San Francisco transportation agency looking in wrong direction with meter extension

By: Amy Bacharach | Special to The S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency would like to work toward balancing its budget by extending meters on evenings and to Sundays. Not only is this a regressive and backward thought process, it will create collateral consequences for everyone. Policies that are based solely on the idea of creating revenue are always unwise.

The SFMTA runs an archaic transit system and has yet to provide efficient, effective and reliable service. This has little to do with revenue and can be attributed to the poor structure of the organization as well as the seemingly tied hands when it comes to making financial decisions. The small amount of revenue that extended meters will bring will not fix the SFMTA’s underlying structural and organizational problems.

What extending meters will do, however, is further drive families out of San Franciscoand keep commuters from staying to dine and shop, thus continuing to hurt small businesses…

There’s nothing progressive about trying to feed a bloated and ineffective agency more and more revenue in the hope that it will magically turn into the type of agency that manages the transit systems of Washington, D.C., or Paris.

Related links: SFMTA April 3 meeting

Mission Bay SFMTA Meeting, April 19, 2012 – Overview

Notes taken by Mari Eliza

City officials in attendance: Ed Reisken, Executive Director of the SFMTA; Bond Yee of Livable Streets; District Supervisor Jane Kim; Lauren Mattern of SFPark; and David Beaupre, Senior Planner at San Francisco Port Authority.
Ed started the meeting by explaining his agenda and introducing city officials.
Bon explained that SFMTA is installing meters to head off a future parking crisis.

They envision a very dense mixed-use that includes retail, offices, homes, and a ballpark with special events needs. For this meeting, they want to focus on Mission Bay proper, the area East of 7th St., North of Mariposa, and south of the park.

Based on a DOT grant they received, SFMTA started to experiment with a parking management plan in 2008. Mission Bay was one of the first pilot projects. SFMTA has not yet determined the proper hours for meters enforcement, or the charges for the extended hours during special events, even though people are getting ticketed while they are figuring it out.

Mission Bay residents let them know that they were not there to talk about the future or special events. They were there to get some relief from the parking meters SFMTA planted in front of their homes that have turned their lives upside down.

The meeting changed course when a Bluxome Street resident spoke up and asked, “Do you only plan to discuss the special-events parking plans, because we are here to talk about parking problems residents have today. Residents are only mentioned twice in that plan. We want to apply for a residential parking permit. I gathered all the residents’ signatures. I was told that because the meters had already been put in, and we had no say in the matter, that they could not be removed.”

Complaints and comments

  1. Lack of notice of the meeting and the venue
  2. Request for mixed-use Residential Parking Permit
  3. Objections to meters hours and rates
  4. High-priced meters are pushing residents into other neighborhoods
  5. No response from city officials
  6. Smart meters are impossible for some people to figure out and use
  7. Complaints about smart meters that are not charging the rates stated on the meters and signs
  8. Signs conflict and/or confuse people.
  9. Some signs are too high to read. mounted 7 to 12 ft above ground.
  10. Request for parking handbook. No clear parking rules.
  11. Mission Bay is poorly served by public transitN
  12. No off-street parking options in the plans
  13. Plans don’t account for the present residents’ needs
  14. No conflicts with ballpark events prior to the meters
  15. Conflicting time limit information
  16. Maritime issues

Continue reading

Hitching ride on SFMTA budget

By: Will Reisman | SF Examiner Staff Writer – excerpt

Although the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency recently balanced its budget, another deficit is usually just around the corner. So arguments are unlikely to end regarding the SFMTA’s payments to other city departments.
About $64.9 million of its annual budget is dedicated to these so-called work orders, which include payments to the city attorney, the treasurer and tax collector, the Department of Public Works and The City’s 311 service…
Facing a structural budget deficit stemming from costs that exceed its revenues, the SFMTA has found money in some unpopular ways — from charging for Sunday parking to reducing transit service to cut overtime costs.
But some observers believe the only way the agency can ever truly raise the money to shake off its legacy of disappointing service is by ending work-order payments. Interestingly enough, some San Francisco supervisors agree, even though that would make them responsible for funding these programs…

Big share of the pie
$821M SFMTA budget for upcoming fiscal year
$64.9M Work order payments budgeted for upcoming fiscal year
8 Percent of total SFMTA budget dedicated to work orders
Source: SFMTA
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner

And let’s not forget the extravagant cost of the new underground tunnel SFMTA is handling. Where is that money coming from?
The DOT funds are gone, so how will SFMTA and SFPark support their smart meter program?

KQED public radio

A.M. Splash : April 18, 2012 – excerpt

“Low-income youths could soon ride San Francisco’s Muni for free, while drivers who park in the city on Sundays might have to pay up. Those controversial proposals were approved Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors, which unanimously passed the budget for Muni, parking, traffic and taxis over the next two years. (T)he budget still has to clear several hurdles that include gaining the Board of Supervisors’ approval.”


It appears the the residents of San Francisco can stop the Sunday meter enforcement plans by convincing 5 out of 9 of the Supervisors to overturn the SFMTA decision.

Mission Bay residents take over latest SFMTA meeting Claim they want relief, not a dog and pony show

SFMTA Public Meeting at Mission Bay Ignored by the Press

The April 19, San Francisco: The meeting was attended by city officials, SFMTA head Ed Reiskin, Bon Yee of Livable Streets, District Supervisor Jane Kim, and representatives of the Port Authority, and SFPark.

So many good headlines came out of this meeting, yet no news group picked the story up so far. The biggest news item of the week was the extreme  “Jaws” incident, in which woman bit woman in a biting display of anger over a parking space. That says much about our local newscasters. A biting incident trumps the third straight public SFMTA meeting that resulted in a a defensive pullback position by the SFMTA, and more threats of legal actions to by irate residents.

This is a precursor to a longer article to come. Stay tuned. If you care about parking, you may want to sign up for a subscription as these stories unfold. That would be the button at the top of the column on your right under the Meter image. You may also want to keep tabs on ENUF.


Muni approves Sunday meter enforcement

By: Will Reisman | SF Examiner Staff Writer – excerpt

Sunday parking meter enforcement finally became a reality in The City, and once again religious leaders came out to blast the plan that was first proposed in 2010.
“Starting Jan. 1, on-street parking meters will be enforced from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.”…
Budgets approved
The SFMTA locked up its spending plan for the next two fiscal years:

$56.2M Two-year budget deficit transit agency faced
$821M Approved operating budget for 2013 fiscal year
$840.5M Approved operating budget for 2014 fiscal year

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Much more on this subject:

SFMTA Approves Free Muni To Low-Income Youth, Sunday Parking Meters
(Audio track included) Just heard this morning on Channel 4 news, Sunday metering will go into effect in January. Do they mean January 2013?
SFMTA Board members heard an earful and then some from religious community leaders about a proposal in the new budget to enforce parking meters citywide from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday….
“You should have some grace on Sundays,” another woman told the board.  “It doesn’t matter if you’re in church or not, you get a day when you’re not going to get tickets.”…
“We have to think of the folks that don’t get free transit on Sundays the way people get free parking,” SFMTA director Joel Ramos said. “We  have to start thinking about a different way that we use our streets.”…
The Muni board says it will seek more public comments before the Sunday parking enforcement starts.

SFMTA Board Passes Budget: Sunday Meters, Free Muni for Low-Income Youth
by Aaron Bialick
The SFMTA Board of Directors today approved a two-year budget that calls for parking meter enforcement on Sundays and free Muni passes for low-income youth. The budget must next be finally approved by the Board of Supervisors before it goes into effect on July 1.

Muni’s Stealth Cuts – Transit agency now says it skips 35 to 40 bus runs a day

By ZUSHA ELINSON  : – excerpt

In February, Muni chief Ed Reiskin suggested cutting bus and train service to help balance the transit agency’s budget.
At the time, Reiskin called it an “honest option to put on the table.”
Infuriated Muni riders denounced the idea, and Reiskin retreated.
But now Muni is skipping approximately 35 to 40 scheduled bus runs every day in order to save money. Critics say it amounts to a stealth service cut, which is forcing passengers to wait longer for their buses.
“It’s that sort of political cowardice way of saying, ‘We’re not cutting the service,’ and then they’re actually cutting the service,” said Tom Radulovich, a member of BART’s board of directors. “It’s a de facto service cut.”…

Muni has been unable to meet other voter-mandated performance standards. In the first quarter of this year, its buses, trolleys, trains and streetcars were on schedule 71.7 percent of the time, far below the 85 percent target set by voters in 1999.

After 100 Years, Muni Runs Slower

It is becoming ever more obvious that SFMTA is an abismal failure. It was conceived as a way to finance mechanism for Muni, but has turned into a horse of a different color, draining Muni finances to play at high tech futures games. Someone needs to tell them, that running a municipal transportation system is a low tech affair. No bells and whistles needed, just a vehicle, a driver, mechanic and fuel are all it takes to keep the buses rolling.

Now it becomes apparent that Muni has not only failed at finances, it has also failed in service as well. Of course the riders have known that for a while.

Top San Francisco Officials Get Raises Despite City’s Massive Budget Hole – excerpt

Right now, San Francisco’s budget deficit stands at approximately $170 million. That makes it not exactly the best time politically for a handful of the city’s highest office holders to receive some very public pay raises.

Even though the pay hikes the city’s top elected officials are getting this year only represent a few drops into the city’s vast ocean of debt, they’re symbolically important, as city leaders are increasingly looking into new, highly unpopular, revenue generation measures–such as increasing the cost of parking tickets and operating parking meters on Sundays–and attempting to wring money-saving concessions from unions representing the city’s public sector workers.


Other coverage:
Joshua SabatiniSF Examiner Staff

The salaries of San Francisco’s top elected officials are determined by 2006’s voter-approved Proposition C, which set the salaries of the city’s top half-dozen elected public servants based on what individuals holding similar positions in other municipalities around the Bay Area are paid. (more)

Proposition C (described above) is only one of many bad ideas San Francisco residents have brought upon themselves. Voters have passed a number of propositions that are biting them in the pocketbook.

In 1999 they went for Prop E, which combined Muni and DPT. Prop E was sold as a solution to help finance Muni by adding parking and traffic fines to their coffers. We see how well this has not worked. SFMTA now raids Muni to pay for their other pet projects.

In 2007 Prop “A” passed, which further enriched SFMTA by allowing them to lean on unions and “impose limits on downtown parking meters.” Somehow the concept of “downtown” parking meters has warped into a claim that SFMTA is authorized to install meters in front of every commercial enterprise in town, and since we are full of mixed use neighborhoods, as are most cities, they are merrily sprinkling “smart meters” all over .

The voters have had enuf and are ready to revolt. Stay tuned to for more on that.

Park bike lanes: bad design

letters to The Editor – excerpt

Park bike lanes: bad design

I can’t believe the Bicycle Coalition agreed to the new bike lane design in Golden Gate Park.
Cyclists now ride in a lane between the curb on the right and parked cars on the left. You have cyclists, in-line skaters, rental bikers, and children all stuck in the same lane with pedestrians trying to get to and from their cars.When I’ve ridden it, I’ve had to dodge a child darting out from between the cars and a family of five who strolled across the bike lane confused about where to go. I’ve also been stuck behind Segways and rental bikers, forcing me and another rider to go out into the traffic lane just to top 5 mph.
But of course the traffic lanes are now thinner to make room for the new bike lanes. So we’re left with one non-functional, unsafe lane and another mildly functional unsafe lane. Meanwhile, cars have less room to maneuver, and people getting out of their parked cars are forced to try to avoid traffic on one side and cyclists on the other. I can’t figure out who thought this was a good idea. The old lanes were fine – why change them?
Tom Kleinhenz, San Francisco

Sunday parking fee won’t help

Ed Reiskin’s response (“Why a Sunday parking fee,” Letters, April 7) to The Chronicle’s editorial on Sunday parking meters bordered on absurdity.
Reiskin wants San Franciscans to believe the primary purpose of Sunday meters is not to raise revenue but to help merchants – despite the fact that Muni has a huge hole in its budget and Reiskin’s primary purpose is to close it.
You don’t recall merchants clamoring for Sunday meters? That’s because they weren’t.
Merchants know that Muni’s outrageous parking ticket fines, meter rates and now Sunday parking meters is logically driving business away as potential customers choose less costly parking options outside of the area.
While San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles are all openly and honestly addressing their rising employee benefit costs, our city leaders seem to believe that gouging middle-class residents (who enjoy no such benefits) under the phony guise of “modernizing antiquated parking policies” is some form of solution.

Chicago’s Andersonville Neighborhood Could Be Home To City’s Parklet Pilot Program (VIDEO)

Don’t believe everything you hear about the glowing reception SFMTA and SFPark programs are getting in San Francisco. SFMTA is managing to infuriate almost everyone without pleasing anyone.

Drivers are ready to revolt against the draconian steps SFMTA has taken to control city streets through programs that eliminate parking spaces, rearrange traffic flows, demand more money for parking fines and fees, and confuse the public with nonsensical regulations and conflicting signs.

Muni riders are way past tired of the long unpredictable waits between buses. They hate the new “improved” shelters that leak rain and wind, and are not impressed by the seemingly endless excuses coming from the new high tech Muni run by SFMTA.

Their latest trick of re-arranging some streets with bicycle paths next to the curb and cars parked between the bicycle paths and the flowing traffic has bicyclists seeing red. You need an SFMTA private tour guide to figure it out how to drive down each street. You are really in trouble in the rain or fog.

Worst of all are the priorities. Muni is broke while SFMTA spends millions of dollars re-designing traffic flows to calm traffic that no one else can see, and painting bicycles all over the streets with white paint that doesn’t stick to the pavement.

The trick of selling parklets is part of the game they play to eliminate street parking spaces, so they can charge more for parking

Just say no to parklets. ENUF already. See
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost