 18 and 17 are high on the list for most at risk.

  • The 17-Park Merced is a 'loop' route that starts at West Portal Station, drives through the Stonestown Galleria, University Park North (formerly Stonestown Apartments), SF State, Park Merced, and basically backtracks it to West Portal. This is a very short route and is lightly used.
  • The 18-46th Avenue's terminals are the Legion of Honor and Stonestown; the route primarily serves the western most region of San Francisco's Outer Richmond and Sunset districts, and the isolated area on John Muir Drive.
Muni originally suggested ending the 17 line because the M-Ocean View line follows about 80% of the route (West Portal to SF State), but does ignore the intimate service provided to portions of Park Merced and University Park North, so it wasn't a fan favorite of the neighbors who fought to keep the line. Muni also suggested modifying the 18 to ignore John Muir drive and continue on Sloat and drive along the north shore of Lake Merced Blvd. and force the 17-Park Merced to provide service to John Muir Drive and the homes in the "Lake Merced Hills" residence community.

Here's two ideas:

My recommendation:
  • Combine both bus lines so it's basically a route going from Legion of Honor to West Portal Station. Instead of the existing 18-46th Avenue bus going to Stonestown, it will take a portion of the 17-Park Merced routes for service to West Portal.
  • This bus line will act as a back-up when the Muni Metro experiences a fail and can provide direct service between West Portal, SF State, and Park Merced.
  • The bus line helps connect passengers who live in the apartments at John Muir Drive to get onto Muni Metro faster. The recent elimination of the 88-BART Shuttle segment to their area is pretty bad, but at least those people can use one bus line to connect with Muni Metro at West Portal for service to downtown. For those who need BART, just transfer at 19th Avenue & Holloway for the M-Ocean View to Balboa Park or the 29-Sunset.
  • There's no need for the 18-46th Avenue to drive on Winston anymore, that's easily covered by the 29-Sunset for the short hop to/from Stonestown.
  • The combined bus route will need to take a more direct route through Park Merced because it would add additional time to drive through the narrow side streets instead of sticking to main roads like Font and Juan Bautista Circle.
  • The modified route will have to ignore direct service to University Park North, but it's only a few minutes to walk to the 29-Sunset on Winston & Buckingham, and just a few minutes away from the new combined route bus stop along 19th Avenue.
  • It would require Muni buses to run along 19th Avenue between Holloway and Winston if Muni wants to keep bus service near Stonestown. If Muni wants to ignore 19th Avenue and Stonestown completely, just move service to Junipero Serra Blvd. via Holloway.
Here's a custom map I made of the modified route:

View Larger Map

Alternate Recommendation:
  • An alternate option for Muni is to still consolidate the 17 and 18, but the modified route will terminate at Stonestown with bus service going through Park Merced. This would force any passengers needing Muni Metro to connect at the Stonestown or SF State outdoor platforms.
  • There is no need to make a new bus terminal for Stonestown, just using the existing one (19th Avenue & Buckingham) for the 18 works if the bus makes a u-turn at northbound 19th Avenue & Winston. The route back to Legion of Honor just goes straight through 19th Avenue and turns to enter Park Merced.
  • Service will still not enter University Park North (Stonestown Apartments) due to walking access to the 29-Sunset on Winston and the modified bus line terminal at Stonestown.
  • It's a more efficient route that helps the 18 maintain its reputation for timely service and gives coverage to Park Merced, but grumpy Park Merced residents who love to shop in West Portal or wants to take the metro at West Portal station will bicker.
Alternate map:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

21 San Francisco Municipal Laws & Codes You Didn't Know

I was a little bored during my two weeks off for vacation and I looked around the San Francisco government website and looked over the municipal codes. Here's some interesting items that you may have not known about.

Um... the city doesn't enforce all the rules, but you'd expect them to if they are in the books.

  1. Ever noticed why you pay so much for admission to an athletic event, exhibition, or another type of special event? The city taxes admission tickets 50 cents for a ticket valued at less than $25.01, and $1.50 for a ticket valued at more than $25.01.
  2. You also pay an additional 75 cent "temporary" tax on admission tickets if it is valued at $27 or more.
  3. If the city must burn wood for some purpose, it can only purchase certain types as the city has a ban on certain types of wood.
  4. The plastic bag ban is only applicable to those supermarkets whose gross annual income is at least $2 million, and to pharmacies that has at least five outlets within San Francisco (regardless of income).
  5. In buildings of at least 200 feet in height, there must be one elevator, but it must be also made for firefighters to use.
  6. It's illegal to sell baby chicks, ducks, and rabbits within San Francisco. The fine is $5 to $50.
  7. A public swimming pool (not just city owned pools, but includes hotels and health clubs) must have a permit issued by the health department.
  8. If you sell cold and cough medicine, you must display a warning notice that it is not for people between the ages of 0 and 6.
  9. Ever wanted to write your reaction to a ballot measure in the elections booklet? That'll cost you $200 just for the privilege, plus an extra $2 per word.
  10. That's right, cats must be on leashes (or a box) when entering city park property.
  11. Halladie Plaza is actually city park property, but has designated a manager for that area.
  12. Your dry cleaner must post a sign of their prices of their services. The ones I go to doesn't.
  13. Commercial advertising vehicles are illegal on the streets of San Francisco. Might be OK in Vegas, but not here.
  14. Replica hypodermic needles and syringes are illegal in San Francisco. I wonder why my local Halloween store didn't have any, but Daly City does!
  15. The San Francisco Police Department is required by law to have membership with the NRA (in particular, their pistol range).
  16. Ride a bicycle or some other type of human propelled vehicle? It's illegal to wear earphones, headsets, or ear plugs.
  17. While it is illegal to pay a parking meter with slugs or similar items, it's perfectly legal to dump a bunch of pennies down the slot (you won't get any time, but the folks who sort the money will get a kick out of it).
  18. There's actually a law that ringing the cable car bell cord is illegal.
  19. Here's every single parking and transit fine listed.
  20. Got caught speeding, and you are trying to find out what the speed is in the area? Look at this.
  21. Is there an athletic event going through your street? City law requires all athletic events to post signage that there is an event happening, and must include the date and time; signs must be posted every 300 feet, at least 72 hours before the event, and removed within 48 hours after the event. The city NEVER enforces this rule, and you wonder why neighbors are pissed-off.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

SFMTA Plans to Raise Fines for Disabled Parking Abuse - Finally, a GOOD IDEA!

Finally, something the SFMTA Board is going to do right: Raise the fines for disabled parking abuse.

No matter if you are disabled or able-bodied, you know how frustrating it is to find a metered parking space; in some areas, disabled placards line-up the entire block.

I'm not trying to blame people who have a legitimate disability, just those people who cheat the system with fake placards or borrow a family member's to take advantage of a free parking space or a preferred space.

San Francisco plans to raise the fine for fraudulent to $825 (originally $100), however the SFMTA Board can raise it to the new maximum issued by the State of California to $1,000.

The fine for parking in a disabled space without the appropriate credentials, and blocking access to the blue zone (including the hash marked zones next to spots) is proposed to be raised to $330 per violation.

Also, the new state law can allow cities and towns to permit their parking officers to issue the citations for disabled parking violations. In San Francisco, only the SFPD can issue such citations, however the SFMTA Board must change city policy to allow DPT officers to handle the task.

These are excellent ideas for the SFMTA. As we all know, the SFMTA comprises of its two anchor agencies: Muni and DPT. Muni is piss broke, and DPT is well... keeping itself away from the press. By raising fines, this can mean more income for the piss poor SFMTA, but also by confiscating illegal placards, this means more open parking spaces for people to pay the meters (on the flip side, more opportunities for DPT to issue parking tickets for expired meters, two hour zones, etc.).

On the negative end, let's hope the DPT doesn't become the bad guys by issuing massive fines for people who actually do have a disability. Not every person has some type of visually obvious disability.

The known legal methods for which a police or parking officer can review parking placards are:
  • Visually seeing if the placard is valid or expired.
  • Inputting the placard or plate's serial number into the database to check legitimacy.
  • Asking the driver and or passenger for the documentation issued by the DMV for the placard or plate.

One law I ask the SFMTA or the Board of Supervisors to adjust is the current law that it is illegal to drive with a disabled placard attached to the rear view mirror. The fine needs to be raised. That big plastic tag hanging on the mirror is a big visual block for the driver, especially if the driver is looking for the traffic signal or the stop sign on the right side.

Interestingly, when I notice the blue placard on someone's car while they are driving, it's basically a keep away order for me. I've witnessed numerous times of drivers with that placard doing some dangerous driving; in one instance, a driver sped by me at nearly twice the speed limit, cut me off, and made wild lane changes without using the turn signals. See photo.

In other situations, I've noticed disabled placard/plated vehicles park their cars inappropriately, such as the photo on the top of this blog posting. One I did not take a photograph of was at Lakeshore Plaza at the USPS drive thru mailboxes and a car with placard parked in the drive thru so that she can pick-up a passenger several minutes later and I was honking my horn and cursing.

If you want to report fraudulent use of a disabled placard or plate, go to: http://www.handicappedfraud.org/

Here's some more abuse photos:
Parking Idiot - Safeway @ The Beach
Stupid Parking Idiot - Daly City disabled spot CA 26058