SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

Shared Spaces is good for small business, but it’s also beneficial to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency.

That’s what Jeffrey Tumlin, who sits at the helm of SFMTA, told the Board of Directors on Tuesday.

“We feel very strongly about our role at this time in supporting San Francisco’s economic recovery, even if that means using our operating funds to support it,” he said.

According to SFMTA’s own staff report, the program will cost the agency an estimated $10.6 million annually, a result that pits the cost of staff hours and foregone parking meter revenue against partial cost recovery through permit fees for parklets and roadway closures…

Director Steve Heminger pointed out, however, that in a presentation with more than 40 slides, not one was dedicated to projected program costs, an omission he found concerning given the agency’s current inability to fund and staff full Muni service.

“I do worry about the trend we’re establishing here about policies and programs, however meritorious, sort of making a move on our dedicated revenue,” Heminger said.…(more)

Who decided to give the Tumlin the right to spend Muni funds on non-Muni enterprises and who is going to change this new policy? At least the Board is not supporting the deficit model.

SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

At the start of the pandemic, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority temporarily suspended some types of vehicle tows in an effort to reduce the burden on low income and unhoused individuals.

Now they are set to resume in a matter of weeks, despite calls from advocates to permanently end them altogether.

Advocates refer to a handful of towing policies as “poverty tows” because they’re believed to disproportionately impact extremely low-income and unhoused residents: those for five or more unpaid citations, those for vehicle registration expired by more than six months and those for vehicles that stay in the same spot for more than 72-hours.

The SFMTA stopped towing vehicles for these three reasons at the start of shelter-in-place last year, but on Tuesday the board heard from staff that the transit agency will reinstate them in the coming weeks.

Vehicles left in place for more than 72 hours can be towed starting May 17. Those with expired registration or delinquent citations can be towed starting June 21…(more)

They recently snagged a friend of mine who suffered a stroke and needs his car to work. His license renewal is “in the mail” he thinks.

Q&A: Manny Yekutiel says local merchants have endured financial, emotional damage during pandemic

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

It was Summer 2010 when Manny Yekutiel first came to San Francisco for a college job to canvas for same sex marriage. He spent those few months traversing The City by public transit to various street corners where he’d be stationed, armed with a clipboard and splashy t-shirt, asking passersby to support Equality California, a statewide nonprofit that fights for LGBTQ+ rights…

Today, Yekutiel runs Manny’s, part-coffee shop, part-civic gathering space in the Mission and, sits on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, a post he was nominated to by Mayor London Breed in October 2020…

We discussed how small business and public transit intersect, and why he believes Shared Spaces advances the goals of the SFMTA. (Yekutiel is speaking for himself, not on behalf of the board or agency)…(more)

Shared spaces are great for businesses that operate on the sidewalk, but, how about the one that are not? When you look at the storefronts that closed pre-pandemic, due to the overly aggressive taking and leasing of pubic spaces prior to the pandemic, and you add the number of new empty storefronts since, you get a much better picture of who is benefiting from the “shared spaces” programs. Certainly not the businesses and their employees people who moved out of the city and the state.

It is somewhat amusing to hear that people are not returning to the low-wage jobs they left in San Francisco, one of the most costly cities to live in, because they prefer unemployment, especially since many have not received any payments yet do to the EDD computer meltdown and huge scams.

Many businesses left before the pandemic because of the high rents, and the workers followed them for jobs in the suburbs. Others were forced to either go into debt to stay here or leave. Many chose to relocate and are now settled into jobs where they landed, or soon will be. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the census. California lost a seat in the House and will have to reshuffle its districts at all levels. These policies are not helping the overall health of the city yet.

Car Ownership and Poverty

By Bradford Plumer : motherjones – excerpt

Margy Waller of Brookings has a modest suggestion for tackling poverty: Help low-income workers, especially those in urban and rural areas, buy their own cars so that they can actually commute to the suburbs, where most of the jobs are these days.

A recent GAO study determined that during the 1990s almost three-fourths of all welfare recipients lived in central cities or rural areas, while in over 100 metropolitan places three-fourths of all jobs were located in the suburbs. …
Bridging this spatial mismatch is difficult. … Employers report that transportation is a major barrier to retaining former welfare recipients, or even hiring them in the first place…

“Spatial mismatch,” that’s a good way of putting it. And Waller argues that better public transportation systems won’t necessarily solve this problem, partly because even the best bus lines can’t go everywhere:

[T]he effect of access to public transit on the likelihood of employment for welfare recipients is mixed at best. One recent study in six metro areas found that better access to public transit had no effect on employment for welfare recipients. Other research suggests that access to better public transit has a small effect on employment outcomes for welfare recipients who do not have access to a car.
By comparison, people with cars are more likely to work, and car ownership is positively associated with higher earnings and more work hours…

Car ownership, though, tends to be out of reach for many of these workers, especially since owning a car is usually much more expensive for low-income families than it is for everyone else (the poor need to pay, on average, $500 more to buy a car; they usually pay higher interest rates through subprime financing and the like; and insurance premiums are generally higher). Both President Clinton and, to some extent, Bush, have proposed a few very basic measures to help promote car-ownership—getting rid of rules that make it difficult for low-income car owners to qualify for food stamps, for instance—but Congress hasn’t done anything about it yet(more)

Maybe this is the real reason there are no more low income workers applying for jobs in the cities. They moved out and are working closer to home.

SFMTA to permanently replace residential parking stickers with virtual permits & license plate recognition technology:  

Read the details here: https://hoodline.com/2021/03/sfmta-to-permanently-replace-residential-parking-stickers-with-virtual-permits-license-plate-recognition-technology/

Residential Parking Permits (RPP) : This appears to be the latest parking permit policy. https://www.sfmta.com/permits/residential-parking-permits-rpp

Permanent Resident and Business RPP Permit Application: This is dated 2018. Not sure how valid this is: https://www.sfmta.com/reports/permanent-resident-and-business-rpp-permit-application

Bill to Help Cities Make “Slow Streets” Permanent Moving in Assembly

By Damien Newton : .streetsblog – excerpt

Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-LA) that would change state laws regarding street closures and speed limits on local streets is moving through the state legislature. The goal of AB 773 is to make it easier for cities to make the “Slow Streets” created during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent. The bill will be heard by the Assembly Committee on Local Government next Wednesday, May 5…

“COVID-19 has forced us to find creative ways to get outside and enjoy our communities while staying closer to home,” said supporter and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti….(more)

Wow. he actually says it. Why does the Mayor want to keep us confined in our communities? Who benefits from this plan? Isn’t it a bout time we questioned the reason for this plan to strip us of your personal vehicles and abiltiy to move about freely without restrictions? Isn’t it about time we started looking at the many negative effects these programs are having on our lives and communities? Do we want to be tracked and surveilled?

Over 5,000 people signed a petition to re-open the Great Highway and there is a protest planned for May first to push back against the program that is creating a traffic mess on small streets and forcing drivers into unnecessary detours. The longer slower trips are increasing pollution. Cutting trees and eliminating private yards leads to hotter cities. These policies lead by Bay Area politicians are driving people out of the state. California has lost a Seat in the House. Is this the future we want for our state?

Shared Spaces could cost cash-strapped SFMTA more than $10M a year

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

Program intended to boost small business could come at a cost for struggling city transit agency…

The potential upsides of making Shared Spaces permanent are well documented: it could be a boon for small businesses, a reimagination of neighborhood commercial corridors, and a chance to breathe new life into San Francisco.

Less well known is that the legislation, expected to be heard by the Board of Supervisors next month, would saddle the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency with around $10.6 million of projected annual costs.(more)

As city officials prepare to make Shared Spaces permanent, The San Francisco Examiner set out to explore the potential impacts of the popular program, which began as a temporary emergency measure introduced during the pandemic to help small business. Today’s story is the second of three in a planned series.

The first installment can be read here.

in their haste to get rid of cars and parking, the SFMTA with blessings from City Hall has created mess that only benefits those who need help the least while cutting Muni revenues. Guess what the next move will be in this merry-go-round world we live in?

RELATED in the series:

#1 A permanent Shared Spaces program is supposed to help struggling businesses, but not everyone can afford it

#3 Disability advocates fear Shared Spaces could create an ‘obstacle course’ on city sidewalks

How Much Are Americans Driving and Flying Now, One Year After the WTF Collapse in Fuel Consumption?

By Wolf Richter : wolfstreet – excerpt (includes graph)

They’re not taking mass transit, that’s for sure.

Before we get into gasoline, driving, jet fuel, and flying, let’s look at what people are still not doing: They’re not commuting by mass transit. The ridership at many systems is still down 80% or 90%. For example, ridership at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system – the trains that connect a big part of the Bay Area to San Francisco – was still down 85% in March compared to March 2019. Ridership has ticked up from the lows last spring but remains minuscule. People who have to commute in this era of working-from-home are driving. The infamous L-shaped recovery:..(more)

Looks like they have cut back on driving too, so, less traveling on all modes. SFMTA and SFCTA should leave us all alone. If cities want to return to the “normal’ economy, they should encourage people to move and not worry about how they are moving. It is especially important to drop the cost of shipping by cutting diesel taxes, fines and fees on shipping vessels.

‘Tremendously overparked’ San Jose looks to shed decades-old parking requirements

By Maggie Angst : eastbaytimes – excerpt

In their continuing effort to transition San Jose into a climate-friendly metropolis, city officials are proposing to shed decades-old zoning rules that fueled suburban sprawl…

And while it’s not alone with “mandatory parking minimums,” San Jose has required developers and business owners to provide on-site parking more than any other major city in the Bay Area and the state, according to a survey by this news organization of policy rules in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and Berkeley…

San Francisco and San Diego eliminated parking minimums altogether in recent years, and both Berkeley and Sacramento made plans in January to do the same. In 2016, Oakland removed parking requirements in areas closest to major transit hubs and instead set a cap on the maximum amount of parking allowed in those areas. And although Los Angeles has yet to go that far, it requires fewer spaces per development than San Jose.

How do changes in such regulations translate? A 100-unit apartment complex in downtown San Jose must provide at least 100 parking spaces — or one spot per unit — unless developers agree to certain transportation improvements or public transit incentives. In downtown Oakland, an apartment of that size has no minimum parking requirements and is actually prohibited from providing more than 1.25 spaces per unit.

Or, whereas in San Jose a 200-square-foot cafe in most areas outside of downtown must provide at least five on-site parking spaces, such an eatery of that size in Los Angeles would be required to provide just two spaces, according to city zoning codes.

But unlike some of those cities, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo points out, San Jose doesn’t have nearly the same level of transit infrastructure. So rather than mirroring their policies, San Jose’s tend to align more with those of Silicon Valley’s suburban cities

Next month, the San Jose planning department, which is partnering with Bay Area nonprofits SPUR and Greenbelt Alliance, will begin community outreach on the proposed parking reforms. The City Council is then expected to make a decision sometime this fall.

“This is going to be a big shift for the city of San Jose,” Brilliot said. “But I think one thing that people need to understand is that more parking actually means more cars on the street and therefore more traffic problems.”

At the same time, a new state bill, AB 1401, could ban cities across the state from imposing minimum parking requirements on new apartments and shops within a half-mile of train stations and bus routes.

...(more)

State bills like AB 1401, are part of the building opportunity package being pushed in Sacramento. intend to override local parking policies and remove the zoning for single family homes from the state, at a time when the public is seeking more single family homes and more parking opportunities.

SFMTA Gives Updates on Subway, JFK, Transit Lanes

ByBenjamin Schneider : sfweekly – excerpt

Major changes are headed for California, Lombard, and Park Presidio, while car-free JFK and the Great Highway are slated for extensive study.

How was your 4/20? Hopefully, you didn’t spend it the way the SFMTA Board of Directors did, in a meeting that stretched nearly to the 8-hour mark.

Of course, some things do require a great deal of planning, and this past Tuesday, the SFMTA staff provided the board with updates on transit service, presented plans for new transit-only lanes and “high occupancy vehicle” lanes on some of the city’s busiest streets, and provided a glimpse of their future plans…

Car-Free Streets

In recent weeks, there’s been a whole lot of drama surrounding the question of whether to keep JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park car-free in perpetuity. Supervisor Shamann Walton has described the car-free stretch of road as “recreational redlining,” making the park inaccessible to his Bayview-Hunters Point constituents arriving at the park by car. The De Young Museum has also been lobbying to bring cars back to JFK, arguing that it prevents visitors from accessing the museum. The nearby Academy of Sciences has been more equivocal, saying they support a “thoughtful planning process” before a decision is made on a permanent closure to cars.(more)

Not sure how much the people in San Francisco are willing to put up with, but it looks like SFMTA and SFCTA are going to continue to push drivers out of town, as they are doing all they can to close the streets to cars. Not sure how much longer the majority of the city voters will continue to support the financial demands of the those entities either, but, there is a plan to protest the closure of the Great Highway May 1 at noon. Corner of Lincoln and Great Highway.

If you can, and you care about the way the SFMTA and SFCTA have been managing the streets, you should show up with a personal sign that describes your case for re-opening the Great Highway and the many other streets that have been closed.
Petitions: https://www.discoveryink.net/wp/petitions/
Protests: https://www.discoveryink.net/wp/actions/