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.

To See the Future of Cities, Watch the Curb. Yes, the Curb

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

When Greg Rogers left his gig as a Washington, DC, lobbyist in 2015, he did what any savvy, mid-20s kid with a car and a light wallet might: He signed up to drive for a couple of ridehailing services. “Living the millennial dream means quitting your job, driving for Uber and Lyft, and trying to figure it out,” he says…

Space Wars

Rogers, the driver-turned analyst, was inspired by his struggles to come up with a new curbside management concept, one that Washington and other cities are beginning to take very seriously. He calls it “shared use mobility zones,” and you can think of it as flex-space: At certain times of day, the city reserves the curb for specific functions. During rush hour, maybe, it’s a pick up stop for a microtransit service. In the afternoon, it’s a spot where trucks can pull over and drag in deliveries without double parking. At night, it’s a designated point where a for-hire car can meet passengers pouring out of the bar on the corner. “The best part is that cities can adjust based on what their goals are,” says Rogers.

And even though Rogers hasn’t actually approached any local governments about his personal zoning idea, cities are acting on similar notions: In October, Washington rolled out a year-long pilot program modeled on the concept of flex-space. Monday through Thursday, a stretch of Connecticut Avenue in the busy Dupont Circle neighborhood is a great place to shop or grab lunch. Thursday through Sunday, 10 pm to 7 pm, it’s one of the most zoo-like nightlife spots in the District.

That’s why the city reserves four blocks on those evenings for ridehailing pick-up and drop-off zones. “Folks were spilling out into the travel lane,” says Evian Patterson, the DC Department of Transportation’s director of parking and ground transportation. Now, just a few months on, he says the city has seen safety improvements. The traffic has gotten better, too. San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale have similar pilots in the works…

Or, faster transportation overall. In 2015, Chicago’s government reserved curbside lanes on a major downtown thoroughfare for buses only, painting them a bright red. In the following year, moving and stoping violations on the road fell. Standing and parking violations almost disappeared. Bus riders were getting to where they needed to go, closer to on time—and so was everyone else… (more)

SF transit officials discuss granting dockless bikeshare permits amid legal challenge

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency moved to potentially grant permits for at least four dockless bikeshare companies prior to facing legal challenges for potentially permitting one dockless bikeshare program in The City, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

When Bluegogo, a similar dockless bikeshare company, discussed entry into San Francisco, city officials cried foul in January, fearing the potential for piles of bikes to litter city sidewalks.

Now, four dockless bikeshare companies — Spin, MoBike, LimeBike and Social Bicycle — have all been in discussion with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to begin operation in The City, according to records obtained by the Examiner.

Emailed discussions occurred just prior to — and in some cases, after — Bay Area Motivate, LLC and the SFMTA entered a “dispute resolution process,” mediated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, to settle conflicts over San Francisco’s contract with the Ford GoBike bikeshare program.

The heart of the dispute is whether entering into an exclusivity contract with Motivate for Ford GoBike, which docks its bikes on city sidewalks, preven

ts San Francisco from granting permits to dockless bikeshare companies.

Though Motivate declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements as part of the conflict-resolution process, the company has previously said “no.”… (more)

Where is the voice of the public in this discussion of who has access to our streets? Does the public want rental bikes taking over on our streets? Where does the public right to access and use the streets end and the private corporate right to buy our streets from the SFMTA begin? How is this effecting the small “legacy” bike companies that sell and repair private bikes? Do they have a say in this “space sale” SFMTA is engaging in?

Why don’t we show our appreciation by boycotting Ford? I know it is not Ford Bikes, but they are aligning themselves with Ford so let’s boycott Ford to show our solidarity with private citizens right to control our streets and keep them open to public use. NO PRIVATE SALES OR RENTALS OF OUR STREETS!

 

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.

Dispute Over Parking Spot in San Francisco Ends in Stabbing

NBC Bay Area staff : nbcbayarea – excerpt

Two men were transported to the hospital Saturday night after being stabbed during a dispute over a parking spot in San Francisco, according to police.

Both men were taken to the hospital in critical condition, police said… (more)

We know people are pissed and stressed over parking and traffic conditions. What does it take to convince City Hall that SFMTA is starting a war on the streets that can be resolved by returning the streets to the public? We should at least try to do a test set up by the public to see if their ideas are not better than SFMTA staff ideas on how to manage parking.

 

SFMTA proposes limiting vehicle access on 8th Avenue to make it a more “pleasant place to walk or bike”

: richmondsfblog – excerpt (includes maps and graphics)

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that the block of 8th Ave between Anza and Balboa would be completely closed to traffic. That was incorrect and apologies for any confusion it may have caused (though clearly I had trouble making heads or tails of the confusing diagrams, which are now shown at the end of this article). – Sarah B.

Last month, the SFMTA held a public meeting about its latest brainchild for the Richmond District, known as the “8th Avenue Neighborway Project”. According to the SFMTA project website, “The goal of the 8th Avenue Neighborway Project is to make 8th Avenue a safer and more pleasant place to walk or bike to neighborhood destinations and nearby parks.”

8th Avenue is one of the few vehicle entrances to Golden Gate Park, and the most direct entrance to the major attractions in the park like the Academy of Sciences and de Young Museum. According to the SFMTA, approximately 4,700 vehicles per day travel on 8th avenue, compared to 2,450 on 7th Avenue and 1,525 per day on on 9th Avenue.

The neighborway project proposes to add traffic calming measures to 8th Avenue including 10 speed humps and two “speed cushions” to slow down traffic or divert it to other streets in the nearby area. The calming measures would extend on 8th Avenue from Lake Street to Fulton Street, and on a few adjoining blocks of 7th and 9th Avenues.

The most radical part of the plan includes limiting vehicle access to a block of 8th Avenue. 8th Avenue between Anza and Balboa would be closed off to car traffic from certain directions (see Traffic Diverter Details diagram below; yes it’s confusing)… (More)

How is this different from the Red Lanes on Mission Street? Does SFMTA have so much money and time on their hands that they have nothing better to do than harass residents and merchants by forcing them to alter their lives to fulfill the goals of SFMTA staff? Time to cut off their funds. NO more taxes or bonds for SFMTA until they stop cutting Muni service and street access and parking. We support a ballot initiative to stop the privatization of our streets.

Large numbers of residents turned up to complain about this project at the November 7 SFMTA Board meeting, linked here: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=55&clip_id=29138