When Muni doesn’t stop at the grocery store

By Sally Stephens : sfexaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says removing the L-Taraval line’s stop at 17th Avenue and Taraval Street will make trains run 25 to 30 seconds faster, but the decision could have far-reaching impacts on passengers.

San Franciscans are told constantly that we should get out of our cars and ride Muni instead. But a recent decision by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to remove a light-rail stop across from the Safeway on Taraval Street could force some who have been taking Muni to the store to drive there instead.

SFMTA staff want to remove stops to speed up the L-Taraval’s travel time as it heads downtown from the Sunset. According to SFMTA staff at the agency’s Dec. 5 meeting, removing the inbound stop at 17th Avenue and Taraval Street, across from the Safeway, will make the trains run 25 to 30 seconds faster….

At the December meeting, agency staff noted that they did not observe people boarding the L-Taraval with “heavy grocery loads that would make walking an additional two minutes challenging.” However, even a “light” grocery bag can be “challenging” to a senior or someone with a disability or a serious illness when they have to carry it for several blocks before they can board the train…(more)

This is an example of a ridiculous study done by amateurs. Did these folks check to see how “heavy” the loads were, or just assume they are not heavy? Heavy for a young person might be over 20 pounds and over 5 pound can be too heavy for some people. a gallon of water is heavy because it is dense weight.

My Reply to this comment: “It’s called, get off your butt and walk. Maybe we would not have so many fat people.”

Are you a bot? Or are you a human? If you are a human who is a workout critic, I hope you are really working those abs now so you can feel the burn when your knees go out due to the extra workouts you did in your youth as some of the elderly walking around with new hips and knees are dealing with now. Hip replacements are not due to overweight conditions, they happen in your 50’s and are genetic conditions. Knees are weakened by skiing and cycling and other sports that puts pressure of the knees. Dancers are the most at risk for foot and leg problems. So, go and work yourself into a frenzy on your sports toys while you can and don’t begrudge the elders that live with the results of their youthful exuberance because that is your future dude, or bot.

2 Efforts to Repeal the New California State Gas Tax that our State Legislature passed last year are gathering signatures

They both repeal the Gas Tax but this one includes a requirement for voter approval of future gas and car taxes.

NEW GAS TAX NOW HERE:
Download Your Petition to End the New Gas & Car Tax

https://www.givevotersavoice.com/

Initiative Language

INITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECTLY TO THE VOTERS

SECTION 1. STATEMENT OF FINDINGS AND PURPOSES (a) California’s taxes on gasoline and car ownership are among the highest in the nation. (b) These taxes have been raised without the consent of the people. (c) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Constitution to require voter approval of the recent increase in the gas and car tax enacted by Chapter 5 of the Statutes of 2017 and any future increases in the gas and car tax.

SECTION 2. VOTER APPROVAL FOR INCREASES IN GAS AND CAR TAX
Section 3 .5 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution is added to read:

Sec. 3.5(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Legislature shall not impose, increase or extend any tax, as defined in section 3, on the sale, storage, use or consumption of motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of a resident of California to operate on the public highways a vehicle, or trailer coach, unless and until that proposed tax is submitted to the electorate and approved by a majority vote. (b) This section does not apply to taxes on motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of operating a vehicle or trailer coach at the rates that were in effect on January 1, 201 7. Any increase in the rate of such taxes imposed after January 1, 2017 shall cease to be imposed unless and until approved by the electorate as required by this section.

SB 1 was passed by a slim margin in Sacramento. Almost immediately after passage the opponents was working to repeal it. If you want to see this on the ballot, you may download and follow instructions on how to send in your signature.

Technically I believe that local governments are in charge of determining how their share of the gas taxes are spent, so, one could lobby the local government to spend it on road repair if one chose to do so, but, there are no guarantees any potholes will be fixed with the tax money, or any bridges and roads will be repaired.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS INITIATIVE:
1830. (17-0033A1) Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated for those Purposes. Requires any Measure to Enact Certain Vehicle Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Submitted to and Approved by the Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 11/20/17 | Circulation Deadline: 05/21/18 | Signatures Required: 585,407 – (25% of Signatures Reached 12/15/2017 (PDF)

Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures

Initiatives referenda cleared for circulation

 

Poll finds possible measures to fund SF transit lack two-thirds support

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A new survey found a majority of San Francisco voters enthusiastic to approve new funding measures for transportation — but those measures may lack the two-thirds voter support needed to pass…

The results of the survey will be presented to the transportation authority Board of Directors, which is comprised of the Board of Supervisors, on Jan. 9… (more)

CITIZENS REVOLT. The lack of trust in the SFMTA is growing and probably accounts for the lack of public support for more transit funds. Maybe the City Hall should consider passing a SFMTA Charter amendment, changing SFMTA management, fixing the gridlock, reversing the traffic lane diet, giving the public back their streets and parking and returning the bus stops and seats to the Muni riders, before asking for more money. By then they might have opened the Central Subway, and finished some of the many projects that are hanging people up now and may be blamed for the debts the department is accruing. Hint: Stop all new street project starts until the current ones are done and paid for!

Troubled SF Central Subway has a new problem: The boss quit

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

I don’t even need to read the article to appreciate the title. Incompetence rises to the top would be one choice for the subhead. You know you are living in a parallel universe when you see these kind of stories unfold constantly in the news. This one looks like fake news if I ever saw it. But, it is probably true. Maye it is time to promote the SFMTA Director out of office next. That would make sense after this.

San Francisco’s $1.6 billion Central Subway project, already a year behind schedule, is facing a new challenge.

John Funghi, the Municipal Transportation Agency engineer who has overseen the big dig for 11 years, has been recruited to honcho Caltrain’s $1.9 billion conversion of its rail service from diesel to electric trains. He starts in February.

As for Funghi’s replacement?

“We will be posting the job,” said transportation agency spokesman Paul Rose, though he could not offer a timeline for it to be filled..

“It’s a bittersweet decision to leave,” said Funghi, who told us he will help out with the transition. “But it was just too good an opportunity to pass up building the spine to get commuter rail into downtown San Francisco.”… (more)

And it gets him out of having to figure out how to get out of the hole he is in now.

 

Leader of year-long delayed Central Subway project departs for Caltrain

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

…“It’s never a good time to leave a project,” he said, “but if there was a good time, this would be it.”

Funghi served the SFMTA for 18 years and is also a San Francisco native, according to an internal email sent by SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to SFMTA staff. “While we are losing a tremendous asset, Caltrain is inheriting a strong leader who understands the importance of world-class transportation for all,” Reiskin wrote… (more)

The Brand-New Traffic Circles of Euclid Avenue – Going in Right Now

sfcitizen : excerpt (includes  map)

Hey, How Come the SFMTA No Longer Allows Neighbors to Vote on These “Improvements?”

Well, last part first. Our SFMTA used to allow residents living near the sites of proposed traffic circles to have a little mini-election. The problem with that was that the SFMTA got its ass handed to it when all the “trial” circles it had just installed on Page and Waller got voted down, by like a three to one ratio, in five separate votes.

Guess what, the SFMTA Project Manager, the Lord of these rings, whose job it was to push this unwanted project through, was “sad” due to this result.

Anyway, flash forward to 2017 and now some neighbors in Jordan Park are finally just encountering construction of these ring things, and man are they pissed. They’re calling 311 to register their vote (in a different, less effective way).

Here it is, as laid out in October 2017:…(more)

We suspect that the new block by block projects are some excuse to do more damage with less funds as the fund are dying up. We feel that the best solution to a cash shortage is to finish the projects underway before starting any new ones. If you agree, please let your supervisors know. Also let them know that you support the proposed SFMTA split if you do.

Commuters lose transit, parking, biking benefits in tax bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Count commuters among the losers in the Republican tax bill that the House and Senate are expected to vote on next week.

The final bill agreed to by Republican negotiators and released late Friday eliminates the tax incentive for private employers that subsidize their employees’ transit, parking and bicycle commuting expenses.

Currently, companies can provide parking or transit passes worth up to $255 a month to employees as a benefit to help pay for their commuting expenses, and then deduct the costs from their corporate taxes. That amount was set to increase to $260 a month on Jan. 1...(more)

I thought the most difficult loss for public transit would be felt in the reduction of write-offs for bonds used to finance capital projects. Maybe that was not in the final tax bill.

SFFD and the SFMTA Compromise on Bike Safety

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

A long-delayed yet vital project on upper Market Street has now been altered, aggravating advocacy groups and cyclists.

…In July, notorious City Hall gadfly David Pilpel appealed the decision, stating that it needed to undergo environmental review. The issue landed on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda, and they voted to uphold the project without further review.

The money was budgeted, the plan approved. So why, five months later, has construction yet to break ground?

The issue is one that we all thought was resolved: The Fire Department has a problem with the plan. From the get-go, it has argued that the reconfiguration of Market Street to create protected bike lanes would interfere with ladder trucks in an emergency.

“The design materially compromises the safety of firefighters and local residents,” Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White wrote in a letter to the SFMTA earlier this year.

The main issue centers around the distance ladder trucks will be from buildings, if parking-protected bike lanes are installed. The width of the street, combined with Muni’s overhead wires, will make it trickier for firefighters to rescue people, and adds in the threat of electrical shocks, SFFD claims….

And looking ahead, the battle between safe streets and the Fire Department doesn’t appear to be closer to a resolution. When asked if this redesign will be applied to other areas where issues of parking-protected bike lanes and overhead wires are bringing the two departments in conflict, Reiskin said there is no sweeping plan to remedy the issue.

“It will be very much case-by-case,” he said. “The geometry of each street is different.”…(more)

Could Department of Livable Streets fix SF parking and traffic?

By Matier & Ross  : sfchronicle – excerpt

With the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s parking and traffic management becoming a bigger political issue, plans are being revved up for a City Charter amendment that would hand those jobs to a new Department of Livable Streets.

The MTA board would still hear all parking and traffic matters, but the Board of Supervisors would have the final say over parking rules, stop signs and the like.

“The buck stops with the Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, one of the initiative’s sponsors. “I don’t want to be held accountable for something I have absolutely no control over.”..

Safaí cited his frustration over the MTA’s decision to reject a two-year effort by his Excelsior constituents to get a four-way stop sign at the corner of Avalon Avenue and Edinburgh Street — where a pedestrian was later killed.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is co-sponsoring the ballot move, said the final straw for him was hearing that Mayor Ed Lee, with support from the MTA, was negotiating with ride-hailing giants to turn parking spaces into designated pickup stops for Uber and Lyft.

Safaí and Peskin need four more supervisors to sign onto the Charter amendment to get it on the June 5 ballot. They’re confident they’ll get there…(more)

Now we know more details about the proposed SFMTA Charter Amendment and what pushed the supervisors over the edge – lack of response from SFMTA to a citizens’ request, and the privatization of public streets. We have all experienced these problems and been helpless to solve them. The elected Board of Supervisors should be able to get a bit more done to clean up this mess.
If you agree with the plan to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot, let the supervisors and everyone else know. Contacts

RELATED:
Advocates Align to Fight Proposal to Split Muni/SFMTA
The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Transit Riders have come out hard against a proposal to split Muni, operator of San Francisco’s buses and trains, from the rest of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also oversees street design, stoplights, signs, and taxi and parking regulations.
The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to put the amendment on the June, 2018, ballot tomorrow/Tuesday, 2 p.m., at its regularly scheduled meeting.

Why split the SFMTA?

I believe the Supervisors did not appreciate the type of open-ended contract they discovered when they investigated the Van Ness BRT project. I’m not going to describe it here. You can watch the many hearings that have been conducted on the contracts and delays. I’m not going into the financial shenanigans.

Other investigations into major mistakes made on projects such as the ones on Potrero next to the General Hospital lead to questions about communication within the department and SFMTAs dealings with other city agencies. At a public neighborhood meeting we discovered that the Project Manager for Potrero Ave. is also Project Manager for at least one other large project. This leads us to believe that they have bitten off too much to do well and need to put all new project starts on hold while they finish the ones the ones they have going now.

Disputes with the Fire Department and other city agencies involved in emergency operations along with daily transit meltdowns concern people who are responsible for handling a major disaster. How will a gridlocked city handle the next earthquake or other disaster that cuts off power when so much of our lives are electronica now. There is no evacuation plan. The plan is to shelter in place. That doesn’t work under all circumstances.

While you are at it, pay attention to public comments, especially where the bus stop removals and other inconveniences are opposed. Spitting SFMTA (not Muni) has less to do with cars and more to do with providing the service the Muni riders want instead of ignoring them. A business that ignores its customers will not survive long. In this case, the sales tax increase failed because no amount of lies and excuses will convince people they should pay more for less, especially when the salaries are not keeping pace with the tax increases.

The voters much approve the split and restructuring of the SFMTA by ballot.

RELATED:
Supervisors want to split municipal transit agency in two — here’s why

MUNI to split into transit and traffic, again!

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco supervisors want to divide Muni’s parent agency into two departments. Concerned with The City’s allegedly mismanaged transit policies, supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai have told stakeholders.

Under the proposal, one agency would handle just Muni, and the other would handle San Francisco’s parking and streets, sources with knowledge of the measure told the San Francisco Examiner…

The proposal would also allow supervisors to make appointments to the SFMTA’s seven-member Board of Directors. Right now, directors are only appointed by the mayor.

Peskin and Safai have approached stakeholders with the ballot measure over the last week, and discussed introducing it as an amendment to The City’s charter at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, according to sources with knowledge of the measure…

I think [Peskin is] having buyer’s remorse about his role in Prop. A,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of the nonprofit Livable City.

The DPT of old was ideologically committed to moving cars through The City, and transit, walking and cycling always got short changed,” Radulovich said.

But while the SFMTA has tried to focus more on transit and the creation of bike lanes over vehicle traffic, Radulovich feels those efforts are lackluster. He said another major reason the SFMTA was created was to free it from political influence; supervisors would sometimes stop transportation changes that would benefit thousands for the sake of one angry constituent.

But the politicians still throw monkey wrenches into modern-day SFMTA operations, Radulovich said.

The reforms just allow that to happen “behind the scenes,” Radulovich said...(more)

The City is reeling from the disruptions on our streets. We need to shed light into the dark corners of the SFMTA and dissect the billion dollar budget that they have controlled while creating a traffic nightmare. Radulovich is right about the backroom dealings. The fact that the SFMTA Board members have no private emails to communicate directly with the public they are supposed to serve should alarm voters. Who are the gatekeepers who determine what the Board sees and when they see it? Who benefits from the removal of bus seats and stops when the Muni riders overwhelmingly oppose them?

Perfect timing! A change in priorities and policies is needed now. Peskin and Safai are coming through with a brilliant move at the right time. An initiative aimed at changing the power structure of SFMTA would force the candidates for supervisor to take a position showing their true colors, making it easier for voters to determine who to support in those important races.

Top Down Government is losing public support. If the voters approve the move to alter the power structure of SFMTA, making it more accountable to the public, they will send a warning to other government entities that there is a popular revolt against government overreach.