Red Lane Amendments and Efforts to Stop the Corporatization of our Streets

MissionReds

After months of letters, comments and neighborhood pushback against many elements of corporate takeover of our streets and public spaces, many people who shocked by the announcement that some of the Red Lanes in the city are open to use by private enterprise vehicles, such as tech buses, private shuttles, and any vehicle that carries more than 10 riders, based on the definition of a bus.

Supervisor Fewer, among others, scheduled hearings on the use of the Red Lanes that were re-scheduled a couple of times, and reset for early December. As many people were preparing for those meetings, we got the news that recent developments at the Land Use and Transportation Committee may have made those hearings unnecessary.  November 5, 2018, Aaron Peskin aide, Lee Hepner, introduced Amendment 18-862, that was passed unanimously to the Full Board by the Land Use and Transportation Committee:

Ordinance 180862 – Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of Municipal Transportation Agency decisions related to Bus Rapid Transit projects that do not include transit-only areas or lanes for Municipal Railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit vehicles; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The tape of the meeting is below, go to Item 6: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/player/clip/31749?view_id=10&meta_id=642988

As a matter of introduction Mr. Hepler described the areas of concern that are under the purview of the Board of Supervisors, though they are not being added to this amendment at this time.

This is a paraphrased transcript of the meeting:

Within the text of Prop A, there is a provision that allows the Board of Supervisors to enact an ordinance that gives the Board the option to review SFMTA decisions regarding various curb space decisions, bicycle lanes, traffic mitigations and measures etc…

Background information:  Supervisors Peskin and Safai co-sponsored Ordinance 180089, to enact that review provision regarding curb use. That ordinance expressly exempted certain projects from review that were determined to be public interest projects, such as bike lanes, curb modifications for street sweeping, and bus rapid transit projects.

This new ordinance is taking on elements of the Bus Rapid Transit Projects that are not clearly defined in the code and providing guidance as to the scope of the board’s review authority of these projects. This proposal expresses this board’s desire to promote Bus Rapid Transport projects that are generally designed and implemented to further public transportation reliability.

The amendment clarifies the Board of Supervisor’s policy preference. The board would not review BRT projects that are designed for public transportation use, but would take review of BRT projects designed for use by private commercial shuttles, tour busses or other modes of private transportation that might actually impede the flow of public transportation.

The proposed amendment… replaces the words, “bus rapid transit project” with “bus rapid transit project that includes transit only areas or lanes for municipal railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit Vehicles.”

SFMTA appears to have collaborated on this. The amendment passed to the full Board of Supervisors as is on the agenda for the November 13 Board of Supervisors meeting. We had no notice, but, this appears to be going through rather rapidly. In this case, that may be a good thing.

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SF to ban most of taxi fleet from SFO to help struggling cabbies

by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexminer – excerpt

The City walked back a controversial proposal to shrink the local taxi industry Tuesday night, but did approve restrictions on which taxis can pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport.

The change was crafted with the intention of shuffling some taxi medallions back into San Francisco, instead of allowing large numbers to wait at SFO for one plum ride.
There are about 1,450 medallions in service today, according to the SFMTA, used across 4,800 active taxi drivers.

Among calls of “shame!” and “you should all go to hell!” as well as a stream of four-letter words, taxi drivers blasted the proposal for San Francisco to phase out about 260 decades-old taxi permits, called medallions, to help divert business to more struggling taxi drivers with more recent, more expensive medallions.

“They’ve killed the taxi industry,” said Yellow Cab driver Marcel Fonseca just after the vote. He wasn’t alone in his critique.

Five members of the Board of Supervisors also penned an eleventh-hour letter objecting to the reforms, arguing for a more incremental approach…

The San Francisco Federal Credit Union also opposed the taxi reforms. The credit union is suing the SFMTA to the tune of $28 million for allegedly allowing taxi medallions to become worthless, even as the credit union offered loans to taxi drivers. A letter in opposition to the reforms sent by Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Sandra Fewer, Rafael Mandelman, Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen called for the SFMTA to oppose limiting taxi pickups at SFO, and phasing out older taxi medallions.

“The City walked back a controversial proposal to shrink the local taxi industry Tuesday night, but did approve restrictions on which taxis can pick up passengers at San Francisco International Airport.”

I think you mean the SFMTA walked by a controversial proposal? They do not yet represent the city.

 

SFPD Traffic Department Woefully Understaffed

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

At any given point there are only eight traffic officers patrolling the entirety of San Francisco…

It’s easy to assume that a cop just wasn’t around to catch that car turning right from a middle lane or running a stop sign, but pay attention long enough, and it seems like there just aren’t any traffic officers… well, anywhere. With enforcement a key part of the Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024, checking in on if the San Francisco Police Department is doing their part seems like a no-brainer. And in a hearing called by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer on Wednesday, we learned the truth: The traffic department (formally called the Traffic Company) is incredibly understaffed… (more)

Read the full letter from Julie Kirschbaum, written October 6, 2017, that warned of training needs here

How is it possible that SF’s $11 billion budget does not buy more traffic enforcement? Who are they hiring and training why if not to run the Muni and patrol the streets?

No wonder SF is in declining into below third world standards. SFMTA is not the only city department with questionable priorities and policies. Why is City Hall mindlessly signing a 11 million dollar budget before scrutinizing it? Only Supervisor Fewer opposed the SFMTA budget. It time to return the line item veto to regain control of these agencies.

Who decided we need more parking control officers than traffic control officers? Whoever prioritized parking enforcement over traffic control should be fired.

SFMTA launches new ‘community response team,’ hires board member to lead it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transit arm is hiring a director from its politically appointed board to lead a new community outreach team.

Joel Ramos, a seven-year member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, was hired near the end of May to lead the agency’s new Community Response Team, which is aimed at reaching out to neighbors about new stop signs and other small-scale street changes…

The SFMTA estimates there were around 575 such decisions in 2017, all subject to potential appeal with the Board of Supervisors.

Ramos’ departure from the SFMTA Board of Directors leaves a vacancy on the seven-member body, all of whom are appointed by the mayor. The body approves projects both great and small, from the $1.6 billion Central Subway project to the recent red painted transit-only lanes throughout The City. He recalled the approval for the Central Subway as a particularly heated moment in his board career…

Farrell, who will be replaced by a newly elected mayor by mid-July, said he will decline to appoint a new member to the SFMTA Board of Directors in his remaining few weeks in office.

“As mayor, I am focusing on appointments to boards and commissions that lack quorum, require key appointments or have ongoing searches for a director,” Farrell said in a statement.

That leaves the task of appointing a new SFMTA board member to the next mayor — whoever that may be… (more)

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.

Could supes’ request to sign off on road closures put a chill on events?

By Tessa Love : bizjournals – excerpt

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors wants to sign off on all road closures for events in the city, and the Chamber of Commerce is not happy about it… (more)

Well-Paid SFMTA Employee, Andy Thornley), Proposes Limiting “Access” on JFK Drive – Westbound Travel Banned, 15 MPH Speed Limit

sfcitizen – excerpt

…(A pay package of about $130k a year (TCOE – Total Cost of Employee), well that’s pretty well-paid for a low-stress job, non? It’s not like being a coal miner or anything. Correct me if I’m way off on this, of course.)

This proposal certainly would reduce traffic, overall, by a very slight amount. It would also increase westbound traffic on Fulton, and Lincoln too I suppose, by a significant amount…
(more)

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Fix JFK Drive

Posted by Andy Thornley 32.20sc on July 28, 2016

It’s time to civilize Golden Gate Park roads : Golden Gate Park is San Francisco’s crown jewel of public open space and everyone’s backyard. The eastern portion of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park has enjoyed a marvelous state of car-free happiness and harmony on Sundays for the past 49 years, as well as Monday holidays for the past 29 years. Parking-buffered bike lanes help to tame JFK Drive between Stanyan Street and Transverse Drive on the other days of the week.

However, it’s been clear for a long time that the western extent of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park needs serious intervention to make if safe and welcoming for bicycle traffic, for people of all ages and abilities. There’s no separated space for bicycles and the roadway is a hilly winding slalom course, and motor traffic often speeds along carelessly, bullying bike traffic, or worse…(more)

Andy is running for Supervisor in District One. So far Sandra Lee Fewer is winning that race. Maybe Andy’s lack of popularity stems from his radical anti-car approach. People in the Richmond like their life the way it is and don’t appreciate the disruption his department is thrusting on us.  The last thing we need is Andy on the board.

If you have any parking complaints, Andy is the person you need to reach out to after you file a 311 complaint.  Details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/sfpark-compaints/

 

Tweaks sought to Mission Street transit lanes

By Sara Gaiser : sfbay – excerpt

fter complaints from Mission District merchants and drivers, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials will hold a public meeting and seek public feedback on the impact of red transit-only lanes added to Mission Street earlier this year.

The public outreach, announced in conjunction with Supervisor David Campos, will include a community hearing to be held next week, merchant walks in the area and a survey of residents and visitors on Mission Street, SFMTA officials said.

Red transit-only lanes and other changes were installed on Mission Street between 14th and 30th streets earlier this year in an effort to speed up bus travel times through the busy transit corridor and increase pedestrian safety…

The project has successfully reduced travel times and increased reliability for buses, and appears to have reduced collisions from three or four per week to only one since late March. The agency has received positive feedback from Muni riders and neighborhood residents on the changes, SFMTA officials said.

However, drivers have complained that it is now difficult to access Mission Street, and some merchants have reported a decrease in sales because of reduced vehicle traffic.

Campos said in a statement that fulfilling The City’s Transit First policy and Vision Zero goal, which aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths in San Francisco by 2020, requires tradeoffs, but that the tradeoffs “must be considered thoughtfully”:

“While I wholeheartedly support the goal of improving Muni reliability and speed, I want to make sure that the project works for everyone and take into the account the unique aspects of the Mission.”…

The public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts at 2868 Mission St… (more)

 

Lawsuit against tech bus program fails in SF court

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

An environmental suit against San Francisco’s commuter shuttle pilot program, known commonly as “Google buses,” was thrown out Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court.

Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong ruled the suit “moot” after a half-hour hearing Thursday afternoon, dismissing the case because the original pilot program – which the suit was filed against – has ended.

The new program was “different enough” to render the original suit moot, defendant’s attorneys argued.

With his ruling, Wong sided with San Francisco and a range of defendants representing tech companies that run private shuttles from The City to Silicon Valley, including Apple, Google, and Genentech.

“There’s no reason to have [the suit] anymore because of the [new] commuter shuttle program,” said Audrey Pearson, a deputy city attorney.

The suit was filed by plaintiffs Coalition for Fair Legal and Environmental Transit — including the local SEIU 1021, housing advocate Sara Shortt and union organizer Alysabeth Alexander — in 2014, arguing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency failed to study environmental impacts of the shuttles under the California Environmental Quality Act, including emissions from the shuttles.

They also argued the shuttles raise prices of nearby apartments – leading to displacement of residents… (more)

The new red transit-only lanes on Mission Street in San Francisco have neighbors seeing red.

By Amy Hollyfield: KGO – excerpt  (video)

http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=1290877

The plan to help speed up Muni isn’t even a month old yet and it may be facing major alterations already. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, officials are going to talk about making changes because of the response to the new lane.
It is meant for Muni buses and taxi cabs only… (more)

Mission merchants and residents have been loud and clear in their complaints and demands and City Hall is listening. Now is not the time to mess with the Mission. when evictions and killings are at an all time high. The number one concern is displacement and high rents.

Almost all the local TV stations are reporting this reversal so it must be true.