Transportation Madness

By Commentary Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview – excerpt

Lately, I have been wondering why the city’s transportation agency has been running roughshod over merchants and local residents across town, and acting in total disregard for the wishes of most San Francisco residents.

Whether it’s the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), or the L Taraval streetcar line, the public and local merchants are ignored as being minor disruptions to the agency’s self-proclaimed higher ideals.

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has created a scorched-earth policy, destroying or hurting businesses on Third, Mission, Taraval and Irving streets and Van Ness Avenue. It refuses to conduct economic impact studies before closing and tearing up streets just to shave a minute or two off bus and streetcar times. It ignores the pleas of seniors, people trying to raise a family, and anyone else who stands in its way.

And it is beyond the reach of voters and elected officials…

The SFMTA was granted special SF Charter status, and divorced from oversight by elected public officials, in 1999. I bet most of the people reading this column have no idea who is running one of the largest departments in the City, with almost 5,000 employees and an annual budget of $1 billion.

The story of how we got to where we are today is ugly.

Mayor, supervisors abdicate transportation responsibilities…

Who is running the SFMTA?

Prop. E is seven pages long, with mostly additions and a lot of deletions of the old laws. It is specific, however, on who should run this massive super-agency…

Currently, it appears as if none of the seven members of the board of directors, or the operations director, have much experience in transportation. They are mostly political insiders whose experience is working within government in some limited capacity…

I think running a large transportation conglomerate is above Reiskin’s pay grade. And, the board of directors running this important show are political appointees, mostly with expertise in subjects other than transportation. It boggles the mind.

The directors of the SFMTA are Cheryl Brinkman (chair), Malcolm Heinicke, Gwyneth Bordon, Lee Hsu, Joel Ramos, Christina Rubke and Art Torres. Their biographies are available at the SFMTA’s website at http://www.sfmta.org

And the city’s taxi industry has not fared well under the SFMTA’s oversight…

The aftermath

Here we are, 17 years after the passage of Prop. E, and the SFMTA is a monster of its own creation. The development of the Geary BRT would be funny, except for it being real. I’ve documented the Geary BRT story exhaustively since late 2006, when I spent my Christmas vacation trying to figure out why the SFMTA was coming into the neighborhood talking about a “voter mandate” to build a Geary BRT, which was never wanted by most of the people who work and live in the district…

• Representatives of the SFMTA refused the request of local merchants to include an economic impact statement in the Geary BRT’s environmental report;…

The second phase would tear up Geary, hurt local businesses, remove left-hand turns, remove parking spaces and increase traffic on all other Richmond streets.

Non-profit challenges SFMTA

The SFMTA is not a good public institution to deal with. That’s why a group of concerned west side residents and merchants joined together to create the nonprofit organization SF Sensible Transit…

Members of the organization tried for months to negotiate with representatives of the SFMTA, but to no avail. Finally, in desperation, they filed a lawsuit to stop implementation of “phase 2” of the Geary BRT…

Please join Sensible Transit or make a donation in care of: San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, P.O. Box 210119, SF, CA 94121. Or, go to the website at www.sfsensibletransit.org.

It’s for all the right reasons.

Thank you.

Paul Kozakiewicz is the publisher of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon

 

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Political muscle and dealmaking got Prop. E passed

By Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview and sunsetbeacon – excerpt

Political muscle and deal-making got Proposition E passed, which created the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The proposition was on the November, 1999 ballot.

According to an article in the SF Examiner, SF Mayor Willie Brown worked hard during a re-election year to muster support for Proposition E. The work paid off. The SF Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to put the measure on the ballot. Supporting the plan was a combination of progressive and moderate supervisors: Tom Amman, Alica Becerril, Amos Brown, Leslie Katz, Barbara Kaufman, Mark Leno, Gavin Newsom, Mabel Teng, Michael Yaki and Leland Yee. Only supervisor Sue Bierman voted against the plan.

In the ballot pamphlet supporting their position, the 10 supervisors said, “Proposition E will make Muni much more accountable for service delivered. It will take strong steps to reduce traffic by finally making transit a real alternative to the automobile, and it will ensure Muni is fully funded to meet the City’s transit needs for years to come.” None of those goals have come to pass…

If political muscle can create it political muscle can kill it. Make sure you grill all the supervisor candidates on how they plan to take back public control of the agency and then hold them to their promise.

Proposition E is a SF Charter revision, which means it is a part of the City’s guiding document and can’t be changed without a vote of the people. It had the support of many of the city’s political leaders, including SF Mayor Willie Brown, state Sen. John Burton, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley and the Democratic and Republican parties. They all called for improving bus service in the City, but they gave up control over the agency responsible for performing the task, changed the city’s Transit First Policy to be hostile to private vehicles, and created a super-organization responsible for thousands of employees – without supervision from any elected officials. No one is held accountable at the SFMTA…

Prop. E also gave the SFMTA the power to tax, which it tried to do in the November 2016 election by requesting a half-cent sales tax increase for transit projects that the agency refused to spell out. Trust us. Just give us the money, the SFMTA said. The voters, in their wisdom, said “no!”  Prop. E was passed by San Francisco voters on Nov. 2, 1999, by a 61- 39 percent vote… (more).

I you want an excuse for owning a car, you need to look not further than the fires in the north to see why a car is you best refuge in a disaster. All these thousands of people in shelters got there by private vehicle. The public transportation system is the first to close down during a crisis event that requires mass evacuations, and who wants to carry you life in a backpack? In the event of an emergency, your vehicle is your emergency vehicles and possibly your home for a while.

RELATED:
Transportation Madness

Brewing bikeshare battle may threaten SF’s Ford GoBike contract

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Harrison17th

These unpopular GoBikes line 17th Street line in the Mission with private corporate bikes,  removing parking for everyone, including private bike owners. They are blessed by SFMTA’s private deal with Motivate. photo by zrants

It’s not just a bump in the road. The latest conflict between stationless bikeshare companies and San Francisco has seemingly hit a full-on obstacle course.

San Francisco’s transportation agency is preparing to issue its first permit to a competitor of Ford GoBike, potentially threatening a contract between the Bay Area and the $65 billion Ford Motor Company…

Technically, the contract is not with Ford, it is with Motivate, owned and operated by Related. Motivate has an $8 million deal with Ford. See details on that deal or look it up yourself: Holding Company that owns GoBikes

But that permit allegedly runs afoul of an exclusivity contract Ford entered into with The City, along with its administrator of the bikeshare program, Motivate…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation… (more)

Here we appear to have fight over a yet-to-be-developed market. Where is the research that proves the public is anxious to rent bikes? How many people want to ride bikes who don’t own their own? Why has MTC and SFMTA involved SF voters in a complicated legal battle over a clientele that does not exist in an effort to remove public parking from the streets? Don’t they have a Muni service to run?

Why did the MTC and SFMTA sign exclusive deals (not sure these rise to the level of being legal contracts) with private entities without public knowledge or input? Why were the voters and residents left in the dark until the blue bikes appeared on the street? Do the voters prefer GoBikes and Scoots in their neighborhood or residential parking permits? Think about this as you think about who you want to represent you at City Hall.

SF residential parking permit changes put on hold

Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Major changes to San Francisco’s 40-year old Residential Parking Permit Program are put on hold after transit officials raised concerns about several schools in The City not being notified about parking permit changes.

Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors was to decide on changes to the RPP program, including changes that would limit schools in The City from obtaining more than 15 parking permits for faculty.

Kathy Studwell, residential permit parking program manager at the SFMTA, said seven schools in The City currently have more that 15 parking permits.

The change would take effect in July 2019, said Studwell.

SFMTA Director Malcolm Heinickie asked Studwell if those seven schools had been notified yet.

Studwell said: “We will be notifying them.”…

Nicky Jacobson, a resident in the Dogpatch and a member of the Dogpatch Parking Task Force, did not support the plans for the neighborhood.

Jacobson said she did not like the idea of taking the petition process out of the hands of residents and businesses: “We know as business owners and residents know what goes on on our block.”

Another issue that bothered some directors, which was mentioned by Jacobson, was the way the SFMTA staff had notified interested parties about the proposed changes of the RPP program…

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said a date had not been set yet on when the SFMTA board will take up the item again… (more)

And that pretty well sums up the attitude of the SFMTA staff, that fails to notify and fails to listen to the public. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors are getting leaned on pretty heavily and they are sending pressure to the SFMTA Board and Director and conducting a number of hearings. Next step is for neighborhood groups to hold some hearings in their neighborhoods to get a better idea of how the residents and businesses feel about the results of the many SFMTA streetscape projects that are killing businesses and making voters miserable. In those cases where supervisors are leaving, the voters have a chance to vote for a new attitude at City Hall. Ask the tough questions of all our candidates before you choose the next one. If you are in an even district, you will soon have that opportunity.

 

Item 12: Residential Parking Permit Reform

sfmta – excerpt

12. Amending Transportation Code Division II to (1) delete the defined term for “Institution” and add “Residential Area”; (2) limit the number of parking permits that may be issued to a single address to four and eliminate the request for waiver provision; (3) revise the procedure for designating a Residential Parking Permit Area; (4) change the period for the validity of Educational Institution parking permits from certain hours of the day to hours of enforcement and limit the number of parking permits that may be issued; (5) eliminate the petition process currently required for Childcare parking permits; (6) authorize the issuance of one transferable parking permit to a resident licensed to operate a family child care home for use by a child care provider working at the home; and (7) authorize the establishment of pilot Residential Parking Permit program areas by the SFMTA Board to limit the number of parking permits to two that may be issued to a single address (with no more than one parking permit issued per licensed driver), exempt a vehicle displaying a valid parking permit from payment at on-street Parking Meters located in the Residential Parking Permit Area where designated by the SFMTA with posted signs, and exempt Health Care Worker and Childcare parking permits from the limit of two permits that can be issued to a single address.

The board voted to postpone approval of the SFMTA’s Residential Parking Permit (RPP) Evaluation & Reform Project until a later meeting. The project is a package of updates to the RPP program to balance the competing needs for curb space and better engage the public in the city’s neighborhood parking management efforts.

To be continued with greater neighborhood input we hope. Talk to your supervisor about your needs for your neighborhood.

Sliding scale parking meter program could range from $8 to 50 centers an hour in San Francisco

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

– A sliding-scale parking system could cost drivers anywhere between $8 to 50 cents an hour according to a new pay-on-demand system being considered by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

It’s called “demand-responsive” pricing and operates under the premise that the higher the meter rates, the quicker people will free up spaces, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The pricing all depends on the volume of parking. High traffic areas – and higher prices – include neighborhoods like the Marina and the Fillmore.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy blasted the plan as a financial hit on already stretched middle and working-class families… (more)

Thankfully someone is concerned about San Francsico’s middle and working-class families.

Measuring Cognitive Distractions

Report by AAA : .aaafoundation – excerpt

In this landmark study of distracted driving, the AAA Foundation challenges the notion that drivers are safe and attentive as long as their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Using cutting-edge methods for measuring brain activity and assessing indicators of driving performance, this research examines the mind of the driver, and highlights the mental distractions caused by a variety of tasks that may be performed behind the wheel.

By creating a first-of-its-kind rating scale of driver distractions, this study shows that certain activities – such as talking on a hands-free cell phone or interacting with a speech-to-text email system – place a high cognitive burden on drivers, thereby reducing the available mental resources that can be dedicated to driving. By demonstrating that mentally-distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision, this study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that “hands-free” doesn’t mean risk free.

More distracted driving related research:

Report
Presentation
Fact Sheet

RELATED:
SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone Objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

by John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

The ongoing Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement Project has a clumsy name only a bureaucrat could love, and many merchants on Union Street definitely don’t love one of the project’s features: the loss of a left-turn onto Union Street from Van Ness. They say it has hurt business on their street because of a loss of traffic; drivers on Van Ness just find it easier to drive onward and shop elsewhere. One idea being mooted is seeking about $1.5 million in compensation from the city for their loss of business…

Karnilowicz doesn’t know what will happen regarding compensation, but the situation is not going to go away. He points to a presentation by the city’s Controller’s Office, which studied the impact on local businesses of similar construction projects by measuring the change in sales taxes; in one, West Portal, there was a 12 percent drop in sales tax. “That’s like a 12 percent [decline] in income,” Karnilowicz says; for some businesses, “that’s what their profit margin is.”…(more)

Just say NO to more taxes next time SFMTA comes begging for more. Merchants and pissed off residents who want to live and work in San Francisco should continue opposing tax increases for transit projects to send a clear message to City Hall that they are fed up with streetscape projects. Send letters and comments and complaints to your supervisor and the candidates running for office. Make sure they hear your demands for a freeze on new construction until the current projects are completed. Don’t be shy with your state reps either. Let them know you don’t buy the “we need more money for transit” line when you see more streets being torn up every day. City contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/
State contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

SB-182 is on the Governor’s desk now to be signed. We need to stop it.

SB-182  would prohibit cities from regulating TNCs by handing regulation of the TNCS over to the state PUC. We just heard today at the SF Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing that the TNCs are responsible for most of the traffic violations in the SOMA area and the downtown area. We also know that TNCs are responsible for a huge percentage of the vehicle miles traveled in SF and that they spend more time driving around without a passenger than most residents spend in our cars.

PLEASE CALL OF WRITE THE GOVERNOR ASKING HIM TO NOT SIGN SB 182 INTO LAW SO THAT CITIES MAY DEAL WITH THEM.

Links to the governor: Calling the office may be the best way to get the message to him. Email form is on this page:
href=”https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/”>https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

Mailing address:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841 
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Details on the bill: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB182

SB-182, Transportation network company: participating drivers: single business license.

The Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to regulate charter-party carriers in California, including transportation network companies that provide prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform to connect passengers with drivers.

Existing law authorizes the legislative body of an incorporated city and a county board of supervisors to license businesses carried on within their respective jurisdictions and to set licensing fees for those businesses.

This bill would prohibit any local jurisdiction, as defined, that requires a driver, as defined, to obtain a business license, as defined, to operate as a driver for a transportation network company, from requiring that driver to obtain more than a single business license, as specified, regardless of the number of local jurisdictions in which the driver operates.

$4.4 Billion Bay Area Transportation Plan — Paid for by Higher Bridge Tolls — Sent to Governor

: kqed – excerpt

We’ve reached the home stretch of the legislative year at the state Capitol, with little time left until Friday’s midnight deadline to pass bills.

 

Update, 10:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15: Bridge Toll Measure Would Raise Billions for Bay Area Transportation; Passes Over Objections from East Bay Legislators

If you live in the Bay Area, you’ll be hearing a lot about Senate Bill 595 over the next year or so. The bill by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, won final Senate passage Thursday and now awaits the governor’s signature.

SB 595 provides for a vote in the nine Bay Area counties next year to raise tolls on the region’s state-owned bridges — that’s all of them, except the Golden Gate — by as much as $3. If the Bay Area Toll Authority, the agency that oversees the bridges, seeks that maximum $3 increase, tolls on the bridges would be $8 to $9. (We still wouldn’t be in Verrazano-Narrows Bridge territory, though; the cash toll on the span between Brooklyn and Staten Island rose to $17 earlier this year.)

The higher tolls would raise something like $375 million a year, according to the latest legislative analysis, and pay for nearly three dozen transit and highway projects totaling $4.45 billion…

Several Contra Costa County legislators — Assemblymember Tim Grayson and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier among them — opposed SB 595, saying that it’s 1) a regressive tax and 2) a ripoff for the residents of the East Bay.

Their main argument — both DeSaulnier and Grayson penned op-ed pieces for the East Bay Times — is that residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties will pay significantly more in increased tolls than their communities will get back in benefits… (more)

The new gas tax is supposed to fix the roads. Lets see what that tax is used for. By the time this new bridge toll bill comes up, We will probably have seen the results of the tax bills on our cost of living. There will also be a number of recall efforts to replace the reps who supported this bill and a recall on the gas tax. Stay tuned.