Look to Pier 70 to see Why San Francisco Voters do Not Trust City Hall

Op-ed by Zrants

You need to Look no further than the ‘Pier 70 Mixed-Use District Project’ to understand the anger and frustrations of neighborhood groups and ordinary citizens who spent hours and their time to work out deals with city planners to somewhat mitigate the negative effects of increased populations moving onto their tender turf, to be told that the plan has changed.

The project voters approved is being amended for a much less friendly design. Density levels are going up. Six stories are really nine stories. In fact forge the promises the voters counted on. Now that the project got through the election, they are scrapping it.

That is why, when voters get the chance, the only safe way to vote on a development project is to vote against it. Look the difference between 8 Washington and Pier 70. The voters voted against 8 Washington and nothing changed. The voters approved a plan for Pier 70 as it was presented by the developers but the design has changed since the vote.

An editorial by Don Clark that ran in the Potrero View outlines some of our primary concerns. To see the draft EIR and see for yourself, go here and scroll down the page:
http://sf-planning.org/environmental-impact-reports-negative-declarations

…The City and County of San Francisco intends to grant Forest City Enterprises rights to build a wall of nine-story buildings along the Central Waterfront, from 20th to 22nd streets, which would completely obscure scenic Bay vistas for many, if not most, Potrero Hill eastern slope residents.  As one travels down 20th Street from Missouri Street to Third, beautiful Bay views would disappear.  Imagine that the American Industrial Center, the red building with white columns at the corner of 22nd and Third streets, was doubled in height.  The replacement of four- and six-story structures with nine-story edifices would dramatically Manhattanize this historical waterfront… (more)

Building height limits are not the only promises being broken. One of the major concerns to neighbors and all who drive through the area was the increased traffic and congestion that SFMTA claimed they could handle. That no longer looks likely. Not only are the buildings going to be taller and contain more people, but, the DOT announced they are not funding the electrification of Caltrans and other transit projects until they conduct an audit to find out why there are such large cost overruns.

A couple of recent laws that were passed that citizens should know about are: mentioned by Den Clark: California Senate Bill 743 eliminated scenic protections from transit infill projects, which the City quickly applied. The November 26, 2013 Planning Department Summary, Attachment A, shows that the Planning Department has removed consideration of scenic vistas from most of San Francisco’s waterfront (http://sfmea.sfplanning.org/CEQA%20Update-SB%20743%20Summary.pdf)

Send comments to Lisa Gibson Lisa.Gibson@sfgov.org on Pier 70 Mixed-Use Project by Tuesday, 5 PM February 21, 2017. Sample letter from Peter Linenthal (eir-pdf-new)

The Developer, Forest City, is publishing a Design for Development document which will be presented to the Planning Commission in an informational hearing on March 23rd. There will be an opportunity then for public comment. The Final EIR will take months and will go to the Planning Commission as part of the final approvals. There’s a lot we don’t know yet. The Draft EIR has a Maximum Residential Scenario and a Maximum Commercial Scenario and Forest City is doing a phased development which makes it especially difficult to know what to expect.

SFMTA to Intensify Neighborhood Parking Regulations

by potreroview – excerpt

As parking pressures continue to build in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill due to increased housing density, growing commuter traffic, and expanded activity at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has been working with neighborhood stakeholders to implement more stringent parking management regulations. Over the past several months meters have been installed on many blocks in Showplace Square.  SFMTA is expected to continue to hold meetings with the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and the Potrero Boosters, with the goal of creating parking management plans that’re supported by residents and businesses. The measures parallel SFMTA’s ongoing citywide evaluation of its 40-year old Residential Parking Permit program… (more)

“We’ll be initiating more conversations with neighbors about how to manage the curb,” said Andy Thornley, senior analyst, SFMTA. “Meters will be a small piece, along with other tools. It’s more than just RPP, time limits and meters; it’s also about traffic calming and making the curb safer for residents, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.”

Since last summer, four hour time limited parking restrictions have been added to much of Showplace Square, along with meters on Kansas and Divisions streets and the block surrounding Showplace East. Additional meters are slated for 16th Street between Vermont and Seventh streets as well as Henry Adams Street, once 1 Henry Adams, a residential complex, is completed. Due to sidewalk improvements that’re underway, 16th Street will have four hour time limits in the interim, with meters likely installed next year…(more)

For those who aren’t familiar with Andy Thronley, he lost by a wide margin in his 2016 run for District One Supervisor. His department staff is down and he is the President of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition according to their web site. The SFMTA has put someone who rarely drives, has no idea what the real needs of drivers are, and who hates cars in charge of the parking program. Keep this in mind next time you deal with him or the SFMTA.

Around 2012 the SFMTA threatened to install parking meters all over the Eastern Neighborhoods and they were stopped from this plan by vigorous public actions.

For some time we have contended that the first step to demolishing the neighborhood is parking removal. Look at how well the city has taken the Eastern neighborhoods by doing just that. Get ready for them to swarm the West side of the city in no time if this plan is not stopped.

Program Will Allow Homeless To Pay LA Parking Tickets With Community Service Instead Of Fines

cbsla – excerpt

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday approved a measure to allow homeless people to pay parking citations by performing community service rather than paying a fine.

Under the newly approved program, people who meet the federal definition of being homeless under Title 42 of the Public Health and Welfare Code can go into one of the city’s service provider agencies and apply to perform social services or community services instead of paying the citation fine… (more)

Wiener proposes major fundraising legislation for transportation agencies statewide

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

oon, the threshold for passing local transportation bonds in California could be far lower, unlocking funding for countless transit needs across the Golden State.
A new transbay tube. Caltrain electrification. Miles of new subways in cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

State Sen. Scott Wiener’s newly introduced state constitutional amendment would make funding projects like those far easier, by lowering the threshold to pass transportation bonds from a two-thirds voter majority to 55 percent.

That threshold is determined by the California constitution. The state constitutional amendment, which Wiener plans to introduce Monday, is still in its infancy. But if it succeeds, its effects could be far reaching.

“We have massive unfunded transportation needs on public transportation, roads and bridges,” Wiener told the San Francisco Examiner. “We need to empower local communities to fund these needs.”

Those needs include more than $59 billion in deferred transportation maintenance statewide, according to draft background language of the bill. Those needs are in the Bay Area, too…

“San Francisco’s unfunded transportation needs are billions and billions of dollars,” he said, “This money is absolutely needed.”…(more)

There is no SLUSH fund in the taxpayer’s pockets. Voters opposed the last tax hike because they can’t afford it. Government has lost the trust of the people. The SFMTA claimed they would improve traffic and transit and the opposite has happened.  Many don’t want the future being planned and more cannot afford to pay for it. The solution is a moratorium on hiring and major cuts to new projects until the current ones are completed and paid for.

Future Plans unveiled at SFMTA Board Special Meeting

Tuesday, February 7, 9 AM – agenda
Green Room War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave.
Labor negotiations and closed session followed by presentations of current projects.
Controller report: Financial Overview – presentation
SFMTA Board Workshoppresentation

To Win the War on Cars, San Francisco Weaponizes Real Estate

by : wired – excerpt

I’ll start with the bad news, because I think you can take it: You can’t beat San Francisco traffic. As long as people want to live in this idyll by the bay, tech companies set up shop off Market Street, and bars offer expensive drinks made with fruit shrubs, cars and tech buses will choke its roads.

“Anecdotally, the only major cities unfettered by congestion are terribly declining Rust Belt ones,” says Marlon Boarnet, an economist and urban planning researcher with the University of Southern California. (Think Detroit, Buffalo, Youngstown.) “In our most thriving cities, we can’t make the congestion vanish because the cities are thriving.” San Francisco’s booming so hard, the only place in the US where you’ll find worse traffic is Los Angeles.

What San Francisco believes it can do, however, is improve life in the city by making it easier to get around without a car. This week, its Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance requiring developers to stock new residential or commercial projects with more alternative-transport perks than ever before. This is no all-out war on vehicles, but rather an attempt to cut down on the number and length of car trips the natives take each day.

And if it works, San Francisco’s data-driven approach could become a template for other American cities hoping to turn big talk about transportation innovation into big action, and big results…

You’ll have to be patient: This program won’t bear serious fruit for 10 to 20 years, given the pace of development. The first projects built under the new rubric won’t get off the ground for another 18 to 24 months. But San Francisco planners say they’re already getting calls about the ordinance from other cities interested in taking this approach for a spin. And for the family that gets access to an in-apartment storage spot for their car-share friendly car seats (two points!), the lifestyle changes will happen a lot sooner. Too bad they’ll still have to find ways to entertain toddlers while stuck in traffic… (more)

The SFMTA and City Hall have been spinning this wait for results for over 10 years and so far the traffic and congestion both on the streets and on the buses has gotten worse. Taking care of the citizens is an afterthought in the rush to turn San Francisco into a innovative world class city built by and for robots.

The public transit systems are already at capacity. The SFMTA and BART solution is to cram more bodies in to the buses and trains by removing the seats, making it harder for many who rely on public transit to take it.

They really want those old and infirm people to leave and make room for the young and wealthy they think are on the way. This is creating a class war in what used to be the most liberal city in America. San Francisco housing is for sale to the highest bidder.

Today they announced approval of the Traffic Demand Management (TDM), and the sheriff evicted a 100 year old woman from her home. She is being thrown out like trash onto the street. Older people generally don’t survive such a move for long so many see this as a death sentence. Expect a protest at City Hall.

Last time the SFMTA came begging for tax dollars the voters refused to cough it up. Some indication of disgust with that department and an awakening of the populace that no longer blindly trust SFMTA and City Hall.

After tussle with bike-share startup, San Francisco says it’s sick of disruption

They are at it again

Letter from a friend about the latest plan to replace a major traffic lane with a bike lane. This time the victims are Oak and Fell streets.

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

SFMTA is considering implementing bike lanes on Fell and Oak along the Panhandle, from Baker through Stanyan.  Attached is a feasibility study contained in a final memorandum dated August 22, 2016 from MTA.

The proposal includes:

·       Moving the parking lanes on the South side of Fell and the North side of Oak away from the Panhandle, and installing one-way bike lanes.  The parking lanes would “float” away from the curb, like those on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park; people parking wouldn’t have a curb to guide them.

·       Reducing the number of vehicular travel lanes on Fell and Oak from four to three.

·       Bicyclists in the bike lanes wouldn’t be required to stop for red lights at the intersections of Lyon, Central, Ashbury, Clayton, Cole and Shrader – pedestrians crossing Fell and Oak couldn’t rely on the red lights but would have to make sure no cyclist is coming.  Indeed, the ability of cyclists to go fast and not have to stop at traffic signals would be a major attraction of the bike lanes.  (See page 12.)

·       Around 75 of 280 parking spaces on the South side of Fell and North side of Oak along the Panhandle would be removed.  (This would be in addition to the parking spaces being lost on Masonic due to the Masonic project, and those lost in the neighborhood for corporate shuttle buses and car sharing rentals.)

·       Cyclists could continue to use the existing pedestrian/bicycle path in the Panhandle, besides using the new bike lanes.

Another version of the proposal envisions a two-way bike lane along the South side of Fell, and no bike lane along Oak.  This would require removing all parking spaces on the South side of Fell.

These bike lanes are being promoted by North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association (according to its bylaws, its Western boundary is Masonic) and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

I oppose this proposal because I believe it would endanger pedestrians (especially seniors, people with mobility and vision disabilities, small children and those in strollers), increase congestion and pollution, make the shortage of on street parking even worse, and increase conflicts between motorists and cyclists.  I don’t know how far along the proposal is.  I live on Fell and haven’t received any communication from MTA about it.

Instead of this proposal, the existing pedestrian/bicycle path in the Panhandle should be repaved, smoothened, better lit, and, perhaps, widened and otherwise improved.

Tricia Stauber, PRO|SF (Panhandle Residents Organization) Community Coordinator, has put together an online survey.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PndleSurvey
The survey is open until January 12 at 11:30 PM.

To express your opinion to the MTA Board, email:  MTABoard@sfmta.com and Roberta Boomer, Secretary to the Board, Roberta.Boomer@sfmta.com

To express your opinion to Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation, email:  ed.reiskin@sfmta.com

Thank you for considering this email.

Cordially,

 

panhandleprotectedlanes_preliminaryanalysis_final_08222016copy

 

 

 

 

Castro Merchants Talk Demand-Responsive Parking Meter Pricing, Set To Roll Out Citywide In 2017

by Shane Downing : hoodline – excerpt

Demand responsive pricing will come to Castro parking meters early next year.

Over the past few years, seven San Francisco neighborhoods have served as a testing ground for SFpark, an SFMTA-initiated project that adjusts parking meter prices based on the time of the day and the day of the week.

Originally piloted with 25 percent of the city’s parking meters, SFpark’s demand-responsive pricing will roll out to the rest of San Francisco’s parking meters early next year—including in the Castro.

Parking is a product like anything else, and some spots are more valuable than others,” SFMTA parking policy manager Hank Willson told the Castro Merchants at a meeting this month. He argued that if people know where parking is available and how much they can expect to pay before they pull out of their driveways, it will reduce the amount of circling and unsafe driving practices…

According to SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose, the pilot program was a success. It decreased parking search time by 43 percent, and average meter and garage rates actually went down, by 11 cents and 42 cents an hour, respectively.

SFMTA says the program also helps businesses sell more, because potential customers are able to find a place to park. Between 2010 and 2013, sales tax revenues for businesses in non-SFpark areas increased 20 percent, but in SFpark neighborhoods, they went up by more than 35 percent, indicating that consumers were spending more in those neighborhoods…

Which neighborhoods saw the increase is revenue? Were they neighborhoods that did not receive the complete streets treatment? Did they get the full treatment of parking and traffic lane reductions or did they just the meters?

Another Castro merchant was curious as to how people are supposed to look up parking prices on the SFpark app while also driving and (hopefully) searching safely for a spot…

Are these people nuts or do they think we are? If the price changes all the time how will you know how much you are going to pay and what has this got to do with parking availability? These people are nuts.

The idea that you will drive a block further for cheaper parking is crazy because you can’t tell how much the parking is until you park and get out to look at the meter, even then, you don’t know until you start feeding it.

 

 

 

Game-changer bus for San Francisco’s notoriously slow Muni system nears its debut, but not everyone’s on board

By Lauren Hepler : bizjournals – excerpt

After 13 years, the rubber is (almost) ready to hit the road for Bus Rapid Transit. Advocates say it’s like getting a new train service at a fraction of the cost, but detractors worry that everybody else will get taken for a ride.

A new kind of bus, heralded as a game-changer for San Francisco’s notoriously slow Muni system, is closer than ever to making its debut.

On Oct. 24, construction crews are set to begin laying the groundwork for the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit project on a two-mile stretch of Van Ness from Mission to Lombard streets. Essentially public bus service on steroids, the $159 million project promises to cut travel times by a third.

With exclusive lanes for buses, coordinated traffic signals and new elevated stations in central medians of major thoroughfares, BRT is designed to speed things up in a city where buses travel at an average of just 8.5 miles per hour. The aim is to add more frequent buses on BRT routes, and put them on a timetable that reflects reality…

Not far behind Van Ness, which is projected to start serving passengers in 2019 for the same regular $2.25-a-trip fair as existing bus lines, are projects on Geary and Geneva streets…

A 9-mile project from Oakland to San Leandro is also on the cusp of breaking ground. The $178 million project slated to be up and running in late 2017 is projected to serve riders at an operating cost of $8 per passenger, compared to $31 per passenger for light rail, said Robert Del Rosario, director of development and service planning for AC Transit.
BRT’s economics have transit agencies around the region moving full steam ahead to map out more routes, cobbling together funding and predicting major development implications near new bus stations.

“All of the cities are really focused on in-fill development,” Del Rosario said. “They’re hoping it’s smart development that doesn’t bring more cars.”…

However, the budding BRT boom has reinforced a familiar Bay Area adage in a big way: Planning something isn’t the same as building it. BRT has taken 13 years just to get to the brink of construction in San Francisco; many residents, businesses and commuters are less optimistic about the benefits than transit planners, and have sometimes used the political process to throw sand in the gears.

Familiar concerns about parking and ease of travel by car, plus logistical challenges like a widening scope of work, have plagued the Van Ness BRT project and others. So have more obscure obstacles, such as a successful last-ditch effort in September to halt work so that historic beige and gray trolley poles in the area could be preserved…

One predictable reason it’s been slow going is consistent backlash from car owners since San Francisco voters in 2003 approved the Proposition K sales tax hike to fund transit improvements like BRT.

Giving up two lanes of traffic and losing turning privileges on central arteries like Van Ness aren’t appealing — but they’re necessary, McCarthy argues. Areas targeted for BRT are also already high ridership for transit, with the 47 Van Ness and 49 Mission/Van Ness bus routes serving an estimated 16,000 customers per day, making them prime opportunities…

The report also estimates that 19-34 percent of auto traffic will likely be displaced by BRT to parallel streets, other times of day or alternate modes of transportation. Intersections around Gough and Hayes streets, as well as Franklin and O’Farrell streets, were projected to see the most noticeable delays starting at 30 seconds per car…

Look no further than San Jose for a real time example of how projects can be derailed in progress. Last September, the South Bay’s Valley Transportation Agency had to fire its contractor on a $114 million BRT project after a busted gas line, cost overruns and permitting issues.

In the Mission, meanwhile, a step toward BRT with so-called “red carpet” lanes for both buses and taxis have drawn the ire of local businesses and residents cut off from the lanes this spring.

“The changes look better on paper than in practice,” Supervisor David Campos said in an April statement, citing complaints from car owners in his district…

The area around the Van Ness corridor, zoned for a mix of high-density combined residential and commercial usage, is projected by the county to gain 12,208 households by 2035, or a 28 percent increase from pre-2000 levels. Planners are hoping to capitalize on that momentum by making it easier to move through the area, particularly given its dual appeal as a tourism connector…

Features of the new BRT corridor on Van Ness Avenue include:

  • Dedicated transit-only lane, for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses only, that is physically separated from mixed traffic lanes
  • Enhanced traffic signals optimized for north-south traffic with Transit Signal Priority that keeps buses moving by holding the green light
  • Low-floor vehicles and all-door boarding for quicker and easier loading
  • Safety enhancements for people walking including shortening crossing distances with sidewalk extensions and median refuges, zebra-striped crosswalks that make people more visible, audible countdown signals and eliminated most left turns from Van Ness Avenue (except northbound at Lombard and southbound at Broadway)
  • High-quality boarding islands at consolidated transit stops located at key transfer points.