Ubiquitous Uber and Lyft

Ubiquitous Uber and Lyft

Why This Newsletter?

Peninsula governments are struggling to solutions for core issues impacting our quality of life. Residents can help their city government by deepening knowledge of issues and providing community input. We seek constructive news. We do our best to avoid Igorism. Igor, born 1924, is a grumpy, gloomy donkey made famous by Winnie the Pooh. Winnie, born moments before Igor, is happy and optimistic. We strive to be Pooh Bear. Encourage your friends and neighbors to stay informed on local issues. Subscribe to your local newspapers. Share our newsletter with your neighbors. Facts, analysis and optimism are more important than ever!

City Majority Hit Their Breaks

Council majority hit their brakes
A citizens initiative to halve office development in Palo Alto was made law — a surprise win for the slow-growth minority on City Council thanks to a swing vote.
Council voted 5-4 to cap office development citywide at 850,000 square feet through 2030 rather than sending the initiative to voters on the November ballot. The mayor and 3 pro-growth council members opposed the move to make the cap law. Five members voted in favor. One member usually voting for pro-growth swung over to the other side. He’s running for re-election in November.
Palo Alto Daily Pos

For a longer story on this cityquake, read on. Palo Alto earned TV coverage, too! Disclosure:
SFPRA Editor John Guislin is featured on the ABC news link.
Palo Alto Weekly
ABC News

Ed. Comment: Will this decision influence other city councils? We will not guess but are optimistic.

Oh, My! Why! $35,000/mo Condo

For Palo Altans with money to burn, one of three downtown penthouses is being rented at the jaw-dropping rate of $35,000 a month. A Councilwoman argued that high-paying jobs have led to sky-high rents. “What kind of policies allow that sort of thing in this community? Until we get our house in order, why in the world would we consider allowing more office?” she asked.
Palo Alto Daily Post

Ed. Comment: This is more than a Palo Alto story. We can’t answer the two questions but we can offer a very long explanation of housing costs. One of our readers sent us a great article entitled

“Why Are Developers Only Building Luxury Housing?”

To time-challenged readers, click on the link below and scroll to Point #5 addressing development costs of missing middle housing.

Ubiquitous Uber and Lyft

Riders are giving up public transit—not their cars—in favor of ride-hailing trips.
SF. Curbed

Partnerships between traditional public transportation agencies and Uber and Lyft have boomed since 2016. Where are they going?
City Lab

Ed. Comment: Do Uber and Lyft lift you above traffic? Does anyone understand their impact? We have concluded nobody knows. Not even the Daily Post.
Daily Post


NYC Cityquake

New York City muscled up against ride-hailing. Now it’s time to see what ride-hailing has up its sleeve. In a much-anticipated vote Wednesday afternoon, the New York City Council moved to impose a slate of new regulations on ride-hailing services. If Mayor Bill de Blasio signs off on the new legislation, which he is likely to do, New York would be the first city in the U.S. to cap the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles, as well as establish a minimum wage for drivers. It would also impose a new license requirement with more robust data-sharing requirements for the fiercely proprietary companies.
City Lab

Ed. Comment: It is premature to form opinion on the NYC state of mind. Confronting ride-share companies in the Bay Area is unlikely in foreseeable future. No Peninsula city government seems to be in a position to evaluate cost/benefit of ride sharing.

Tale of Two Cities

South San Francisco
coffers grow full with hearty streams of tax revenue. Officials approved an annual spending plan aiming to take advantage of the city’s improved financial footing.
San Mateo Daily Journal

Burlingame enjoys a reputation as a premier shopping destinations. But businesses are departing Burlingame Avenue due to high rents and parking problems are concerning to local merchants and officials.
San Mateo Daily Journal

Ed. Comments: These two articles reflect the common budget issues on the Peninsula. Most cities, nevertheless, balance their operating budgets…sometimes by the thinnest of margins. Despite a strong overall economy most cities silently sidestep two certain uncertainties.

First, long-term unfunded liabilities such as pension and retiree healthcare costs are rising not declining.

Second, aging infrastructure such as roads, sewers and other services is taken for granted. Regional transportation systems are stretched to breaking points. Will tax fatigue set in with waves of infrastructure bond measures hit pocketbooks during the next 10 years?

We think too many leaders are complacent planners avoiding unpleasant truths.

Billions NOT Millions

A coalition of Bay Area business leaders represented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council, along with the urban planning think tank SPUR, say that dream is the answer to traffic congestion on Bay Area roads, which grew 84 percent between 2010 and 2016.
San Jose Mercury News

In June the regional transportation planning agency put out a call for proposals. It’s looking for big, bold ideas that would completely transform the way residents and visitors move around the Bay Area. Don’t worry about cost, says MTC. The minimum price tag for capacity-adding transit or road projects is $1 billion, and there is no maximum. “If we can get enough interest in a bold vision,” MTC said, “we can chase the money for it later.”
San Jose Mercury News

Ed. Comment: These two articles reflect titan’s transportation titans’ gambling on public opinion without any planning. Dreaming and chasing money later is not hallmark of leadership. Thank you, San Jose Mercury, for your courageous journalism.

There is a much more serious policy issue beyond the dream for reliable public transportation. If basic transportation services are so elusive to BART and Caltrain managers, then why is it prudent public policy to delegate broad land use powers to any on these transportation agencies? Heaven help us from ourselves!


Building Height Debate Goes Sideways

After negotiating with a citizens group focused on keeping San Mateo building height limits in place for another 10 years, the City Council opted to focus its efforts on exploring a compromise ballot initiative on the November 2020 ballot.

In an effort to balance community input, City Manager and City Attorney were directed to spend more time negotiating with the group in a hopes of compromise.
San Mateo Daily Journal

Ed. Comment: If this sounds complicated, it is. Our best advice is to click and read the details covered by the San Mateo Daily Journal. We respect local decision-making. Perhaps the best decision is continued collaboration, but eventually the issue must go up or down….. going sideways fatigues the democratic processes.

We will bounce this issue to our readers as negotiations continue.


Can’t Fnd Parking?

Parking spaces are everywhere, but for some reason the perception persists that there’s “not enough parking.” And so cities require parking in new buildings and lavishly subsidize parking garages, without ever measuring how much parking exists or how much it’s used.

PA few cities attempt to estimate the total number of parking spaces and replacement costs. Additionally planners are working on metrics such as parking spaces per acre, parking spaces per household, and parking costs per household.
City Lab

Ed. Comment: Very few city councils are investing in proven technologies to manage public parking capacity and improve traffic. The next step (very difficult) is integration of private parking capacity with public parking systems. Full disclosure: Editors of this newsletter have painful personal experience for the past 7 years with commercial parking intrusion into residential neighborhoods. Our observations suggest few Peninsula cities are proactively managing commercial parking spillover into residential neighborhoods.

We also strongly caution against acceptance of crude, unproven parking metrics. Such metrics do not apply easily to the complex traffic and parking requirements of most cities. Metrics can work but not those promoted by developers trying bulldozing planners and politicians.


For Readers with a Spare Minute, Here are Some QuickLinks

Muddy Waters was a blues musician. State legislature is muddying waters for rental control.
Mt View Voice

As promised, here is update on new Samtrans bus service
San Mateo Daily Journal

Two strikes and a balk. East Palo Alto and Mt. View move ahead on business taxes. Cupertino hesitates.
Wall St. Journal

San Bruno tax equity for Airbnb, hotels, et al?
San Mateo Daily Journal

We Work Intensely
San Mateo Daily Journal

Luxury condos hit San Francisco’s waterfront, too.
SF Business Journal

Success of SFPRA newsletter success depends upon its readers. Please feel free to forward the newsletter to your friends and neighbors. Ask them to subscribe at no cost by clicking the subscribe button above or by emailing cnsbuchanan@gmail.com.

Editors, Neilson Buchanan and John Guislin, are unpaid, private citizens on the SF Peninsula and have no ties to developers or government organizations.

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