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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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…

The Lexus Lanes — and why they won’t work

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Night-Bridge

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
 MissionReds
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
 
 

Pandora box has been flung open.

You are no longer dealing with just Ford GoBikes.

Thousands more are coming unless the pubic does something to stop them. Its plastered all over FACEBOOK that LIME bikes expanding into San Francisco and they are already signing up new members.  https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/15/limebike-raises-12-million-to-roll-out-bike-sharing-without-kiosks-in-the-us/  and another company called SPIN started dumping hundreds more on streets across the financial district. The only thing that will stop this is legislation.

We heard that a company called Arup was awarded a $550 Million contract to construct a bicycle lane across the Bay Bridge. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/13/bay-bridge-bike-lane_n_1146310.html

It is said that the lead designer for the $550M Bay Bridge bike lane is married to Ms. Brinkman, the chair of the SFMTA Board. See the following: https://bridge2017.sched.com/richard.coffin?iframe=no&w=100%&sidebar=yes&bg=no.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why all of these bikes are getting shoved down our throats for the sole purpose of removing parking from our streets. Is this what the voters wanted when they handed over management of the streets to what became SFMTA? Is this what City Hall supports? The complete privatization of our city streets and thoroughfares? If this is what our city leaders want do we want them?

If this is what our taxes are paying for do we support higher taxes?

Read about the holding company behind Motivate if you missed it to see who and what is behind the Ford GoBikes for proof that the bikes are being used to clear the way for dense urban development and luxury housing. Each day more proof of this comes out. What will you do about it? Leave or fight to stay. Pretty soon your choice will be made for you.

Fight gentrification: https://www.change.org/p/hillary-ronen-no-corporate-bike-rentals-in-the-calle-24-latino-cultural-district

The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Ambulance stuck in traffic at SF General Hospital

Who’s safety are we concerned about?

Shot at 12:30pm Saturday, June 16th, 2017, from my front steps, west side of Potrero, one house south of 21st, ambulance forced to use SFGH’s 21st Street driveway, same driveway that wheelchair-bound patients enter:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLbkUgL8Sec

Please share this video of the Ambulance stuck in traffic at General Hospital and if you can, shoot some of your own and send them to me.
It has come to our attention that the SFMTA did not “share” details of their plans to slow traffic by building traffic barriers around General Hospital.
SFMTA Board intends to “fix” an error they admitted to making at their Tuesday meeting. We are calling for a Continuance to alert the public and any other pertinent groups to this plan. As you can see from the video, this is not the place to slow traffic or remove traffic lanes.

At night and in the rain the lane changes and curvy streets are difficult to see or navigate. This car missed the median and probably stopped traffic for a while on Mother’s Day. Judging from the shadows this occurred late in the day around sunset when the sun can blind drivers, creating the most dangerous driving conditions shown in more videos below.

Car that hit hit median. photo by a neighbor

What is the long-term plan for getting ambulances into SF General?

Shot at 12:30pm Saturday, June 16th, 2017, from my front steps, west side of Potrero, one house south of 21st, ambulance forced to use SFGH’s 21st Street driveway, same driveway that wheelchair-bound patients enter:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLbkUgL8Sec

if you can write a letter or comment requesting a continuance at the Board Meeting! Sample letter with recipients:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/potrero-avenue-plans/

If you can, please send us any video or pictures along with your explanation of emergency vehicles stuck in traffic.

Uber and Lyft get the last laugh – all the way to the bank

SF City Hall and SFMTA used Uber and Lyft to kill taxis and attempt to remove cars. Now the ride-shares outnumber Muni. They created the Monster. Let’s see how they tame it.

A collection of photos of SF streets by zrants

RIDE-SHARES TECH BUSES OR TAXIS AND PRIVATE VEHICLES: SFMTA welcomed ride-shares as their allies in their attempt to drive SF residents out of their cars. SFMTA removed and privatized on-street parking. Planning removed off-street parking from future developments giving developers a huge windfall in profits. Developers did their part by offering Uber and Lyft credits instead of on-site parking, jacking up the demand for car-shares. The demand for car-shares, created by the parties in their haste to eliminate private cars, is driving the number of car-shares and increasing regional traffic as the car-share drivers are coming in to drive us around the city. Don’t even get us started on the tech bus problems that are effecting everyone around the Bay Area not just SF.

PARKING OR TRAFFIC: The parking problem for some is eliminated, but, there are more cars driving around NOT PARKING than there were before the parking was eliminated. Given the choice between parking and traffic, which is worse? You are going to have one or the other. Decide City Hall and clean up your act.

RETAIL OR DELIVERY: Instead of private people running their own errands shopping in their own cars, and bringing their purchase home, we now have delivery services running those errands for us and double parking of delivery trucks all over town. You do want that pizza hot, don’t you? You can’t expect your new computer, TV, or stove to be delivered by bike. Those come by truck now. Instead of mail once a day, we have multiple deliveries a day from multiple sources, adding both traffic and double parking to our streets. We have replaced retail jobs with delivery jobs. Is that the kind of neighborhood and city we want to live in? Where we interact by digital media instead of human contact? How many jobs may be eliminated by robots?

LOCAL SERVICES OR REGIONAL: We find that we have more traffic than ever pouring into the city. Many of our service companies, such as repair and construction crews used to work out of local warehouses and parking lots have been forced out and must now drive into the city to serve us. This jacks up the price of those services, many emergency in nature, electricians and plumbers, PDR and other businesses reliant on vehicles. Now your plumber must commute in to stop that leak. This leads to more damage and more costly repairs. Don’t even think about getting that roof repaired or your sidewalk attended to with any haste. Fast, cheap or reasonable remodels are a distant past memory.

PLAYING THE GREEN CARD: For those of you who have not followed the history of this anti-car movement, we may direct you to the beginning, which started with a treatise and the uniting of a number of non-profits that run the city. Details are too many to address here now. There was an idea that by stuffing people into large dense cities you could somehow reduce greenhouse gases and save the planet. One the way to that perfect future plan, an amazing happened. The car manufacturers cleaned up their cars and the engines got more efficient, so we are using less fuel and polluting less in our cars. The cost of gas is also going down, as the demand diminished. Many alternate fuels are coming on the market. Thus the green card is no longer sufficient to fight cars.

PLAYING THE SAFETY CARD: This brings up the need for a new reason to remove cars. Cars are dangerous. To prove that, most of the state and federal requirements for safety such as lane width, road signs traffic laws, have been altered to the point where few people even know what they are any more. This is called chaos. This is how the SFMTA really makes its mark on our city. No one creates chaos and hatred among the people on the streets like the SFMTA. They are geniuses at playing the safety card against us. Everything they do is geared to confuse and annoy us. Starting by turning our perfectly normal streets into battlefields of zones based on some strange markings that no one understands. They blame each accident on the lack of safety on that corner and target it for change.

PLAYING THE CHAOS CARD: Now that we have animosity on the streets and mass confusion because of rules and regulations no one understands and confusion over the street markings, SFMTA decided it is time to really stir things up by “calming” our straight, easy to navigate and see lanes into movable targets. The days of warning when lanes are merging are over. If you don’t pay attention to the lanes curing in and out of bulbouts, parking, bike and red lanes, you are in trouble. All your attention must go to following the lanes and it is hard to pay attention to the lane changes and the pedestrians, bikers and others who think they have “the right of way” all the time. People who don’t live here can’t wait to leave. They are completely confused.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS: It is one thing to design streets for everyday experience and assume that the power to the Third Street rail lights that “manage” the merging traffic on and off of rail lanes will always works, but, it is another to deal with the reality of unexpected emergencies and power outages. We understand that decisions have been made to ignore the warnings of our emergency respondors in favor SFMTA “specialists” and “experts” on how the emergency vehicles will deal with the realities of emergencies as they arise and become stuck in traffic, or, worse yet, cannot reach fires in high rise properties due to the fact that they have been downsized. According to then Supervisor Wiener, the Fire Department should purchase smaller vehicles capable of handling the narrow streets. Someone must be held accountable when there are repercussions to these short-sided decisions.

THE AFTERMATH: In the haste to remove cars from SF streets, SF invited in the newest tech and anti-car planning teams they could find. They failed on all counts. By any metric or measurement you care to name, the entire program is a failure. We have a much worse regional traffic problem than before. We have a lot more vehicles on our streets.

We have many infuriated drivers and Muni riders, removed off-street parking and building owners are offering Uber and Lyft credits to lure in tenants of those parkless housing developments. Why should anyone be surprised that Ubers and Lyfts are replacing the traffic the city used them to eliminate.

WHO DETERMINES THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY: The public needs to speak up and let City Hall know how they feel about these issues. The plan is flawed and it is up to us to demand an examination of the flawed plan. Hearings are being called. We will be alerting you to those hearings. Please write letters and come to speak out at the hearings if you can. What is your solution to solving this problem?

An environmental and transit-first agenda requires many hats

by Aaron Peskin : marintimes – excerpt

Photo of Mission Street Red Lanes by Zrants

There’s a lot on my plate, not just as a supervisor, but with many of the other hats I get to wear through public service.

Last month, I was honored when Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed me to the the California Coastal Commission to represent the North Central Coast, which includes the counties of San Francisco, Sonoma, and Marin. This month I am slated to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be San Francisco’s representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), where I’ve been serving as an alternate to Supervisor Jane Kim. Earlier this year I was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Last, but certainly not least, I was unanimously elected chair of the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFCTA) by my colleagues earlier this year.

I’m proud to serve in many capacities at a time when we must respond quickly and act decisively to combat the draconian cuts of a madman — especially if we’re going to address the real impacts of climate change. It’s hard to know where to begin with the federal administration’s latest assault on the people of the United States of America and California. But as a lifelong environmental advocate and longtime public transit nerd, you can be sure that I will be prioritizing the fight to protect both of these public assets… (more)

The first step to solving the transportation problem is to admit the mistakes that have been made and what is not working so you can fix those problems. The second step is to figure out why public transit is so expensive. SFMTA admits their system is unsustainable. They can’t afford more riders, which explains why they keep cutting service, while pretending like they are improving it. Adding riders increases their costs.

Any business that operates at a loss is doomed to failure. City Hall must take its head out of the sand and solve this problem. If it can’t, just let the private sector take over and get out of the way. Stop spending millions on PR and back slapping projects. Quit moving bus stops and re-designing the streets. Do nothing for a awhile but run the Muni.