Trouble-plagued Transbay Center votes to extend, augment contract for longtime program manager

By : misisonlocal – exxcerpt

The $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center has long been envisioned as the Grand Central Station of the west — but is presently referred to derisively as San Francisco’s billion-dollar bus stop after structural problems shut it down shortly after its 2018 opening. This morning, its board voted to extend and increase the contract for its longtime program manager, URS Corporation.

By a 6-1 vote of the Transbay Joint Power Authority Board of Directors, with only Matt Haney dissenting, the board picked up an option to extend URS’ present agreement through June of 2024, and to increase its budget by $14.6 million to a max of $50.6 million.

“They’ve been working on this project for a while, and some things have not gone well,” Haney noted prior to the vote… (more)

That is an understatement. The SF Board of Supervisors is sticking to a plan to do something about the failed transit system that is misspending tax-payer dollars and the Trans Bay Terminal is a poster child for that. No surprise that the district supervisor would not support a business as usual model in his district.

Supes reject SFMTA board appointment after fare hikes approved against their wishes

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A disability activist’s reappointment to serve a third and final four-year term on the body overseeing Muni was rejected Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The board voted 6-5 to reject Mayor London Breed’s reappointment of Cristina Rubke, a trademark attorney, to continue serving on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

The rejection comes after Rubke defied the board’s wishes last month in voting unanimously with her colleagues to approve on April 21 a two-year transit budget with fare hikes. The board had called for no fare hikes(more)

Good work. When they are left with few options the Supervisors need to use the power they have to reign in independent agencies like the SFMTA as they did in this case. The MTA Board of Directors should listen to the public and the Board of Supervisors. During the sheltering episode the public is paying a lot more attention to city politics and finding many programs lacking. There is no guarantee the Board of Supervisors will approve the first pass at the SFMTA budget this year if the public is vocal on that as well.

Cars, trains and uncertainty: How coronavirus will change Bay Area transit

By Rachel Swan : masstransitmag – excerpt

In a region where the whole economy depended on pumping everyone downtown, crowding was a sign of success. Then the coronavirus swept in, forcing workers to stay home and upending the norms of highways and transit in ways that no one had ever expected.

Apr. 27–For years, Bay Area commuters shared a daily ritual. They packed cheek-by-elbow into a stuffy BART train, or pushed their way onto Muni Metro, or crammed together in buses that seemed to lurch with all the weight.

In a region where the whole economy depended on pumping everyone downtown, crowding was a sign of success. Then the coronavirus swept in, forcing workers to stay home and upending the norms of highways and transit in ways that no one had ever expected.

Muni officials shut down the light rail at the end of March, wrapping the entrances in caution tape. BART, facing losses of $37 million a month, cut service in half. Freeways and bridges emptied out. Commuting may look strikingly different when these systems hobble back, retooled for an era of remote work and social distancing.

Riders who loved the bustle and conviviality of transit are now grappling with a rush hour that resembles the 1970s, when people tended to isolate themselves in cars…(more)

Not sure that people ever enjoyed the hustle and bustle part, especially since their eyes were glued to their phones and little communication was going on between riders last time I was on a BART. The author is forgetting the negatives that were moving people off the public transit system prior to the shutdown, i.e. almost daily breakdowns, route shifts, Muni stop and seat removals, constant disruptions, rowdy passengers, and worse.

Rachel is right about the future of transit. It cannot continue as it has been. Trust in Muni will not bounce back for people with a choice. Drivers who can stagger their drive times will and riders will travel less. That trip to Noe Valley for the special cheese may turn into a walk to the closet option near home or a drive to a shop with easier parking.

The question now is how will our government respond? Will it be business as usual, or will our representatives agree that Mom should drive the kids to school rather than put them on a bus.

Will the city authorities who supported transit agency investments in non-Muni enterprises like affordable housing projects, continue to support those efforts while demand for both transit and housing is put on hold during a probable economic downturn? How will the bond markets reacts to the “new normal” when it comes to financing large public projects?

 Raising taxes fines and fees is not going to work in the “new normal”. What will work best for the public when we come out of this?

Sweeping Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleges Racial Bias In Implementation Of California Climate Policies

By Michael Shellenberger : forbes – excerpt

Top civil rights leaders are suing California for climate policies they say disproportionately harm its poorest residents, particularly Latinos and African Americans.

“California politicians are using anti-racist and environmentalist words to hide the regressive impact of their climate policies on the poor and people of color,” said John Gamboa, the co-founder of The Two Hundred, a coalition of prominent civil rights leaders, which filed a lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in Superior Court…

“California’s climate leaders have decided to intentionally increase traffic congestion — to lengthen commute times and encourage gridlock — to try to get more people to ride buses or take other forms of public transit,” the legal complaint alleges…

Lefcoe, who is not involved in the case, said the lawsuit’s challenge to transportation policies is particularly powerful. “Automobiles are the survival mechanism for low-income people,” noted Lefcoe. “If you try to increase the cost of automobiles, you hurt low-income people...(more)

This is one of the most interesting lawsuits to come out that ties low and middle income earners to private vehicles. Given the new distancing guidelines and the importance of drive-through services this is an important case. Allegations of misuse of the cap and trade funds is an interesting component.

Coronavirus concern: Total shutdown of Muni service might be best way to curb COVID-19 spread, Union President says

abc7news – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The Union President representing Muni bus drivers in San Francisco says a total shutdown of the system might be the safest way to go.

Roger Marenco is the president of San Francisco’s Transit Workers Union of America. He represents 2,300 drivers and is concerned about the safety of passengers and those drivers.

“I always tell everybody that the Muni buses, we are the bloodline that gives life to this city, but at this moment we have turned into the syringe that could potentially be infecting the city and county of San Francisco by transporting this virus,” Marenco said. “We need to stop the spread of this virus and maybe shutting the system down for a couple of weeks would be the way to go.”… (more)

Open Letter to London Breed and the Board of Supervisors

March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor, SFMTA Board of Directors and Board of Supervisors:

You may anticipate seeing a lot of emails and messages coming from the residents of San Francisco who are “sheltering in place” regarding the parking regulations that have been announced by the SFMTA Director this week. I was hesitant to add my voice to the issue at first, since I understand the intense pressure people are under to mitigate the many problems relating to the new order.

After seeing an article that indicates SFMTA is still towing homeless vehicles and that the city is losing 4.7 million dollars a year on the towing program, I decided to act. We heard the towing program has stopped so I hope that article is inaccurate.

Ticketing is still a problem according to residents who are protesting it, so I decided to add my voice to theirs and request a Sunday parking program be enacted during the crisis.

There is a lot less traffic without the commuters streaming in to work and the streets are empty.  The need for parking turnover was given for parking meters and time limits and since that problem is temporarily suspended all parking restrictions should be suspended as well.

The city needs to support those who are still working and volunteers in every way possible. The last thing they should worry about is parking tickets. Volunteers and health care workers are distributing food, taking care of people aging in place and sheltering in place. Residents need to take care of their families. There is no excuses for ticketing and towing during a national “shelter in place” emergency.

Federal, state and local governments are rushing to establish programs to keep small businesses alive. Making parking easy is one of the cheapest ways to support the businesses that are open. Eliminating the fear of tickets will eliminate some stress for the workers who are losing income.

Please rethink the parking policy and establish a Sunday parking policy for the City of San Francisco as long the “Shelter in Place” program is in place.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

Monster mashed: Developer pulls plug on contentious 1979 Mission project, puts land up for sale

By and : missionlocal – excerpt

Community groups make play for coveted 16th and Mission site

Maximus Real Estate Partners, the developer that for nearly seven years has endeavored to build a 331-unit project 16th and Mission derided by opponents as “the Monster in the Mission,” has put the property up for sale. And now a group of community organizations say they’re bidding to purchase it.

“The Plaza 16 stands victorious in its fight against the Monster in the Mission,” said Chirag Bhakta of the Plaza 16 Coalition, a consortium of activists and community organizations who have long opposed Maximus’ project.

On Monday, he was joined with other members of the coalition at Mission Housing Development Corp.’s office to make the announcement.“The victory sends a clear message that projects of this magnitude that don’t meet community needs are not acceptable and will meet opposition,” added Roberto Alfaro of the coalition… (more)

This looks like the place to put another navigation center or service center for people who were previously taken care of across the street. Why wait to use the empty space that already has utility services and could be used on at least a temporary basis by the community that is serving the displaced people in the Mission. There are a few milling about there all the time. Maye open up a pubic shower and laundry facility. Lots of ways to use the space on a temporary basis that would the neighbors and the the neighborhood.

Banning cars on SF’s Market Street changes little. But Valencia Street is a different story

By Carl Nolte : sfchronicle – excerpt

The routine with a stethoscope at the doctor’s office is simple, but important. “Take a deep breath,” the doctor says. “Now hold it.”

That’s good practice for humans and good for cities. San Francisco just took a very deep breath — it banned private cars on the downtown portion of Market Street for the first time since Market became the city’s main drag 147 years ago…

You have to hand it to the bike advocates. Though only 4% to 5% of all trips to work in San Francisco are made by bicycle, groups like the Bicycle Coalition have been extremely effective in making their case. They are organized and get results, as you can see for yourself, on Market Street and soon a major street near you.

So what’s the solution? Should we close off streets like Valencia, or the Embarcadero, eliminate parking and declare war on private cars?

I think we should wait and see how Market Street works out, and then slowly and carefully work out a plan so that private cars, bikes and scooters can share the streets, which, after all, belong to all the people… (more)

With cars banned on SF’s Market Street, top official eyes next target: Valencia

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

As the dream of banning cars becomes a reality Wednesday on San Francisco’s Market Street — an idea dating to when horse-drawn buggies jockeyed for space among puttering Ford Model Ts — one top transportation official is already pitching ideas for the next car-free thoroughfare.

During a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting Tuesday, Chair Malcolm Heinicke called for automobiles to be purged from Valencia Street, a bustling strip in the Mission District.

“I’m not very patient here. I want the next one,” Heinicke told The Chronicle outside the meeting where he and the other six directors discussed themes for the coming year.

He predicts that Market Street sans cars will reap huge benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. Analyses by SFMTA suggest that Muni’s buses and streetcars will run 15% to 25% faster. Planners also expect to substantially reduce collisions, providing a safe path for the 500,000 people who walk along Market Street daily.…

His pitch had activists cheering on social media. But the vice president of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association was stunned.

“I personally think it would be devastating to our business,” said Jonah Buffa, co-owner of Fellow Barber at 18th and Valencia streets. Many of his customers arrive by car, whether driving their own vehicles or riding an Uber or Lyft… (more)

Let’s find out if Market Street merchants really pick up business as Heinicke expects before we role out the plan to further streets.