Monday, June 27, 2011

Central Subway: $8.5 million cost overrun before job begins

This might be some kind of a record: an $8.5 million cost overrun on the Central Subway tunnel before the job even starts

In Matier and Ross this morning:

The impact of the twin exits of Ford and Rohan could be felt in the coming months, when Congress makes the call on how much to pay toward San Francisco's billion-dollar-plus Central Subway project.

"That makes me nervous," Nolan admitted. "When Nancy Pelosi was speaker we felt pretty good, but now I don't know." Still, the city is boring ahead with the project---literally. On Tuesday, the transportation agency board will be presented with a $233.5 million low bid for drilling a 1.7-mile tunnel from South of Market to Chinatown. That's about $8.5 million more than what the agency expected.

Labels: ,

Portland: How not to enforce sit-lie law

This may not be much consolation, but cops---and city officials---in Portland are apparently a lot dumber than they are in San Francisco. Thanks to Jack Bog's Blog for the link:

Portland mom complains about sidewalk restrictions, city commissioners offer tepid response

Beth Slovic
The Oregonian
June 22, 2011

One of the frequent criticisms of Portland's controversial sit-lie ordinance---a city rule that prohibits sitting or lying in certain parts of certain sidewalks---is that it targets homeless people in Portland.

So when Crystal Vaughan, a 45-year-old mother of a 3-year-old boy from Southeast Portland, told the story of her experience with the city's sit-lie ordinance, the response from one Portland city commissioner and Mayor Sam Adams surprised her.

As Vaughan tells the story, she spent much of Thursday, June 9 enjoying the Portland Rose Festival. By 6 p.m., she was so exhausted she and her son headed for the MAX train on Southwest 6th Avenue. And when she saw that a nearby bench already had occupants, she sat instead on the wall next to Pioneer Courthouse. Her son slept in his stroller, she said.

But, according to Vaughan, a Portland police officer then barked at her for sitting on the wall. When she moved to the sidewalk, he barked at her again. So Vaughan moved again and didn't get a citation, as might have happened under the rules of sit-lie.

The city rules about sidewalk use downtown say it is possible to sit on city sidewalks outside of the 6- to 8-foot no-sitting zone. "I don't always bring my measuring tape with me when I sit," Vaughan told city commissioners during public testimony this morning.

Crystal Vaughan before Portland City Council on Wednesday, June 22. "This ordinance shows a lack of integrity," Vaughan said of Portland's sidewalk restrictions known as sit-lie.

Adams' response was direct. "That is the place we don't allow people to sit," he said of Vaughan's choice for a resting spot.

But Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who played a large role in crafting the latest version of the ordinance, took Vaughan's complaint and turned it into praise for the rules. "Your testimony shows it is evenly enforced," Fritz said.

Vaughan later called both of their responses dismissive and unexpected...


$233 MTA million tunneling contract


MTA Board is proposing to approve a $233 Million Contract to a Montana construction company (with Italian affiliations) to buy 2 tunnel boring machines to bore an 8,240 foot long tunnel and cross tunnels.

DATE: MTA Board Meeting, Tuesday, June 28, 9 a.m., Item 12

AT: City Hall, room 408 (on TV, Comcast Channels 26 or 78).

ATTEND and testify and write to and .

OPPOSE the rush to award one of MTA’s largest construction contracts in history because:

Due diligence is required to analyze the bids for qualifications, bidding compliance etc., especially with relatively low Local/SBE participation and bid protests.

It is unwise to attempt to force Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) and political approvals of Federal New Starts Funding (not due until December 2011) and State Funding in light of other priorities.

Evaluate the possibility of “low-ball” bids with risks for high change orders, particularly since the FTA has fixed Federal Funding (if approved) and requires that all cost overruns be paid by the City and County of San Francisco, placing the City at extreme financial risk.

The Central Subway is arguably a flawed project that reduces existing and future transit levels of service, and the purchase of two tunnel boring machines is unwise---until and if federal funds are approved in December 2011.

Given Muni’s continued deferred infrastructure investments, the drain of local Prop K Funds would exacerbate Muni’s short-term decline.

Contracts should not be awarded until the Project Funding Plan is secure and the status of Federal, State and Local funds is clearly explained to the MTA Board, Board of Supervisors, Mayor and citizenry.

Project cost estimates need to be reevaluated and explained, delineating cost overruns in design, project management, construction management contracts, specific station design costs, specific construction cost estimates, contingency amounts and plans for worse-case-scenarios.

All large infrastructure projects have exceeded budgets, often in the extreme, and the taxpayers must not be liable.

Project and financial risks need to fully disclosed.

CONTRACT information

MTA BOARD AGENDA, see item 12


Howard Wong for

Labels: ,

David Chiu, Sean Elsbernd, and Parkmerced

Good letter on Parkmerced in Beyond Chron:
To the Editor:

David Chiu's
transparent attempt to seem supportive of tenants rights by his last minute cramming of 14 pages of useless amendments to the Developer Agreement, while voting to demolish 5,000 tenants' homes, is as pathetic as Sean Elsbernd's statement quoted by Heather Knight in The Chronicle, Sunday, June 26, that the Parkmerced demolition will create more affordable housing for families in San Francisco.

The garden apartments here are the best place in the city to raise kids, safe in protected courtyards with green play space for each apartment away from traffic on the street. Which is where kids will be in this new idiotic scheme. Three‑quarters of the open space and 1,500 trees are slated for destruction with 6,500 new cars threatening the safety of kids who will be raised without patios, courtyards, balconies front yards or back yards!

How does this seem family friendly to you? Elsbernd has never stood up for tenants in his career, only homeowners in cushy St Francis Wood, Forest Hills and Parkside. If we wanted to raise kids in South of Market or Manhattan, we would have moved there. Families I know here will have to leave the city in droves if this demolition idiocy survives the growing onslaught of lawsuits and ballot challenges in the works.

I got 100 signatures in one hour walking around Parkmerced, and one hour at a tenants meeting. NOT ONE person I met said they liked this new plan. Where else can you find spacious three bedroom apartments in the city, especially rent controlled or affordable? Replacements units would be smaller and surrounded by concrete. Owners Stellar and Fortress will try their best to get rid of rent control under Costa-Hawkins and Ellis Acts. Look at the developers' own architect drawings that show busy sidewalks and streets with happy people---and not a speck of greenery anywhere!? They are planning to pave paradise, put up a parking lot for 6,500 new cars, triple the density, cause toxic pollution for 20-30 years, increase the carbon footprint for decades and move families out of the city in a massacre of the best place for diverse working class families anywhere in the Bay Area.

Sean Elsbernd has a two-yr old. I have raised two kids here, 12 and 17, and would never have dreamed of doing so in a place so inhospitable to children as the "density" housing they want to build here. Density indeed---this is the most dense idea I have ever heard called good for families! What foolish nonsense! Come to my apartment and see where kids should be raised.

Michael Russom
San Francisco

Labels: , ,