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!

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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

Central Subway Is Almost A Year Behind Schedule

: sfist – excerpt

All of San Francisco has been anxiously awaiting the completion of the $1.6 billion Central Subway, and the agonizing construction required to build it. But we’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer. Somewhere in heaven, Rose Pak is rolling her eyes.

The San Francisco Examiner brings us the disappointing news that the Central Subway project is projecting a 10-month delay and no one is willing to fess up to exactly why. Again, if Chinatown power broker, Central Subway enthusiast, and low-key world leader Rose Pak were still among the living, it’d already be open.

Catch up on the Central Subway drama with all of our previous coverage(more)

While a bunch of hard hats argue over who screwed up some pieces of paper, businesses are suffering because a bunch of jack-hammers are blocking their entrances, and everyone else is suffering because construction results in road closures and traffic delays and loud noise and dust. Construction on the Central Subway began in 1783 2012 and was expected to be completed on December 26, 2018. As of the most recent Project Management Oversight Committee monthly report on San Francisco’s albatross, the Central Subway will open on or around November 14, 2019…

If and when it is ever completed, the Central Subway will connect Chinatown with BART and a network of Muni subways. It will also solve world hunger and cure cancer… (more)

The Central Subway is a prime example of San Francisco’s new disruptive architectural form I call “restructionism”. The possibilities are endless. There is no beginning, only an endless effort to keep the project afloat for as long as possible. The artist is in a constant state of frenzied confusion, while everyone tries to guess the next move so they can get out of the way. As some have observed that is a billion-dollars-a-mile tunnel and counting.

RELATED:
San Francisco’s Central Subway Gets Delayed In Chinatown (includes video)

Salesforce buys naming rights to Transbay Transit Center

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s new downtown transit center will have something in common with AT&T Park and Oracle Arena — a corporate name.

Salesforce, a software company with its headquarters and 6,600 employees in the Bay Area, has agreed to a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship of the 2½-blocklong facility set to open next spring at Fremont and Mission streets. The deal includes naming rights, which means that the complex would be known as the Salesforce Transit Center.

Similarly, the 5.4-acre rooftop open space will become Salesforce Park if the board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority approves the contract Thursday at its monthly meeting.

The cloud-like Salesforce logo that adorns two towers near the transit center would not appear on the exterior of the new facility, however. Nor would Salesforce have veto authority on events held in the park, even those of rival corporations… (more)

What a coincidence. This naming announcement comes out right after the plaza re-design was heard in Planning. The Commissioners were not too supportive of the changes suggested this week. Let’s see if they feel more supportive next time.

RELATED:
Facebook to build a small city next to its headquarters

Wiener proposes major fundraising legislation for transportation agencies statewide

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

oon, the threshold for passing local transportation bonds in California could be far lower, unlocking funding for countless transit needs across the Golden State.
A new transbay tube. Caltrain electrification. Miles of new subways in cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

State Sen. Scott Wiener’s newly introduced state constitutional amendment would make funding projects like those far easier, by lowering the threshold to pass transportation bonds from a two-thirds voter majority to 55 percent.

That threshold is determined by the California constitution. The state constitutional amendment, which Wiener plans to introduce Monday, is still in its infancy. But if it succeeds, its effects could be far reaching.

“We have massive unfunded transportation needs on public transportation, roads and bridges,” Wiener told the San Francisco Examiner. “We need to empower local communities to fund these needs.”

Those needs include more than $59 billion in deferred transportation maintenance statewide, according to draft background language of the bill. Those needs are in the Bay Area, too…

“San Francisco’s unfunded transportation needs are billions and billions of dollars,” he said, “This money is absolutely needed.”…(more)

There is no SLUSH fund in the taxpayer’s pockets. Voters opposed the last tax hike because they can’t afford it. Government has lost the trust of the people. The SFMTA claimed they would improve traffic and transit and the opposite has happened.  Many don’t want the future being planned and more cannot afford to pay for it. The solution is a moratorium on hiring and major cuts to new projects until the current ones are completed and paid for.

New ‘Subway Vision’ maps show tunnels of the future

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Subways, everywhere.

Under the Marina, under 19th Avenue, and even under the southeast leading to the Bayview — that’s the future of San Francisco, as sketched by preliminary maps dubbed San Francisco’s “Subway Vision.”

They’re not done, but on Monday the first sketches of the plans were shown to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee for a sneak peek.

“In the 1970s, we opened BART and the Market Street Subway,” Supervisor Scott Wiener told the committee. “Rather than follow those two visionary achievements with continued subway construction, however, we simply patted ourselves on the back and stopped.”

He added, “We need to move forward” and build more subways.

San Francisco’s Central Subway is slated to open in 2019, connecting Chinatown with downtown underground, and a proposal to move parts of the M-Oceanview underground is also being studied… (more)

 

Rose Pak Vows City Hall Blockade To Stop Stockton Street Pedestrian Mall

: sfist – excerpt

Chinatown organizer and activist Rose Pak is much to thank for the Central Subway project, a $1.5 billion, 1.7-mile undertaking to connect Chinatown to Market Street that was pitched in part as compensation for the removal of the 1989 earthquake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway, which was a conduit to her sometimes isolated neighborhood. But to build the Central Subway, Stockton Street has been closed to cars, damaging Union Square surrounding businesses. To make up for that fact, for the last two years the city has paused construction annually and created a pedestrian space between Market and Union square covered in astroturf called the Stockton Street Winter Walk..

Just one problem: Rose Pak is a major obstacle to the plan, having written to SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to criticize the idea in a letter obtained by Examiner at the end of last month. On behalf of the SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce, she claimed that a permanent pedestrian mall would “make permanent all the problems we’ve experienced,” which would be “unacceptable to our community.” As she told the Examiner with finality, “I consider the issue closed.”

“We have about 300 family associations, district associations, temples, churches,” Pak told CBS 5 with regard to the pedestrian mall. “Everybody is here. 100 percent of our businesses rely on delivery trucks. Look at Chinatown any hour. You can’t move.” Speaking of which, Pak will negotiate with a similar force. “Wait until I have my blockade of the MTA for a week and see how they like it,” she said. “We’ll have thousands of trucks and cars blockading the whole City Hall and MTA area for one week and see how they like it when no one can get in and out.” To clarify, “that’s a promise, not a threat,” Pak added…

However, “A lot of the merchants, a lot of the pedestrian activists and bike advocates are all saying this is something that would work,” the MTA’s Paul rose countered to CBS 5. Streetsblog appears to agree, pushing an effort to mobilize with a petition to move the pedestrian mall project along.

And, to touch on bicyclists, one prominent pro-bike voice, the parody account Bob Gunderson, has been “critical” of the Winter Walk, which is to say he’s clevelry promoted it. Gunderson’s blog, Dearest District 5, lampoons the likes of Rob Anderson, an actual opponent of bikes, by insisting that the Winter Walk has been a “carless nightmare.” In fact, “The Pedestrian Plaza was supposed to be all fun and games and a “relief from cars”, but it’s done nothing but tear apart families, ruin children’s dreams, and tank the Disney, Apple and Ferrari stores,” writes Gunderson. How long, surely he wonders, can this be permitted to endure?..(more)

 

Transbay Transit Center’s finance boss lives in Colorado

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

For the past 2½ years, the chief financial officer for the Transbay Transit Center — one of the biggest and most financially troubled public building projects in the region — has been working from her home in Colorado and flying to and from San Francisco for meetings on the public dime… (more)

No wonder they broke. You would think they could hire some local talent for the job.

Federal transit bill falls short, may impact SF transit projects

S.F. Supervisor Scott Wiener Unveils His Subway Dream

By  : kqed – excerpt

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener is calling for the city to always have at least one subway under construction, an idea that would lead to billions of dollars in transit spending and, most likely, opposition from many residents and merchants.

Prompted by the region’s booming population and chronic traffic congestion, Wiener is introducing legislation Tuesday that would require the city to create a long-term policy for new underground train projects…

The legislation would create a Subway Master Plan that could include extending subway service to the western parts of San Francisco, currently served by above-ground light rail and bus lines….

“It’s a matter of funding and prioritization,” Rose wrote in an email. “We do support stronger transit especially where growth supports.”… (more)

RELATED:
San Francisco needs to keep those new subways coming
A couple of years ago, I was with my friend Adam when he made this simple declaration — “San Francisco should always have a subway under construction.” My first reaction was to think of every objection to the concept, but I quickly realized that the statement was both insightful and correct… Scott Wiener