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.

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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

 

For drivers without garages, charging a big barrier to electric cars

By Kate Galbraith : sfchronicle (includes chart)

…The San Francisco metro area, at the intersection of environmental concern and technological prowess, has more electric vehicles than most cities worldwide. But for many residents, buying one remains unrealistic. Even as prices for EVs fall and the cars’ ranges increase, the hassle of plugging them in remains daunting for those who have only street parking. It is a problem that San Francisco and other cities will have to solve as governments around the world look to cut greenhouse gas emissions (California wants to slash them about 40 percent over the next 13 years).

“Obviously, we want to have significantly more charging infrastructure, not just in San Francisco but all around California,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who plans to introduce a bill next year that would ban new gasoline and diesel cars cars after 2040. Ting has an electric Chevrolet Bolt that he can charge at both home and work.

Charging stations are proliferating in city and corporate garages, thanks to investment by electric utilities and private companies such as ChargePoint and Tesla. But getting to them can be a hassle, and a parking spot at work can be expensive… (more)

Here is a situation where the state could get out of the way of the market and allow it to solve the problem at no cost to the public.

Instead of removing parking from new development, developers should be encouraged to install EV parking spaces in the new buildings to encourage more EV sales. Not many people living with car break-ins will go out and purchase an expensive new vehicle they can’t protect.

Many California voters don’t like state gas tax increase, poll finds

By Dan Walters : sfchronicle – excpert

California’s top politicians and interest groups celebrated a few months ago when the Legislature passed a package of taxes and fees to pay for long-neglected improvements to the state’s transportation systems.

The heart of the $5-plus billion per year revenue package is a 12-cent-a-gallon hike in gasoline taxes that took effect this month, just as other factors, including a spike in global oil prices, hit pump prices that were already among the nation’s highest.

When they filled up their tanks this month, California motorists typically paid 40 to 50 cents per gallon more than they had been paying a month earlier.

As the tax increase went into effect, the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences were conducting one their periodic public opinion polls.

The results were potentially devastating for the political, business and labor union groups that had pushed successfully for the transportation package after decades of delay. Most of California’s registered voters would opt to eliminate the gas taxes and fees, the polling found…

If repeal succeeds, the state’s highways, streets and transit systems will continue to deteriorate, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s successor and legislators will have to deal with it.

One option might be to divert more revenue from the sale of carbon emission credits under the state’s cap-and-trade program to transportation, and less, or perhaps none, to Brown’s pet bullet train project…(more)

What the author fails to mention is that there are now two gas tax repeal bills moving forward and that one of them includes a NO MORE TAXES without voter approval element. What is also missing is any mention of the 20 cents per gallon tax on diesel that will have a devastating effect on the price of goods transported by trucks, especially the price of food. The last thing California needs is another inflationary tax that increases the cost of food.

Larkspur parking spaces lost as SMART moves in

By Mark Prado : marinij – excerpt

Larkspur ferry riders will have 300 less spaces to choose from now that the Golden Gate Bridge district must give up a portion of parking to make way for SMART’s Larkspur extension…

As work continues to bring commuter rail south from San Rafael, a portion of a parking area for Larkspur ferry patrons will be permanently closed Wednesday.

That will result in the loss of about 300 spaces. While the area is usually lightly used during the work week, ferry riders going to Giants games or to special events in San Francisco served by the boats do use them as other lots swell.

In order to get trains through the Cal Park Hill Tunnel and to the Larkspur stop, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency needs the area to construct a station and other amenities as part of the $55.4 million project. The parking area is situated up a hill above 300 Larkspur Landing Circle. SMART plans to commence its Larkspur service in 2019… (more)

Here is a perfect example of how regional transportation systems under state directives, play musical chairs with the commuting public:

They remove service for existing riders under the guise of adding more future customers to their the “future perfect” system they are designing for. Meanwhile, drivers are faced back in their cars to cope with the loss of service. The winners in this game are the planners, consultants, developer sand the politicians they support. The losers are the commuters.

The Best thing voters can do is take back our streets and kick the “future perfect’ planners out at the ballot box when they get the chance. Grill the candidates on thee topics before you pledge support for them.

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)

Mayor Lee strikes deal to allow Uber, Lyft vehicles to use SF curb space

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee and tech giants Uber and Lyft struck a deal this week to provide city curb space for ride-hail vehicles as part of a new pilot designed to ease San Francisco traffic, the San Francisco Examiner has learned…

In exchange for traffic data from Uber and Lyft that The City will use to combat congestion, Lee agreed to a pilot program to convert some parking spaces — in a yet-to-be determined commercial corridor — into painted curbs that could be legally used by ride-hail drivers…

The deal struck by Lee, Uber and Lyft comes after months of negotiations behind the scenes(more)

This is the biggest most blatant public “behind the scenes” property grab yet by City Hall. Our mayor is privatizing public property, taking it from the public commons, and handing it over to private corporations. In this case the corporate commuters City Hall has decided deserve to park are the worst, most dangerous drivers in the city. How is this making us safer?

Wonder how 60 Minutes would like to run this story as a followup to the sinking tilting Millennium Tower failed cheap foundation experiment. The Ford Gobikes and tech bus abuses were already enraging people. The excuse for the decision to take more public curb space for the use of a preferred corporate entity is a need for data? I suspect there are a lot of citizens who will giving you a lot of data you don’t want to hear real soon.

This just in. Aaron Peskin is threatening to put this on the ballot if it goes through, according to KPIX. Stay tuned.

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