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.

Advertisements

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.

SF set to become first US city to price all metered parking based on demand

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

Surge pricing could be coming to every parking meter in San Francisco in 2018 under a plan being considered by the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Under the proposal, each of the city’s 30,200 meters would be subject to hourly rates that vary depending on demand. The charges would fluctuate block by block and by time of day. For example, a neighborhood with a lot of restaurants might see higher meter rates during evenings than during other times of the day.

MTA officials say the approach is intended to increase the availability of coveted city parking spaces, particularly in areas where demand is high. People unwilling to pay the higher rates might seek parking farther away, remain for a shorter period of time, or leave their car at home… (more)

Next time you get the chance to vote for a change at the SFMTA regardless of how lame it sounds vote for that change. Especially if SFMTA and the Mayor oppose the initiative. Otherwise you will get more of the same lousy transit system and traffic and parking controls. And don’t support any more sales tax or other increase in their funds until they return the streets and bus stops that they are stealing from us.

Muni riders losing bus stops: There is a plan to remove more bus stops on the L Taraval line that will be discussed at the next SFMTA Board Meeting. Why have the buses stop? Let’s just let them roll by and wave at them. The SFMTA doesn’t work for people. They work for contractors and that translates into a lot of construction and road repair instead of customer service.  SFMTA never saw a capital improvement grant they didn’t like. I guess it’s more fun to work with contractors than to transport riders.

Killing businesses one ticket at a time:  How the small businesses will survive with this attitude toward the public and the difficulty delivery vehicles are having parking to unload is anybody’s guess. I”m sure we’ll hear from the merchants soon. Tell the Board of Supervisors know how you feel about these ideas and how you plan to deal with higher parking prices if they are approved. Demand an opportunity to vote for a Charter Amendment that reduces SFMTA’s authority.

RELATED:
SF PARKING: City considers transforming parking spots into Uber and Lyft loading zones :

Did anyone ask to have parking spaces to by transformed into loading zones? That is what you get when you trust a city agency such as SFMTA to manage public property. They remove your right to use the public space they manage. Is this what you had in mind when you supported public transit and allowed the SFMTA to manage the streets? Did you envision the loss of the streets for your use?

You can vote here on your preference for where you want to see loading zones. “No where, forget the whole idea” is the most popular option: https://sf.curbed.com/2017/11/28/16711142/uber-lyft-loading-zones-geofencing

 

SF politicians, bicyclists and others gear up for bike lane changes

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Supervisor Hillary Ronen is living in fear.

Her husband takes their young daughter to school nearly every day on the back of his bicycle and, nearly every day, she’s haunted by mental imagery of the two of them being doored or sideswiped or otherwise coming to grief on Valencia Street. San Francisco’s major cycling artery is also ground zero for Uber and Lyft drop-offs and pick-ups, a mixture about as combustible and ominous as locating a match factory next to the lighter fluid depot.

These are the sorts of things that wander into Ronen’s mind during endless public comment sessions in Board of Supervisors meetings.

Valencia Street forms the border between Ronen’s District 9 and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy’s District 8. Sheehy — who worked as a bike messenger when he arrived in this city in 1988 to underwrite food, beer and $300-a-month rent — recently donned an aggressively yellow shirt and served as a human protected bike lane

Installing  protected bike lanes of the sort everyone professes to want on Valencia is going to require overcoming two sorts of obstacles: logistical and political. It’s not clear which will be more difficult… (more)

Valencia is a disaster for everyone. The street is not safe after dark. Expensive restaurants are car magnets and they need regular delivery services. Not a good recipe for a bikers’ paradise. I avoid it but if there are limited turns on the street, how will the drivers get to the side streets?

If cyclists don’t feel safe with cars, maybe City Hall needs to rethink the bike path program and separate bikes from the cars by taking them off the major arterial streets and putting them on the slower side streets. Allow the traffic to flow, free up public parking and give the bikes their own routes. At least try it on some streets and see if the friction goes away.

Motor vehicles get the major streets, bikes get the minor ones, and pedestrians get the sidewalks. It doesn’t hurt to try a separation in some areas to see if the war between the modes does not calm down before things get really ugly. Use the money to fix the potholes and improve Muni service instead of painting the streets.

SF pivots: Costly, time-consuming Muni fix is now being done free

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Shift astounds city supervisor: “They don’t know what the fuck is going on with their buses.”


In August, Mission Local broke the story that Muni’s New Flyer diesel-electric hybrid buses, which come with a nearly $750,000-a-pop price tag justified by their environmental bona fides, did not have a rudimentary pollution control device installed on them. These buses, Muni yard workers were dismayed to discover, were not programmed to automatically shut down after five minutes of idling, the length of time allowed by state law. Instead, they could idle indefinitely, until they ran out of fuel.

On Monday, we reported that media exposure and scrutiny by city government appears to have changed Muni’s tune. Warning stickers noting that idling a bus for more than five minutes is illegal are going up in every diesel or hybrid coach. And, in an October closed-door meeting with Supervisor Aaron Peskin and his staff, Muni transit director John Haley pledged that all of Muni’s problematic buses would be upgraded. He said this would take time, however — perhaps well into next year — and cost an estimated $1,200 a vehicle. That would put the bill for bringing the buses into compliance at several hundred thousand dollars…

This week, we learned that Muni has already begun to update the problematic buses, via WiFi technology, and is doing so for free

Reached for comment, Peskin was displeased that “bullshit numbers” had been fed to his office by Muni management, which he decried as “incompetent.”

“Sounds like they don’t know what the fuck is going on with their buses,” he continued. “It does not instill confidence that they don’t know the capabilities of their shiny new product.”… (more)

SF mulls Uber and Lyft fees, gas tax for transportation funding

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Transportation Task Force 2045 is weighing possible measures for future ballots to fund Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure in The City…

2045? They can’t get 2017 right so they are skipping ahead a few years to fix those problems. Who are they kidding?

San Francisco is mulling a 20-cent-to-$1 fee for Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco to fund local transportation, like Muni, among a suite of more than 20 potential tax measures.

From a tax on companies in the “gig economy” like TaskRabbit, to a gas tax, those measures are aimed at raising millions of dollars for Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure throughout The City.

The new ballot measures in the form of taxes, fees and bonds may be introduced in the near and far flung future, with some measures introduced as early as 2018 and others — including the potential Uber fee — in years to come, because they require changes in state law, according to city documents…(more)

City Hall is living beyond its means. That is the message the voters sent when they opposed the sales tax. Gentrification is not just based on rent rates. Each tax adds to the cost of living. Property taxes raise rents. Gas taxes and fuel tax raises the cost of goods that need to be transported, such as food. Now that we are using less water they want to tax the tap water.

Construction for Van Ness Improvement Project will Shift Traffic Lanes Next Thursday for Utility Work

SFMTA Press Release:

San Francisco—Starting Thursday, November 2, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all surface transportation in the city including the Municipal Railway (Muni), will shift traffic lanes on Van Ness Avenue to begin replacing major utilities including water, sewer and emergency firefighting water systems as part of the Van Ness Improvement Project.

The project, a major overhaul of Van Ness between Lombard and Mission streets, will revitalize road and utility infrastructure, while making safety enhancements and transportation upgrades, including San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit system.

Beginning the morning of Thursday, November 2, southbound lanes on Van Ness will be shifted to the center of the roadway to make room for the first of two construction work areas on Van Ness Avenue. On Monday, November 13, the second of the two construction work areas will be created when northbound lanes on Van Ness Avenue are shifted.

Once the lanes shift, on some blocks of Van Ness Avenue, two lanes traveling in the same direction will separate to pass on either side of median islands where 12 trees are protected for construction.

Utility work zones will be located on the western side of Van Ness Avenue between Sutter and McAllister, and the eastern side of Van Ness Avenue between Jackson and Lombard. Along with the traffic lane shifts, parking will be temporarily eliminated in the two utility construction zones, preserving parking opposite the construction zone when possible. Each of the work areas will occupy one side of the street, approximately five feet from the building line on Van Ness to the center of the roadway. Sidewalk widths will be reduced to no less than five feet adjacent to the two construction zones, and access for people walking will be maintained on both sides of Van Ness Avenue.

In preparation for the upcoming traffic changes, blue zone parking for people with disabilities, loading zones and street furniture such as newspaper stands, bus shelters, bike racks and trashcans have been temporarily relocated.

At times this work will require reducing Van Ness Avenue to one lane in each direction, limiting work to nighttime hours. Construction teams will notify neighbors in advance of night work and will be taking measures to reduce nighttime noise.

Once the two construction work areas are established, crews will begin by replacing the 1800s-era water and sewer systems beneath Van Ness, reducing their vulnerability to damage from earthquakes and minimizing potential service outages. Portions of the emergency firefighting water system, which supplies more than 1,200 fire hydrants through San Francisco, will also be overhauled and new street and sidewalk lighting will also be installed. This intensive and disruptive phase of work is expected to continue through Winter 2019.

By the end of construction, projected in 2020, Van Ness Avenue will be a greener, safer, and more efficient street everyone can enjoy for years to come. The work will also provide a major overhaul of underground utilities that will allow for a more resilient infrastructure that can will keep the area running when we need it most.

For more project details and to sign up for construction updates, please visit sfmta.com/vanness.

If you live or work anywhere nearby Van Ness Avenue, you may want to let the Supervisors know what you think of the plan. I don’t see any mention here of the holiday break that is generally put in place so the merchants can survive during the busiest shopping time of the year when many make the bulk of their profits. If 50% of a block consists of commercial properties, and the owners who want a holiday construction break they are supposed to get one. Contact your supervisors and your state reps Ting, Chiu, and Wiener. Van Ness is part of the state and federal highway system and the state is partially to blame for the mess since they turned it over to SFMTA.

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents… (more)

Most people blame the SFMTA for the mess that makes the Millennium Tower look like small potatoes. We need Peskin to direct the 30 plus SFCTA staffers at the SFCTA to prepare a report on the Walsh contract. Who suggested using a Design-to-Build contract, used in small construction jobs, as a good way to design and manage the massively complex and growing multi-contractor mess that we have on Van Ness Avenue.
Who supported this project management style and who advised against it? Can we quit listening to the people who get it wrong and start paying attention to the people, and the public, who get it right?
Until this mess gets sorted out City Hall should stop all non-essential new projects from breaking ground.

We should stop installing building billion dollar old technology on our streets when new tech may solve much of the problem. See this new system being tried on China now and then decide how to “design for the future”. http://www.sfexaminer.com/v…

De Young Museum tries to slam brakes on making Golden Gate Park car-free Saturdays year-round

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

For half a century, John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park has been car-free on Sundays to the enjoyment of walkers, cyclists, disco-dancing roller-skaters and more — but similar Saturday closures, enacted a decade ago, only span the summer.

Now, an effort is underway to make the popular thoroughfare car-free on Saturdays year-round, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Opposition, however, may kill that effort before it’s even officially proposed to the public.

Mark Hollein, director of the de Young Museum that’s located near John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, laid out the museum’s opposition in a Sept. 7 email to San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg, which was obtained by the Examiner.

“I received your message regarding exploring the potential of extending the current six-month closure of JFK to a year-round closure,” Hollein wrote. “I cannot lend my support to additional road closures in the immediate vicinity of the de Young.”… (more)

Separate the bikes from the cars. Cyclists can ride through the park instead of on the streets. There are plenty of bike trails through the park and they can just as easily put in more bike paths as bike lanes. As some have pointed out, children are better off not breathing the exhaust, and the cars do not drive through the park, they drive on the streets. If you really care about the cyclists, give them their own bike paths inside the park.

%d bloggers like this: