SFMTA no longer plans to remove 17th Avenue Safeway stop

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

In a sudden twist, The City’s transit agency has reversed course and will keep a much-beloved Muni train stop adjacent to a 17th Avenue Safeway.

Originally the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency proposed removing the stop on a trial basis in the name of speeding up the L-Taraval train, a small part of the $90 million L-Taraval Rapid Project which was intended to improve speed and safety along the route. A final vote on that stop’s removal was scheduled for summer.

But after an outcry from organized neighbors and the intervention of Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes the stop, the SFMTA has revised its proposal and plans to announce today that it will maintain the Safeway stop…(more)

Fear of the Supervisors’ threat to place a Charter Amendment ()on the ballot that would split theme up them apart may be working as the SFMTA backtracks on one of their most controversial decisions. The Supervisors are announced a plan to decentralize the SFMTA and encourage a neighborhood process for “neighborhood issues.”

Now is the time to contact your Supervisors to demand support for the first Ordinance to set up an appeals process and demand more action. Don’t forget to raise these issues with the candidates for Mayor and Supervisor positions as well. Each Supervisor may take up an issue and it may take a while, but, you need to take this moment to turn the SFMTA around.



Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters

Here is the first draft of the language put forth to as a proposal to amend the charter that establishes the authority of the SFMTA, referred to as the SFMTA Charter Amendment ballot initiative. Please review this and let your supervisors know how you feel about this amendment. Contacts are here.

As of this week, the Supervisors have announced a new Ordinance that would take place a lot sooner and would bring the control over neighborhood issues into the jurisdiction of the Supervisors. The plan is to try that out for a few months to see if a Charter Amendment is needed to straighten out the problems that the public is having with the SFMTA department.

The Ordinance will be posted soon. Sorry for any confusion that was caused by lack of detailed information. We generally track the media and on this issue the media is confused. Therefore we are getting mixed messages. As of Wednesday, January 24th, the deadline for the Charter Amendment was amended to be on the November ballot. There is plenty of time to work with your Supervisor to find out how this new Ordinance may apply to your problem.

FILE NO. 171309 First Draft, 12/12/2017 : LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS  [Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters, sponsored by Peskin and Safai

Read it here and follow the updates here.

Describing and setting forth a proposal to the voters at an election to be held on June 5, 2018, to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to eliminate the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s jurisdiction over parking and traffic regulations; to grant the legislative authority over parking and traffic to the Board of Supervisors; to create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department to manage parking and traffic; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Existing Law:

Currently the Charter grants the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) exclusive jurisdiction over local public transportation, taxis, and a variety of parking and traffic related functions. The SFMTA Board has legislative authority to adopt regulations related to parking and traffic. The SFMTA Board also serves as the Parking Authority Board with responsibility over a number of garages.

Amendments to Current Law:

The proposed Charter Amendment would eliminate the SFMTA’s exclusive jurisdiction over parking and traffic issues, and taxis. It would create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department that would have authority over parking and traffic functions and taxis. The Livable Streets Commission would be comprised of the members of the Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. The Board of Supervisors would have legislative authority over parking and traffic. Under the amendment parking and traffic functions under the responsibility of the Livable Streets Commission include:

  • Setting rates for off-street and on-street parking, and all other, rates, fees, fines, penalties and charges for services provided or functions performed by the Department;
  • Controlling the flow and direction of motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic;
  • Designing, selecting, locating, installing, operating, maintaining and removing all official traffic control devices, signs, roadway features and pavement markings;
  • Limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading as provided by state law and establishing parking privileges and locations subject to such privileges for categories of people or vehicles as provided by state law;
  • Establishing parking meter zones, setting parking rates, and selecting, installing, locating and maintaining systems and equipment for payment of parking fees;
  • Establishing policies for the enforcement of regulations limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading and the collection of parking-related revenues and, along with the Police Department, have authority to enforce parking, stopping, standing or loading regulations;
  • Cooperating with and assisting the Police Department in the promotion of traffic safety, among other things;
  • Having authority over taxi-related functions and taxi-related fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel; and
  • Coordinating the City’s efforts to address emerging mobility services.
  • The proposed Charter Amendment also provides that the Livable Streets Commission would serve as the members of the the Parking Authority
    Commission. The Livable Streets Commission would have authority over City-owned off-street public parking facilities, except those specified as under the jurisdiction of other City departments.

The proposed Charter Amendment provides for an operative date for the transfer of jurisdiction and the creation of the Livable Streets Commission of July 1, 2019.

(First Draft, 12/12/2017)

Ballot Measure Battle Royale, Episode 1: Charter Amendments

by Diego Aguilar-Canabal : thebaycitybeacon – excerpt

What is a charter amendment, and which could end up on your next ballot?

Charter Amendments are explicit changes to the city charter, which must be approved by a citywide vote. These are the hardest-sought ballot measures that can have the most meaningful impact on how city government operates. Some of these are spats between factions or rivalries, while others represent more significant power struggles between the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Others may be more mundane or popular issues that, for whatever reason, can only be addressed through the city charter.

Whether the Board of Supervisors votes to put it on the ballot, or activists gather thousands of signatures to qualify, here’s an exhaustive list of all the proposed charter amendments under consideration: … (more)

If you do not understand how the local government operates you will be confused by what is going on at City Hall. This article describes this year’s list of ballot initiatives up for consideration.

Metermadness will only concern itself with the Charter Amendment to Split the SFTA. read the rest of the article for the issues in the article.

Splitting Apart the SFMTA:

Despite their endorsements of rival candidates in the 2016 election, Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin joined forces to introduce a ballot measure that would rescind authority over automobile traffic from the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (SFMTA). Parking and traffic policy would instead by governed by a new Department of Livable Streets, under the auspices of a commission appointed by the Board of Supervisors…

Supervisor Safai’s office believes constituents may want to see car traffic decoupled from the central agency’s jurisdiction, as a bureaucracy under mayoral control may be less politically responsive than your District Supervisor. Ingleside residents repeatedly requested a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Avalon and Edinburgh—if the SFMTA hadn’t denied these requests, Safai contends, then Supervisorial control these sorts of traffic decisions could have prevented several injuries.

If passed, the ballot measure would give a Supervisor receiving such complaints “final oversight on mobility management, parking, and traffic calming” under the Livable Streets Department, according to Safai’s office…

Safai’s legislative aide Cathy Mulkey Meyer was notified by the Ingleside Police Station that a pedestrian had been hit at the intersection. A car crash followed just last week, on January 18. According to Meyer, the SFMTA only provides “significant” traffic calming measures—like a stop sign—“if the SFMTA engineers observe right number of pedestrians are interacting with a hazardous number of cars travelling at rapid speeds during a few hours on one day of the year.”

Meyer added that these traffic audits “don’t reflect the nuances neighbors plan their daily lives around, whether walking across the street or deciding what time to leave for work”—or, in the case of this intersection, three schools within a three-block radius. One local traffic engineer, speaking to the Beacon under the condition of anonymity, insisted that “any assessment” for traffic calming purposes would have “absolutely” included factors such as nearby schools(more)

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 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.

SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run


Objections to the Potrero streetscape rollout took center stage at a neighborhood meeting at Zuckerberg SF General that was called to update concerned neighbors on the various construction projects underway and planned for the hospital grounds. The public has been complaining for months about the new slalom run on Potrero that mimics the curvy streets on Third Street, where traffic is forced on and off the light rail tracks, and distracted drivers have difficulty watching for pedestrians while they attempt to follow the lane changes.

Nobody addressed the new hospital plans. Complaints were about:

  • The lack of notice about the meeting
  • Distracted driving
  • Dangerous new curvy lanes with up to 22 turns and constant changes.
  • Medians and trees – design, placement, and choice of trees.
  • Increase in traffic on narrow sides-streets where most cyclists choose to ride.
  • Confusing signs and directions
  • Traffic signal removal
  • Some mention was made of the Fire Department’s concerns that are supposed to have the project on hold, but, more details are needed on that subject

There were a lot of suggestions for improvements:

  • A better noticing system for neighborhood with a 2-week lead time
  • Elimination of the extended medians past the pedestrian walkways that drivers are not anticipating
  • Removal of some of the most objectionable medians that restrict traffic flow
  • Re-opening the 23rd Street pass through from the Potrero Hill ramp that allows entry into the Mission. It was noted that this is the second barrier to keep people out of the Mission devised by SFMTA.
  • Better clearer signage and possibly a freeway sign warning of a construction site ahead for drivers who wander off the freeway
  • Elimination of forced right turns and no right turns.
  • Moving bike lane to side street and possible speed controls on those streets.

All of the changes and experiments that SFMAT claims will calm traffic are making drivers more angry and less safe and calm. Residents on the narrow side streets are seeing claim the accident count is up more accidents, making everyone less safe, and creating havoc on the street, as drivers attempt to watch the road changes and other cars, they are finding it hard to watch out for pedestrians and the occasional bike at the same time. This AAA study seems to back up the public’s fears about distracted driving, and explains why many of the traffic infractions are attributed to Ubers and Lyfts who don’t know the city and are depending on dashboard maps to get around.

We need to insist that our supervisors look at these studies and accident reports and consider what options they have to reverse the SFMTA project approvals, straighten the streets, and limit out-of-town TNCs that do not know the city. This study should also be sent to the Governor who may have signed SB 182 into law last week. That state bill was passed prior to all these reports as far as we know. If this bill is written into law, the next step is to go to the state level agency and deal with is there. More on that to come.

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:

Fact Sheet

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

Mayor Lee to give $1.45M in aid for merchants struggling due to subway delays

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Struggling Chinatown merchants, as well as merchants from Union Square and other areas affected by Central Subway construction, may soon see relief to the tune of $1.45 million from San Francisco… (more)

Regardless of the dumb proposal of paying to clean the streets and spruce up buildings that difficult to access, this is an admission that the City’s street maintenance and construction projects are causing harm to merchants and that harm has financial consequences.

Honolulu will be the first major U.S. city to fine distracted walkers


Pedestrians looking at their phones at crosswalks will have to pay up to $99 for the offense

Earlier this year, a pilot project in the Netherlands set out to tackle “distracted walking” with eye-catching crosswalk lights. But a new ordinance in Honolulu is addressing the same problem from an entirely different angle: fines.

Starting in late October, pedestrians walking across Honolulu’s roads will be subject to fines for just looking at their phones. First-time offenders will face a maximum fine of $35, with the amount increasing up to $99 after a third offense. This will be the first punishment of its kind in the country.

The ordinance also appears to be part of a growing trend of pedestrian-shaming campaigns in U.S. cities, which blame walkers for the rise in pedestrian deaths by citing activities like jaywalking, wearing dark clothing, and smartphone use. The dangers of smartphone use by pedestrians is understudied, but presumably not as fatal as distracted driving.

“Sometimes I wish there were laws we did not have to pass, that perhaps common sense would prevail,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell at a bill-signing ceremony. “But sometimes we lack common sense.”

The initiative was proposed by a group of safety-minded high-schoolers who created the ordinance after conducting research on pedestrian safety… (more)

Seniors, disabled impacted most in dangerous SF crosswalks

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

According to city data, San Francisco has the dubious distinction of being the second most dangerous city in America for people simply trying to cross the street; only New York City has more pedestrian fatalities.

Seniors and those with disabilities demonstrated just how precarious crossing the street can be and why they want the city to lengthen the amount of time on pedestrian signals…

The SFMTA says it’s already improving cross times from four feet per second to three and a half feet per second and improvements to Masonic and Geary are already underway.

“Once the light turns green you have a tendency to just to step on the pedal and go and may not be looking directly in front of you at the intersection of someone who may not have been able to cross,” said SF Supervisor

Sandra Lee Fewer who walked with the group around the intersection to get a feel for the timing of the lights. Lee Fewer said she was stuck by a car as a child so fighting for pedestrian rights is important to her… (more)