Political muscle and dealmaking got Prop. E passed

By Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview and sunsetbeacon – excerpt

Political muscle and deal-making got Proposition E passed, which created the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The proposition was on the November, 1999 ballot.

According to an article in the SF Examiner, SF Mayor Willie Brown worked hard during a re-election year to muster support for Proposition E. The work paid off. The SF Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to put the measure on the ballot. Supporting the plan was a combination of progressive and moderate supervisors: Tom Amman, Alica Becerril, Amos Brown, Leslie Katz, Barbara Kaufman, Mark Leno, Gavin Newsom, Mabel Teng, Michael Yaki and Leland Yee. Only supervisor Sue Bierman voted against the plan.

In the ballot pamphlet supporting their position, the 10 supervisors said, “Proposition E will make Muni much more accountable for service delivered. It will take strong steps to reduce traffic by finally making transit a real alternative to the automobile, and it will ensure Muni is fully funded to meet the City’s transit needs for years to come.” None of those goals have come to pass…

If political muscle can create it political muscle can kill it. Make sure you grill all the supervisor candidates on how they plan to take back public control of the agency and then hold them to their promise.

Proposition E is a SF Charter revision, which means it is a part of the City’s guiding document and can’t be changed without a vote of the people. It had the support of many of the city’s political leaders, including SF Mayor Willie Brown, state Sen. John Burton, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley and the Democratic and Republican parties. They all called for improving bus service in the City, but they gave up control over the agency responsible for performing the task, changed the city’s Transit First Policy to be hostile to private vehicles, and created a super-organization responsible for thousands of employees – without supervision from any elected officials. No one is held accountable at the SFMTA…

Prop. E also gave the SFMTA the power to tax, which it tried to do in the November 2016 election by requesting a half-cent sales tax increase for transit projects that the agency refused to spell out. Trust us. Just give us the money, the SFMTA said. The voters, in their wisdom, said “no!”  Prop. E was passed by San Francisco voters on Nov. 2, 1999, by a 61- 39 percent vote… (more).

I you want an excuse for owning a car, you need to look not further than the fires in the north to see why a car is you best refuge in a disaster. All these thousands of people in shelters got there by private vehicle. The public transportation system is the first to close down during a crisis event that requires mass evacuations, and who wants to carry you life in a backpack? In the event of an emergency, your vehicle is your emergency vehicles and possibly your home for a while.

RELATED:
Transportation Madness

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Brewing bikeshare battle may threaten SF’s Ford GoBike contract

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Harrison17th

These unpopular GoBikes line 17th Street line in the Mission with private corporate bikes,  removing parking for everyone, including private bike owners. They are blessed by SFMTA’s private deal with Motivate. photo by zrants

It’s not just a bump in the road. The latest conflict between stationless bikeshare companies and San Francisco has seemingly hit a full-on obstacle course.

San Francisco’s transportation agency is preparing to issue its first permit to a competitor of Ford GoBike, potentially threatening a contract between the Bay Area and the $65 billion Ford Motor Company…

Technically, the contract is not with Ford, it is with Motivate, owned and operated by Related. Motivate has an $8 million deal with Ford. See details on that deal or look it up yourself: Holding Company that owns GoBikes

But that permit allegedly runs afoul of an exclusivity contract Ford entered into with The City, along with its administrator of the bikeshare program, Motivate…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation… (more)

Here we appear to have fight over a yet-to-be-developed market. Where is the research that proves the public is anxious to rent bikes? How many people want to ride bikes who don’t own their own? Why has MTC and SFMTA involved SF voters in a complicated legal battle over a clientele that does not exist in an effort to remove public parking from the streets? Don’t they have a Muni service to run?

Why did the MTC and SFMTA sign exclusive deals (not sure these rise to the level of being legal contracts) with private entities without public knowledge or input? Why were the voters and residents left in the dark until the blue bikes appeared on the street? Do the voters prefer GoBikes and Scoots in their neighborhood or residential parking permits? Think about this as you think about who you want to represent you at City Hall.

SF residential parking permit changes put on hold

Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Major changes to San Francisco’s 40-year old Residential Parking Permit Program are put on hold after transit officials raised concerns about several schools in The City not being notified about parking permit changes.

Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors was to decide on changes to the RPP program, including changes that would limit schools in The City from obtaining more than 15 parking permits for faculty.

Kathy Studwell, residential permit parking program manager at the SFMTA, said seven schools in The City currently have more that 15 parking permits.

The change would take effect in July 2019, said Studwell.

SFMTA Director Malcolm Heinickie asked Studwell if those seven schools had been notified yet.

Studwell said: “We will be notifying them.”…

Nicky Jacobson, a resident in the Dogpatch and a member of the Dogpatch Parking Task Force, did not support the plans for the neighborhood.

Jacobson said she did not like the idea of taking the petition process out of the hands of residents and businesses: “We know as business owners and residents know what goes on on our block.”

Another issue that bothered some directors, which was mentioned by Jacobson, was the way the SFMTA staff had notified interested parties about the proposed changes of the RPP program…

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said a date had not been set yet on when the SFMTA board will take up the item again… (more)

And that pretty well sums up the attitude of the SFMTA staff, that fails to notify and fails to listen to the public. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors are getting leaned on pretty heavily and they are sending pressure to the SFMTA Board and Director and conducting a number of hearings. Next step is for neighborhood groups to hold some hearings in their neighborhoods to get a better idea of how the residents and businesses feel about the results of the many SFMTA streetscape projects that are killing businesses and making voters miserable. In those cases where supervisors are leaving, the voters have a chance to vote for a new attitude at City Hall. Ask the tough questions of all our candidates before you choose the next one. If you are in an even district, you will soon have that opportunity.

 

Item 12: Residential Parking Permit Reform

sfmta – excerpt

12. Amending Transportation Code Division II to (1) delete the defined term for “Institution” and add “Residential Area”; (2) limit the number of parking permits that may be issued to a single address to four and eliminate the request for waiver provision; (3) revise the procedure for designating a Residential Parking Permit Area; (4) change the period for the validity of Educational Institution parking permits from certain hours of the day to hours of enforcement and limit the number of parking permits that may be issued; (5) eliminate the petition process currently required for Childcare parking permits; (6) authorize the issuance of one transferable parking permit to a resident licensed to operate a family child care home for use by a child care provider working at the home; and (7) authorize the establishment of pilot Residential Parking Permit program areas by the SFMTA Board to limit the number of parking permits to two that may be issued to a single address (with no more than one parking permit issued per licensed driver), exempt a vehicle displaying a valid parking permit from payment at on-street Parking Meters located in the Residential Parking Permit Area where designated by the SFMTA with posted signs, and exempt Health Care Worker and Childcare parking permits from the limit of two permits that can be issued to a single address.

The board voted to postpone approval of the SFMTA’s Residential Parking Permit (RPP) Evaluation & Reform Project until a later meeting. The project is a package of updates to the RPP program to balance the competing needs for curb space and better engage the public in the city’s neighborhood parking management efforts.

To be continued with greater neighborhood input we hope. Talk to your supervisor about your needs for your neighborhood.

Sliding scale parking meter program could range from $8 to 50 centers an hour in San Francisco

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

– A sliding-scale parking system could cost drivers anywhere between $8 to 50 cents an hour according to a new pay-on-demand system being considered by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

It’s called “demand-responsive” pricing and operates under the premise that the higher the meter rates, the quicker people will free up spaces, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The pricing all depends on the volume of parking. High traffic areas – and higher prices – include neighborhoods like the Marina and the Fillmore.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy blasted the plan as a financial hit on already stretched middle and working-class families… (more)

Thankfully someone is concerned about San Francsico’s middle and working-class families.

SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Op-Ed

Objections to the Potrero streetscape rollout took center stage at a neighborhood meeting at Zuckerberg SF General that was called to update concerned neighbors on the various construction projects underway and planned for the hospital grounds. The public has been complaining for months about the new slalom run on Potrero that mimics the curvy streets on Third Street, where traffic is forced on and off the light rail tracks, and distracted drivers have difficulty watching for pedestrians while they attempt to follow the lane changes.

Nobody addressed the new hospital plans. Complaints were about:

  • The lack of notice about the meeting
  • Distracted driving
  • Dangerous new curvy lanes with up to 22 turns and constant changes.
  • Medians and trees – design, placement, and choice of trees.
  • Increase in traffic on narrow sides-streets where most cyclists choose to ride.
  • Confusing signs and directions
  • Traffic signal removal
  • Some mention was made of the Fire Department’s concerns that are supposed to have the project on hold, but, more details are needed on that subject

There were a lot of suggestions for improvements:

  • A better noticing system for neighborhood with a 2-week lead time
  • Elimination of the extended medians past the pedestrian walkways that drivers are not anticipating
  • Removal of some of the most objectionable medians that restrict traffic flow
  • Re-opening the 23rd Street pass through from the Potrero Hill ramp that allows entry into the Mission. It was noted that this is the second barrier to keep people out of the Mission devised by SFMTA.
  • Better clearer signage and possibly a freeway sign warning of a construction site ahead for drivers who wander off the freeway
  • Elimination of forced right turns and no right turns.
  • Moving bike lane to side street and possible speed controls on those streets.

All of the changes and experiments that SFMAT claims will calm traffic are making drivers more angry and less safe and calm. Residents on the narrow side streets are seeing claim the accident count is up more accidents, making everyone less safe, and creating havoc on the street, as drivers attempt to watch the road changes and other cars, they are finding it hard to watch out for pedestrians and the occasional bike at the same time. This AAA study seems to back up the public’s fears about distracted driving, and explains why many of the traffic infractions are attributed to Ubers and Lyfts who don’t know the city and are depending on dashboard maps to get around.

We need to insist that our supervisors look at these studies and accident reports and consider what options they have to reverse the SFMTA project approvals, straighten the streets, and limit out-of-town TNCs that do not know the city. This study should also be sent to the Governor who may have signed SB 182 into law last week. That state bill was passed prior to all these reports as far as we know. If this bill is written into law, the next step is to go to the state level agency and deal with is there. More on that to come.

Measuring Cognitive Distractions

Report by AAA : .aaafoundation – excerpt

In this landmark study of distracted driving, the AAA Foundation challenges the notion that drivers are safe and attentive as long as their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Using cutting-edge methods for measuring brain activity and assessing indicators of driving performance, this research examines the mind of the driver, and highlights the mental distractions caused by a variety of tasks that may be performed behind the wheel.

By creating a first-of-its-kind rating scale of driver distractions, this study shows that certain activities – such as talking on a hands-free cell phone or interacting with a speech-to-text email system – place a high cognitive burden on drivers, thereby reducing the available mental resources that can be dedicated to driving. By demonstrating that mentally-distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision, this study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that “hands-free” doesn’t mean risk free.

More distracted driving related research:

Report
Presentation
Fact Sheet

RELATED:
SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone Objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Scoot vehicles cruise through legal loophole

By : sfexminer – excerpt

We Scooped the Scoot story a while ago.

This week’s question comes from James in the Sunset, who asks:

Q: “My girlfriend has a Vespa, and we want to go riding together. I have seen these Scoot vehicles riding all over town. I looked online and have some questions about renting one of these things. I don’t have a motorcycle license and don’t have motorcycle insurance. I have zero experience riding a motorcycle or scooter. I also weigh 265 pounds. What happens if I rent one of these things and get into an accident or if it gets knocked over by someone? What are my rights and responsibilities?”

A: James, thanks for raising this question. You have caused me to learn more about Scoot, and some of what I read has me concerned. First, for the uninformed, Scoot is in the business of short-term rental of electric scooters. Scoot offers two models: the Scoot, with a small cargo box, and the Cargo, with a 90-liter cargo box that they say has enough space to fit six six-packs, four pizzas or 30 pints of ice cream…

Scoot’s vehicles apparently fall under the definition of a “motorized scooter” under California Vehicle Code, which defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding and powered by an electric motor that cannot achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion…

Scoot membership does not require a motorcycle license. The DMV website states that while motorized scooters do not require a motorcycle license, motor-driven cycles — those powered by an engine 149 cc or less; think Vespa — do. Given its style and design, Scoot resembles a motor-driven cycle more than a motor scooter. But apparently because it is electric and has a floorboard big enough to stand on, they are apparently riding through this loophole…

As Scoot members do not have to have a motorcycle license, they do not have to demonstrate an ability to ride a scooter before taking one of these cute little potential death traps out for a spin. A new member must either do an in-person tutorial or watch an online 20-minute instructional video. To me, a video is inadequate training, which I think creates some liability for Scoot. I can assure you that if you are injured by the fault of another riding a Scoot, the defense will be that you had inadequate knowledge of how to operate one…

Scoot’s vehicles apparently fall under the definition of a “motorized scooter” under California Vehicle Code, which defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding and powered by an electric motor that cannot achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion.

According to its website, Scoot membership does not require a motorcycle license. The DMV website states that while motorized scooters do not require a motorcycle license, motor-driven cycles — those powered by an engine 149 cc or less; think Vespa — do. Given its style and design, Scoot resembles a motor-driven cycle more than a motor scooter. But apparently because it is electric and has a floorboard big enough to stand on, they are apparently riding through this loophole.

As Scoot members do not have to have a motorcycle license, they do not have to demonstrate an ability to ride a scooter before taking one of these cute little potential death traps out for a spin. A new member must either do an in-person tutorial or watch an online 20-minute instructional video. To me, a video is inadequate training, which I think creates some liability for Scoot. I can assure you that if you are injured by the fault of another riding a Scoot, the defense will be that you had inadequate knowledge of how to operate one.

As someone who rode minibikes, scooters, mopeds and eventually motorcycles for 40 years, I can tell you that operating a two-wheeled vehicle is much more precarious than one with four wheels. I recommend that anyone who wants to ride a motorized two-wheel vehicle take an approved motorcycle rider safety course…(more)

Thanks for some legal clarification. We haven’t seen many of these around. These two were parked on 17th Street near Potrero and one was parked on 17th near the 280 overpass. They appear to be popular with people living in or near homeless encampments. Are people who don’t own two-wheeled vehicles expected to purchase or rent a helmet?

New plan to ban encampments at ‘Hairball’ emerges as homeless and cyclists clash

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Freeway2

City officials are exploring ways to remove encampments from the “Hairball” to address the growing number of clashes there between cyclists and homeless people…

The new parking restrictions and bike lane are the first steps among dramatic changes by city officials coming to the Hairball, as bicyclists and people living on the streets increasingly clash…

Peggy Howse, owner and president of All Seas Wholesale, a fish distributor located on Jerrold Avenue said… parking restrictions on Jerrold Avenue may hurt her workers, who travel from as far as Antioch and already battle for parking with nearby RVs…

But in an SFMTA board meeting on Sept. 21, staff said parking restrictions on nearby Barneveld Avenue were put in place to ensure nearby employees could fairly compete with RVs for parking.

Leave it to SFMTA to claim that by eliminating parking spaces they are making parking more available by forcing more competition for parking spaces. Not sure which of the new math programs they studied where subtraction equals more not less, but, most of us live in the real work where subtracting gets us less not more.

Some vitriol from local cyclists has emerged on social media and among the cycling community, concerning the Hairball and its tent-living residents. Cyclists also often vent frustration alleging they’re targets of theft for “chop-shops” run at homeless encampments… (more)

Given the constant nasty comments on social media and the new lack of civility in San Francisco you might want to consider who is moving here and why you may prefer less of them. People used to move here because they loved San Francisco the way it was. Now they come to get rich and change it.
Plan Bay Area forecasts elimination of 40% of the middle class. For that plan to happen, middle class citizens will leave or become extremely rich or extremely poor. Think about that next time you consider who you want to represent you at City Hall. Ask them how they feel about the Plan Bay Area.

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

by John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

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…

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)

Just say NO to more taxes next time SFMTA comes begging for more. Merchants and pissed off residents who want to live and work in San Francisco should continue opposing tax increases for transit projects to send a clear message to City Hall that they are fed up with streetscape projects. Send letters and comments and complaints to your supervisor and the candidates running for office. Make sure they hear your demands for a freeze on new construction until the current projects are completed. Don’t be shy with your state reps either. Let them know you don’t buy the “we need more money for transit” line when you see more streets being torn up every day. City contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/
State contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/