Apartment owners take on Ed Lee, pour in $50k to defeat transportation bond measure

: sfgate – excerpt

It’s looking like the fight over an otherwise hum-drum ballot measure has turned more interesting — and immensely personal.

The San Francisco Apartment Association, which represents landlords and usually spends its time fighting City Hall over housing issues, has poured more than $50,000 in recent weeks into the fight against Proposition A.

Yes, that Prop. A — the $500 million, nearly universally popular transportation bond that Mayor Ed Lee has staked his political future on and every single supervisors is backing.

Some of the money went toward two mailers sent out by a group called the San Francisco Taxpayers Association that claim the ballot measure authorizes a “billion-dollar blank check” and “could raise taxes on homeowners and renters.” The mailer is signed by a number of groups, including the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and the San Francisco Green and Republican parties…

“We have lost faith that this administration is able to lead the city, and if you look at the reasons why — you will see huge contributions by the tech industry into this (measure),” she said. “Something is broken, and until all parties are brought in to formulate policy through his leadership, we will oppose a continuation of this.”…

“The reality is we have a congested city and we have to have a better transportation system,” he (Mayor Lee) said. “What about the $250 million in Proposition A we are willing to spend on pedestrian safety?”… (more)

I am laughing so hard at the Mayor’s comments I can hardly write.  “The reality is we have a congested city, (duh?) and we have to have a better transportation system,” he said.
The Mayor answered his own question. The SFMTA was given sole responsibility for fixing traffic problems over the last two years and they have only succeeded in creating gridlock and confusion and pissing everyone off, including their drivers and riders.

Their tactics are backfiring on them BECAUSE THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE for the gridlock and everyone knows it. You don’t reduce traffic lanes and street parking to ease congestion, and we suspect the voters are smart enough to figure that out.
Money will not win this argument. The people who are mad as well and aren’t going to take it anymore will.

Twitter conference blocks off scores of parking spaces for no apparent reason

: sfgate – excerpt

There’s an oft-repeated claim these days that San Francisco is up for sale to the highest bidder. We’d say that seems to be the case when scores of parking spaces in the Civic Center are closed off for a Twitter conference, but payment to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is a mere $1,194.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was the site Wednesday of a one-day conference called Flight, put on by Twitter for mobile developers. At the request of conference producer Another Planet Entertainment, the SFMTA gave the go-ahead for signs to be posted notifying drivers they’d be towed if they parked on Grove between Larkin and Polk streets or on Larkin between Grove and Hayes.

The spaces were reserved for set-up Tuesday, the conference Wednesday and clean-up Thursday, though almost all the parking spaces Thursday morning were empty or dotted with just a neon green cone. Just three small trucks were parked in front of the auditorium. Meanwhile, some people driving to City Hall circled for 30 minutes before finding a spot — far away.

Copies of the permits for temporary signage restricting the parking spaces show that Another Planet paid the standard rate,  which, it could be argued, is the first time in history any city fee has ever seemed low.

Eric Sainz, operations manager for Another Planet, said his company requested the number of spaces Twitter said it would need. He acknowledged they weren’t really needed all day Thursday, but the signs remained up.

Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, e-mailed, “We had all the proper permits for the spaces, just like any of the other large event-holders in that area, like Salesforce. In fact, we were required to keep many of those spaces open as part of the security protocols.”

Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA said, “Based on the information presented, this was an appropriate plan.”… (more)

Looks like it is time to re-visit the protocols.  Hopefully Supervisors Cohen can include these reports into her legislative efforts to free up overly broad toe-zones for construction sites. The problem appears to lie in some regulatory code that was probably sneaked in while no one was looking. Let’s start by requesting a copy of the security protocols that require blocks of reserved parking when none is required.

Cutting off blocks of traffic always impacts Muni as well as everyone else. How far behind schedule did this event put Muni? And how many Muni riders missed out on their regular routes because of this?

How do you find out about the route changes if you don’t have a computer or smart phone to refer to? If SFMTA is going to send out notices that way, they should hand out phones to everyone who can’t afford them so they can check from home to see if their routes have changed.

CalBike Looks Back at This Year’s Legislative Efforts–and Ahead to the Next

by : CalBike – excerpt

The California Bicycle Coalition–CalBike–supports local bicycle advocacy efforts to build better bike networks. It does this in part through its work on state legislation that promotes bicycling and via its efforts to increase the amount of funding available for building better bike infrastructure.

California is poised to become one of the most bike-innovative states in the nation. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) got a new mission and vision statement this year that is more bicycle friendly, and endorsed progressive street designs. A new State Transportation Agency is shaking up how California traditionally thinks of transportation, and we got to see the first rounds of the Governor’s new “Active Transportation Program.”

While the 2014 legislative session wasn’t ideal in every way, our policymakers took huge steps forward, most importantly with exciting advances toward modern street design. You can find links to exact bill language, fact sheets, and letters to and from lawmakers at the California Bicycle Coalition website here

More Funding Approved, but Not Much
More funding is essential to building the infrastructure California needs to get more people to ride bikes. It is also key to economic sustainability. Active transportation infrastructure creates more jobs during construction and supports the local economy during its lifetime.

At $129 million, or barely 1 percent of the state’s transportation budget for biking and walking combined, funding for bike infrastructure is paltry at best.

We had limited success this year with our efforts to increase bicycle funding. Despite our advocacy, there was no increase in the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The formulas for spending cap-and-trade revenue did make active transportation eligible for about $65 million this year and up to 10 percent ($200-$500 million) in future years, but there are no guarantees that it will be spent on active transportation. Increasing and protecting the amounts eligible for active transportation in the ATP, in cap-and-trade funds, and from other sources is a goal for next year

The Governor did indicate support for more bike funding by signing AB 1183, which allows a $5 vehicle registration surcharge dedicated to bicycle infrastructure. Originally proposed as a tax against bikes, the bill was amended — thanks to our work and that of Senate Governance & Finance Chair Lois Wolk — to become a vehicle license surcharge.

AB 1183 is more of a symbolic statement than a practical funding source, because local agencies would need two-thirds voter approval to impose the surcharge. Until the minimum threshold to pass tax-related ballot initiatives is lowered, this surcharge is most likely not going to be a viable source of revenue… (more)

Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit

B : latimes – excerpt

Los Angeles County has funneled billions of dollars over the last two decades into new rail lines to lure commuters out of their cars and off the region’s overcrowded freeways. But many would-be train riders are struggling with how to start.

One of the biggest barriers to attracting new riders to Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains is not the price of fares or the frequency of service. It’s the lack of parking…

Half of Metro’s 80 rail stations have no parking. And at the stops where there are spaces, riders frequently complain that there aren’t nearly enough. In North Hollywood, where the Red Line subway ends, the MTA estimates that it loses as many as 1,500 riders a day because the parking lot fills up by 7:30 a.m…

Scott’s daily dilemma illustrates an often overlooked but significant choke point in the ambitious growth of L.A.’s light-rail system. Metro’s six-line network, which has seen steady ridership gains over the last five years, now carries about 350,000 people on work days. Parking shortages could complicate Metro’s goal of shifting hundreds of thousands more drivers to public transit in coming decades.

Planners say it’s impractical, perhaps impossible, to build enough free parking. Train station lots have low turnover because most commuters leave their cars all day. To meet demand, Metro lots would have to sprawl far beyond the station—or, in dense urban areas, rise several stories.

Studies from several U.S. cities show a direct link between parking and ridership, suggesting that full lots discourage some people from riding the train. But limited land availability and high construction costs constrict Metro’s ability to add spaces…

Northern California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system faces similar questions. A recent study there estimated a dozen new above-ground parking garages in Oakland, Berkeley and nearby suburbs would cost nearly $250 million to build—about $36,000 per space…  (more)

 

Tech mogul Sean Parker befriends politics (and parking)

Originally posted on zRants:

Shalene Gupta :Fortune – excerpt

Sean Parker, the former Facebook president and Napster co-founder, is in the cross-hairs for his support of a car-friendly ballot initiative in San Francisco.

All Sean Parker wanted to do was help San Francisco’s poor. The tech billionaire who co-founded Napster and served as Facebook’s first president donated $49,000 to a San Francisco initiative that would make life easier for drivers. The result? Local papers have labeled Parker the enemy.

At first brush, the referendum seems innocuous enough. It would set a number of car-friendly goals like rolling back parking fees outside of peak hours and letting residents approve new parking meters. It also asks that motorists be given more seats on the local public transit board and encourages city planners make congested streets flow more smoothly.

“I have a long-standing frustration that the only people who are significantly disadvantaged by onerous DMV regulations…

View original 47 more words

S.F. building boom eats up street parking

By Vivian Ho : sfchronicle – excerpt

The sound of jackhammers and beeping tractors in many San Francisco neighborhoods is as common as the squawk of seagulls at AT&T Park or the rumble of F-line streetcars on Market Street.

But with every lurch of the city’s construction boom, a precious urban commodity disappears: street parking…

Gordon said the department approves about 1,000 new street-space permits a month. They vary in duration, and in whether they can be enforced only during work hours or 24 hours a day.

Public works, Gordon said, does not consider whether a permit request is being made in an area that has already lost parking spaces to other ongoing projects…

Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the southeast area of the city, said she’s been working with the city attorney’s office in recent months to draft legislation that would improve the construction parking permit system…

Her focus is on limiting the 24-hour parking permits so that residents can, at the very least, park overnight.

“I’m not interested in this current wholesale blanketed process of, ‘You want 24 hours? Here, have 24 hours,’” Cohen said. “And then when you’re driving around trying to find parking, you see a whole street free but you can’t park there.”

Cohen said she would also look into whether the city should limit the number of active permits in one small area.

Cohen introduced the drafting request last month, and hopes to have a piece of legislation by the end of November… (more)

Thanks to Supervisors Cohen for looking into the construction parking problem. One of the major causes of gridlock, other than street diets, is the double parked cars around construction sites. Many are not legal, but it is hard to tell unless you check. Thanks  for looking into this.

Brief Reveals Flaws with San Francisco’s Transportation Task Force Report

by Wendell Cox : pacificresearch – excerpt

Today PRI released a brief reviewing San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Transportation Task Force Report: 2030. The brief is a supplement to PRI’s earlier study “Plan Bay Area Evaluation” (June 2013), which critiqued the plan developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).  Both the brief and the study were authored by Wendell Cox, a PRI fellow and consultant on public policy, planning, and transportation issues.

Mr. Cox writes, “Even if all of the required funding recommended by the Task Force Report is obtained, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is unlikely to be able to deliver on the promises of the 2030 transportation plan.”

Mr. Cox believes that the plan gives little or no attention to the potential for increasing truck and automobile congestion on the city’s streets: “Street improvement programs will give greater priority to transit, cycling, and walking, and will have a necessary effect of slowing general vehicle travel. Similarly, the implementation of additional exclusive bus lanes and taking of capacity from streets for cycle lanes would likely have the same effect. Traffic congestion retards the productivity of the city by increasing travel times, increasing business costs, higher air pollution, and greater greenhouse gas emissions as vehicles are less fuel efficient at slower speeds and in ‘stop’ and ‘go’ conditions.”

In addition, Mr. Cox believes that escalating costs will also present difficulties:

1)    Most of the costs of the 2030 transportation plan are for capital improvements.  In the public sector, capital improvements are inherently susceptible to substantial cost overruns.

2)    The Task Force Report indicates little or no commitment to cost effectiveness.  Muni’s costs over the last 15 years have risen far more than inflation.  This occurs because there is no competitive influence to keep transit costs under control.

Mr. Cox writes that it seems unlikely that the city would be able to deliver on the expensive capital projects in the 2030 plan without significant strategies to ensure that projects stay on budget.  He suggest that the plan might be accomplished through “design-build” contracts with winning bidders that obligate them to deliver the finished projects within budget, making up for the additional expenses from their own resources.  He adds that there are public policy solutions that can bring transit costs under control, which make it possible to maximize service levels for the public and keep fares low — for example, competitive contracts that involve the use of private and public companies to operate individual routes of the transit system for the lowest cost.

Download full report

To learn more about “Evaluation Plan Bay Area: Transportation Task Force Report: 2030” or to arrange an interview with author Wendell Cox,, please contact Rowena Itchon (ritchon@pacificresearch.org) or Laura Dannerbeck (dannerbeckconsulting@gmail.com) at the Pacific Research Institute… (more)

So we aren’t all crazy when we claim that “

Traffic congestion retards the productivity of the city by increasing travel times, increasing business costs, higher air pollution, and greater greenhouse gas emissions as vehicles are less fuel efficient at slower speeds and in ‘stop’ and ‘go’ conditions.”

The experts agree with us.

 

S.F.’s Prop. A is first step on road to put driving last

By Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross : sfgate – excerpt

There’s a lot more to San Francisco’s $500 million Proposition A than fixing roads — it’s really the first step in a master plan to put buses, bikes and pedestrians on the fast track and move cars into the slow lane.

A close look at the projects that would be funded by Prop. A shows the overall plan calls for reducing miles of traffic lanes for cars, removing an unknown number of parking spaces and reducing stops on several Muni lines to enable the buses to cross town faster.

The biggest chunk — $142 million — would go into new traffic signals, crosswalks and other projects to speed Muni and make it safer to cross the street.

Market Street would get $90 million for rehabbing and upgrading Muni boarding islands, bike lanes, sidewalks, traffic signals and bus and streetcar service between Castro Street and the Embarcadero.

Prop. A would also provide $30 million to help repair or replace 40 escalators and elevators that are forever breaking down, many of them at stations shared by BART and Muni Metro… (more)

Don’t know if this is the first step, it is definitely the next step. SFMTA and their supporters are really on the block. Most critics of Prop A point to language that states the SFMTA “may” spend the money this way, which is not the same as saying the money “shall be spent this way.”

According to the city controller, passage of this bond will result in higher property taxes and those taxes may be passed through to renters.

The bottom line is do you trust SFMTA to do what it promises based on past performance? If the answer is “no” and you want the right to own a car, you will want to vote No on A and B and Yes on L. For more on why go here: http://savesfmuni.wordpress.com/

RELATED:
San Francisco, California To Vote On Anti-Motorist Bond Measure

Prop. A aims to help city with transit upgrades

by sfexaminer -excerpt

One of three transportation measures on the November ballot, Proposition A would allow San Francisco to borrow up to $500 million by issuing general-obligation bonds to go toward improving its transit infrastructure and aging roads…

Prop. A permits a property-tax increase to pay for the bonds if necessary, and landlords could pass up to 50 percent of the tax increase to tenants. According to projections from City Controller Ben Rosenfield, the highest estimated annual property tax for a homeowner with an assessed value of $500,000 would be about $91.02.

Groups including Save Muni, the San Francisco Taxpayers Association and Libertarian Party of San Francisco allege the proposition will raise property taxes and rent. Save Muni founding member Howard Wong said the proposition would incur $1 billion in new debt over a few decades with no guarantee of making Muni more reliable…

SFMTA funding, parking fees are on ballot with Props. B, L

Joining Proposition A, which transit officials and advocates are counting on for a reliable source of funding for infrastructure work, two more transit measures are on the November ballot. These, propositions B and L, seek to take The City’s transportation system in different directions.

A transit-funding measure like Prop. A, Proposition B would amend the City Charter to allocate a greater amount of the general fund toward the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency each year, based on population growth…

Opponents argue Prop. B would take general fund money away from other programs.

Prop. L was sparked in April from a dozen San Francisco residents who wanted to reboot transit policies back to 2009, before Sunday parking meters and demand responsive meter pricing went into effect and meters got installed in certain neighborhoods.

“It’s simply getting back on a balanced course in San Francisco which we have had for 50 years in The City until then,” said Chris Bowman, 68, a Twin Peaks resident and one of the original proponents of the proposition… (more)

California readies pay-as-you-drive tax test, coming soon to a road near you

By Justin Hyde : motoramic -excerpt

It won’t happen immediately, or even within the next year, but not too far into the future you might pay a tax for every mile you drive — thanks to California.

Three weeks ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the first test of mileage-based road taxes in the Golden State. The bill, which passed the state legislature with the backing of transit agencies, environmental groups and most major automakers, creates a 15-person panel to oversee a pilot of pay-by-the-mile taxation by 2018.

The move makes California the largest state to explore how modern technology might replace the dwindling money from gasoline taxes used to build and maintain roads, thanks to ever-more efficient vehicles and less driving overall. Congress has been forced to fill the gap at the federal level with billions of dollars in temporary funding; in California, where residents pay 48.5 cents on the gallon in state gasoline taxes worth more than $3 billion a year, the state has borrowed from those revenues in recent years to cover shortfalls elsewhere… (more)

This gets into so many areas that we find repugnant. Do we want our every move tracked? Why don’t they just raise the gas tax and get it over with? People are using less gas which is what they wanted. Now they are punishing us for using less gas. There is something wrong with this plan.