Security robot that deterred homeless encampments in the Mission gets rebuke from the city

Grassroots Actions

By Alisha Green :bizjournals – excerpt

San Francisco residents continue to rage against the machines.

While the city’s board of supervisors moves toward finalizing limits on robots that roam the sidewalks to deliver food and goods, it must also find a way to handle security robots that patrol public sidewalks.

The S.F. SPCA in the Mission started using a security robot about a month ago in its parking lot and on the sidewalks around its campus, which takes up a whole city block at Florida St. and 16th St. Last week, the city ordered the SPCA to keep its robot off the sidewalks or face a penalty of up to $1,000 per day for operating in the public right-of-way without a permit.

The security robot is just the latest in a growing list of uses for robots around the city, from rental agents to food couriers. The robot surge…

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What Amazon’s HQ2 plan gets right: Move the jobs to the workers

: washingtonpost – excerpt

One disconnect in the American economy these days involves the thousands of high-paying jobs in cities such as New York, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco without workers to fill them. One culprit: housing shortages caused by zoning and other restrictions that make it impossible, or too expensive, for workers to move to these cities to take those jobs.

According to one widely cited study, this housing shortage has reduced economic output by 9 percent, costing the average American household $6,700 in forgone income.

The “zoning is strangling the economy” story has caught the attention of conservatives who dislike regulation, liberals who care about affordable housing, and environmentalists who want everyone to live in walkable cities. Not surprisingly, it has also been embraced by the technology sector, where most of the unfilled jobs are found, as well as by construction and real estate industries eager to build and sell more housing…

Before we rush to turn every San Francisco into a Houston, however, we need to ask ourselves whether the better strategy wouldn’t be to move the jobs to workers rather than move the workers to the jobs…

That seems to be the approach taken by one of the country’s most successful companies, Amazon.com, which announced this past week that it would spend $5 billion to create a second, “equal” headquarters campus somewhere other than its home base in Seattle. Rather than wait for Seattle to solve its housing and congestion problems, Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive (and the owner of The Washington Post) decided to help create another Seattle someplace where his company’s spectacular growth can be more easily and inexpensively accommodated…(more)

This is the best idea we have heard in a long time and one we have been suggesting for a while. Move the jobs to the people where they live and where the work in needed instead of crowding people into dense over-crowded small uncomfortable units. What happened to personal space?

Big cities have major problems that will not be solved by increasing property values and to raise property taxes as many civic leaders are attempting to do. The current rush to build and invest in capital improvements has left no funding for operation and  maintenance of those systems that are falling apart. We need another to feed the economy and maintain the infrastructure that is falling apart.

Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America’s new nomads

zRants

By Jessica Bruder :theguardian – excerpt

Rising rents are leading Americans to live in cars and other vehicles…

Millions of Americans are wrestling with the impossibility of a traditional middle-class existence. In homes across the country, kitchen tables are strewn with unpaid bills. Lights burn late into the night. The same calculations get performed again and again, through exhaustion and sometimes tears.

Wages minus grocery receipts. Minus medical bills. Minus credit card debt. Minus utility fees. Minus student loan and car payments. Minus the biggest expense of all: rent.

In the widening gap between credits and debits hangs a question: which bits of this life are you willing to give up, so you can keep on living?

During three years of research for my book, Nomadland: Surviving America in The Twenty-First Century, I spent time with hundreds of people who had arrived at the same answer. They gave…

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With ad ban, Muni finds another way to siphon money from transit

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

For sure, Muni’s not keeping pot off the buses

SaSan Francisco’s misbegotten attempts to legislate legal pot in this city have, truly, been a Judge Dredd moment. Just as in that film Sylvester Stallone “is just as bad as people who don’t like him say he is,” our city’s legislative torpor, neighborhood parochialism and capitulation to anti-marijuana zealots has been a display of government as bad as this city’s most hyperbolic government critics regularly accuse us of.

That … is saying a lot. But, last week, city government had one of those dreaded “hold my beer” moments — and propelled us even further into a farcical realm, banning marijuana advertising from Muni vehicles and property…

Just when you thought it was safe to move to California, San Francisco City Hall pulls a fast one. Since they can’t keep pot off the Muni they are retaliating by removing the pot ads.

Lee “urged” the board to nix pot ads on buses after a platoon of Chinese American anti-marijuana zealots protested at his Glen Park home on Nov. 11, urging him to nix pot ads on buses. Picketing outside a politician’s home is a bit tacky, but you’d have to expect more of it if it gets results. And, per Mayor Lee, banning pot ads is a moral necessity to “protect our future generations and communities of color.”…

Your humble narrator regularly commutes on not just any bus, but the 14-Mission — with a toddler in tow. Ads for legal weed approved by a supermajority of city voters are far, far from the most objectionable materials to be found within. Or without.

Stating that vulnerable people must be shielded from the malign influence of ads for weed rings hollow when weed itself is plentiful on these buses; at times, they resemble a rolling blunt bazaar. People are smoking out the back windows. People are rolling joints. People are conducting thriving businesses. The future generations, it seems, are adept at multitasking…(more)

This has to be one of the funniest articles I’ve had the pleasure of sharing in some time.

 

 

 

Artists working to live and work in safer spaces in Oakland after Ghost Ship

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

Tanya Retherford took KTVU inside a 90-year-old warehouse in West Oakland where she is working with the city of Oakland on a first-of-its-kind project to build a live-work space completely up to code at 30th West Street, with a special variance from the planning department.

Retherford is the architect and a future tenant of the flagship project.

“This is going to be an artist’s, co-living working space when it’s completed with 13 residential spaces and studio space, dance floor, and workshop,” Retherford said.

She was part of an art collective at another warehouse that was evicted by their landlord immediately after the Ghost Ship fire took 36 lives in Dec. 2, 2016.

“What we’re trying to do is shift the paradigm so that people can develop spaces like this and work with the city,” Retherford said.

With numerous people living in non-permitted commercial spaces, two non-profit organizations are offering support.

The Oakland Warehouse Coalition and Safer DIY Spaces are two groups whose goal is try to bring properties up to code, while fighting to keep residents in their homes.

Jonah Strauss, executive director of the Oakland Warehouse Coalition, said the organization was formed after immediately in the wake of Ghost Ship…

At the beginning of the year, Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an executive order to improve safety at unpermitted buildings. It aimed to prevent unnecessary displacement, among other things. Strauss and Keenan said city leaders are supportive of making spaces safer, but the order has largely been ignored by code enforcement (more)

It would be nice if more cities chose to help artist stay in place while they take care of safety problems as a response to dangerous living conditions rather than evict them and or fine them. Do it Yourself (DIY) projects are at the hart of the artists movements and have been for decades. Our city leaders should encourage that spirit of freedom to express ourselves instead of damping it down as they have done for as along as we can remember. This is the newest and only pioneering option we have left in this country, and any action to improve one’s life should be embraced. Make sure to share this with your local officials as a good way to combat dangerous living conditions without evicting people and adding to the homeless crisis.

Hacks review: Donna Brazile lifts lid on Hillary and the Democrats disaster

By Lloyd Green : theguardian – excerpt

Twice in the past five presidential elections, the Democrats won the popular vote only to meet defeat in the electoral college. In 2000, a mere 537-vote deficit in Florida and the US supreme court stood between Al Gore and the White House. Sixteen years later, Hillary Clinton garnered a 2.86 million vote plurality, only to see her ambitions dashed in the Rust Belt….

The former DNC chair’s memoir of election defeat has it all: Russian hackers, campaign drama and a reigniting of bitter internal feuds…(more)

Uber-Style ‘Surge’ Pricing Could Be Coming To A Theatre Near You

By Sammy Caiola : capradio – excerpt (includes audio track)

And you have Uber to thank for that, or whoever first came up iwth the idea of surge pricing.

Would you see a movie midweek instead of on a Friday night if it meant saving a few bucks on a ticket? Regal Entertainment Group wants to find out.

The company owns Regal Cinemas, United Artist Theatres and Edwards Theatres. There are nine Regal theatres in the greater Sacramento area.

Under a new pricing strategy announced this week, ticket costs would vary by showtime. At peak times, shows would cost more. At slow times, they’d cost less.

It’s a model already used by ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, and by sports teams… (more)

Will theater goers who are already disenchanted with the notion of dealing with traffic, parking and waiting in lines, put up with a confusing price structure for tickets as well? Surges usually go up not down. This seems like a good way to kill the local theater market that is already under stress from high prices and competition from online offers.