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SF garages to watch drivers’ plates, non-historic buildings, and bike lane opposition

Four things to know today

Photo by Shawn Clover

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

The SFMTA touts license plate recognition tech

It will be interesting to hear what San Francisco privacy advocates, who’ve previously opposed things like speed-limit enforcement cameras, will respond to a press release sent by the SFMTA this morning. Intended to tout the “new parking access and revenue control systems” in the city’s 22 SFMTA-owned garages, the release says that one of the improvements that “will make parking in city-owned garages Hassel-free [sic]” is a “New system [that] will address lost tickets with a license plate recognition system.”

It appears that this system was nearly a year in the making, as a June 3, 2016 press release from the SFMTA announced the kickoff of the systems’ installation. And it’s not like this is the MTA’s first foray into license plate recognition, as it’s obviously used to send tickets to double-parkers that block camera-enabled Muni vehicles.

A July, 2016 article from Parking Today, reports that a German company called SKIDATA was awarded a $19 million contract for the parking lot upgrades. That includes the “License Plate Recognition (LPR)” which “will be deployed in most garages to secure revenue and add exciting new use cases.” According to SKIDATA’s site, those who oversee the new system have the ability to see “operational data in real time,” including the license plate information of those who arrive and depart the parking facilities. On the plus side, as the SFMTA notes, you likely won’t get stuck with that “full day” ding for a lost ticket. On the possible negative, your movements just got tracked a little bit more.

Photo by Lori Dorn

Old or historic?

The Potrero View tackles the issue of old buildings that aren’t deemed historic this week, listing several “unofficial historic buildings” identified by Dogpatch Neighborhood Association members. In 2003 the SF Planning Department designated a Dogpatch Historic District “between Indiana and Third; 18th and Tubbs streets, it consists of residential, industrial and commercial buildings, the oldest of which was built in 1870.” However, not all buildings in an historic district are protected—only the “contributing” ones (that is, the ones that “possess historical significance and architectural attributes that are integral to the district’s historicity”) are under shield.

DNA member Katherine Doumani explains to the View, “Not every building needs to be preserved, but if you remake an entire place and you lose all traces of what was there, then you lose a sense of place. That unique sense of place is what makes Dogpatch so popular and so coveted by those who want to develop it. It’s a ‘catch 22’, which makes it even more vulnerable.”

Longtime residents might recall similar arguments applied to the Mission when it began to attract a new type of resident in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a discussion that continues today. Is there a way to accommodate people attracted to the uniqueness of your area, yet retain that uniqueness as the “new” folks move in? Obviously, that’s a question for the ages, and one that residents of the swiftly heating Dogpatch will have to figure out soon.


Protected bike lane opposition from an unexpected source

As previously reported, bike safety advocates created a “human shield” on Valencia Street between 16th and 17th streets during last Friday’s rush hour to push for protected bike lanes on the fast-moving street. While, as earlier noted, most cycling groups are clamoring for protected bike lanes, this week we see multiple examples of bike riders who are against the movement.

Streetsblog SF reports that during Friday’s activity on Valencia, “Much to the surprise of many of the protesters, there really didn’t seem to be any objections from motorists to what they were doing. Many stared out their windows at the protesters in what seemed like curiosity.” And while some “[c]yclists high-fived the protesters,” at least two bike riders were peeved at the demonstration:

One shouted “you’re not helping” and cursed at the protesters. Another cyclist, heading northbound, looked back and shouted at the protesters to “go home” as he inexplicably swerved into the oncoming lane, and into the path of an oncoming truck. The truck, however, was driving slowly, probably because of the protest. He saw the truck in the nick of time and swerved out of the way, leaving the protesters confused and puzzled. “Oh well, there’s always an outlier” quipped one of them.

Was it one of those angry cyclists who contacted Mission Mission this week, also decrying protected bike lanes? Identified only as “mushmouth” (?), the lane opponent says (sic through out):

No please no as a cyclist those things suck, I constantly get stuck behind two people riding slowly side by side chatting. They do nothing to stop cars but you will likely be hurt if you hit them on your bike. I highly doubt there were many injuries in the places they have been installed before they were installed. Seriously they are a solution searching for a problem.

SFBC if you want to make the streets safer get the quality of the pavement improved, and fixed right, maybe starting with the pothole that has been growing for the past year 20 feet from your HQ door on Market and Valencia.

With SF’s new, $90 million pothole repair plan announced Tuesday, perhaps mushmouth will be somewhat appeased. Now if only the San Francisco Bike Coalition can do something about those awful cycling conversationalists!


It’s no Serial, but it’ll do

The San Francisco Business Times is getting into the podcast game with Structures, a podcast on “the Bay Area’s sky-high housing costs, new skyscrapers, and development fights” starring the SFBT’s Blanca Torres and Roland Li.

The inaugural episode is 25 minutes of local wonkery (term used with affection), including their take on a CEQA suit on a Fremont development and the search for teacher housing in SF. They’ve put the episode up on Soundcloud here, but it just might be easier to click on this link here to subscribe through Apple’s podcast app.