Fight Over Mission Street Transit-Only Lanes Still Red-Hot

The $3.8 million SFMTA project designating lanes on Mission Street bus- and taxi-only, a system used on Market Street and other thoroughfares, was enacted with the stated goal of reducing congestion and transit times while increasing safety. It’s still too soon to know what the long-term effects of the changes, which SFMTA Transit Director John Haley called “exciting stuff” during their inception, will be, but the reduction of parking on Mission Street has become a red-hot issue for local residents and businesses.

Drivers, naturally, have made their objections known, and small business owners have also argued that the limits on parking have driven customers away. The controversy has yet to cool off: Last night, many critics met with the SFMTA board of directors, where the rhetoric grew purple.

“This is just one more act of violence that the people in the Mission feel,” Mission Local quotes one resident, Mary Eliza. “When their primary street, with the district name on it, is violated in this way without really taking into consideration the needs of the community, you’re going to have a problem.”

“They’re not going to come back,” Eden Stein, the owner of Secession Art & Design on Mission Street, told the meeting. “From 16th to Randall there has been a loss of business, and a lot of businesses can’t wait months for changes to happen. Businesses are going to close down. We need some action.”… (more)

I attended the community meetings with staff after the red paint went down on the Mission Street and the forced turns turned the street into a nightmare. Both Reiskin and Campos were at the first meeting where I asked what the Mission Street project cost. I was told $6 million dollars. I asked how much it cost to add a bus line to the route and was told $1. I suggested a better way to serve the Muni riders with less negative effects on everyone else would be to put more buses into service. As it is now, the buses rolling down the red carpet, are packed to the gills. Standing room only. That brings me to wonder just how fast buses should go with standing passengers. That leads me to question the need to speed up the buses on Mission Street.

You can see by the amount of animosity evident in the comments and the negative reception SFMTA staff are facing in other neighborhood meetings, (we heard hissing and booing in the Sunset), that the invasion of an entire neighborhood is not going to be ignored by anyone in San Francisco any more. Residents may have been sitting ducks for a while but now they are perking up and noticing each little change they see and most of them are freaking out over anything they don’t like.

The time has come to demand SFMTA roll back the red carpet and paint it black. They need to pave and fix the potholes in the street before they lay any more paint or pour any more concrete. All MODES are effected negatively by the potholes, so they can use their bike funds to fix the the potholes before they paint any more bike paths.

Transit Supervisor slams brakes on L-Taraval changes

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

It’s back to the drawing board for proposed changes to the L-Taraval Muni line after neighbors rallied against adding boarding islands at stops on Taraval Street.

Through three meetings last month, Sunset district neighbors and transportation planners worked on a new plan for the L-Taraval revisions. Those meetings were spearheaded by Supervisor Katy Tang, who said the acrimony over the initial proposal “couldn’t continue.”

The community had expressed anger over the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s plan to build pedestrian boarding islands on Taraval Street. Currently, train riders disembark directly onto the street.

Albert Chow, owner of Great Wall Hardware on Taraval Street, said, “We would like to seek safety, but not see boarding islands” built, because Taraval would lose parking.

Parking would be extended on side streets, the SFMTA has said, but neighbors still fear it would adversely impact businesses.

Instead of boarding islands, Chow said he and others asked for flashing bumps on the roadway, painted white pedestrian zones on the streets and overhead signs to warn away cars when people disembark from trains.

The recent SFMTA meetings followed a more contentious one in February in which hundreds of Sunset residents booed and hissed at the SFMTA planners.

“I think [the SFMTA] did listen” to neighbors’ concerns about initial L-Taraval plans, Tang said. “But because we didn’t see the final revision [to the plans], we’ll see.”… (more)

Small Business Commission Meeting

Email notice from the Small Business Commission:

Monday, May 9, 5:30 PM – agenda
City Hall Room 400 Small Business Commission Meeting
with SFMTA presenting. They want merchant feedback. Let’s give them feedback.

Dear business leaders:
key agenda items for Monday’s meeting highlights:

Presentation San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)  This is the first of what will be the regularly schedule presentations every two months at the small business commission.  One of the key objectives is for the Commission to review projects from the small business lens and allow the business community to weight in an official environment.   It is important for the Commission to hear from the business community around the projects that affect your business and business areas.   

Candace Sue, Communications Director – Overview of Agency and Projects
Deanna Desedas, Public Outreach & Engagement Manager
Craig Raphael and Sophia Forde – 5 Capital Improvement Program
Mari Hunter – Lombard Street Improvement Project
Sean Kennedy – 14 Mission Street Rapid Project
Kathryn Studwell – RPP / Residential Parking Permits


More Criticism of Mission Street’s “Red Carpet”

By millionlocal – excerpt

A business owner lambasted the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority’s Board of Directors on Tuesday, saying traffic changes along Mission Street have cost her business and threatening closures. Neighborhood residents at the meeting called the changes a form of violence.

The changes include transit-only lanes and many left turn turn restrictions, plus forced right turns at certain intersections.

Eden Stein, who owns Secession Art & Design on Mission Street near Fair Avenue,said it is taking her customers 90 minutes to park or to get up and down Mission Street.

“They’re not going to come back,” Stein told the board. “From 16th to Randall there has been a loss of business, and a lot of businesses can’t wait months for changes to happen. Businesses are going to close down. We need some action.”… (more)

Thanks for covering this meeting at the SFMTA. There are a couple of items I would like to add to this report. A number of taxi drivers were concerned about the lack of left turns on Mission Street that they were told they would be allowed to make. It goes without saying that extending the time of the cab rides makes the ride more expensive for the rider, and that puts the taxi service in further jeopardy when they are already failing. Taxi representatives also expressed dismay at the new taxi fees and pointed out that there is no market for the new expensive medallions the SFMTA has decided to sell. No one in their right mind would finance a risky deal that shows no profit potential. Raising the medallion price killed that business, much as they SFMTA and their supporters are killing the businesses on Mission Street. Do you see a trend there?

A couple of physical issues were raised by professional taxi/truck drivers. It seems that instead of repairing the road and patching the potholes, which would help bikers and buses more than anything else, the red paint was just laid down on the street on top of the badly decomposing road surface. We agree. Patch the roads first. When you have huge potholes in the street, drivers, including bikes, must swerve to avoid them. This creates potential problems for people who don’t see the reason for the swerve and can’t predict them.

A former truck driver suggested the SFMTA should use the kind of material used on highways to patch the roads under the red lanes since they will be getting all of the heavy usage of the machines that do the most damage to the streets. You do not want buses running over potholes.

At least one merchant around Randal commented on the leftover bulbouts when the bus stops are moved. This is an obvious tool to remove parking spaces that has not gone unnoticed. They put in those $!50k + bulbouts to remove parking spaces and then move them to take out more parking. They then take the parking meters that they are removing and attempt to install them in other neighborhoods. This is your freindly SFMTA that is so good at patting itself on the back while harassing the taxpayers and laughing all the way to the bank.

There is a way to stop them but that involves convincing the Board of Supervisors to take control and protect your interests.


May SFMTA Meetings – Come tell the Board what you want them to do.


SFMTA Board Meetings at City Hall Room 400, 1 PM
This month – May 3 and May 17

FYI: What SFMTA staff CAN and CANNOT do without Board approval:

What CAN this SFMTA staff group do?
The Staff: It appears all they can really do is recommend actions to the Board.
They CAN change the timing on the traffic signals and they MAY change some color curbs up to 20 feet long without a MTA Board hearing.

What MUST the Board do?
SFMTA Board MUST approve removal of: stop signs, no left turns, bus zones, blue zones, towing no parking and stopping signs, and required right turns. All of these changes take place at the SFMTA Board meetings. That is why we are taking our issues to the SFMTA Board meeting.

What CAN the Supervisors do?
Supervisors can do a lot if 8 or them agree to make the change.
A Supervisor may be able to do something about enforcement.

We  asked about enforcement for the Mission Street project:
SFMTA enforces double parking.
PCO who directs traffic at forced right turn on Cesar Chavez.
SFMTA enforces protection for street painters.
Police Department handles the rest of the enforcement. A Supervisor may be able to do something about enforcement.

‘Tech Buses’ Commit Hundreds of Violations on San Francisco Roadways

By Bigad Shaban, Felipe Escamilla and Kevin Nious : nbcbayarea – excerpt – (video)

Some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley use private buses to shuttle their employees to and from work, but records obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reveal a growing problem that could put other commuters in danger.

An employee perk at some of the world’s most well known tech companies is at the center of a heated debate over fairness and convenience.

While the buses aim to take thousands of cars off the road, traffic records obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit revealed a growing problem that could put other commuters in danger.

Each workday, three million people travel across the Bay Area on roadways, railways, bike lanes, and bus lanes…

Shuttle companies boast they’re part of a solution to get cars off the road. But city records obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit revealed those buses may also be putting other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians at risk…


Use the interactive map below to locate the 125 private bus stops in San Francisco, as well as the locations for the more 800 citations issued to private commuter buses in 2014 and 2015. You can also click on each individual point on the map to learn more…(more)

Lawsuit against tech bus program fails in SF court

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

An environmental suit against San Francisco’s commuter shuttle pilot program, known commonly as “Google buses,” was thrown out Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court.

Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong ruled the suit “moot” after a half-hour hearing Thursday afternoon, dismissing the case because the original pilot program – which the suit was filed against – has ended.

The new program was “different enough” to render the original suit moot, defendant’s attorneys argued.

With his ruling, Wong sided with San Francisco and a range of defendants representing tech companies that run private shuttles from The City to Silicon Valley, including Apple, Google, and Genentech.

“There’s no reason to have [the suit] anymore because of the [new] commuter shuttle program,” said Audrey Pearson, a deputy city attorney.

The suit was filed by plaintiffs Coalition for Fair Legal and Environmental Transit — including the local SEIU 1021, housing advocate Sara Shortt and union organizer Alysabeth Alexander — in 2014, arguing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency failed to study environmental impacts of the shuttles under the California Environmental Quality Act, including emissions from the shuttles.

They also argued the shuttles raise prices of nearby apartments – leading to displacement of residents… (more)

Stuck in traffic: 5 in 6 Bay Area residents think it will never get better


It will surprise few that Bay Area residents are increasingly frustrated — and overwhelmingly pessimistic — about traffic woes and bottlenecks in the region.

The Bay Area Council’s annual poll found that 83 percent of those surveyed, a “staggering” number, are convinced things will never improve. And those who think it’s somewhat harder or much harder to get around than a year ago has jumped to 54 percent of those surveyed, up from 37 percent in 2015…

Anyone who monitors early morning or late afternoon traffic reports in the region won’t fall out of bed when they see this data. Freeways are clogged from crowded Highways 29 and 37 in the Wine Country to U.S. Highway 101 down the Peninsula to the I-680 corridor to the Nasty Nimitz, the Bay Bridge, or almost any other major route you want to talk about. BART’s jammed with record ridership. And pretty much every other option is crammed, jammed, packed or otherwise stymied.

Some of the negative vibes are self inflicted, since 79 percent of those surveyed said they typically drive alone for commuting or running errands, up from 74 percent last year.

“We’re running out of adjectives to describe how bad Bay Area traffic is and the misery it’s causing,” Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said in a statement. He says the business community and public transit agencies shouldn’t accept the mess as inevitable, suggesting that new technologies, carpooling apps and intelligent transportation design has the potential to make things better.

But the public seems to have a different take, along lines of voters’ grim view of 2016 political options.

As for solutions, the Bay Area Council highlights the fact that 70 percent of those surveyed somewhat or strongly support a second BART Transbay Tunnel, although without cost and funding sources that support may not mean much…


Bay Area traffic ignites backlash against boom, new poll suggests

by George Avalos : eastbaytimes – excerpt

“Beat L.A.” is a familiar refrain in Bay Area sports, but it now appears Northern California is on its way to being a rival for Southern California in an unwelcome fashion: traffic jams

Residents in the Bay Area have become discouraged about the heavy traffic in the region, with a dramatically expanding number of them indicating that traffic is worse than a year ago amid a huge surge in the local economy, a new poll released Friday by the Bay Area Council suggests.

“Bay Area residents are frustrated about traffic,” said Ruth Bernstein, senior principal with EMC Research, a firm that conducts market and opinion research. “It’s harder for them to get around. We definitely are seeing a backlash against the economic boom.”

Yet the traffic itself is but a symptom of what is going on rather than a cause, said Christopher Thornberg, principal executive with Beacon Economics

“It’s harder to get around, and it is harder to find transportation access and also access to housing,” Bernstein said…

“We’re running out of adjectives to describe how bad Bay Area traffic is and the misery it’s causing,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We understand residents’ aggravation with traffic, but we’re not giving up on the problem.”

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at (more)

SF looks to better manage transit plans for new development

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Managing transportation options for new development projects in San Francisco could become more streamlined under a proposal set to go before the Planning Commission today.

City planners have proposed a planning code amendment that would include a set of requirements for managing transportation in new projects, including for the first time mandating that The City monitors and follows up with developers to ensure project developers actually uphold their promises to manage transportation.

Currently, developers are required to meet transportation demands generated by new projects, but how the plans are implemented is scattered and inconsistent. Some projects may include a transportation management program as part of an Institutional Master Plan, while others will include the program as part of its California Environmental Quality Act analysis.

A handful of existing transportation management planning codes have been implemented since 1978, including off-street parking, bicycle parking, car sharing and parking costs…

The new planning code is designed to further encourage other types of transportation than driving.

“The whole idea of transportation demand management is that for any trip that someone takes, you’re giving them choices and making it easier for them to opt for something other than a car,” Jones said.

The Planning Commission today is scheduled to initiate the ordinance, and it will be voted on at a later date… (more)