S.F. mayor pushing for special cameras to bust speeders

By Phil Matier and Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wants to bring in special cameras that would be used to ticket speeders.

Is he kidding? It is almost impossible to do the speed limit now. If he wants to bust speeders eh will have to clear up the traffic jams first.

Heads up, lead foots, Mayor Ed Lee is moving ahead with plans to bring speed cameras to San Francisco.

“It remains in our legislative agenda,” Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

The cameras could be fixed or mounted on vans and first would be deployed near schools and seniors facilities. They would operate in much the same way as red-light cameras, using radar to track speed and then snapping a photo of those going over the limit.

“It’s a proven way to reduce accidents and fatalities,” said Rose, noting that Portland, Ore., New York, Seattle, Chicago and the District of Columbia are already using the gadgets.

As with red-light cameras, the new speed-trackers would capture the vehicle’s license plate along with the time, date and location. The vehicle owner then would be issued a $100 fine by Muni. The police would not be involved.

“Unlike a regular speeding ticket, it would not be a moving violation and would not go on the person’s driving record,” Rose said. The tickets would not be subject to the various state surcharges that can turn a $100 moving violation into a $400 fine.

In short, the speed-camera ticket would be more like a parking citation. And, as with a parking ticket, the car owner would be responsible for the fine — no matter who was driving.

Money from the tickets would go into road safety initiatives.

Rose said none of the city’s legislative representatives has offered to author the change in state law that is needed to make the cameras a reality, but that the mayor would keep pushing no matter what(more)

Leap Transit Forced to Cease Operations by State

By : sfweekly – excerpt
Leap Transit, the private bus line that operates a luxury alternative to Muni between the Financial District and the Marina, has halted operations after receiving a cease and desist letter from the California Public Utilities Commission.

In a post on its Facebook page published last night, the company announced, “Leap will be offline at least through the end of this week as we work through a regulatory issue.” The statement chalks up the problems to “various clerical issues”:…

But the actual cease and desist order from the CPUC (embedded below) suggests that the problem is more serious. The letter, dated May 11, states the Leap has failed to provide proof of liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance and “evidence of compliance with the controlled substances and alcohol testing requirements.” According to the letter, Leap has also not complied with certain “safety requirements prior to operation,” including inspections by the California Highway Patrol.

Leap has faced pretty much constant criticism since it launched earlier this spring. The private buses are not all wheelchair accessible, and the Chronicle reported that the company had actually removed wheelchair accessibility in order to install bar seating. The Chronicle has also detailed how the company has sought to “game” the regulatory system by seeking licensing from the state instead of more stringent local bodies. Looks like that bet is no longer paying off… (more)

When it comes to moving and removing bus stops, it’s rarely a smooth ride for Muni

By sfexaminer – excerpt

There’s an old saying among Muni circles, told this time by John Haley, director of transit at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, that goes something like this:

“Every bus stop has a constituency.”

As the SFMTA, which operates Muni, rolls out its Muni Forward plan to speed up bus and train service across San Francisco, 136 out of about 3,600 total bus stops will be removed or shifted. The agency sees the consolidation as vital to speeding up the consistently underperforming Muni, yet the decisions are rarely straightforward.

Following the recently halted proposed removal of one bus stop on Hayes Street last month, and the potential shifting of another along Bayshore Boulevard, the SFMTA faced hue and cry from businesses that feared the potential negative impacts…

Whether the SFMTA takes a bus stop out, or moves one a block away, someone feels the effects…

If the SFMTA goes through with the changes, it will shave five minutes off a trip for each bus, agency documents show. The cumulative time savings are equal to adding an additional bus to the 9-San Bruno route…

Weighing the needs of riders and businesses is not easy, Cheryl Brinkman, the SFMTA board’s vice-chairwoman, told The Examiner… (more)

It’s not easy convincing people SFMTA can be trusted, much less do the right thing for the public that WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE.  If moving bus stops is equal to adding another bus on the line (not that we believe it.) why doesn’t Muni just add another bus and leave the stops as they are? SFMTA has done nothing to improve Muni service. They have only made matters worse.

SF Hospital Bus Cut Spurs Petition, New Surveys

By missionlocal – excerpt – (maps)

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be conducting a survey and focus group to study the controversial rerouting of the 33-Stanyon bus line away from San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), a SFMTA official says.

The additional layer of input comes after more than 300 advocates signed a petition speaking out against the change. The new 33 line would track east, into the Dogpatch, instead of south, along Potrero Avenue, where it currently drops off riders going to the hospital.

The 9R-San Bruno Rapid will serve Potrero at increased intervals, but riders coming from western neighborhoods will have to transfer from the 33 onto the 9 at 16th Street… (more)

Where is our App?

By Herman Haluza :  TransporationPerception – excerpt

Recently, I downloaded the MUNI Transit App which tells you, based on location, what time the next bus or underground will come.  It is very sophisticated as you can see the many buses around you and it will precisely tell you how far away it is.  Every mode of transportation on the App is MUNI; however, there is one more: Uber.  There is a space on the app, very visible, that tells you how far away, in time, the closest Uber is and you can press it and it will bring you an Uber.

So I ask, why would Uber be on the MUNI app when they have nothing to do with the TNCs, or do they?  That the taxis are under the MTA, why is not the Yellow App there, as well, telling the customer how far away is the closest Yellow, or, for that matter, even Flywheel?  There is something that we do not know, from my perspective, and I hope such a question is raised at the next MTA Board Meeting.

Not quite sure what SFMTA thinks it is or what it is, but a fair and balanced regulatory system they are not.

Potrero Parking Problems Continue to Circle

By Nikolas Zelinski : potreroview – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) has yet to implement a cohesive parking plan for Potrero Hill or Dogpatch. A proposed approach, released in 2011, received strong negative reaction from San Franciscans, and was scrapped in late-2013.  The agency has yet to release a new version. 

The 2011 parking proposal encompassed the Hill, Dogpatch, Northeast Mission, and parts of South-of-Market.  It featured metered parking along 22nd, 23rd, and 17th streets, as well as the areas surrounding the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay campus. Community advocates roundly rejected the plan, insisting that it didn’t address the needs of local residents, most of whom preferred a residential permit system to meters.    

In the wake of the failed proposal, Potrero Boosters president J.R. Eppler has worked with SFMTA to create a new strategy. “At first our negotiations did not go well,” Eppler explained, “but they have started to go better…After all parties educated each other on needs and available options, we would come up with a verbal plan, and after a month or two, the SFMTA would come back with a plan that would miss 60 to 70 percent of the things that we’d talked about. We’ve been doing this for the last couple of years.” 

According to Eppler, local residents want a “finely grained mixture of existing parking tools. Done on a block by block basis. This includes parking meters in front of businesses that need quick turnover, residential parking permits for areas with homes and commercial spaces that might benefit from them, and time limits for other uncontrolled blocks to curb commuter parking.”

While Dogpatch and Showplace Square have faced the brunt of parking problems, San Francisco General Hospital personnel has seen a slight respite.  Since 2009, staff-only parking signs on Vermont Street, between 22nd and 23rd, were installed in response to construction at the hospital.  SFMTA manages the parking garage located at SFGH, and made the street parking agreement with the hospital, explained Andy Thornley, SFMTA senior analyst.  

“I still haven’t tracked down the legislative action that authorized that, but the enforcement division told me that a bit of Vermont was set up for hospital staff as a temporary solution during hospital construction, and presumably will return to general parking,” Thornley said. “That kind of parking is an exception. However there are precedents, such as the special permit parking in front of City Hall on Polk Street, between Grove Street and Hayes Street. However, the SFMTA does not manage those spaces. The space in front of the hospital is pretty unique because SF General is a City facility, and the Department of Public Health operates it, it’s definitely a special case. It’s not like we’re giving out public spaces to Google or Proctor & Gamble.” 

David Meckel, director of research and planning at the California College of the Arts, said he’s pleased to see the new 55-bus line run directly to the campus. “I actually think SFMTA has been pretty responsive, I think they’ve done as good as a job they can…Our main interaction with them was the oversized vehicle ordinance; and they did it, and it helped…I think the system works, but it takes a lot of public process.” Meckel was happy that SFMTA installed “no oversize parking” signs by the college to curb overnight camping, but noted that the signs merely moved the problem to another area. 

According to Thornley, SFMTA hopes to hold a public meeting on ways to address parking challenges in the Northeast Mission in the next couple of months. There are no public meetings planned for the Hill or Dogpatch… (more)

(Valencia) Residents Meet Proposed Medical Neighbors and Say, Move Elsewhere

By J.J. Barrow : missionlocal – excerpt

The appropriateness of Sutter Health’s plan to open an affiliate medical center on the corner of 20th and Valencia streets was the subject of a lengthy and at times tense meeting on Monday night.

The talk, hosted by the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association, brought together 25 concerned Mission District residents and three employees of Sutter Health’s Pacific Medical Foundation, which seeks to locate its latest facility on the ground floor of the new V20 condo complex. Neighbors questioned everything from the center’s attractiveness to its size and location.

You don’t go get a coffee and then decide you’re sick,” said a neighbor.

“I think primary care in the community, where people live and work is the right place,” countered William Black, the chief medical officer of Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation.

“Do you need another artisanal—I don’t know?” asked Toni Brayer, the foundation’s CEO. Also present was Vahram Massehian, the center’s senior project manager of enterprise development.

No, said neighbors, but they did need answers about traffic and parking, storefront attractiveness and patient privacy.

Lisa Fromer, president of the neighborhood association, said she learned of Sutter’s move less than two weeks ago when a member emailed her about it. Once word spread, so did objections.  Already the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association has opposed the 7,100 square foot center unless it downsizes…

But traffic congestion and parking remained the biggest objections to the project. Of V20’s 18 parking spaces, 14 will be assigned to residents, the panel said. “Everyone’s going to be circling around looking for parking,” said Lisa Fromer, the neighborhood association president. “Our parking is limited. It doesn’t stop people from trying to park in spaces that are too small or blocking driveways.”…

Sutter Health’s Pacific Medical Center conditional use permit application goes before the Planning Commission at City Hall, Room 400, on Thursday, May 21 at 12 p.m… (more)

The developers could end a lot of the residents objections by putting in more off-street parking. More instead of less.

SF confident in traffic plan for Warriors’ planned arena despite concerns

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt – from April 30

A newly formed group is predicting a traffic nightmare around the proposed Warriors arena in Mission Bay, but city officials say they have it under control. For nearly a year, city officials and the basketball team have worked to finalize plans for the 18,000-seat arena and development of two towers and commercial space at Mission Bay, considered a biotech and medical hub. The project has enjoyed wide support, but this week a group calling itself Mission Bay Alliance has emerged to announce opposition, threatening lawsuits and a ballot measure, arguing the traffic will impair hospital and research operations. The group is not affiliated with UC San Francisco, which has a large Mission Bay medical campus. The criticism comes even before the project’s environmental impact report is due out next month.

Today, (April 30) the team and city officials will present a traffic management plan to the Mission Bay Community Advisory Committee.

In a Wednesday briefing, city project managers Adam Van de Water and Ken Rich outlined the steps being taken to mitigate the traffic impacts. The arena site has 950 parking spaces planned, with a majority reserved for office and retail buildings, but city officials say they will be freed up after-hours. And there would be another 132 leased from a nearby garage…

City officials said the project’s environmental analysis will show that even in the worst-case scenario — when a Giants baseball game is held at nearby AT&T Park and it’s a peak commute time — they are short about 300 spaces. To address the shortfall and traffic congestion overall, The City is working on securing parking on two Port of San Francisco properties. Those who park there would be brought to the arena via a shuttle. The sites under consideration include a 250-vehicle lot near the future Crane Cove Park and Pier 70 at 16th and Illinois streets. And an overflow lot for up to 1,000 spaces could be available at Pier 80, which city officials said would divert cars from entering Mission Bay…

The arena project would generate $14.1 million annually in revenue, which includes a $2.50 fee per ticket sold, according to The City. The City would expend $5 million in city services, most of which would go toward Muni service… (more)

San Francisco Mayor announces plans to ease rush-hour congestion

ktvu – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced his new rush-hour congestion strategy Thursday. The plan will focus on four areas of targeted intervention during rush hour on major transit routes. These will include construction projects, double parking, delivery trucks and Don’t Block the Box.

Tom Maguire from SFMTA designed the plan. “This is one of the top issues the city faces, we are working every day to minimize congestion and to maximize reliability,” said Maguire.

Parking control officers will be sent out to specific targeted areas Monday through Friday during the morning rush hour, between 7 and 9 a.m., and again during the afternoon rush hour, between 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Initially this will include South of Market, 3rd Street, 4th street, 19th Avenue, Divisadero, Columbus, Fell Street/Oak Street, Geary Boulevard, Geneva Avenue, Harrison Street, Mission Street, Pine Street/Bush Street, and Van Ness Avenue…

In a release issued Thursday, SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan says, “When one mode of transportation suffers, it has a domino effect on other modes. For instance, every time a Muni vehicle gets stuck behind a double parked car, 40 or 50 people lose a few minutes of their day. This is not acceptable. In turn, the more we improve Muni, taxis, walking and bicycling, the more people will choose these modes of transportation and effectively reduce the amount of traffic congestion on our streets.”… (more)

When one mode of transportation suffers, it has a domino effect on other modes: And since BART or Muni often fail, many people rely on cars.

Suggestions for solutions to the problem:

Fire the person in charge of timing the traffic signals and hire someone who knows how to move traffic.

If you really want to clear the box you need longer yellow lights – at least 7 seconds for a two-lane street.

California Man’s Tax Refund Garnished Over Parking Ticket For Someone Else’s Car

By Julie Watts : cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A California man’s state tax refund was heavily garnished over a parking ticket from a city he’s never been to, for a car he’s never owned.

Michael Gardner drives a Chrysler, and has for the past nine years.  He also says he’s never been to the Southern California city of Inglewood.

But, the franchise tax board took 80-percent of his state tax refund because of a parking ticket from the city of Inglewood, for a blue four-door Honda.

“I never owned a Honda in my life, there’s no chance at all that it’s me,” Gardner said.

After explaining his situation to the tax board, he was told he would have to wait up to four months before he can get the money back… (more)