Monday, October 30, 2017

San Francisco: A predatory government

Average price of a parking ticket in San Francisco neighborhoods:

A new app from the startup SpotAngels helps drivers avoid parking fines by sending them notifications about street cleaning, meter expirations and more. Photo: SpotAngels
SF Chronicle

Last year the City Treasurer in a Chronicle op-ed: San Francisco has become a predatory government

Cisneros wasn't focusing on parking tickets, but we can put that important source of City Hall "revenue" in that context. See my Predatory government from earlier in the year putting this policy in perspective. The city makes more than $140 million a year on its parking meters and parking tickets. 

The city makes a lot more on parking tickets than it makes on the meters alone, which is why it likes to put more parking meters in city neighborhoods. No parking meters means no parking tickets can be issued.

See also MTA's new transportation fact sheet for more context.

In this morning's online Chronicle: The worst neighborhoods for parking in San Francisco

In San Francisco, parking regulation enforcement helps ensure that spaces are turned over, bus zones are not blocked, street sweepers can do their job and residential spaces are reserved for residents.

But they also have another purpose — making millions for the city.

Recently we wrote about a new app that pinpointed the 10 most parking ticket-prone blocks in San Francisco.

Now we're looking at which neighborhoods hand out the most parking citations — and reap the most money.

A new app from the startup SpotAngels helps drivers avoid parking fines by sending them notifications about street cleaning, meter expirations and more.

The SpotAngels app attempts to help people navigate the city's parking options with an app that shows all of the city's public parking, metered and free spots. The company analyzed SFMTA data and compared it to their proprietary data to find the best and worst places to park.

As some of the worst city blocks for parking tickets are located in the South of Market neighborhood, it comes as no surprise that SoMa is San Francisco's biggest cash cow in terms of generating revenue from parking tickets.

SoMa's parking enforcement officers write tickets that bring in more than $11.3 million for city coffers per year. That's about $2 million more than the entire 2017-18 operating budget for the Marin County town of Fairfax (emphasis added).

A new app from the startup SpotAngels helps drivers avoid parking fines by sending them notifications about street cleaning, meter expirations and more.

But SoMa is not the worst neighborhood for parking in San Francisco. You're about 50 percent more likely to get a parking ticket in two other neighborhoods than in SoMa. The above slideshow ranks the 10 worst neighborhoods for parking. Included is the annual ticket revenue for each.

The best neighborhood for parking is Twin Peaks, despite its relatively low number of spaces. Each parking spot in Twin Peaks averages less than one ticket per year.

A new app from the startup SpotAngels helps drivers avoid parking fines by sending them notifications about street cleaning, meter expirations and more.

Street cleaning is the most common parking violation in the city, with 539,980 tickets issued per year, more than double the No. 2 offense: parking meter violation. Residential parking violations account for nearly 130,000 tickets, good for third place.

SpotAngels claims to have saved its users in cities across the country more than $2 million in parking fines by sending notifications to drivers. Eighty-six percent of those savings were for the three aforementioned violations.

Rob's comment:
You need to view the online article to see all the graphics provided for different parts of the city.

Interesting to note that, instead of publishing this more informative story on a citywide pattern of predatory behavior in the hard copy edition this morning, the Chronicle instead published the story on the worst block in the city for tickets, as if the issue was all about confusing signs and city incompetence, not outright predation as City Hall's intentional policy.

Add some comedy: the MTA was recently rebuked by supervisors for failing to spend money fast enough! The MTA itself has billion dollar budget and, as of 2015, 6,263 employees.

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Technology and political violence



From today's New York Times:

...This past week, my colleagues at The Times reported on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in Myanmar that has been subjected to brutal violence and mass displacement. Violence against the Rohingya has been fueled, in part, by misinformation and anti-Rohingya propaganda spread on Facebook, which is used as a primary news source by many people in the country. Doctored photos and unfounded rumors have gone viral on Facebook, including many shared by official government and military accounts...

Information wars in emerging markets may not represent as big a threat to Facebook’s business as angry lawmakers in Washington. But people are dying, and communities are tearing themselves apart with the tools Facebook has built. That should qualify as an even greater emergency in Menlo Park.

Rob's comment:
The story also tells of Facebook's similar negative influence in India and South Sudan.

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Anti-Americanism on the left

Counterpunch

This is part of the left-wing Counterpunch's fund-raising campaign! As a former leftist myself---I'm now a mere liberal Democrat---I find this fascinating. Is it anti-Americanism that assumes the US is a malign force in the world or pro-Russian leftist sentiment that dates back to the early 20th Century? 

Probably a little of both, but it seems to be a perverse political alliance with the anti-American Assange, who evidently got those DNC email messages from the Russians and released them during the campaign last year. 

Why would an ostensibly democratic American left want to be allied, even indirectly, with the Russian government's attempt to undermine US elections? The apparent answer: they're blinded by their hatred of American liberals and the Democratic Party.


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