SFMTA launches new ‘community response team,’ hires board member to lead it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transit arm is hiring a director from its politically appointed board to lead a new community outreach team.

Joel Ramos, a seven-year member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, was hired near the end of May to lead the agency’s new Community Response Team, which is aimed at reaching out to neighbors about new stop signs and other small-scale street changes…

The SFMTA estimates there were around 575 such decisions in 2017, all subject to potential appeal with the Board of Supervisors.

Ramos’ departure from the SFMTA Board of Directors leaves a vacancy on the seven-member body, all of whom are appointed by the mayor. The body approves projects both great and small, from the $1.6 billion Central Subway project to the recent red painted transit-only lanes throughout The City. He recalled the approval for the Central Subway as a particularly heated moment in his board career…

Farrell, who will be replaced by a newly elected mayor by mid-July, said he will decline to appoint a new member to the SFMTA Board of Directors in his remaining few weeks in office.

“As mayor, I am focusing on appointments to boards and commissions that lack quorum, require key appointments or have ongoing searches for a director,” Farrell said in a statement.

That leaves the task of appointing a new SFMTA board member to the next mayor — whoever that may be… (more)

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Why we oppose Regional Measure Three (RM3)

rm3-300

It would take too long to explain all the reasons why we oppose this inflationary bridge toll so we will quote some of the opposition sites. Current tolls are confusing already, and explain the differing figures on the end results of RM3. It depends on when you drive and how big are. See them here. Trucks are already paying $15-$35 to cross the Bay Bridge depending on axle size. This sort of explains our high costs of living in San Francisco.

Let’s start by saying the geniuses in Silicon Valley who are bankrolling RM3, do not have the public interest in mind as they expand their empires, and passage of RM3 would greatly benefit them. Even though Silicon Valley has no bridges, the bridge toll funds would be used to establish toll roads and HOT lanes where there are no bridges, so everyone would pay. This has not been lost on some of the elected officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara County who have campaigned against RM3.

Nine-County-Coalition on RM3 Campaign:

The Regional Measure 3 campaign — whose backers include Facebook, Salesforce, Google and a number of other businesses — had its informal kickoff the other day, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced her support during a “fireside chat” hosted by the tech-boosting Silicon Valley Leadership Group… So far, the campaign has amassed a $2 million war chest, including $350,000 from Facebook, $250,000 from Kaiser Permanente Health Care, $125,000 from Dignity Health Care and $125,000 from Salesforce. – passage of RM3 would greatly benefit Silicon Valley…

We cannot help but wonder why such big “power players” are willing to spend so much time and treasure on ensuring the passage of RM3 — as they did with Measure AA — if indeed “there has been no organized opposition.”

Maybe it is because they know other legislators besides Mark deSaulnier and Catharine Baker are questioning the efficacy and transparency of RM3.  This from another Matier & Ross article,

Even with the sweeteners, there was opposition from Contra Costa County, with state Assembly members Jim Frazier, D-Brentwood, Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, all voting “no.”  Frazier, who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee, said that while there was a need for transportation improvements, “adding another tax on commuters is not the answer.” He likened an $8 toll to “highway robbery.”

Or maybe it is because they know there is opposition from small players like smaller businesses that need to truck goods across California’s state-owned bridges, or lower-income folks whose realities of life prevent them from taking public transit to and from their workplaces, or people who see through a poorly managed RM3 plan.  These smaller unorganized players are the quiet threat to the big and powerful… (more)

There was no money spent to defeat the last transit sales tax in San Francisco either and that one lost. San Francisco residents are so fed up with the SFMTA they convinced the Board of Supervisors to do something to take back control over the agency that ignore the public, miss-manages projects and excels only in backslapping, self-aggrandizement, and pissing off the public. The message to starve the beast worked to stop the sales tax and there was no publicity. This time there are a lot more vocal opposition covered by the media. We shall see who is listening soon.

RELATED:
Regional Measure 3: Empty Promises
Occupymtc.org
Savesfmuni

New RM3 Flyer for printing and distribution or posting on your website.  Contributed by a Nine-County Coalition participant.  Download.

Lyft Nears Acquisition of Motivate, U.S. Bike-Share Leader

By Amir Efrati and Cory Weinberg : theinformation – excerpt

Lyft has agreed to buy Motivate, which runs some of the biggest U.S. bike-share programs, according to two people briefed about the deal. The acquisition, which is likely to be worth $250 million or more, will quickly insert Lyft into the small but fast-growing U.S. bike-sharing market.

The two companies have agreed on the terms of the deal, although it hasn’t been finalized, one of these people said. If a deal is consummated, it would put Lyft ahead of ride-sharing rival Uber, which acquired another bike-share service called Jump in April for around $200 million…(more)

That is what we really need on our streets. A takeover by Lyft and Uber. No doubt Conway has his fingers in this pie and will grease the wheels of the PUC and anyone else who needs convincing that Lyft and Uber are going to make them rich, or whatever motivates the sell-out to tech.

We called it the corporatization of our streets, and that is what it looks like. Lyft and Uber are the new Airbnb menace. There is no point in new entrepreneurs coming to set up shop in SF and because if there is am app that has not been crated to extract money out of our streets, these geniuses will invent it.

I suspect we will see a lot more street actions and disrupted traffic as soon as people figure it out. The only play voters have, is to oppose Regional Measure 3 and all the tax and bond proposals to pay for their roads. Don’t give them any more money. The 11 billion dollar budget is enuf. (Hope that is a typo and the real figure is still 10 billion.)

When you vote for Mayor and Governor think about who is most likely to support the public instead of corporations.

Faster track for transit-friendly housing

editorial board : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s oft-delayed trains look downright speedy next to the painful pace of housing development around its stations. Take the affordable-housing complex Casa Arabella, the second phase of which broke ground on a parking lot near Oakland’s Fruitvale Station last week. The occasion, as The Chronicle detailed, arrived nearly a quarter-century after plans for the area transit village took shape.

Housing around BART stations and other mass-transit hubs, as it turns out, isn’t so different from housing throughout California: disdained by surprisingly plentiful, powerful and vocal constituencies and therefore in all too short supply. And yet neighborhoods served by train stations are among the most logical places for high-density housing development that won’t compound traffic and pollution.

Promising new legislation by Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Timothy Grayson, D-Concord, seeks to address the relative scarcity of BART-accessible housing by requiring the system to adopt zoning standards that promote residential development and forcing cities to go along with them. The bill, AB2923, also would mandate that developers devote at least 20 percent of projects to affordable housing and, in a potentially counterproductive concession to organized labor, pay union-level wages… (more)

Chiu is aligning his political future with Wiener’s. They appear to be taking their marching orders from the YIMBYs and their developer backers instead of listening to their constituents.

Chiu’s AB2923 would force development on BART parking lots. Wiener’s SB 827 and its cousins, if passed, will impose state zoning on all of California’s local governments. Both are extremely unpopular with citizens around the state and neither of these bills have been vetted by their constituents, or the local governments they are being imposed upon. Cities and counties around the state are opposing SB 827.

After the last decade of government by developers, we have no less traffic, cheaper housing, or happier citizens. We have more workers with longer commute times, thousands of displaced people living on dangerous crime-ridden streets, and the highest cost of living in the world. Our local businesses are closing and the disruptive on-demand delivery industry is at a crisis point, as delivery services do not perform as promised. The effects of the entire SMART plan need to be evaluated before we continue down this path.

If you oppose dense stack and pack development, attacks on private vehicle ownership, and/or the state takeover of local jurisdictions, you may want to vote for some new representation in Sacramento when you get the chance. Stay tuned for details on how you can fight back.

RELATED:
Lawmakers introduce transit development bill for BART stations

SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.

San Francisco teachers allowed to request residential parking permits

By : sfcurbed – excerpt

“An $84 ticket for not having a residential parking permit is an economic hardship for a teacher making less than $70,000 a year”

It’s a small but important step in helping the city’s teaching force. Today the MTA Board will make changes to transportation code, which will give teachers in smaller San Francisco schools the chance to apply for residential parking permits.

As the law currently stands, schools with 15 or more teachers can access residential parking permits, but those with fewer than the required number (e.g., preschools) are out of luck. With restrictive parking in the city, and a lot of schools located in residential areas a good distance from public transit, this could prove a small yet effective move…

According to a MTA report, there are 141 facilities within residential parking permit areas. “Of these, 30 have been issued a total of 202 permits.”… (more)

As more parking permits are issued it becomes more important than ever to stop removing public access to public street parking spaces. A balance of public parking access and assets needs to be maintained before any further leases or private/public contracts are signed by the SFMTA that transfers public assets to private enterprises.

The Board of Supervisors, acting as the county SFCTA, should request a report on the effects these contracts have had so far on the economy, including, but not limited to, gentrification of neighborhoods, Muni ridership levels, and economic impacts to businesses and the city. Have these partnerships benefited the citizens of San Francisco? Have these contracts resulted in a net gain or loss of revenue for the city? Can they uptick in car break-ins and delivery problems be attributed to the loss of parking?

The Board of Supervisors should immediately put a stop to any further removal of parking spaces until the impact reports are completed.

Uber’s partnership with Jump could put the future of station-less bikes in San Francisco at risk

By n : recode – excerpt

Uber users will be able to book a Jump bike from the Uber app.

Dockless bike-sharing company Jump just became the first U.S.-based company to work with a ride-hail app. Soon, San Franciscans will be able to locate the nearest Jump bike straight from the Uber app making it easier to plan out the first and last mile of trips.

However, the splashy announcement could put pressure on a pilot program that is stretched thin by design. Jump, which received its permit to operate an 18-month pilot in San Francisco in January, can only provide 250 of its station-less bikes in the city.

Opening up those 250 bikes to Uber users in the city, in addition to the customers separately using the Jump app, would exacerbate demand in a city with more than 850,000 residents. The partnership might undercut the viability of this new form of bike-sharing…

Additionally, Jump is the only dockless bike provider that has been granted a permit by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and can only operate e-bikes — a stipulation that came out of a settlement with incumbent stationary bike-share service Ford GoBike. The network, which is run and operated by New York-based company Motivate, is sponsored by Ford…

Through the pilot, the SFMTA intends to evaluate the efficacy and merits of starting a dock-less bike-sharing program. However, competing companies LimeBike and Ofo as well as some city supervisors including Malia Cohen of San Francisco’s 10th district and Ahsha Safai of the 11th district have questioned whether this pilot could in fact hurt the industry…

The SFMTA asked these companies to provide real-time location information for all of the bikes in their fleet.

However, LimeBike contends they did meet that requirement but also expressed their concerns with this process of data-sharing.

The LimeBike application reads:…“Most importantly, we believe this exposes the citizens of San Francisco (and the City & County of San Francisco) to unnecessary risks. With current technology, someone with the right skills can identify a person with as little as four location data points, even with the data otherwise anonymized, so sharing that data openly will pose significant privacy and security concerns.”

For now, the companies have been effectively banned from operating in San Francisco for the duration of this pilot, straining a relationship that will be integral to the proliferation of station-less bike-sharing in the city… (move)

Pressure by local citizens to change the course at SFMTA may effect unpopular pilot projects and exclusive deals the department is cutting with their favorite partners. What are the deal makers, getting out of these partnerhsips? How heavily invested are City Hall authorities invested in the new technologies that are disrupting our city? How healthy are these public/private partnerships as we question our ability to live private lives free from over-brearing government interference?

San Francisco is not for sale. You read the entire article that describe the corporate structures and public/private agreements SFMTA has involved San Francisco in. Some city officials’ are concerned. We assume there will be some ethics complaints filed soon regarding this matter.

Proposal for $9 tolls on Bay Bridge, $8 on other bridges gets big boost

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Sunset cruise on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

A measure to raise Bay Area bridge tolls to $9 on the Bay Bridge and $8 on others over several years took a major step forward Wednesday when a key transportation committee unanimously recommended putting it before voters in June…

But to get before voters, the recommendation will need approval from the full Bay Area Toll Authority, which usually follows the committee’s lead. A vote is expect Jan. 24.

If the authority gives the measure the go-ahead, the Board of Supervisors in each of the nine affected counties will make the final vote to place it on each county’s ballot for June 5 as Regional Measure 3. If it passes, the toll hikes will affect only drivers on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge would be excluded. Commuters who cross two bridges to get to their destination would receive a 50 percent discount on their second crossing if they have a FasTrak pass…

The measure also includes a proposal to create an inspector general whose job would be to examine BART finances and operations…(more)

Good to know that they will use the increase in bridge funds to hire another high-paid consultant. That sounds like a winning strategy for workers who are paying an average of 40% of their shrinking incomes on housing. I’m sure they will jump at the prospect of paying higher bridge tolls.

 

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.

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents… (more)

Most people blame the SFMTA for the mess that makes the Millennium Tower look like small potatoes. We need Peskin to direct the 30 plus SFCTA staffers at the SFCTA to prepare a report on the Walsh contract. Who suggested using a Design-to-Build contract, used in small construction jobs, as a good way to design and manage the massively complex and growing multi-contractor mess that we have on Van Ness Avenue.
Who supported this project management style and who advised against it? Can we quit listening to the people who get it wrong and start paying attention to the people, and the public, who get it right?
Until this mess gets sorted out City Hall should stop all non-essential new projects from breaking ground.

We should stop installing building billion dollar old technology on our streets when new tech may solve much of the problem. See this new system being tried on China now and then decide how to “design for the future”. http://www.sfexaminer.com/v…