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.

Op-Ed SFMTA needs to fix more than just NextBus

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

We at San Francisco Transit Riders urge Board of Supervisors President London Breed to call for a hearing to hold the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency accountable for the failure of their NextBus prediction tool.

As we now know, the NextBus fiasco was a result of AT&T disabling the 2G network upon which NextBus depended. Back in 2012, AT&T announced that it would disable 2G as of Jan. 1, 2017. However, apparently no one at the SFMTA knew that or took it seriously.

Muni follows its schedule less than 60 percent of the time. So what makes Muni tolerable is having real-­time predictions; adding 20 minutes of uncertainty to a trip is not workable…

Lack of Internal Communications

In November, just more than a month before the NextBus failure, SFMTA’s chief technology officer, along with a NextBus representative, was promoting a new radio dispatch system coming possibly in March, according to a San Francisco Examiner article.

Seemingly, neither the chief technology officer nor the NextBus representative knew the existing system would crash well before their planned upgrades…

ack of Internal Commitment

At a meeting on Jan. 17, Director Ed Reiskin finally apologized. He acknowledged the episode was “a lesson for me in how important this service is to our riders. The reaction we got was amazing, and I don’t mean in a good way … it spoke … to how valuable having arrival predictions are for our riders.”

We wonder if Reiskin depends on Muni to get to work on time.

If we truly want to be a transit­-first city, we need transit that works well enough to attract ever more riders. We need the SFMTA to understand Muni’s key role in the daily lives of so many people who need to get to work, go to school and take their children to school.

We call for public hearings so there is public accountability. We are tired of the opacity and lack of management. We want a transparent plan forward, including a timeline addressing the City Controller’s report to ensure consistent staffing, consistent service and clearer internal management…(more)

When ENUF agrees with SF Transit Riders you know the SFMTA must be doing something wrong. it is time for some major changes. We have been complaining for years. Now we are  joined by the most pro Muni organization in town in calling for a  “Public Hearing” to discus the major problems the Muni riders are having with Muni. This should occur before any more budget items are approved since the power of the purse is the only thing the Board of Supervisors seem to be able to use to control this out of control agency.

This goes way beyond fixing NextBus and all those wonderful apps that do nothing to move people and good on the streets. We don’t need to be entertained or taught a new trick every day on our way to work. Transit should be consistent, not an adventure  game we play each day. Moving the buses and stops and traffic lanes around has gotten old and irritating, and we need a break from unwanted changes.

To Win the War on Cars, San Francisco Weaponizes Real Estate

by : wired – excerpt

I’ll start with the bad news, because I think you can take it: You can’t beat San Francisco traffic. As long as people want to live in this idyll by the bay, tech companies set up shop off Market Street, and bars offer expensive drinks made with fruit shrubs, cars and tech buses will choke its roads.

“Anecdotally, the only major cities unfettered by congestion are terribly declining Rust Belt ones,” says Marlon Boarnet, an economist and urban planning researcher with the University of Southern California. (Think Detroit, Buffalo, Youngstown.) “In our most thriving cities, we can’t make the congestion vanish because the cities are thriving.” San Francisco’s booming so hard, the only place in the US where you’ll find worse traffic is Los Angeles.

What San Francisco believes it can do, however, is improve life in the city by making it easier to get around without a car. This week, its Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance requiring developers to stock new residential or commercial projects with more alternative-transport perks than ever before. This is no all-out war on vehicles, but rather an attempt to cut down on the number and length of car trips the natives take each day.

And if it works, San Francisco’s data-driven approach could become a template for other American cities hoping to turn big talk about transportation innovation into big action, and big results…

You’ll have to be patient: This program won’t bear serious fruit for 10 to 20 years, given the pace of development. The first projects built under the new rubric won’t get off the ground for another 18 to 24 months. But San Francisco planners say they’re already getting calls about the ordinance from other cities interested in taking this approach for a spin. And for the family that gets access to an in-apartment storage spot for their car-share friendly car seats (two points!), the lifestyle changes will happen a lot sooner. Too bad they’ll still have to find ways to entertain toddlers while stuck in traffic… (more)

The SFMTA and City Hall have been spinning this wait for results for over 10 years and so far the traffic and congestion both on the streets and on the buses has gotten worse. Taking care of the citizens is an afterthought in the rush to turn San Francisco into a innovative world class city built by and for robots.

The public transit systems are already at capacity. The SFMTA and BART solution is to cram more bodies in to the buses and trains by removing the seats, making it harder for many who rely on public transit to take it.

They really want those old and infirm people to leave and make room for the young and wealthy they think are on the way. This is creating a class war in what used to be the most liberal city in America. San Francisco housing is for sale to the highest bidder.

Today they announced approval of the Traffic Demand Management (TDM), and the sheriff evicted a 100 year old woman from her home. She is being thrown out like trash onto the street. Older people generally don’t survive such a move for long so many see this as a death sentence. Expect a protest at City Hall.

Last time the SFMTA came begging for tax dollars the voters refused to cough it up. Some indication of disgust with that department and an awakening of the populace that no longer blindly trust SFMTA and City Hall.

Contradictory Reports presented at Special SFMTA Meeting

shuttleson24th

People are asking for data about the Tech Buses. Here is some data that was presented by the SFMTA this week by the City Controller and the SFMTA.
It is interesting to read both reports and see how the Controller Report contradicts many points in the SFMTA PR spin presented at the same meeting. You can find some links to those reports here:

SFMTA Board Special Meeting Tuesday, February 7, 9 AM – agenda
Green Room War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave.
Labor negotiations and closed session followed by presentations of current projects.
Financial Overview – presentation
Items 7-9 SFMTA Board Workshop – presentation

How the media buy claims that the Bay Area has the worst traffic in the country and the best public transit is beyond me. The two would seem to cancel each other out, but, we live in a world of fake news and alternate facts. People believe what they choose to believe until they experience something different. Right now many of us are experiencing a lot of large vehicles with darkened windows roaming through our streets like a foreign invasion.

Many business reports are showing a decline in the tech and construction industries. (look it up for yourselves) At the same time, there is also an expected loss of revenues coming from the federal coffers over the next four years that could seriously impact many projects the city was planning to fund, including those proposed by the SFMTA. These issues are largely based on international financial chaos and political uncertainties.

The tech buses may not be needed much longer. If these uncertainties continue and there is a decline in ridership they should downsize the buses and fleets to reflect that change.

The corporations that run the shuttles on our city streets should be responsible for generating reports on the number of buses and passengers that use these shuttles, much as the short term rental services are being required to do now. As far as I know the reports are being generated by public volunteers.

Requiring reports would be a good first step in solving this problem.

RELATED:

Not Even Donald Trump Can Save Twitter:
huffingtonpost – excerpt
…In a press release, C.E.O. Jack Dorsey called 2016 a “transformative” period for Twitter—a positive spin on a year filled with negative headlines. In the past several months, Twitter cut 9 percent of its staff; shed businesses like Vine, which didn’t make money; explored the idea of a sale but couldn’t find a buyer; struggled with its very public abuse and harassment problems as trolls chased high-profile users such as actress Leslie Jones off the platform; sold its Fabric developer business to Google; and lost several executives, including C.O.O. Adam Bain. (Twitter’s talent exodus continues to this day: just this week, two more execs left the company.)… (more)

Can Uber Outrun Its Own Future?
huffingtonpost – excerpt
Burning through cash in a race to escape the economic realities of the ride-hailing market, Uber is looking to a future without drivers—and now without cars, either...(more)

Yahoo Says Sale to Verizon Delayed Until Second Quarter
bloomberg – excerpt
Yahoo! Inc. said the sale of its main web operations to Verizon Communications Inc. has been delayed until next quarter to meet closing conditions while the company recovers from the disclosure of massive hacks to its user accounts… (more)

Merchants, community organizations sue to block Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project has been in the works for more than a decade, but a newly filed lawsuit wants local courts to “slow down” the project.

An environmental lawsuit against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco County Transportation Authority project was filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, taking aim at the controversial project that is intended to improve public transit from the northwest side of The City to downtown.

The SFCTA declined to comment, and the SFMTA could not be reached for comment…

The suit was brought by San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, a nonprofit touted by Geary Boulevard merchant David Heller, a staunch opponent of Geary BRT.

“This action is brought to stop a grave error in judgment from taking form as a bus thruway [sic],” the claim states, “which destroys the quality of life and economic health of the Richmond District of San Francisco.”… (more)

There are a lot of people who oppose the Hybrid Alternative Geary BRT, the mess on Van Ness, and the Red Lanes on Mission. We need a break from constant changes on the streets and musical chairs with bus stops. We need a return to civility, but it is hard to be civil when you are stressed by having to deal with constant change. We need a moratorium on disruptions. This suit is a strike against maximum change and disruption, in favor of a cheaper, less damaging alternative. Who wants to spend an extra $300 million dollars and endure years of turmoil when you don’t have to?

Who is San Francisco’s next transit-centric supervisor?

By sfexaminer – excerpt

With the departure of Supervisor Scott Wiener to the state Senate, transportation experts in the Bay Area are seeing a vacuum in San Francisco.

During his time as supervisor, Wiener, a staunch transit advocate, formed a Late Night Transit Working Group aimed at low-wage workers, ushered in Proposition B in 2014 to tie local transportation funding to population growth, tried to get a vehicle license fee that Mayor Ed Lee opposed on the ballot, brought back the Castro shuttle, authored the Subway Master Plan urging San Francisco to continuously build subways and helped (along with other politicians) usher in the Gator Pass, a transit pass for San Francisco State University students.

Suffice to say, transportation makes Wiener’s wheels turn.

After four new supervisors were elected in November, the San Francisco Examiner asked each of them a host of controversial transportation issues to see if any would try their hand at filling Wienezr’s shoes. .. (more)

Read the entire article and comment at the source. It is good to see this new group of supervisors are not feeling as dependent on the Bike Coalition to set the agenda as their predessers did. The new supervisors seem to be listening to their constituents more. We understand that one of the biggest losers is now on the SF Bicycle Coalition Board, and his supervisor most certainly owes that organization nada.

We anticipate major changes in budget allocations, as health, housing, justice, and other issues take precedent this year. San Francisco needs to do more with a lot less money and that means dropping the most expensive solutions in favor of the least expensive one for a change.

Don’t let SFMTA run uncontrolled

letter to the editor : sfchronicle – excerpt

Regarding “Commerce disrupted” (Letters, Jan. 3): The author’s comments about San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency changing lanes, parking, etc. throughout the city is right on! The association has taken on a life of its own over the years and appears to be able to do whatever they wish without any public input or supervision. Who handed them the keys to all the city streets? The heart of the city is the neighborhoods. Everything should be done to protect and promote the neighborhoods, as they are what makes the city unique. San Francisco is not a shopping mall. Politicians are already mistreating the residents by renting out publie streets and venues to corporate interests without regard to the inconvenience shouldered by the taxpayer. Stop the SFMTA’s ability to do as they wish without adequate consideration and input from the residents and small businesses.

Catherine Brady-Brown, San Andreas

Fight is gearing up over Geary BRT plan tomorrow at City Hall

SFMTA Picks the Wrong time to Demand Fast Tracking $360 million dollar Bus Lanes when residents want to time to deliberate on cheaper plan.

Just as Cogress prepares to remove public health care programs and slash social security allowances that sustain millions of people, SFMTA demands fast tracking  approval for their $350 million dollar controversial Geary BRT Hybrid design. The plan’s opponents want to save money and protect our local economy. Tell the Board of Supervisors what you want to do with $300 million dollars. Read about the alternative plan here: www.sfsensibletransit.org

Attend the Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting at City Hall on the Geary BRT  Thursday, January 5,  2 PM

Letter from San Franciscans for Sensible Transit:

Thursday January 5 at 2pm the County Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners (the Supervisors)will meet in Room 250 of City Hall to consider approving the Final EIR and selection of the recommended $300 million construction project from Palm-Arguello through 27th Avenue of Geary Boulevard.

Many people have written to oppose the hearing. The documents are over 1000 pages and were only available during the holidays. And the January 5 date prevents the newly elected Supervisor of District One, Sandra Fewer, from participating because she will not be sworn in until next Monday Jan 9. She opposed the construction project and wanted questions asked. Voters of District One agreed.

Whether one is firmly opposed or not to the project, the January 5 meeting should be protested. To ignore the vote of 80% of District One for the top two contenders who questioned the project is contrary to our democratic principles.

Please write the Supervisors (who sit as the Board of the TA) asking for them to defer the decision to give time for the four new Supervisors to hear the issues. Many of you have written excellent letters and for those still could, Supervisors’  email addresses are below. If you can, please attend the January 5 meeting to have your voice heard.

Bob Starzel
San Franciscans for Sensible Transit   www.sfsensibletransit.org

Write your own message or see a sample letter here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

Email the following:

Subject Line:  Vote to Postpone Vote on Geary BRT Final EIR Scheduled for January 5

Dear Supervisors/Board Members of the SF County Transportation Authority,

I strongly urge you as members of the Transportation Authority to vote to postpone your consideration of the Geary BRT Final EIR for at least 30 days after the currently scheduled SFCTA meeting on January 5, 2017.

To: Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org, clerk@sfcta.orgLondon.Breed@sfgov.org, Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org, Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org, Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org, Jane.Kim@sfgov.org, Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org, Katy.Tang@sfgov.org, David.Campos@sfgov.org, Norman.Yee@sfgov.org, kanishka.karunaratne@sfgov.orghillary.ronen@sfgov.orgsandra@sandrafewer.comahshaforsupervisor@gmail.com, jess.montejano@sfgov.org, conor.johnston@sfgov.orgmargaux.kelly@sfgov.org, John.Avalos@sfgov.org, sunny.angulo@sfgov.org, Dyan.Ruiz@sfgov.org, chelsea@sandrafewer.com,

Please blind cc:  bstarzel@gmail.com, saveourltaravalstops@gmail.com

Attend the meeting: Thursday, January 5,  2 PMDetails
Room 250 City Hall,
Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting

Write your own message or see a longer sample letter here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

See the OpEd in Sunday’s Examiner at http://www.sfexaminer.com/geary-brt-expensive-pledge-past/

Geary BRT is an expensive pledge to the past

By David Hirtz : sfexaminer – excerpt

Transit planners have been at work for many years to come up with a plan to improve bus service for all of Geary Boulevard, but let’s just talk about the 2.2-mile western portion from Masonic Avenue to 27th Avenue. Planners envision the median there with more than 100 trees replaced by two, red-painted central bus-only lanes for 24 hours a day. Riders would board from narrow platforms in the middle of the roadway, between the bus lanes and other traffic.

Riders are now are accustomed to two levels of service: the infrequently stopping Rapid, and the Local that makes stops every two blocks or so. With only one lane for buses, there will be just one quality of service: Local, as all buses will back up behind the slowest moving one. But Local service will have fewer stops, as statistically that will reduce rider times — even if you have to walk farther to find one.

That certainly won’t save you any rider time if you like the Rapid…

A public-spirited citizens group offered comment to Muni and officials with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on this project and were summarily dismissed. They then founded San Franciscans for Sensible Transit to advocate for transit issues all over San Francisco. After much study, they support a number of improvements — more buses, better schedules, holding green lights for buses, street paving and others — at a cost of $50 million as a more sensible idea. See what you can get for these proven steps, they say. Their cost-benefit comparisons are on the website of both the Muni-favored version, called the Hybrid, and the Sensible Transit concept…

Our Transit First Policy first requires that all transportation projects ensure the quality of life and economic health of the community. No studies of economic health were done for the planners, who dismiss concerns about quality of life as well. The potential loss of many small businesses and their jobs is also ignored.
A representative of Mayor Ed Lee told Sensible Transit that we already have too much retail at street level…

The SFCTA meets to vote on the project on Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. at room 250 at City Hall. This is the time to find your feet and your voice or prepare to live with a very unfortunate outcome.

David Hirtz is president of San Franciscans for Sensible Transit and a resident of the Richmond neighborhood for 35 years… (more)

Do read the entire article and comment if you can. Letters and your presence at the SFCTA Meeting are appreciated. Sample letter is here: sfsensibletransit.org

Ask the supervisors what they would prefer to spend the $300 million dollars on. Each of them probably has better ideas than destroying more trees and businesses on Geary. Only the SFMTA and their contractors stand to benefit from this nightmare, that already has the makings of a number of lawsuits, starting with the insistence on fast-tricking it, ignoring the 30 days minimum for public review and response to the EIR. Sample letter here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

 

Public Meeting for EIR on January 5, 2017

richmondsfblog – excerpt

The final Geary BRT EIR will be under review at an upcoming public meeting of the San Francisco Country Transit Authority (SFCTA) on Thursday, January 5, 2017 (2pm, City Hall, Room 250). At that meeting, the SFCTA will be asked to certify the EIR, which includes approving the design and configuration described in the EIR. The meeting, which will not be the last public discourse on the Geary BRT, is an opportunity for members of the public to speak their views on the Geary BRT project.

If the EIR is approved at the January 7 meeting, the project will then go into final design planning, which culminates with the SFMTA Board taking action to legislate every one of the recommended changes for the project.

But given the historic pace of the Geary BRT project so far, that is a ways off. The earliest any construction would begin is in 2018 on the downtown portions of Geary. It would not be until late 2019 / early 2020 that any construction would occur west of Stanyan.

To find out more about the Geary BRT and the release of the final EIR, please visit gearybrt.org.

Sarah B…(more)

Comments on the source as well as here are welcome…

There are so many issues involved with this project, we will have to get back on what they are, but, if you are concerned and want to oppose this, there are two meetings scheduled for next week with two different groups and each may be contacted with public comments. Sample letters and contacts are here:

Open Letter to the City Authorities:

Our plea to San Francisco city authorities is to delay the decision for 30 days and consider what you can better spend $300 million dollars on than cutting trees and digging holes on Geary and killing more local businesses like you did on Mission Street. We need economic impact and socioeconomic impact reports on all projects that involve shifting traffic on major commercial streets.

Wasting time and taxpayer money on a $300 million dollar boondoggle when there are thousands of homeless people on the streets who need immediate attention is a criminal act as far as many are concerned. For once the SFMTA should allow the much cheaper and less disruptive public plan to more forward. See if the public is smarter than the SFMTA. Just give us this one street to prove we can do it cheaper and get better results.

Notice there is no mention of safety here, only speeding Muni on Geary. Who ever came up with the idea of moving the BRT lanes from the curb to the center and back again? That cannot be a safe move. Already we have seen the results of merging traffic with the BRT on 3rd Street and merging bike lanes and traffic lanes without warning. What happened to merging lane warning signs? Bike lanes crossing over traffic lanes has got to be the worst way to protect cyclists.

This plan is all about moving more than $350 million dollars of taxpayer money from our pockets into the contractors’ bank accounts. Read the alternative plan and see if you don’t agree that it makes sense to try a different approach.

– Concerned San Francisco Citizen

Upcoming meetings on this issues listed on the SFCTA website:
http://www.sfcta.org/meetings-agendas-and-events#jan2017

Wednesday, January 4, 6 PM –  Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee – 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor – Details  CAC is scheduled to hear and vote on the Geary BRT.

Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM –  Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting Room 250, City HallDetails This is where the Board of Supervisors, acting as the County is expected to approve the $350-360 million dollar Geary BRT large project authorization, before the public or the Board of Supervisors has sufficient time to review and analyze the large document that was just released on the 15th of December. CEQA still allows a 30 day period for public review and comment, so this will cut that allowance down, leading, once again to a violation of CEQA by the SFMTA.

SFMTA will have an excuse for fast-tracking their Geary BRT, so we need as many letters and people to protest against this outrage at this meeting as possible. Sample letter:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

There is a second excellent letter requesting a delay that is here requesting that the Chairman of the SFCTA Board of Commissioners, Aaron Peskin, postpone the Geary BRT EIR vote for one month. Quite a few letters have gone out with that request.

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