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 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.

SF pivots: Costly, time-consuming Muni fix is now being done free

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Shift astounds city supervisor: “They don’t know what the fuck is going on with their buses.”


In August, Mission Local broke the story that Muni’s New Flyer diesel-electric hybrid buses, which come with a nearly $750,000-a-pop price tag justified by their environmental bona fides, did not have a rudimentary pollution control device installed on them. These buses, Muni yard workers were dismayed to discover, were not programmed to automatically shut down after five minutes of idling, the length of time allowed by state law. Instead, they could idle indefinitely, until they ran out of fuel.

On Monday, we reported that media exposure and scrutiny by city government appears to have changed Muni’s tune. Warning stickers noting that idling a bus for more than five minutes is illegal are going up in every diesel or hybrid coach. And, in an October closed-door meeting with Supervisor Aaron Peskin and his staff, Muni transit director John Haley pledged that all of Muni’s problematic buses would be upgraded. He said this would take time, however — perhaps well into next year — and cost an estimated $1,200 a vehicle. That would put the bill for bringing the buses into compliance at several hundred thousand dollars…

This week, we learned that Muni has already begun to update the problematic buses, via WiFi technology, and is doing so for free

Reached for comment, Peskin was displeased that “bullshit numbers” had been fed to his office by Muni management, which he decried as “incompetent.”

“Sounds like they don’t know what the fuck is going on with their buses,” he continued. “It does not instill confidence that they don’t know the capabilities of their shiny new product.”… (more)

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

Mayor Lee strikes deal to allow Uber, Lyft vehicles to use SF curb space

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee and tech giants Uber and Lyft struck a deal this week to provide city curb space for ride-hail vehicles as part of a new pilot designed to ease San Francisco traffic, the San Francisco Examiner has learned…

In exchange for traffic data from Uber and Lyft that The City will use to combat congestion, Lee agreed to a pilot program to convert some parking spaces — in a yet-to-be determined commercial corridor — into painted curbs that could be legally used by ride-hail drivers…

The deal struck by Lee, Uber and Lyft comes after months of negotiations behind the scenes(more)

This is the biggest most blatant public “behind the scenes” property grab yet by City Hall. Our mayor is privatizing public property, taking it from the public commons, and handing it over to private corporations. In this case the corporate commuters City Hall has decided deserve to park are the worst, most dangerous drivers in the city. How is this making us safer?

Wonder how 60 Minutes would like to run this story as a followup to the sinking tilting Millennium Tower failed cheap foundation experiment. The Ford Gobikes and tech bus abuses were already enraging people. The excuse for the decision to take more public curb space for the use of a preferred corporate entity is a need for data? I suspect there are a lot of citizens who will giving you a lot of data you don’t want to hear real soon.

This just in. Aaron Peskin is threatening to put this on the ballot if it goes through, according to KPIX. Stay tuned.

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

By John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

Gridlock by SFMTA. photos by zrants

The ongoing Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement Project has a clumsy name only a bureaucrat could love, and many merchants on Union Street definitely don’t love one of the project’s features: the loss of a left-turn onto Union Street from Van Ness. They say it has hurt business on their street because of a loss of traffic; drivers on Van Ness just find it easier to drive onward and shop elsewhere. One idea being mooted is seeking about $1.5 million in compensation from the city for their loss of business…

Henry Karnilowicz, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, said that billions of dollars are being spent on the many street changes and improvements across the city. “And here they’re talking about giving 1.5 million? That’s nothing,” he said. “That’s a drop in the bucket.”…

Karnilowicz doesn’t know what will happen regarding compensation, but the situation is not going to go away. He points to a presentation by the city’s Controller’s Office, which studied the impact on local businesses of similar construction projects by measuring the change in sales taxes; in one, West Portal, there was a 12 percent drop in sales tax. “That’s like a 12 percent [decline] in income,” Karnilowicz says; for some businesses, “that’s what their profit margin is.”…(more)

This is the Union Street Merchants. How about the ones on Van Ness Avenue an Polk Street that are still struggling to stay afloat? There is talk of tearing up Polk Street again. WHY? Can’t the supervisors stop this constant disaster from killing our city?

Quit blaming the internet for the demise of our retail businesses. We have been dealing with the internet for decades and only now are the businesses suffering. high rents and street closures are putting the final nail and the retail coffin. We are losing big corporate store like the Gap as well as small local businesses so this is not a matter of size.

We suggest everyone scream NO MORE DISRUPTIONS!
STOP NEW DISRUPTIONS ON OUR STREETS UNTIL THE CURRENT ONES ARE DONE AND OUR STREETS AND TRAFFIC ARE MOVING SMOOTHLY AGAIN. Contacts for City Hall

Stop unfair residential parking removal

Fight unfair residential and school teacher parking removal of 39 spaces!!!
Unnecessary for bike safety. Seven feet of space between parked cars and Muni rails.
Teachers unable to park! Chiropractic patients unable to visit.

No more parking removals from residential parking permitted areas.
Direct cyclists to use streets without Muni rails to avoid accidents.
Residents, teachers and businesses have not been properly notified or their needs considered.

You can read more and sign the petition here

See the SFMTA presentation and excuse for their plans here
According to this graphic, they had response from 49 people. Is that out of all their outreach or just about how they traveled on 17th Street. You can get a pretty good picture of how people travel by going to the street and counting the cars turning onto the street from Church. A lot more motor vehicles than walkers or bikers will pass by. Maybe that is because they don’t stop to fill out surveys at the rate pedestrians and bikers do.

17th Street outreach.jpeg

Our suggestion is to move the bike lanes to another street without Muni rails since that is the cause of the accidents. Cyclists should not ride on rails, but, if SFMTA insists on keeping the bike lanes on 17th, they should at least allow left turns off of Church on another street. They are creating the mess as usual by directing traffic onto the street that they put the bike lanes on.

What happened to the move bike route option descried on page 9? 18th Street is a better alternative as the traffic is slower, it passes by Dolores Park and Mission High, and there are fewer businesses on 18th Street.

move bike lane.jpeg

The worst neighborhoods for parking in San Francisco

By Mike Moffitt : SFGATE – excerpt  (includes map)

SF collects millions in parking fines every year

In San Francisco, parking regulation enforcement helps ensure that spaces are turned over, bus zones are not blocked, street sweepers can do their job and residential spaces are reserved for residents.

But they also have another purpose — making millions for the city.

Recently we wrote about a new app that pinpointed the 10 most parking ticket-prone blocks in San Francisco.

Now we’re looking at which neighborhoods hand out the most parking citations — and reap the most money… (more)

RELATED:

S.F.’s Worst Block for Parking Pain

By Michael Cabanatnuam and Steve Rubentstien : sfchronicle – excerpt (linked file)

More than 4,000 tickets issued last year on street riddled with confusing signs, changing rules South of Market. (download pdf)

“Parking, which is horrible everywhere in SF and is especially horrible on the 300 Block Townsend” between Fourth and Fifth Streets. This block, located next to the train station, has many conflicting signs regarding traffic and parking instructions.

Thank you Spot Angle for gathering and sharing the data on parking and traffic tickets in SF, and thank you SF Gate and SF Chronicle for conducting further research and reporting on this most irksome issue that plague our citizens.

The public is confused and outraged over many issues on our streets and tickets are responsible for a lot of that anger . Many tickets are issued unfairly and can be contested successfully if you have the time to go to at least two or three hearings.

Muni riders are not immune from erroneous tickets. Many riders complain about tickets issued because of false readings on scanners. This is one more reason people are getting off the bus.

So, what is City Hall going to do about it? They are conducting hearings on a lot of complaints related to street projects. Add this one to the list  We suggest a citizens’ review of all future signs be added to the public outreach of street projects to assure the signs at least make sense and are understood by some humans who know the neighborhood. Tickets given out where signs and rules conflict, should be disregarded as incentive to the department to fix the problem.

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