Ambitious plan for once-central S.F. crossroads

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt (with graphics)

The 1500 Mission residential tower (top) would replace a thrift store and Goodwill headquarters at a confusing intersection.

The intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue looms large on the map, with two of San Francisco’s best-known and broadest thoroughfares overlapping at a sharp angle.

The reality isn’t nearly so grand — a crossroads marked by a car dealership, a doughnut shop and two drab office blocks. Nearby, parking lots and ratty alleys rub against buildings that never aimed high and now are worn down. The street life is spotty at best, sketchy at worst.

All this would change under an evolving city plan that includes a cluster of towers on the skyline, a variety of public spaces below and as many as 7,280 housing units in between. And the first major project within the area could be approved next week — one that hints at a livelier future, but also shows how tough it is to fit ambitious visions into a complex setting.

If nothing else, the proposal for 1500 Mission St. — down the block from Market and South Van Ness Avenue — that goes to the Planning Commission on March 23 shows how this part of San Francisco could be transformed… (more)

If they want a traffic circle this might be the place to put one as there is plenty of real estate and the traffic is confusing at best. a traffic  circle might solve that confusion. Of course, the buses would have to take the circle as well unless they are rerouted. I have no idea how buses handle traffic circles. They may like them.

U.S. Transportation department executive approved grant days before taking job with rail contractor

By Ralph Vartabedian : latimes – excerpt

A top Obama administration executive at the U.S. Department of Transportation approved a $647-million grant for a California rail project in mid-January and less than two weeks later went to work for a Los Angeles-based contractor involved in the project, The Times has learned.

The grant provides a significant part of the money required to install a $2-billion electrical power system on the Bay Area’s Caltrain commuter rail system, allowing the rail to retire its diesel locomotives.

The power equipment will eventually be used by the state’s bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, making it a critical part of the $64-billion program. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has pledged about $713 million to help install the system, according to state records.

The grant was handled by Carolyn Flowers, the acting chief of the Federal Transit Administration.  Flowers announced the grant approval in a letter, dated Jan. 18,  to congressional leaders. The Times obtained a copy of the letter…

Thirteen days later, Flowers went to work for Aecom, a Los Angeles-based engineering firm. The company news release announcing her hiring says she will head its North American transit practice. Aecom provides program management services to Caltrain for the electrification project, according to Caltrain documents. It was formerly a regional consultant to the high-speed rail project as well.

On Friday, the federal transit agency said it had “deferred” a decision on the grant and said it would look at the matter in the next federal budget cycle. The decision may be an early sign of the Trump administration’s view of the bullet train project. The line is already under construction and will need significant federal funding moving forward.

The delay follows a letter from every Republican member of the California House delegation to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, asking that the grant be put off until an audit of the high-speed rail project is completed.
This is exactly what America hates about Washington, D.C… (more)

Don’t they call this the revolving door?

RELATED:
Carolyn Flowers-letter to congress 
Caltrain and High Speed Rail and FTA funding – Revolving Door Shenanigans

The Central Subway project and a planned ferry hold the key to neighborhood traffic in Mission Bay

By : bizjournals – excerpt

Imagine boarding a ferry in Oakland and emerging minutes later in Mission Bay. You get dinner, catch a Warriors game and enjoy a nightcap, all before returning home on the water. Or riding from the University of California, San Francisco, research campus straight up Fourth Street to Union Square on the city’s newest subway, a largely underground train.

With Mission Bay miles from any BART station, and no ferry service, getting in and out of the growing neighborhood today without getting snarled in heavy traffic is nearly impossible, public transit advocates say. The imminent relocation of the Golden State Warriors to the Chase Center in 2019 only makes public transportation improvements more urgent.

A couple of big transit projects in the works — a new subway line and a ferry landing — should offer some relief…

Most of the (Central Subway) work is happening below the street. The route will begin near the 4th street Caltrain station and stop at 4th and Brannan streets.. Future plans could extend it further north.

The Mission Bay Loop Project, which would allow trains to turn around during peak hours and special events, should be completed in July, weather permitting.

Meanwhile, the Port of San Francisco is moving forward on the design and environmental work for a ferry terminal and water taxi landing near the Chase Center, with the preferred location at the foot of 16th street. Ultimately, the goal is for passengers to travel directly to Mission Bay from the existing ferry terminals in Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and elsewhere, said Port Executive Director Elaine Forbes (more)

New Cars in BART’s ‘Fleet of Future’ Found to be Overweight

By Jaxon Van Derbeken : NBCbayarea – excerpt

Cars in BART’S so-called “fleet of the future” are as much as a ton overweight, NBC Bay Area has learned, and the transit agency has hired outside engineers to inspect 30 key aerial structures to assure they can handle the load.

The weight problem comes as the first of BART’s new 775-car fleet are expected to go into service later this year, once ongoing testing is complete.

Last spring, officials beamed as they showed off the first car in a fleet billed as sleeker, quieter and with an extra set of doors to better handle crowds.

But the fleet is more than a year behind schedule, and problems have marred early tests. Now, just as BART prepares to put the new fleet into service, engineers face another glitch.

“They’re overweight,” admits Paul Oversier, BART’s operations manager.

He blames all the “bells and whistles” on the new cars, including bike racks, six video display screens and state-of-the-art crash safety gear… (more)
Follow: @NBCBayArea on Twitter | NBCBayArea on Facebook

The latest in a long string of reports on BART does not look good. Whoever decided to replace seats with bike racks and more humans forgot to tally the weight of the added humans to the load on the cars.

Note the lack of seats on these cars. Who is setting BART’s priorities? I bet most riders who rather sit for 2 hours on a BART than stand for one hour watching a monitor.

Scrap the monitors and racks and bring back the seats.

Look to Pier 70 to see Why San Francisco Voters do Not Trust City Hall

Op-ed by Zrants

You need to Look no further than the ‘Pier 70 Mixed-Use District Project’ to understand the anger and frustrations of neighborhood groups and ordinary citizens who spent hours and their time to work out deals with city planners to somewhat mitigate the negative effects of increased populations moving onto their tender turf, to be told that the plan has changed.

The project voters approved is being amended for a much less friendly design. Density levels are going up. Six stories are really nine stories. In fact forge the promises the voters counted on. Now that the project got through the election, they are scrapping it.

That is why, when voters get the chance, the only safe way to vote on a development project is to vote against it. Look the difference between 8 Washington and Pier 70. The voters voted against 8 Washington and nothing changed. The voters approved a plan for Pier 70 as it was presented by the developers but the design has changed since the vote.

An editorial by Don Clark that ran in the Potrero View outlines some of our primary concerns. To see the draft EIR and see for yourself, go here and scroll down the page:
http://sf-planning.org/environmental-impact-reports-negative-declarations

…The City and County of San Francisco intends to grant Forest City Enterprises rights to build a wall of nine-story buildings along the Central Waterfront, from 20th to 22nd streets, which would completely obscure scenic Bay vistas for many, if not most, Potrero Hill eastern slope residents.  As one travels down 20th Street from Missouri Street to Third, beautiful Bay views would disappear.  Imagine that the American Industrial Center, the red building with white columns at the corner of 22nd and Third streets, was doubled in height.  The replacement of four- and six-story structures with nine-story edifices would dramatically Manhattanize this historical waterfront… (more)

Building height limits are not the only promises being broken. One of the major concerns to neighbors and all who drive through the area was the increased traffic and congestion that SFMTA claimed they could handle. That no longer looks likely. Not only are the buildings going to be taller and contain more people, but, the DOT announced they are not funding the electrification of Caltrans and other transit projects until they conduct an audit to find out why there are such large cost overruns.

A couple of recent laws that were passed that citizens should know about are: mentioned by Den Clark: California Senate Bill 743 eliminated scenic protections from transit infill projects, which the City quickly applied. The November 26, 2013 Planning Department Summary, Attachment A, shows that the Planning Department has removed consideration of scenic vistas from most of San Francisco’s waterfront (http://sfmea.sfplanning.org/CEQA%20Update-SB%20743%20Summary.pdf)

Send comments to Lisa Gibson Lisa.Gibson@sfgov.org on Pier 70 Mixed-Use Project by Tuesday, 5 PM February 21, 2017. Sample letter from Peter Linenthal (eir-pdf-new)

The Developer, Forest City, is publishing a Design for Development document which will be presented to the Planning Commission in an informational hearing on March 23rd. There will be an opportunity then for public comment. The Final EIR will take months and will go to the Planning Commission as part of the final approvals. There’s a lot we don’t know yet. The Draft EIR has a Maximum Residential Scenario and a Maximum Commercial Scenario and Forest City is doing a phased development which makes it especially difficult to know what to expect.

Are there plans to create cracks in the Private Commuter Bus program?

Notes from the Policy and Governance Committee meeting, February 17, 2017

The MTA Policy and Governance Committee of the MTA Board of Directors met Friday, Feb 17, 2017.  It appears they are developing a policy for handling the emerging transportation services such as Uber, Lyft, ride share,  car share, Private Commuter buses (shuttles), Chariot and what the future holds.  See the power point and the guiding principles connected to agenda Item 5 for clues on where the problems lie and a hint of what they may have in mind to resolve some of them.

Studies by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area County Congestion Management (CMA) agencies, and the VTA FLEX (last mile) indicate the current policies have failed. The increase in traffic and complaints about the programs point to the need for a regional evaluation and plan. A solution can’t come soon enough for most of us. Let’s hope they come up with something soon. Your comments and suggestions should be directed to the agencies involved. See this links on this page for contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

If you like you may comment here also. There are a few discussions on nextdoor on this topic as well.

SFMTA to Intensify Neighborhood Parking Regulations

by potreroview – excerpt

As parking pressures continue to build in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill due to increased housing density, growing commuter traffic, and expanded activity at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has been working with neighborhood stakeholders to implement more stringent parking management regulations. Over the past several months meters have been installed on many blocks in Showplace Square.  SFMTA is expected to continue to hold meetings with the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and the Potrero Boosters, with the goal of creating parking management plans that’re supported by residents and businesses. The measures parallel SFMTA’s ongoing citywide evaluation of its 40-year old Residential Parking Permit program… (more)

“We’ll be initiating more conversations with neighbors about how to manage the curb,” said Andy Thornley, senior analyst, SFMTA. “Meters will be a small piece, along with other tools. It’s more than just RPP, time limits and meters; it’s also about traffic calming and making the curb safer for residents, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.”

Since last summer, four hour time limited parking restrictions have been added to much of Showplace Square, along with meters on Kansas and Divisions streets and the block surrounding Showplace East. Additional meters are slated for 16th Street between Vermont and Seventh streets as well as Henry Adams Street, once 1 Henry Adams, a residential complex, is completed. Due to sidewalk improvements that’re underway, 16th Street will have four hour time limits in the interim, with meters likely installed next year…(more)

For those who aren’t familiar with Andy Thronley, he lost by a wide margin in his 2016 run for District One Supervisor. His department staff is down and he is the President of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition according to their web site. The SFMTA has put someone who rarely drives, has no idea what the real needs of drivers are, and who hates cars in charge of the parking program. Keep this in mind next time you deal with him or the SFMTA.

Around 2012 the SFMTA threatened to install parking meters all over the Eastern Neighborhoods and they were stopped from this plan by vigorous public actions.

For some time we have contended that the first step to demolishing the neighborhood is parking removal. Look at how well the city has taken the Eastern neighborhoods by doing just that. Get ready for them to swarm the West side of the city in no time if this plan is not stopped.

Forum on future of interstate highways coming to SF

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bay Area residents are being invited to participate in an ongoing study on the future of interstate highways, which will provide recommendations on the country’s highway system plan for the next 50 years.

The study is being organized by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Transportation Research Board, who at the request of Congress are holding a number of events across the country. The events offer the public the chance to participate in how best to plan, fund, operate and maintain the 60-year-old, nearly 47,000-mile freeway network in the decades ahead.

For those who are interested in providing their views, the study is coming close to home next weekend. On Feb. 23 and 24 the Transportation Research Board will be hosting a forum open to the public. The first meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the Yerba Buena conference room at the Bay Area Metro Center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco. The second meeting will be held at the same location on Friday, Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon… (more)

If you are concerned about the state of the country’s highways and how the funds for roads are being spent, it is a good idea to write letters, send comments and show up if possible.

Muni riders to see reroutes, longer trips amid reconstruction of 100-year-old Twin Peaks Tunnel

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Long-delayed Twin Peaks Tunnel repair work is finally on track again, and that means reroutes affecting some 81,000 daily transit riders.

For the thousands who rely on Muni’s K-Ingleside, L-Taraval and M-Oceanview light-rail lines, shuttles will replace normal service during the planned Twin Peaks Tunnel construction, with transfers to other buses needed to arrive at some regular destinations.

The work was originally slated to start last fall, then again in January, and now finally the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency quietly announced last week that track-work on the 100-year-old tunnel will begin in April…

The Twin Peaks Tunnel is a vital connector between the west side of The City and downtown, serving some 81,000 daily riders on the K, L and M lines each day, all of whom will need to adjust to a new, temporarily altered commute.

There will be five scheduled shutdowns to complete the tunnel rehabilitation, each lasting 11 to 15 days long. The constructi…(more)

 

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.