Red Lane Amendments and Efforts to Stop the Corporatization of our Streets

MissionReds

After months of letters, comments and neighborhood pushback against many elements of corporate takeover of our streets and public spaces, many people who shocked by the announcement that some of the Red Lanes in the city are open to use by private enterprise vehicles, such as tech buses, private shuttles, and any vehicle that carries more than 10 riders, based on the definition of a bus.

Supervisor Fewer, among others, scheduled hearings on the use of the Red Lanes that were re-scheduled a couple of times, and reset for early December. As many people were preparing for those meetings, we got the news that recent developments at the Land Use and Transportation Committee may have made those hearings unnecessary.  November 5, 2018, Aaron Peskin aide, Lee Hepner, introduced Amendment 18-862, that was passed unanimously to the Full Board by the Land Use and Transportation Committee:

Ordinance 180862 – Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of Municipal Transportation Agency decisions related to Bus Rapid Transit projects that do not include transit-only areas or lanes for Municipal Railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit vehicles; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The tape of the meeting is below, go to Item 6: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/player/clip/31749?view_id=10&meta_id=642988

As a matter of introduction Mr. Hepler described the areas of concern that are under the purview of the Board of Supervisors, though they are not being added to this amendment at this time.

This is a paraphrased transcript of the meeting:

Within the text of Prop A, there is a provision that allows the Board of Supervisors to enact an ordinance that gives the Board the option to review SFMTA decisions regarding various curb space decisions, bicycle lanes, traffic mitigations and measures etc…

Background information:  Supervisors Peskin and Safai co-sponsored Ordinance 180089, to enact that review provision regarding curb use. That ordinance expressly exempted certain projects from review that were determined to be public interest projects, such as bike lanes, curb modifications for street sweeping, and bus rapid transit projects.

This new ordinance is taking on elements of the Bus Rapid Transit Projects that are not clearly defined in the code and providing guidance as to the scope of the board’s review authority of these projects. This proposal expresses this board’s desire to promote Bus Rapid Transport projects that are generally designed and implemented to further public transportation reliability.

The amendment clarifies the Board of Supervisor’s policy preference. The board would not review BRT projects that are designed for public transportation use, but would take review of BRT projects designed for use by private commercial shuttles, tour busses or other modes of private transportation that might actually impede the flow of public transportation.

The proposed amendment… replaces the words, “bus rapid transit project” with “bus rapid transit project that includes transit only areas or lanes for municipal railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit Vehicles.”

SFMTA appears to have collaborated on this. The amendment passed to the full Board of Supervisors as is on the agenda for the November 13 Board of Supervisors meeting. We had no notice, but, this appears to be going through rather rapidly. In this case, that may be a good thing.

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SF to ban most of taxi fleet from SFO to help struggling cabbies

by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexminer – excerpt

The City walked back a controversial proposal to shrink the local taxi industry Tuesday night, but did approve restrictions on which taxis can pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport.

The change was crafted with the intention of shuffling some taxi medallions back into San Francisco, instead of allowing large numbers to wait at SFO for one plum ride.
There are about 1,450 medallions in service today, according to the SFMTA, used across 4,800 active taxi drivers.

Among calls of “shame!” and “you should all go to hell!” as well as a stream of four-letter words, taxi drivers blasted the proposal for San Francisco to phase out about 260 decades-old taxi permits, called medallions, to help divert business to more struggling taxi drivers with more recent, more expensive medallions.

“They’ve killed the taxi industry,” said Yellow Cab driver Marcel Fonseca just after the vote. He wasn’t alone in his critique.

Five members of the Board of Supervisors also penned an eleventh-hour letter objecting to the reforms, arguing for a more incremental approach…

The San Francisco Federal Credit Union also opposed the taxi reforms. The credit union is suing the SFMTA to the tune of $28 million for allegedly allowing taxi medallions to become worthless, even as the credit union offered loans to taxi drivers. A letter in opposition to the reforms sent by Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Sandra Fewer, Rafael Mandelman, Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen called for the SFMTA to oppose limiting taxi pickups at SFO, and phasing out older taxi medallions.

“The City walked back a controversial proposal to shrink the local taxi industry Tuesday night, but did approve restrictions on which taxis can pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport.”

I think you mean the SFMTA walked by a controversial proposal? They do not yet represent the city.

 

Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco

If the slow transportation grind is getting you down, you may want to check out this forum that will attempt to find some solutions to the failing systems that are plaguing our fair city as we tilt, sink, and fall into the future.

SAVE MUNI – Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco
Saturday, September 29, 10 AM – Noon Doors open at 9:30 AM
Koret Auditorium, SF Main Library. – Grove Street entrance – downstairs

The Forum will address increasing congestion on San Francisco’s streets and the deterioration of public transit service. The Muni carries roughly the same number of passengers in 2018 as it did a decade ago despite increasing city population and the continuing economic boom. What can be done to make it easier to move around the city?

The Forum features four presentations by transportation experts who will share their ideas for reducing congestion and improving public transit service.

Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director of Commute Seattle will describe how his city has been the only one in the nation to increase transit ridership since the recession.
Jerry Cauthen, Former Senior Engineering Manager and Transportation Vice President, ParsoVisit Sitens Brinckerhoff, will talk about ways to improve public transit service and ridership in San Francisco.
Mollie Cohen D’Agostino from the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis will share results of her group’s study of the transportation networking companies (Lyft and Uber) in San Francisco and other American cities.

Bob Feinbaum, Chair of Save Muni will describe the role for congestion pricing in San Francisco, aided by a video featuring Jonas Eliasson, head of transportation for Stockholm which adopted congestion pricing more than a decade ago.

These presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion of questions from the audience. Come and share your ideas to make San Francisco truly a city where public transit comes first.

Doors open at 9:30 AM. Please come to the Grove Street library entrance and tell Security that you are here for the transportation forum. Coffee and snacks will be available at the small cafe opposite the auditorium.

Sponsored by Save Muni and the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. Contact: Bob Feinbaum bobf@att.net

Corporate Bike Rentals in the Mission

Open letter to the Mayor Breed and District Supervisors Cohen and Ronen:

Re: Corporate Bike Rentals in the Mission

We just got word that Motivate/Lyft is planning to install GoBikes on the southwest corner of Utah and 25th St. where there is a school and a Healthy San Francisco building. The East Mission Improvement Association, residents and nearby neighbors oppose this installation and request that the Board of Supervisors stop further installations of GoBikes in the neighborhood around General Hospital, where both neighbors and hospital employees are struggling with difficult problems on the street and violent behavior has escalated.

We understand that the SFMTA CAC passed two motions last week that will be presented to the SFMTA Board that detail important changes in the “shared bike program” that they would like to see considered. Please review these prior to approving more station installations.

There has been a huge backlash against corporate takeover of public streets in the Mission, there have been at least three public meetings to discuss the loss of public access to curb space, and more are anticipated.

Sincerely,

Mari Eliza

Download document SFMTA CAC motions
or read them online

Send letters and comments to the Mayor and Supervisors. Contacts are here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

 

Lime adds more drama to SF’s e-scooter saga

E-scooters can really rile people up — whether it’s cities trying to contain the onslaught of the mini motorized vehicles, or celebs such as actor-turned-venture-capitalist Ashton Kutcher fighting for their rights at a tech conference, it seems we are a nation divided.

And sometimes, it’s the scooter companies that can get all hot and bothered.

Take Lime, for example. Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency shut down any aspirations the scooter-share company had of operating in the city, instead giving two newer companies, Scoot and Skip, permits to test scooters within the city for the next year…

About five minutes before the panel, titled “Scooting Through Regulation,” which would have featured Emily Warren, head of policy and public affairs at Lime, Sanjay Dastoor, Skip’s CEO, and SFMTA official Tom Maguire, a Lime spokesperson issued a statement explaining that Lime would not attend the panel… (more).

‘Eroding the Confidence’: SF Mayor Breed Blasts Muni Officials For Flawed Service

By Sam Brock : nbcbayareanews – excerpt (includes video)

One day after San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the Muni director in a letter, accusing him of “eroding the confidence” of riders in the system, the mayor took a ride on Muni and continued her criticism.

Breed said Tuesday you can’t push people to use public transportation and then have the transit not work. From widespread delays in service to the recent death of a construction worker, Breed said she’s fed up, and her concerns are echoing through City Hall… (more)

SFMTA Board reacted to the Mayor’s threats and the public’s outrage by ignoring it.

First, they ignored public request to limit the Geary BRT Red Lanes to Muni and taxis only, and retain some popular bus stops.

The Board approved recently unveiled plans to allow non-public transportation corporations access to Transit only Red Lanes.  Liz Brisson, SFMTA’s Project Manager for the Geary Project, claimed the definition of a bus is a vehicle transporting 9 or more people. This is news to many people who opposed the non-Muni vehicles at the meetings. When was this definition written and why was this intent not explained in previous presentations of the Geary BRT plan?

Were the Supervisors aware of this when they approved Phase I of the Geary BRT?

Will this new information be factored into the case against Phase II of the Geary BRT currently under litigation, or will City Hall settle the case rather than continue to fund the legal battles of this devious department?

Not only did we learn that Transit only does not mean public transit only, but, we also learned that the claims of time savings in the red lanes is not supported by factual analysis of existing red lanes. Perhaps we now can see the reasons why that may be the case. It seems that all red lanes are not created equal. It seems that the only time pubic transit only applies is when the lanes are “protected” inside a physical barrier. Otherwise you must read the signs to determine who is allowed on the red lanes. This begs the question, why paint the lanes red when the color is meaningless? Who is making a profit off this paint job?

After the startling bait and switch revelations and the Geary BRT approval, the Board went into private session for Ed Reiskin’s job review. As expected, the Board ignored the Mayor’s comments on the Director’s poor leadership and mismanagement of contracts.

The SFMTA Board commended Ed Reiskin on his work with the department, failed to scold or reprimand him for any of his mistakes or misdeeds, included those he admitted to, and announced their continued support for his leadership of the disgraced department.

What will our Mayor do about this rogue board and department that insults our intelligence by repeated attempts to deceive us? Will she appoint a strong new Director to the Board to replace the recently departed one hired by the department to handle the public through public outreach? Will the Board of Supervisors hand the decision over to the public in the form of a Charter Amendment? Will our Mayor support this option? You may want to weigh in if you have an opinion. Contacts with City Hall are here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

REALATED:

Private buses have driven in city ‘transit-only’ lanes for years — with the city’s blessing, and in spite of the law

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

… Does it make sense to allow private buses or other such vehicles in red carpet lanes — or not — on a Byzantine, lane-by-lane, project-by-project basis? If you’re a transit layman, you’d probably say “no.” And, it turns out, if you’re a transit expert you’d say “no,” too…

The city’s administration of its “transit-only” lanes has only grown more haphazard and opaque in the past dozen years — not that the citizens who came out Tuesday to yell about the Geary Rapid Project (or, quite possibly, the commissioners they were yelling at) ever realized this was happening…

But is it legal? That’s confusing, too… (more)

 

Should private shuttles be able to use Muni-only lanes?

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

MTA says yes — but the public can weigh in Tuesday.

San Francisco transit planners have been working for years on a proposal to create bus-only lanes on Geary Boulevard. It’s called Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is that – since we (unfortunately) don’t have a subway line underneath the Geary corridor, we can do the next best thing by creating lanes just for Muni.

Time the traffic signals right, keep cars out of the way of buses, and people can ride faster from the Richmond and the Western Addition to downtown…

The plan comes up for discussion at the MTA’s meeting Tuesday/21 – and there’s a twist…

Activists have discovered that Muni’s current proposal would allow not only Muni buses but private shuttles, like Chariot and the Google buses – to use the city’s public transit-only lanes.

Environmentalist and transit advocate Sue Vaughan (who has also written for 48hills) asked at an MTC Citizens Advisory Committee meeting in July whether private shuttles would be allowed to use the BRT lanes. MTC staff didn’t have an answer at that point – but a series of follow-up emails obtained by Vaughan show that the department believes under current rules, any private company that runs a bus with a capacity of more than ten people (including the driver) would count as “transit” and would be allowed on what were originally described as Muni-only lanes… (more)

The national press has been covering the anger and actions against privatization of public streets for years. SF Board of supervisors passed Ordinanace 180089 to give voters some control over access to curbs. There hearings on the horizon along with the Controller reports we have requested for months.

What does SFMTA do? Blame Muni for the slowdown and hand over more traffic lanes to private enterprise, not covered by the ordinance. while spending hours of staff time developing an elite program for corporate e-bikes, and deserting vast numbers of Muni riders during the largest transit crisis in years.

Must the public demand the removal of Reiskin and a vote on a Charter Amendment to roll back SFMTA autonomy to get relief? Will Mayor Breed appoint a strong new MTA Board Director to the current regime at the SFMTA Board, who will return Muni’s attention to making Muni an attractive reliable functioning option?

You can only pretend the emperor is dressed for so long. It is hard to take a bus that does not arrive to pick you up. It is past time to replace the leadership at SFMTA.

RELATED:

Letters to SFMTA Board:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/private-transit-not-belong-dedicated-bus-lanes/

https://metermadness.wordpress.com/red-lane-experiments/private-transport-should-not-be-allowed-to-use-transit-only-lanes/

 

 

SFMTA Pulls 180 on Costly McAllister Traffic Circle

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

Step aside, needles and poop! Traffic circles are here, and San Franciscans are not happy.

Officials from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are backpedaling on an ill-fated traffic circle installed in a residential neighborhood earlier year. The $80,000 circle was installed at McAllister and Steiner streets this spring and is already scheduled for removal — which is another $40,000…

For the past few months, the circle has caused immense confusion for drivers; it doesn’t operate like a normal roundabout, which runs on a first-come, first-serve basis. Instead, two stop signs on Steiner block traffic and give a bus flying down McAllister or a cyclist huffing and puffing up it the right of way through the intersection.

According to neighbors who live along the route, drivers of 5-Fulton buses have been preemptively leaning on their horns as they approach Steiner just in case a car misunderstands the circle and blindly cuts out in front of them… (more)

Here is a perfect example of why we need to overhaul the SFMTA. Too many mistakes and too much wasted taxpayer dollars are going down the drain. Why should the voters support any more money for a failed system? We don’t need faster moving buses. We need a reliable transit system. The Board of Supervisors needs to listen to the operators and maintenance crew and skip the long lunches and meetings with management if they want to find out what the problems are.

SF supe calls for hearing to investigate citywide Muni delays

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni service has slowed to a crawl citywide, and now one supervisor wants answers.

At the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Supervisors Supervisor Vallie Brown called for a hearing into Muni slowdowns that have affected more than 30 routes across The City.

“Not a day has gone by that I haven’t heard from my constituents about the issues we’re facing with Muni, that it’s not reliable, and that there are not enough buses,” Brown told the San Francisco Examiner in a statement… (more)

Good start for the new supervisor. Hope we can see some action from the rest of the Board to stop the new projects until they finish the ones they have going now. They should drop all unnecessary projects and put some on hold while they figure out how to move the riders who need to get to work every day. We don’t need high tech gadgets and data. We need low tech buses and trains that run on a regular schedule we can rely on.

RELATED:
Video Interview with BATWG Chair Jerry Cauthen
Some suggestions for solving the problem that may interest our resaders.

130 affordable housing units result of land transfer between SF agencies

: sfchronicle – excerpt

A proposed property transfer between San Francisco agencies that could yield up to 130 new affordable housing units was approved Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee…

The MTA’s Board of Directors passed a resolution supporting the sale of the lot in 2012. Two years later, the agency struck an agreement to sell it to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, which has long sought to develop the site for 100 percent affordable housing…

As part of the agreement, the SFMTA would sell the parcel to the mayor’s housing office for $6.15 million. As a so-called enterprise agency, the SFMTA — like the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission — is allowed to buy and sell its own properties. Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would cover $2.5 million worth of transfer costs. The remaining $3.65 million would come from the city’s affordable housing fund…

Developing the windswept lot into housing will cost an estimated $96 million. To pay for it, Hartley said the city would contribute around $35 million, with the remainder coming from low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bond debt and additional state credits that the developers, Related California and the Mission Housing Development Coalition, can apply for… (more)

Since the city owns the land one would assume the city determines who the developers are. They are just in the process of transferring the land. How do they already have developers picked out and who and when was this determined? Some will remember that a company called Related is a luxury condo developer who owned Motivate, the bike share company that recently sold GoBike to Lyft. Do we see a pattern here?

As many San Francisco residents are being displaced by newcomers with a different set of interests and morals, is it time for the citizens of this city to ask some tough questions about how their city is being managed and for whom?  Is it just a coincidence that the same names pop up repeatedly in every city contract? Are you represented by in the non-profit groups showing up at every city hall meetings begging for exclusive privileges?