Open Letter to London Breed and the Board of Supervisors

March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor, SFMTA Board of Directors and Board of Supervisors:

You may anticipate seeing a lot of emails and messages coming from the residents of San Francisco who are “sheltering in place” regarding the parking regulations that have been announced by the SFMTA Director this week. I was hesitant to add my voice to the issue at first, since I understand the intense pressure people are under to mitigate the many problems relating to the new order.

After seeing an article that indicates SFMTA is still towing homeless vehicles and that the city is losing 4.7 million dollars a year on the towing program, I decided to act. We heard the towing program has stopped so I hope that article is inaccurate.

Ticketing is still a problem according to residents who are protesting it, so I decided to add my voice to theirs and request a Sunday parking program be enacted during the crisis.

There is a lot less traffic without the commuters streaming in to work and the streets are empty.  The need for parking turnover was given for parking meters and time limits and since that problem is temporarily suspended all parking restrictions should be suspended as well.

The city needs to support those who are still working and volunteers in every way possible. The last thing they should worry about is parking tickets. Volunteers and health care workers are distributing food, taking care of people aging in place and sheltering in place. Residents need to take care of their families. There is no excuses for ticketing and towing during a national “shelter in place” emergency.

Federal, state and local governments are rushing to establish programs to keep small businesses alive. Making parking easy is one of the cheapest ways to support the businesses that are open. Eliminating the fear of tickets will eliminate some stress for the workers who are losing income.

Please rethink the parking policy and establish a Sunday parking policy for the City of San Francisco as long the “Shelter in Place” program is in place.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

Banning cars on SF’s Market Street changes little. But Valencia Street is a different story

By Carl Nolte : sfchronicle – excerpt

The routine with a stethoscope at the doctor’s office is simple, but important. “Take a deep breath,” the doctor says. “Now hold it.”

That’s good practice for humans and good for cities. San Francisco just took a very deep breath — it banned private cars on the downtown portion of Market Street for the first time since Market became the city’s main drag 147 years ago…

You have to hand it to the bike advocates. Though only 4% to 5% of all trips to work in San Francisco are made by bicycle, groups like the Bicycle Coalition have been extremely effective in making their case. They are organized and get results, as you can see for yourself, on Market Street and soon a major street near you.

So what’s the solution? Should we close off streets like Valencia, or the Embarcadero, eliminate parking and declare war on private cars?

I think we should wait and see how Market Street works out, and then slowly and carefully work out a plan so that private cars, bikes and scooters can share the streets, which, after all, belong to all the people… (more)

Business owners in San Francisco’s Chinatown collaborate to fight crime

By Dion Lim : abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A group of business owners in Chinatown is taking matters into their own hands after two violent attacks and what feels like to them a constant stream of break-ins and crime.

While it doesn’t sound like much, many are banking on a change in parking garage fees at night to not only bring in more business but to the area but to also get the attention of law enforcement to provide more resources.

Business owner and entertainment commissioner Steven Lee has been lobbying for more than 6-months to get parking rates reduced at the Portsmouth Square Parking Garage, the primary garage location for those visiting Chinatown.

“There are a lot of empty storefronts we still want to fill…but most importantly we want to push more nightlife. But the biggest problem is that people don’t feel like their cars are safe,” he says.

Before the rate there to park from 5pm to 2am cost $36. Now after working with the SFMTA, SF Rec and Park and garage management the new evening rate will be $8 to park during that same time…(more)

Mission Street merchants have been clamoring for parking for years. Maybe now they will get some relief? Where do you sign up for “safe” parking in the Mission?

Electric-Car Owners Hard Hit by Massive California Power Shutdown

By : caranddriver – excerpt

Tesla’s Elon Musk promises battery and solar solutions for the many EV owners who can’t charge their cars.

  • Nearly a million Californians are now without power as the electric company deliberately shut it off this week, fearing high winds would spark wildfire.
  • The affected area in Northern California surrounds Fremont, home of Tesla, and a great many electric-car owners who can’t charge their vehicles as usual.
  • Tesla’s Elon Musk is swapping in battery Powerpacks and solar power for Superchargers in the region as fast as he can get permits, he claims on Twitter…(more)

Of course if they have solar installations on their roofs, they can charge the cars using their own power during the day and suck off the car during the night. That is if they are free to arrange a schedule to fit that reality. If their job is reliant on energy anyway, they may be off work. Many possibilities for off-the-grid power solutions will no doubt surface soon.

Despite ‘Car-Free’ Hype, Millennials Drive a Lot

By Laura Bliss : citylab – excerpt

Despite the buzz around ride-hailing and bike lanes, car ownership among younger Americans looks a lot like that of older Americans.

Millennials, so famous for killing things, were poised to deliver the death blow to America’s auto addiction. We were supposed to put off our driver’s licenses, choose Lyfts over car loans, and settle in cities rather than suburbs, using mass transit and bike lanes instead of the traditional private car. We were supposed to make greener choices than our gas-guzzling older kin.

But research based on years of data rather than trend stories and anecdotes paints a different picture of how Generation Avocado Toast chooses to get around, compared to its predecessors.

A working paper posted by the National Bureau of Economic Research this week offers an empirical examination of Millennial car ownership and driving practices against the backdrop of earlier generations. Controlling for factors like marriage and living in city, it finds that Americans born between 1980 and 1984 are just as likely to own cars compared to, say, their parents’ cohort. What’s more, when driving habits are measured in terms of vehicle-miles traveled, some Millennials really are the worst…

But when factors like educational attainment, marital status, number of children, and whether they’ve settled in a city are factored in, it turns out Snake People actually rack up slightly more VMT than Baby Boomers did.…(more)

Ask Ed Reiskin

What’s next at SFMTA? Tomorrow is your chance to call into KQED Forum and ask Ed Reiskin some of those questions you have been wanting to ask regarding the state of the SFMTA and his roll in making it what it is today. Ed is scheduled to be on KQED Forum Friday, March 8 at 10 AM and you may call in with questions at: 866 733-6786  or email the Forum program: forum@kqed.org

 

 

 

 

L.A. may tax Uber and Lyft rides to curb traffic congestion

By Laura J. Nelson : latimes – excerpt

Transportation officials are considering a tax on Uber and Lyft rides in Los Angeles County, saying the Bay Area tech companies don’t pay their fair share to maintain public streets and exacerbate congestion in a traffic-choked region.

The ride-hailing fee is in the early stages of discussion at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, along with more than a dozen other strategies to manage congestion and fund transportation projects before the 2028 Olympic Games.

Metro’s board of directors are scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to approve a study of the ride-hailing tax. The directors also will consider approving a study on congestion pricing, which would analyze the effects of converting more carpool lanes to toll lanes, taxing drivers on the number of miles they travel, or charging a fee for motorists to enter certain neighborhoods… (more)

Reopening Of Stockton Street Marks Milestone In Central Subway Project

sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After being closed for seven years, a portion of Stockton Street in downtown San Francisco reopened Thursday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials announced.

Stockton Street between Geary and Ellis streets had been closed for construction of the underground Central Subway, which is set to connect riders from the South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown…

“Stockton Street is a major commercial artery and bus route that brings life into the heart of District Three,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in a statement. “For many residents in Chinatown and North Beach, this throughway also represents equitable and undisrupted access to downtown jobs and services…

The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities… (more)

“The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities.” 

How about reopening Mission Street to rebuild the vital link between two of San Francisco’s other most iconic Latino communities? Isn’t the cultural historical character of the Mission as important as any other in the city or do we detect a hint of discrimination against the Mission? Tear down the wall on Mission Street. Remove the barriers to trade and commerce in the Mission.

Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

By Nikil Saval : newyorker – excerpt

Uber has become a subsidized alternative to the public-transportation systems that it claims to support.

Last September, Uber rolled out a rebranding campaign. A new television commercial showed car doors being flung open and the young and the old crowding in, flying out, and ending up in a small open-air mercado or at a lake. Though there were a few drivers, the image presented was of ceaseless, liberating mobility for passengers, anywhere in the world. Uber changed its logo, too, to a demure sans-serif display—white against a black background, its only flourish a modest pair of mirrored stems attached to the “U” and the “b.” This was a significant change. Since 2016, the phone app and the stickers that identified Uber-enabled cars had enjoyed an image designed partly by the co-founder and then-C.E.O. Travis Kalanick: a circle bisected with a cord, placed against the background of a colorful tile. When tilted ninety degrees counterclockwise, some design and technology journalists noted, it looked unmistakably like a human bent over and seen from behind.

The era of what has been referred to as Uber’s “asshole” logo happened to coincide with the company’s longest stretch of bad press, including multiple reports of sexual abuse inside the company and by its drivers. In 2017, the company’s investors ousted Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has made considerable efforts to improve the company’s image in advance of a likely I.P.O. this year. Last October, Khosrowshahi, like many corporate leaders, pulled out of a summit held by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, in Riyadh, following the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Uber still benefits from vast infusions of Saudi funding.)… (more)

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California Autobahn? Long-shot bill proposes freeway lanes with no speed limit

By Alyssa Pereira : sfgate – excerpt

Motorists sick of idling in traffic on Interstate 5 in California would theoretically have another option, if a new bill introduced on Friday to the state legislature turns into a reality. But critics say that’s not likely.

State Senator John Moorlach (R-Orange County) introduced SB 319 as a way to ease congestion on I-5 and State Route 99. Moorlach pitched the idea as a way to ease greenhouse gasses from idling cars.

The plan calls for the Department of Transportation to build two additional traffic lanes on the north and southbound directions of both highways. Those lanes would not have speed limits, although drivers in the other pre-existing lanes would still need to abide by the official 65 miles per hour limit… (more)

Replacing High Speed Rail with a High Speed Highway, another bay crossing, and train electrification sounds like a cheaper, easier, faster solution to reducing traffic and congestion, if that is the goal. Without taking a position on any these options, we applaud the thinking outside the box on how to do more with less taxpayer transit dollars. Recent over-budget large public transit projects have not gone well. It is time to shift priorities and do more with less.