Wednesday San Francisco News Roundup
VICTIM DUPED INTO BUYING WHAT SUSPECT CLAIMED WERE EXPENSIVE JACKETS
South San Francisco police are investigating a scam in which a suspect duped a 64-year-old San Bruno man into buying what he claimed were very expensive leather jackets at a discounted rate.
The victim was approached in a parking lot in the 400 block of South Airport Boulevard on Monday by the suspect, who claimed to be a salesman from Italy who did not want to transport the jackets back to Europe and offered to sell them for 10 percent of their retail cost, police said.
The suspect came across as believable and trustworthy, but the victim later determined the jackets were not what he claimed them to be, according to police.
No other information about the suspect in Monday’s case was immediately available, but police said the scam is a common one being perpetrated across the country.
Anyone with information about the case, or similar instances of people offering to sell merchandise in a public space, are encouraged to call South San Francisco police at (650) 877-8900.
COURT UPHOLDS $14.35 MILLION PG&E FINE FOR LATE AND MISLEADING CORRECTION OF SAN CARLOS PIPELINE RECORDS
A state appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday upheld a $14.35 million fine imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission on PG&E for a belated and misleading correction of records on a natural gas pipeline in San Carlos.
The correction, submitted to the PUC on July 3, 2013, concerned seams on Line 147, a 3.8-mile high-pressure pipeline in San Carlos. The previous incorrect information affected the amount of pressure the PUC authorized for the line in 2011.
The correction was submitted the day before a holiday weekend under the title of “errata,” a term normally used to disclose minor typographical errors.
The fine, levied by the commission on Dec. 19, 2013, included $11.45 million for the utility’s delay of more than seven months after verifying the information to submit it formally to the PUC, plus $2.9 million for a misleading and incomplete correction.
The commission said the “errata” filing had the effect of concealing significant information and was also not allowed because the proceeding to set pipeline pressure was closed. PG&E should have petitioned to reopen the record instead, the commission said.
The commission’s probe of the correction came in the wake of the Sept. 9, 2010, explosion of a PG&E pipeline in San Bruno in which eight people died. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause was a rupture in a defective seam weld that was incorrectly listed in PG&E records as seamless.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, PG&E was ordered by the PUC to improve its record-keeping and inform the commission of any information affecting the safety of pipeline operations.
After receiving the fine, PG&E appealed to the state Court of Appeal, which handles appeals of PUC rulings. In Tuesday’s decision, a three-judge panel unanimously upheld the penalty in a 63-page opinion.
PG&E spokesman Donald Cutler said the utility will not appeal further to the state Supreme Court.
“We accept the ruling and do not intend to appeal,” Cutler said.
The appeals court rejected a series of PG&E arguments, including claims that no harm was done by the belated correction, that the fine was incorrectly calculated and that the penalty violated a constitutional prohibition on excessive fines.
“Although the amount is large, so is the real and potential harm caused by PG&E’s inaction,” Justice James Richman wrote for the court.
Richman wrote that it was “preposterous” for PG&E to argue that the PUC should not have used its authority to impose a fine unless harm such as another explosion had occurred.
“‘No harm, no foul’ may work in the schoolyard, but it is no principle for the maintenance of public safety. Given the context here, PG&E’s emphasis on actual damages is dismaying, antithetical to the entire concept of deterrence,” Richman wrote.
PG&E had originally reported that three sections of line 147 were seamless and that a fourth had a double-arc weld. On the basis of that information, the PUC in 2011 authorized operation of the line at a pressure of 365 pounds per square inch.
In the correction, PG&E said all four segments had a weaker type of single weld, which required a pressure limit of no more than 330 pounds per square inch. The utility said it had already been operating the line at that pressure or lower.
In a separate case, the commission in April imposed a record $1.6 billion fine on PG&E in three proceedings related to the San Bruno explosion. The fine was for violations of federal and state regulations on pipeline record-keeping, classification and maintenance.
PG&E Chairman Tony Earley said at the time that the utility did not expect to appeal that fine.
WARRIORS BACK ON TOP
The Golden State Warriors have won the 2015 NBA championship, the team’s first title in 40 years.
Tuesday night the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, closing out the series 4-2.
While the game was played in Cleveland, Ohio, a raucous sellout crowd filled the Warriors’ home court, Oracle Arena in Oakland, paying $15 per person to attend a watch party as Golden State clinched the title.
Police in Oakland and San Francisco — the Warriors’ once and likely future home — said that they staffed extra officers in anticipation of celebrations if Golden State won.
The Warriors last won the NBA championship in 1975 when they defeated the Washington Bullets. Oakland’s last sports title was the Oakland A’s baseball team, which won the World Series in 1989.
SFMTA APPROVES RESTRICTIONS FOR PRIVATE VEHICLES DRIVING ON MARKET STREET
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to prohibit private vehicles from turning on to a busy section of Market Street in an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and improve the flow of public transit.
The Safer Market Street plan would ban turns on to Market between Third and Eighth Streets for private vehicles but allow them for public transit, bicycles, taxis, commercial and emergency vehicles, according to SFMTA officials.
In addition, it would establish new passenger loading zones and disabled parking areas north and south of Market Street, extend transit-only lanes all the way to Third Street and create new bulb-outs at several intersections.
The plan drew strong support from groups including the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk SF and city taxi drivers, but was vocally opposed by ride-booking service Uber. The company last week rallied its passengers and drivers to sign a petition calling for further study of the proposal and Tuesday said it had gathered 17,000 signatures.
Wayne Ting, general manager for Uber San Francisco, told the SFMTA board that Uber was a “strong supporter” of San Francisco’s Vision Zero plan, which calls for eliminating pedestrian deaths by 2024. However, he argued that the plan was unfair because it gave taxis “preferential treatment” over ride-booking service vehicles, which do not carry commercial licenses.
“If right turns on to Market Street are making Market Street less safe, then no vehicles should have the opportunity to make those turns,” Ting said, drawing several hisses from audience members.
His concerns were rejected by a number of speakers, however, who noted that Uber has actively fought to avoid being licensed and regulated in the same manner as taxis in other circumstances.
“If Uber wants to be regulated like a taxi then they can have the benefits of being regulated,” said Nicole Ferrara, executive director of Walk SF, before Tuesday’s meeting.
Ferrara noted that another ride-booking service, Lyft, had expressed support for the Safer Market Street plan. However a Lyft spokeswoman speaking at Tuesday’s meeting also spoke in favor of “consistent treatment” of for-hire vehicles.
The area affected by the new restrictions is home to four of the city’s top 20 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and the top two for bicyclists, according to SFMTA staff. A total of 162 injury collisions occurred between Eighth and Third streets between 2012 and 2013, nearly 60
percent of which involved a person walking or biking who was struck by a car, officials said.
“The kinds of crashes happening on Market Street are largely caused by vehicles making turns,” said Tom Maguire, director of sustainable streets for the SFMTA. “The only way to reduce these collisions is to reduce dramatically the number of vehicles who are making turns.”
A survey conducted by the SFMTA in 2014 found that 84 percent of people on Market Street had arrived by means other than a private vehicle, and even those who did use a private vehicle didn’t drive on Market Street.
SFMTA staff estimate the plan could divert 30 to 50 percent of vehicles off of Market Street, creating a 3 to 5 percent increase in traffic on neighboring streets.
“These improvements are a step in the right direction for the safety and comfort of everyone who uses Market St.,” said Noah Budnick, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “SFMTA’s research found a crowded and dangerous corridor, and they identified a solution to improve safety while reducing congestion. It’s a win-win for San Francisco.”