MTA Public Meeting Disappoints as its Transparency Continues to Erode.

By Rick Hall and Ted Lowenberg

The SFMTA is becoming much less transparent. We have noticed the bundling of “projects” into an incomprehensible mass. For example, TEP (now Muni-Forward) – proposed massive changes that reduced neighborhood service but promised – system wide improvement. The massive scope of this plan made it unlikely that any but the most astute would detect the impacts on their commute. SFMTA’s “community meetings” are structured by their consultants in an “open house” setting to discourage individual attendees from hearing other’s comments and (heaven forbid) coming together on an issue as a real community.

One of our readers was disturbed by this charade at a recent SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting (April 21, 2015). He was particularly concerned about the confusing manner in which street parking removal was described in the consent calendar, where it would presumably be approved en mass, along with other items. The notice was vague and it was difficult to discuss individual streets with any clarity or precision.

He wanted to know exactly how many spots were to be removed in each area and why there were no proposed mitigation measures or consideration of environmental impact. The curb space was targeted by MTA for “car share parking” but there was no mention of how much revenue was expected from the sale of the space. He sees this project as “selling public assets to private companies at bargain prices” for the benefit of the regulatory agency that is proposing the contract. Is this legal or ethical?

During the meeting the Chairman was not speaking into the microphone, so much was missed by the audience of about 35 persons. When our reader pointed this out twice, he was ignored. He said ”it’s not a public meeting if the conversation cannot be heard by the public,” in reference to the Brown Act.

There will be a chance at a future meeting to argue against this public give-away to private, profit companies. We will let you know when to turn out for this – the more people the better. As the commission “goes silent,” we need to go LOUD.

Problems with public meetings that may be addressed soon in a ballot initiative.

Report on the April 21st MTA Commission Meeting:

I attended the MTA Commission meeting on the 21st to object to the Consent calendar containing removal from public parking, all the car rental parking spots around the city. (On the attached link to the agenda is the list of the particular spots. )

http://www.sfmta.com/calendar/meetings/board-directors-meeting-april-21-2015
No description of how many parking spots are being lost this way. No mitigation measures. No environmental impact consideration. Bargain pricing of a pubic asset. This is clearly an example of MTA following in the railroad tracks of Il Duce. Since when has our democracy in SF taken such a severe hit to the groin?

I also admonished the chairman for conducting a meeting without being able to be heard by the audience. When I first asked him to speak into the microphone, he looked up at me, and then went right back to mumbling whatever he said. After I denounced his contempt for the folks who came to participate, he went, again, right back to speaking without being heard. It is not a public meeting if the conversation of all the speakers cannot be heard.

Back to the car rental spots, this item will be heard on its own in some future meeting (not indicated at the time). Can you please get the word out to your mailing list that will be their chance to  argue against this public give-away to private profit companies.The more people the better, and the objective should be to take as much of the commission’s time as possible. Let them feel the pain of our outrage, since I’m sure they’ll approve the matter regardless of what the people have to say. After all, it is the MO of the MTA. “Muni: We don’t give a shit what YOU think”

– Ted

Alameda planners’ anti-car agenda to fail, cause misery

By Mark Greenside My Word : contracostatimes – excerpt

I love bike lanes. I want them. When I ride my bike, I want to be safe and separated from cars and pedestrians. The problem isn’t with bike lanes; it’s with the people who design them.

Not that long ago, a bike lane was a bike lane: a designated place where people could ride their bikes and not get hit by cars. Now, bike lanes are the first line of offense in the war against drivers and cars. Bike lanes aren’t for bikers, they are against cars, with the oft-stated purpose of reducing and/or eliminating vehicular traffic. It’s nuts, and it is not sustainable.
More bike lanes are at the heart of TDM (Traffic Demand Management) systems and “smart” growth philosophy brought to us by city planners like Andrew Thomas, who is not a traffic or civil engineer, though he has plenty of opinions about both. These people speak as if they’re talking science, but it’s hope, belief and faith they’re pandering — and like true believers everywhere, they’re willing to push their beliefs onto the doubtful…
It is an effort that is doomed to fail, though not before ruining the community. Here are the reasons why: …
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission recently issued a report, “Vital Signs” (www.vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov), that was summarized in the San Jose Mercury News as follows: “Some of the conclusions of the MTC report are depressing for traffic planners. Despite the addition of hundreds of miles of carpool lanes stretching from Marin to Oakland and San Jose, the percentage of those sharing a ride to work has declined about 3 percent since (1989) …. While BART and Caltrain ridership is soaring, overall transit ridership remains low and bus lines have lost passengers.”… (more)
Mark Greenside is an Alameda resident and a retired professor of political science, history and English at Merritt College in Oakland.