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.

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


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

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”.…

The Lexus Lanes — and why they won’t work

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt


Bay Bridge photo by zrants

Instead of rewarding carpools and getting people out of private cars, we are rewarding wealth and encouraging more people to drive. How does this make sense?

One of the hallmarks of neoliberalism is the application of market solutions to market-generated problems. It’s an approach that’s bound to fail, because market-generated problems can only be solved by non-market solutions; but to the neoliberal mind, no-market solutions are anathema. Unfortunately, this approach is guiding city and regional planning in the Bay Area.

A case in point is the October 5 hearing on “Job and Office Trends” at the SF Planning Commission. As Tim Redmond reported, the planners focused on the severe imbalance between jobs and housing in the city, and how that imbalance is making it impossible for many people who work in San Francisco—especially those of modest means—to live near their jobs. What the planners missed was the source of that problem: their own unending pursuit of new commercial space, especially new office space. In Redmond’s words:

“The entire presentation by the department staff worships at the altar of growth. When you look at the slides, it’s as if we are competing with the rest of the nation for who can grow faster, and have the most “healthy” economy, which means the fastest growing.”

It also means the economy with the highest prices. Never mind that the tech influx is the major source of the astronomical housing prices and the accompanying displacement of economically vulnerable San Franciscans. During public comment, longtime affordable housing advocate John Elberling noted that he hadn’t heard “the word gentrification” or anything.

“about the human consequences of accommodating growth, which is clearly the current mission of the San Francisco Planning Department, even when the growth, the commercial growth, is clearly more than we can accommodate.”

The same “marketizing” growth mania is driving another misguided planning scheme: the installation of HOT (High Occupancy Toll) or express lanes on Bay Area highways. On October 9, new HOT lanes went into operation on I-680 between Walnut Creek and Dublin. Former HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, twelve miles southbound and eleven northbound, have been converted into express lanes that will operate between 5 am and 8 pm. (In the Bay Area, the term “rush hour” long ago became an anachronism.)…

Until I attended the briefing, I thought that express lanes were intended to decrease congestion. Not so. Their purpose, said Caltrans Deputy District Director Sean Nozzari, is to “help us manage traffic congestion better” by opening “available capacity to solo drivers.”…(more)

Management by Confusion: Once again we are being charged top dollar for confusion on our streets and highways. These programs are NOT user friendly and they contradict their stated purpose and goals.

The “experimental” traffic and parking management programs are so confusing the SFMTA Board and Board of Supervisors has trouble understanding them. If the “experts with detailed printed charts, maps, graphs, surveys, reports and personal Q and A after presentations can’t understand the program, how will the public figure it out?

It is hard enough keeping track of your online bank accounts and nesting email messages. Now drivers are expected to deal with driving along curving streets while watching out for children, pets, and stupid humans texting as they cross the street and cyclists who ride everywhere but in the “protected” bike lanes they demanded be installed for their safety on city streets.

On highways we are supposed to purchase yet another payment tool if we are to avoid paying huge fees for doing something we didn’t know to avoid in the first place. How is this legal, ethical, or good for society?


This is a prime example of privatization of our city streets

What are we going to do about it?

photo of rental parking and vehicle parked in daylight zone by zrants

SFMTA is NOT eliminating cars from our streets. They are replacing our cars with corporate-owned cars by creating unfair parking policies and signing private agreements that give parking preferences to corporate vehicles through a repressive parking program. They are selling public parking right-of-ways to their choice of private enterprises. SFMTA is picking winners and losers without regard for public opinion or engagement. Agreements and contracts are signed years before the pubic is notified.

What is the difference between privately owned Ford Gobikes, and Scoot parking spots for scooters or cars? They all remove public right of ways on public streets. Some corporations don’t even pay for the rights to do so because they created a deal to “share” the profits with the government entities that are removing your parking. (The first agreement was signed by MTC, a regional entity to conduct a pilot project to test the program. A more recent agreement was signed by SFMTA with Motivate that detailed how they would “share” profits. This agreement also gave Motivate much of the “free” curb parking space that belonged to the public. Motivate doesn’t even pay for the permit to install the bike stands. You do.) Who asked your permission to remove your parking rights?

Sharing or taking: The SFMTA is removing space from the public and giving exclusive right to use of that space to on-demand systems, they call “sharing” systems. As some supervisors have famously pointed out, sharing does not involve cash transactions. Free parking on city streets is true sharing and that is what the SFMTA is eliminating.

We have two choices to stop the privatization of our city streets:  One of them is to sue the city. The other is to remove the powers an authorities that the agency has uses to remove our rights. through the ballot intiative system. To do that you need to convince four Supervisors to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot to repeal or amend Prop E to alter the powers of that system. Or you need to collect a lot of signatures to put it on the ballot. Either one takes a lot of time and money and effort.

Talk to the candidates. Start by demanding support for change from the candidates running for mayor and supervisor positions. All the even numbered districts are up for election and candidates are looking for support now, along with those running for mayor. Find your local neighborhood groups and work through them to demand change.

Citizens have the right to design their own reality

Op-Ed by Zrants
Red Lanes have hurt businesses on Mission Street, where residents and merchants have been most vocal in their objections. Some demands were met, but there is a lot of anger in the Mission over SFMTA policies – photo by zrants
The article that ran in the SF Examiner, “SF Parking Meters may soon feature Uber-like surge pricing” is non-news to people in Mission Bay and neighborhoods where these meters have been used.
This program, along with the “complete street improvements” has been used to manipulate people for some time and the results have put a chill on our local economy. Many businesses are not recovering after construction projects are completed. There are empty storefronts all over town. Regardless of how you feel about gentrification of neighborhoods, streets and cities, the loss of traditional businesses is a serious matter. We need to maintain a balanced economy.
Documentation is what city authorities like to see, so a number of neighborhoods are gathering data to prove falling revenues and empty storefronts follow in the path of complete street projects that create congestion and remove parking.
Once generated, these reports can go to City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Commission, the media, and anyone else who may be concerned about the condition of the local economy.
City policies are not only hurting local businesses. Big box stores and corporate giants like The Gap, Whole Foods, and Sears are feeling the pinch. How many brick and mortar businesses will succumb to disruptive policies before we take action? Local businesses provide necessary services to the public. As each business dies, it becomes harder for residents to conduct their lives.
Another matter of urgency is arising. In the aftermath of major security breaches we need to review the “anti-cash” attitudes and policies being pushed by the government and it’s agencies. Cash is the safest currency and should be encouraged, not discouraged.
The government works for us and we must demand that it serves our needs.
Mari Eliza