Battle of the blueprints: Should I-280 stay or should it go?

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Some San Francisco residents are roaring over a study to explore tearing down a portion Interstate Highway 280 in Mission Bay, which could clear the way for a Caltrain extension downtown.

But two sets of blueprints obtained by the San Francisco Examiner paint contrasting futures of I-280, including an effort to put the brakes on the proposal decades ago.

One set of blueprints, drawn in 1969, planners say shows evidence that to build a new Caltrain extension, I-280 must come down — no questions asked.

The other set of plans, two decades old, purportedly shows a road not taken — how the Caltrain extension could be built without the need to tear down I-280.

Meanwhile, the latter idea is gaining support. After a packed public meeting last month when local residents of Potrero Hill and The City’s southeast booed and hissed over the proposal, political heavyweight John Burton, the state’s democratic party chair and a former congressman, joined a chorus of voices denouncing the plan.

“Well, I think it’s stupid,” he told the Examiner of the possibility of tearing down I-280. “It’ll clog up Potrero.”

He’s not alone. Former Mayor Art Agnos previously told the Examiner he would personally launch a campaign against the I-280 teardown if it were pursued.

Planners are now preparing for another meeting on March 30 to discuss the possibility of tearing down the freeway, which they argue will “open up” Mission Bay to the community.

Plan 1: Narrow Freeway Must Come Down

Blueprints of I-280 drawn in the 1960s by the Department of Public Works show one glaring issue, planners argue:

I-280 is too narrow to bore a tunnel underneath…

Plan 2: Tunnel a Walkway

When told I-280 must come down, a retired Bay Area engineer had essentially one reply: Nope.

Gerald Cauthen is a retired engineer from consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., based in San Francisco. While most retirees keep knick knacks from the office, like a favorite paperweight, Cauthen kept blueprints.

Lots of blueprints.


Among them are a set of drawings labeled with the Muni “worm” logo, titled “Phase 1 Design Conceptual Engineering Drawing,” which was last redrawn Nov. 5, 1993.

Cauthen says these plans show another solution to extending Caltrain downtown.

The plans show Caltrain tracks to the Downtown Extension depressed only five feet below the surface, instead of tunneling underground.

To join Mission Bay with the rest of The City, the blueprints feature a construction nowhere else in San Francisco — an underground roadway, and accompanying pedestrian passage.

It’s far better, Cauthen said, than tearing down I-280 and turning the freeway into a boulevard…

Blueprints #1: Shows the narrowness of I-280, which planners argue mean the freeway must come down to tunnel. (Click here to view).

Blueprints #2: Shows unused plans for underground roadway/walkway. (Click here to view).


Phase I Design Conceptual Engineering Drawings

Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said that plan doesn’t pan out.

“Forcing us to create depressed canyons to connect Mission Bay to the rest of The City would be problematic from a land use and transportation standpoint,” Reiskin said on KALW radio, in mid-March…(more)

Deaths in S.F. traffic not falling despite Vision Zero efforts

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Vision Zero policy was adopted in 2014 with a goal of eliminating all deaths from traffic collisions in a decade. To that end, a collection of city departments has focused on the most dangerous streets and intersections.

The MTA has made at least 30 major renovations and scores of simpler safety improvements based on data compiled by the Department of Public Health identifying the city’s deadliest streets and intersections and most common causes of crashes. At the same time, police have stepped up enforcement efforts at deadly locations. Education campaigns focused on getting drivers to yield to pedestrians were also launched.

“The goal of Vision Zero is that nobody should be dying on our streets just trying to get around town,” said Ed Reiskin, transportation director for the MTA. “While lots of good things have been put in place, it is troubling and tragic that people are dying.”…

Nancy Sarieh, a Department of Public Health spokeswoman, said the early spate of deaths, as well as serious injuries, is tragic but it’s too soon to tell statistically if Vision Zero is losing ground…

This year’s fatal crashes have occurred at or near the intersections of Leavenworth and Ellis streets, Broadway and Powell streets, Athens and Geneva streets, Market and Seventh streets, Dolores and 30th streets and Post and Divisadero streets. Of those, only Seventh and Market has seen any Vision Zero improvements

Merchants’ alternative

The merchants have suggested that instead of installing boarding islands, the MTA should paint bold diagonal stripes in the street at Muni stops and post signs telling drivers to stop outside the zone when streetcars are present. The plan would allow curbside parking to remain(more)

We see a fight brewing between the merchants and the SF Bicycle Coalition. Who will City Hall choose to support? How long will the citizens of SF put up with the Vision Zero plan to remove parking and slow traffic and displace merchants once they hear that the number of fatal accidents has remained constant. The Vision Zero improvements at Market and 7th failed.


from craigslist:

(excelsior / outer mission)
I was driving on Mission from 30th st to 16th street but was unable to drive directly (as in a straight line) due to SFMTA destroying the driveability of Mission st. It not only makes it very difficult to drive, it must be a nightmare for those who live on the streets that the traffic is diverted onto. One cannot drive down Mission street without being forced to make a right turn, going around the block in order to get back onto Mission street. The businesses will suffer, the drivers will suffer and the residents will suffer the most. Here’s the contact number for those who want to call and complain;

11 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94103
b/t 12th St & Mission St
Phone number (415) 701-3000


Thanks for letting us know about the rants and raves on Craigslist!

YELPing may help too! If they don’t black list you.

CALL AND COMPLAIN! Sign the STOP SFMTA petition and share it with your friends and fellow citizens who are fed up with the SFMTA.  All comments go directly to the recipients so let them know why you are signing.  Follow metermadness and watch for notices about street meetings protesting the SFMTA.

This is what SFMTA plans to do to Van Ness Avenue. The want to force traffic onto smaller side streets and slow us down. In the streetsblog article the SFMTA applauds itself for their success on Mission street, where they claimed they increased the bus time by 4% while increasing traffic congestion by 15-18%.

They plan to fix the traffic problem by making it worse! If we don’t stop them here and now they will continue to use tax payer dollars to torment us.

This is budget month. Tell City Hall to cut SFMTA’s budget and eliminate these programs. Demand they use the complete streets money to re-instate the bus lines they eliminated instead of re-designing streets.


Mission Street Transit Lanes: What About the Bikes?

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Earlier this week, the SFMTA sent out a release with a progress report on the “Red Lane” paint (actually, a thermoplastic adhesive) they are applying, clearly marking lanes for Muni Streetcars and buses (and taxis):

Early signs indicate success. Preliminary data shows transit-only lane violations dropping by more than 50 percent on some segments of 3rd Street. On Geary and O’Farrell streets, the red lanes have reduced Muni travel times by 4 percent despite traffic congestion increasing on the same segments by 15-18 percent… (more)

If there is any doubt in your minds about the plans SFMTA is working on. Here you have it in their own word. Muni gains 4% in traffic congestion while the rest of use loose 15-18%. This is how they fix traffic problems.

Let’s here from the health and science community about how much more pollutants are going in the air as a result of this slow down of traffic.

Ask the riders how much longer it takes them to walk from the bus stop to their destination. Do faster buses cut their trip time?

Remake Way For Tech Buses

By : sfweekly – excerpt

After 31 traffic-related deaths on San Francisco’s streets in 2014, Mayor Ed Lee set an ambitious goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2020.

To do that, city transit planners are reducing the width of streets, widening sidewalks, and making other pedestrian safety improvements, as they did at the intersection of Diamond and Bosworth streets — a major transit hub near the Glen Park BART station where three busy Muni lines as well as tech buses for Google, Yahoo, and Genentech load up daily — last year at a cost of $2.8 million.

But thanks to city engineers’ miscalculation, all that extra concrete had to be torn up and removed, because those new, safer streets were too narrow for Muni and — wait for it — tech buses to navigate.

The SFMTA discovered last fall that buses were either hitting the new median or couldn’t make the turn from Diamond onto Bosworth. The agency acknowledged in November that the median and sidewalk would need to be ripped up and rebuilt, but it knew before then trouble was ahead: Some locals noticed as early as May 2013 that the turn could be a problem, according to neighborhood newspaper Glen Park News.

“Given these warnings, I don’t understand why the city would have ignored them and proceeded with a plan that didn’t make any sense,” said resident Simona Agnolucci, who’s lived on Diamond Street for seven years. “I find it very troubling. It seems like a very basic calculation that should have happened.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes Glen Park, called the errors “incredibly unfortunate.” He’s adamant the SFMTA’s other work in the area, including the installation of traffic lights at two nearby intersections, won’t be compromised or canceled as a result of the mistake… (more)

Wow! The Supervisors and SFMTA have no problem fixing their mistakes when it comes to serving tech buses. They should be just as ready to fix their mistakes on Mission Street that have reeked havoc with the merchants and residents there.

It is as important to serve the needs of local San Francisco businesses and residents as it is to serve those in Silicon Valley.

Stop Displacing SF Businesses!



photo by zrants

We know what SFMTA and SPUR have done to help developers remove longtime residents from the neighborhoods. Now we have proof that they are after the established businesses as well.


SFMTA was the first tool used to run people out of town by threatening to take away our cars. This was step one in the plan.

They developed a number of methods to remove cars and make residents dependent on public transportation. We recently found out the real purpose is to prove that there is a demand for public transit so they can find private funding to invest in it, because public transit is too expensive to be supported by the public without any private support. It cost drivers less to get across town than it costs the government to move them.

First the government convinced the citizens of San Francisco to trust them to merge all the street management agencies and Muni, including enforcement, under a single umbrella organization. They claimed it would be more efficient and to save costs. It hasn’t turned out that way. Muni is still broke because most of the SFMTA efforts have gone into mode change not providing Muni service to those who need to rely on it.

Next SFMTA, SPUR, the banks and developers bought the media and at some point they created a number of non-profit relationships.

Then they bought City Hall. By sending out an army of precinct workers who helped elect their supporters. Let’s not continue to make that mistake. We need to elect people who will protect us, not them.

Once established, SFMTA threatened to blanket the Eastern Neighborhoods with meters. Citizens in all the districts fought back and won a reprieve with an amended contract, which is, even now, being threatened in the Showplace Square area, where the SFMTA is using the promise of removing the homeless parking in vehicles in the area, as a carrot to approve installation of parking meters. We are asking where they are getting these meters they claimed would not have under that amended parking meter contract. Did they lie?

SFMTA retaliated, by increasing enforcement hours, fines, and rates for parking wherever they could get away with it. The claimed they were trying to create a better parking experience for everyone, while making parking harder and more expensive for everyone. They lied.

SFMTA removed more parking spaces from public access by selling exclusive rights to private enterprises, including their “car and bike sharing” services, many of which benefit SFMTA directly or indirectly.

To create more havoc and traffic congestion on the streets, SFMTA re-timed traffic lights making it harder for pedestrians to cross safely and for cars to clear the intersection. Then they ticket cars stuck in the middle, adding to their revenue.

Under the street diets program, SFMTA removed or narrowed street lanes, forcing cars to “share” lanes with bikes on some streets, while restricting them from bike lanes on others. Confusion among drivers and bikers is a major SFMTA tool that is not appreciated by anyone. No one knows what to expect from block to block, as the lanes of traffic and bikes merge and separate without warning. Remember traffic merging signs? Many drivers and bikers ignore the lanes. It is pretty difficult to see them in the rain.

Not content with traffic jams and huge numbers of complaints, the SFMTA introduced transit only BRT lanes, with limited access for non-transit traffic, claiming the buses would move faster. They also removed a lot of bus stops, forcing their riders to walk longer distances, and removed seats on the buses, forcing their riders to stand on the bus. To save something somewhere, SFMTA also insisted on moving bus stops and bus shelters away from long-established spots to less convenient areas like driveways, claiming they are saving seconds.

Land Use and Transportation are now linked and the developers have reshaped the legal landscape that used to protect the residents and businesses, using all the legal maneuvers they can come up with, They limit on-site parking on new construction and force higher, denser buildings everywhere they can get away with it, creating a no-limit policy that, along with tax freezes has pushed land values through the roof.

While SFMTA was working on reducing cars on the street, the developers were busy obtaining land, starting with cheap foreclosures, and buying out as much land as they can talk owners into selling. As we have heard, huge amounts of cash have poured into property purchases in the recent years. The money is funding a lot of the political changes we are seeing that is making it easier for big developers to build higher and denser realizing greater profits.

Now they are poised to elect a new batch of politicians who will do their bidding and continue the plan, unless we stop them.

Many people, including scientists, and the courts, question the claim that transit oriented development is good for the environment. Cars are going electric and gas sales and tax revenues have gone way down due to more efficient car engines. ABAG questions claims that slower traffic is better for the environment. They find that the faster the cars move, the less time they spend on the road, they less emissions they produce. We have been thinking that all along.

The public, including affordable rent advocates, have become wise to City Hall’s Affordable Housing Bonus Plan and have effectively killed it. SFMTA needs a new excuse to push SPUR displacement plans. Enter Vision Zero.


For the last two or more years, SFMTA has been trying to reduce parking spots by installing corner bulbouts, (at $150K a pop) and bus bulbouts (much starting at around $300K each), claiming they cut the time if takes pedestrians to cross the street. This is a much more expensive method than re-timing the lights or putting in more pedestrian cross switches or traffic countdowns. We heard they removed pedestrian crossing switches on Lombard Street (much to the dismay of the neighbors) before claiming they needed more expensive draconian safety measures.

Ed Reiskin admitted at the March 15th SFMTA Board meeting that the number of pedestrian fatalities has not gone down since Vision Zero was put into practice. This leads us to question their methodologies, but the Board is convinced that more stringent car taming measures are needed. Given these facts, we think we need an outside investigation into the efficacy of the program before spending another dime on it, especially since the SFMTA claims they are broke and have two years of deficits coming up. All they need to do is pause the complete streets program for a while and they will be caught up in no time. Lay off a few planners and they can hire bus drivers and mechanics.

Some of our questions about Zero Vision: Where have the fatalities occurred? How many drivers were at fault and how many occurred in areas where safety measures were already in place? We know some have involved Muni transit vehicles and other large vehicles such as garbage trucks with limited side vision and at least one involved a cyclist riding between two bus lanes on Market Street.


We only have some data on the fate of the Castro merchants so more needs to be done to find out how they dealt with the construction phase and why so many closed their businesses, leaving many empty retail spaces in the neighborhood. The increase in empty retail units also leads us to wonder what is driving the escalating retail rents?

We know more about the situation on Polk Street. The merchants have lost parking and loading zones and are huge increase in traffic on their narrowing street as the Van Ness project is expected to get underway. To make matters even more difficult, they are being threatened by major rent increases. Many long-established, popular businesses got together to produce a video of their community of merchants expressing their hope for a future on Polk Street. They are planning to request a Special District designation and whatever protection they can get.

I walked down to see how the results of the new Complete Streets plan and was pretty appalled. I saw produce delivery trucks parked in the traffic lane next to huge empty red zones, and crates of fresh produce on the sidewalk next to produce stands. One van had a Santa Clara license plate. This scene must be repeated daily for all the produce stores and all the restaurants on Mission Street that offer fresh food. If people want fresh produce from local farmers, they cannot expect to get it any other way.

I shot photos of the scene, including one of a notice that the bus stop has been moved a few blocks away. As I walked up Mission I saw more doubled parked produce trucks unloading produce parked in the traffic lane. The situation on Mission Street is pretty dismal and not sustainable. There are at least four or five produce stands within a block of16th and Mission, not to mention the restaurants and cafes. Each day they must have fresh produce delivered. They need loading zones.

If all this is beginning to sound familiar, there is a reason for that.

City Hall embraced the new smart economy, giving preference to high tech and forcing many existing residents and businesses out of the Market Street transit rich area. We know what happened there.

You can copy and paste this in any neighborhood in the city, or the country and you will see the same thing. This is the result of urban planners running the country building a better future while they enhance their bank accounts and ignore the needs of the people living today.

How much wealth is transferred from the workers to the landowners every year in rents? How much of our tax dollars go to subsidize these same landowners?

That is how the planners clear the ground for the vision of a new green future.
First they take your parking
Then they take your car
Then they take your job
Then they take your home
When you have nothing left you are on your own.


CPUC delays vote on ride-hail regulations until next month

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

State regulators announced late Wednesday they will delay a controversial vote on sweeping new regulations for ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft.

The California Public Utilities Commission was poised to approve a major overhaul of its regulations for ride-hail companies statewide that would impact thousands of such vehicles on San Francisco’s streets. The vote, scheduled for Thursday morning, was delayed to April 7 amid disagreements over the regulations, including whether such companies can use rental cars to offer rides.

Such contentious issues include whether Lyft drivers can lease vehicles purely for ride-hail use, if Uber drivers should be fingerprinted for criminal checks, and whether unaccompanied children can legally travel in ride-hails.

New high-stakes financial deals, like a partnership for Lyft drivers to lease vehicles from General Motors, Inc. that was announced this week, added fuel to missives between the legal teams of the multibillion ride-hail dollar companies, their critics and the CPUC.

Now Uber, Lyft and others will have more time to hash out the legal ramifications.

The CPUC still plans to discuss the Phase II regulations Thursday but will not vote on them… (more)


Parking Seemed Like Such a Great Idea. It Wasn’t

By Ellen Huet and Jing Cao : bloomberg

Zirx and Luxe are shifting away from the on-demand model

Venture capital firms bet tens of millions of dollars that startups offering affordable valet parking to harried urbanites would flourish in the on-demand economy pioneered by Uber.

Parking valets working for companies with names like Luxe, Zirx and Valet Anywhere became a common sight in the congested precincts of San Francisco, Chicago, New York and other U.S. cities. With a few taps on a phone, customers could summon a valet and avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot and then squeezing into it. Once they’d finished shopping, dining or taking a meeting, the valet would drive up with the vehicle.

Turns out it’s hard to make money parking cars. Two startups (Caarbon and Vatler) quickly imploded and three more (Luxe, Zirx and Valet Anwyhere) are shifting away from the on-demand model. Their retreat is a cautionary tale for scores of startups flogging instant gratification to people who, on the spur of the moment, want their cocktails mixed, laundry folded and bodies massaged….(more)

Voice your thoughts on billion-dollar SFMTA budget

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is inviting the public this month and in April to give public feedback on its preliminary two-year, billion-dollar operating and capital budget.

Transit officials will hold two open houses on March 23 and 26 and also a webinar on March 21 for those who cannot attend the open houses. Both open houses will be at the SFMTA headquarters at One South Van Ness Avenue on the second floor.

Next week, the public can also attend public hearing of the budget at the SFMTA’s Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.

The transit agency will discuss many topics including a proposed premium fare for Muni riders who pay cash, increasing the monthly adult Muni Fast Pass with BART access beyond the automatic fare indexing and paying premium for using the Muni express routes.

As reported by SFBay, Clipper cash users would continue paying $2.25 in 2017, but cash users would pay $2.50. Cash fares will also rise again in 2018 by 25 cents due to automatic indexing of fares. The adult Muni Fast Pass with BART access could cost $91 next year.

Also, the transit agency is proposing higher fines and parking fees in its two-year budget. The proposed revenue generators will help curb the transit agency’s projected shortfall of $13.5 million in 2017 and $14.3 million in 2018…

Anyone not able to attend any of the meeting can also submit emails to the SFMTA at

Public SFMTA Budget Meetings:

  • March 15, 2016
    SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting
    City Hall, Room 400
    1 p.m.
  • March 23, 2016
    SFMTA Budget Open House
    One South Van Ness Avenue, second floor
    6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

March 26, 2016
    SFMTA Budget Open House
    One South Van Ness Avenue, second floor
    11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
April 5, 2016
    SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting
    City Hall, Room 400
    1 p.m.

Tell them to curtail their capital expenditures for a couple of years and they won’t need to increase fares and fees. Give everybody a break. Lay off the planners and complete streets staff. Get back to the business of managing the Muni for the people who need it. Quit cutting service so more people can take it.

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