Board of Supervisors Unanimously Approves Steve Heminger to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors

New Releasefrom Mayor London N. Breed – Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Heminger, who was nominated to the SFMTA Board by Mayor London Breed, is the former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and brings decades of experience in local and regional transportation, which will help guide the search for a new SFMTA Director

San Francisco, CA — The Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved Steve Heminger to serve on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors. Heminger previously served as Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive and was nominated to the SFMTA Board of Directors by Mayor London Breed. Heminger will help lead the SFMTA Board in their search for a new Director of Transportation.

“Steve Heminger’s experience at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and his expertise in transportation policy will support the SFMTA Board’s efforts to improve our public transportation system and make our streets safer for all users,” said Mayor Breed. “The Board has a lot of work ahead of it as they search for a new Director of Transportation, and I am confident that his leadership will help find the right person to lead the SFMTA for years to come.”

Heminger led the MTC for 18 years before retiring earlier this year. He is well-regarded as a transportation expert and brings decades of experience working with the SFMTA and regional transportation partners. During his time at the MTC, he was responsible for administering over $2 billion per year in funding for the operation, maintenance and expansion of the Bay Area’s surface transportation network. Under an interagency agreement with the Association of Bay Area Governments, Heminger and his executive team provided staffing services to that organization as well.

“San Francisco has no shortage of transportation challenges, but I am confident we can improve,” said Heminger. “I thank Mayor Breed for the opportunity to bring my regional experience to bear on making it easier for my fellow residents to move around town.”

Heminger was appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which helped chart the future course for the federal transportation program. As Chairman of the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, Heminger also oversaw construction of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge – at the time, the largest transportation project in California history. He has served as a member of numerous boards of directors over the course of his 35-year career, including for the Transportation Research Board, Mineta Transportation Institute, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Californians for Better Transportation, and the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.

Heminger received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University. His first meeting on the Board of Directors will be on June 18th.

City speeds up approval process for new bike lanes, road safety improvements

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

With traffic fatalities soaring in San Francisco, transportation officials are ready to scrap the old political process that held up construction of bike lanes and other safety measures.

On Tuesday the city’s main transit board approved a new “quick build” policy, which allows planners at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to submit a list of urgent projects, and get them all signed off at once…

The goal: cut through a bureaucratic morass that slowed projects for months — sometimes years. Historically, planners and engineers had to seek legislative approval every time they wanted to change one detail of a project, be it a red zone, or a right turn, or the removal of a parking space. Then came the challenge of securing a construction contract… (more)

SF pays $58,000 for Uber and Lyft rides

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

City employees reimbursed for 1,664 rides in the past year with companies that have labor trouble and are trying to destroy public transit — and that violates city policy.

San Francisco spent almost $58,000 in the past year reimbursing city employees for rides on Uber and Lyft, public records show.

Records obtained from the Controller’s Office and the Mayor’s Office under the Sunshine Ordinance show public employees took 1,664 rides with the two “transportation network companies.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who heads the county Transporation Authority, said that paying for Uber and Lyft rides is “counter to the policy that has been set by the Board of Supervisors and the TA.”

The TA, he told me, has consistently refused to spend public money on Uber and Lyft.

In the context of a $12 billion city budget, $57,958 isn’t a big number – but it’s a big deal to the beleaguered taxi industry, which was devastated by illegal Uber and Lyft competition while the city looked the other way.…(more)

Chiu’s bill bans towing vehicles — and it’s not just for people living in them

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

The days of having your car towed for an unpaid ticket or a lapsed registration would be over under a bill just passed by the California State Assembly.

Assemblyman David Chiu wrote Assembly Bill 516, which would bar cities and counties from towing or booting vehicles that have five or more tickets or towing a vehicle whose registration is six months out of date — those are the current standards for towing. Cities would have to pass a specific ordinance to overwrite those rules.

The bill would also bar cities from towing cars and RVs parked for more than 72 hours unless the city passes a local ordinance. City officials say that could damper their efforts to stem the tide of RVs setting up house on streets…

Whatever the case, last week the Assembly agreed with Chiu and approved the bill 49-11, with 20 Assembly members abstaining.

Next stop is the state Senate.


SF bikeshare fleet set to nearly quadruple — but Lyft is trying to stop it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bikeshare — everywhere.

That’s the vision for San Francisco’s burgeoning bike rental industry.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday released permit applications for more companies to provide “dockless” or “stationless” bikeshare in The City, citing soaring demand for the service.

The announcement means the number of bikeshare bikes on the street could soon nearly quadruple to 11,000, according to the SFMTA. The agency plans to announce who will be awarded permits by July…

In that April 28 letter, Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer argued that the company “invested millions of dollars to install bike station infrastructure” that resulted in “losses that were incurred in reliance upon the Grant of Exclusive Rights.”

Zimmer invited SFMTA to a “dispute resolution process” through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and asked that “San Francisco refrain from taking actions that would prejudice” those proceedings, including “soliciting or accepting new permit applications from other operators.”… (more)

Why don’t the bike share companies rent some of the empty storefronts that are popping up all over town instead of casually parking them on sidewalks and streets. Just rent some storefronts and act like regular bike rentals. What is the point in having them clutter up the sidewalk when they could rent storefronts and let people drop them there. They will be a lot safer than on the streets.

West Portal traffic changes approved under new pilot

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

City transit officials (SFMTA Board) approved a pilot program that they hope will speed up Muni trains entering West Portal station.

The plan includes restricting private autos from making a left turn from northbound West Portal Avenue onto westbound Ulloa Street from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., the peak hours of the morning commute, a left turn restriction on southbound Lenox Way onto eastbound Ulloa, and will restrict autos from making U-turns at all times of the day.

Liz Brisson, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency project manager in charge of the pilot, said the block of West Portal Avenue between Vicente and Ulloa streets will become a transit-only lane during the morning commute..

The San Francisco Council District of Merchants, the West Portal Merchants Association, and the Greater West Portal Neighborhood Association, penned a joint in a letter asking the SFMTA to delay the pilot for 90 days and to reevaluate looking at installing traffic lights at the intersection and relocating the 48 transit stop.

Karl Aguilar, manager of Papenhausen Hardware, told the board that merchants had already gone through a major construction project and that merchants: “These businesses can’t weather large disruptions.”

President of the Board of Supervisors Norman Yee, who represents the West Portal neighborhood, said in a letter dated May 9 that he was in support of the left turn restriction on Lenox Way and the U-turn restriction, but not in support of other parts of the pilot:..

The supervisor was also in favor of delaying the pilot start as traffic volumes are usually slower in the neighborhood as many schools are out for summer vacation…(more)

If you want to see how bad the city is dong under the current regime at SFMTA Board, just read the latest Washington Post article: “How San Francisco broke America’s heart”

Ask yourself what could San Francisco do to save the businesses that are struggling to survive? I’ll bet taking out parking spaces and reduce traffic lanes would not be at the top or your list to save retail.

If, however, you wanted to close stores to make way for your new condos and office buildings, removing parking, stopping traffic and rearranging bus stops would probably be the first thing you would do.

So, who is the SFMTA Board working for?

Woman caught in Muni door, dragged to tracks files claim against SF

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Sunset District resident suffered collapsed lung, broken ribs, spinal and pelvic fractures

After a month of silence, the woman dragged by a Muni train has filed a claim against The City seeking payment for her medical expenses and distress.

Choi Ngor Li, a Sunset District resident, has identified herself as the person who infamously found her hand caught in the door of a brand new Muni train and was then pulled to the tracks of Embarcadero Station.

A video of the April 12 incident, first revealed in an investigative report by the San Francisco Examiner, made headlines worldwide.

Li’s claim alleges negligence on the part of the Muni operator who drove the train away while she was trapped in it, negligence on the part of a nearby station agent who failed to help her and negligence on the part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for allowing the train doors to operate despite “failed safety tests.”… (more)

Supervisor Norman Yee Puts West Portal Motorists Over Transit Riders

By Roger Rudick : streetsblog – excerpt

Pushes to veto study of traffic changes that would finally start prioritizing Muni over private cars

The SFMTA is planning to pilot a short stretch of transit- (and taxi) only lane in West Portal to help reduce delays to trains, in one direction, only during peaking morning rush hour. The idea is to look for ways to make the K and M lines, which are consistently slowed by automobile traffic, faster and more reliable.

From the SFMTA presentation showing the proposed changes:

However, Supervisor Norman Yee, who represents the district, is attempting to block the pilot.

Streetsblog was leaked a printout of an email from Yee to SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin and the SFMTA Board. In it, Yee creates a Catch-22. SFMTA is doing the pilot to see if getting cars out of the way will make Muni trains faster and less prone to delays. But Yee seems to want them to prove that it will reduce delays before they do the pilot, to justify doing the pilot to see if it will reduce delays… (more)

Read the article and do some more investigations of your own and, if you are concerned about this matter, please chime in with messages to the parties. Contacts for city officials:

What science says Uber and Lyft are doing to San Francisco

By Mike Moffitt : sfgate – excerpt

Ride-hailing companies once promised that their services would reduce the number of cars clogging city streets. In fact, the opposite is true in dense parts of cities.

Everyone knows that ride-hailing apps have undoubtedly benefited customers, making hailing a ride easier and significantly cheaper than taxi cabs.

But are the benefits worth the long-term disruption created by Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies in San Francisco? Here’s what recent studies tell us.

Traffic is a mess… (more)

Political Punch: Major California housing bill is on ice for the year

By Alexei Koseff : sfchronicle – excerpt

A controversial measure to revamp local development rules in California by promoting denser housing around public transit and job centers will not move forward this legislative session.
The state Senate Appropriations Committee said Thursday that it would hold Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB50 for the year, allowing it to come back for a vote in 2020. That could give Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, more time to build support or make further changes to the deeply divisive bill.
Wiener, in a statement, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the move. “We are one hundred percent committed to moving the legislation forward,” he said.
“We need to do things differently when it comes to housing. We’re either serious about solving this crisis, or we aren’t,” he said. “At some point, we will need to make the hard political choices necessary for California to have a bright housing future.”… (more)

If you opposed this bill you may rejoice for a moment. This bill is expected to show up again and possibly in as parts of another bill. Consider the efforts being made to pass SB330 That bill may freeze developer fees and make it even harder to deal with the infrastructure problems we already have. Read up on that one and see what you think.