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.

SF County Transportation Authority and Parking Authority Commission Meeting and presentation

Tuesday, January 28, 9 AM – ppt presentation on Workshop.

1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor SFCTA Conference Room
Special SFMTA Board and Parking Authority Commission
Presentations and discussions on future priorities and goals.
“State of San Francisco” Discussion Panel discussion with Sean Elsbernd, John Rahaim, Ben Rosenfield & Jeff Tumlin

RELATED:

Highlight’s of Today’s Big SFMTA “2020 Board Workshop” All-Day Meeting – LOOK HOW MUCH WE SUCK, BUT JUST GIVE US MORE MONEY ANYWAY – A Whirling Dervish of Self-Contradictory Transit Spin, 169 Pages

Here’s the PowerPoint they’re going to go through today at the
SFMTA 2020 Board Workshop:

With author’s comments on the presentation...(more)

Mohammed Nuru, head of SF Public Works, arrested by FBI

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

The head of San Francisco Public Works Mohammed Nuru has been arrested by the FBI on suspicion of public corruption, according to multiple sources.

Records show Nuru, 57, was booked into County Jail on Monday for felony safekeeping, meaning that he has a case pending in federal court.

Nuru no longer appears to be in custody at County Jail as of Tuesday morning. It is unclear whether he remains in federal custody.

Nuru was arrested alongside Nick Bovis, the owner of the famed sports bar Lefty O’Doul’s, which closed in Union Square in 2017.

Bovis, 56, also appeared in County Jail records Monday…(more)

RELATED:

NBCbayarea : Sources confirmed to NBC Bay Area that Nuru was arrested Monday under allegations that he took bribes associated with airport concession contracts.

 

San Francisco’s Market Street Is Going ‘Car Free’ Next Week — 7 Things You Need to Know

by Dan Brekke :  kqed – excerpt

Next Wednesday, Jan. 29, private vehicles will no longer be allowed to travel the busiest stretch of San Francisco’s Market Street, from near Van Ness Avenue all the way to the waterfront.

The prohibition on private vehicles marks the first tangible step in an ambitious city plan to remake its principal boulevard into a thoroughfare that will emphasize transit and feature a wide range of physical changes to make the street safe and user-friendly for pedestrians, cyclists and others who don’t happen to be moving through the city in cars…

For more information, we’ve got links:

Car-less wide empty streets are not the prescription for saving retail businesses on Market Street and the additional 1 cent sales tax increase being cooked up for the region should kill whatever is left if the voters approve that. There must be a plan for Market Street once they remove the cars and retail. Any hints on what that is are appreciated. Maybe there is a clue in the Plan 2040 or 2050 whatever year they are working on now.

Voters face hundreds of local tax measures

calmatters – excerpt

California voters have seen a deluge of local government tax and bond measures in recent elections and will face even more this year.

The California Taxpayers Association has counted 231 local sales and parcel tax increases and bond issues (which automatically increase property taxes if approved) on the March 3 primary ballot alone.

Hundreds more are headed for the November ballot as local officials capitalize on the higher voter turnouts of a presidential election year…

Do cities, counties and school districts really need all of the new taxes they want voters to approve, given the strong increases in revenues from existing taxes they’ve enjoyed during nearly a decade-long economic boom?…(more)

RELATED:
‘Tax exhaustion’ may be on the horizon
Court must fix tax vote ambiguity

Why is it so hard for the Bay Area to build megaprojects?

By Benjamin Schneider : curbed – excerpt

Major infrastructure projects are necessary for the Bay Area to address climate change and keep its growing population moving

When the newly opened Salesforce Transit Center closed to repair cracked steel beams in September 2018, local-news junkies and transportation boosters felt a sense of deja vu. The steel beam situation was eerily similar to the saga of the defective “steel rods” on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which needed structural reinforcement just as the new bridge was about to open. Both projects shared another defect: ballooning budgets that bore no resemblance to initial estimates.

These recurring difficulties with the Bay Area’s megaprojects have become the stuff of negative headlines around the country, and are seized upon as ammunition by opponents of visionary infrastructure projects. But a frank reckoning with the state of megaproject delivery in the Bay Area is just as important for supporters of mass transit and green infrastructure as it is for the naysayers. With even more (and more complex) projects on the horizon—including the high-speed rail, which will connect LA with SF via the Central Valley, and a second Transbay Tube—the Bay Area needs to get megaproject delivery back on track.

Curbed SF spoke to experts in this field to better understand where the Bay Area’s megaprojects have gone wrong, and what they can do differently in the future. It all starts with extensive preplanning, according to Karen Trapenberg Frick, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote Remaking the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge about the arduous replacement of the eastern span…

“As soon as we’re angling for the first dollar, when this thing’s real, we need to establish independent external peer review,” she says. With both the Salesforce Transit Center and the Bay Bridge, comprehensive, external oversight only came after major problems were detected. Planning and peer review can also help with budgeting and project management. Experts should be in the room with planners and policymakers, telling them, “These projects are hard, they take a long time, they’re going to cost more than we think,” says Trapenberg Frick….

“Don’t, unless absolutely necessary, try to invent anything new. Look at what is being done in other places where costs are low and performance is high, and just copy it.”

(more)

Considering all the problems we have seen unfold with megaprojects, the public should not trust the government process based on “optimism bias” as the author so aptly puts it.

Much the problem, as in the case of the Millennium tower, comes from lack of communication, between departments, designers, and engineers. Perhaps an earlier peer review would help.

Hiring experts who have successfully completed projects is a no-brainer as, is using existing systems.

An estimated 100,000 homes are sitting empty in the San Francisco metro area

By Amy Graff : sfgate – excerpt

Here’s a number that will make anyone trying to find a place to live in the Bay Area frustrated: An estimated 100,025 households are sitting vacant in the San Francisco metro area.

The number comes from a study released this week by LendingTree, an online service connecting consumers with lenders and banks. The company based in Charlotte, N.C., looked at the vacancy rates in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, revealing some interesting findings…(more)