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/

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San Franciscans want happy trails — not rocky roads

by Aaron Peskin: marinatimes – excerpt

Budget season has drawn to a close, and the city has made a significant investment in our city streets with the Board of Supervisors approving an additional $90 million in road work and resurfacing funds to be spent down over the next two years.

These are the funds that will be used to repave our city streets (600 blocks annually), extend or repair our sidewalks, paint our bike lanes, and fill pesky potholes. San Francisco Public Works is hiring more workers, and San Francisco has slowly increased its Pavement Condition Index Score…

The wrong signs get posted for the wrong projects on the wrong streets, construction equipment lies inactive for months in on-street parking spots, while a seemingly never-ending parade of orange-and-white striped A-frame signs line the streets letting merchants and residents know that they should brace for yet another construction project that might or might not have an actual public benefit. At the very least, it could be coordinated much better.

In addition, the hearing revealed that some repetitive projects are dropped from the city’s database, in violation of the city’s moratorium on digging up the city streets more than once in a five-year span. For example, the corner of Green Street and Columbus Avenue has been dug up at least four or five times in the last six years, yet San Francisco Public Works did not have that data for those jobs on file.

I am working with Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee on legislation that would create stricter conditions for subcontractors and would trigger a construction mitigation fund for projects that run over budget or drag on endlessly.

The time has come to make sure that we are managing San Francisco taxpayer money responsibly when it comes to our city streets; these safety and road resurfacing projects are priorities that shouldn’t have to be painful… (more)

This pretty well covers the frustrations that residents and businesses are feeling with the street construction repair program being set up and “managed” by the SFMTA. The subcontractors were a problem for the residents dealing with street trees and damaged sidewalks and the Supervisors solved that one. Now it is time for them to take on the street subcontractors.

At the top of the list of issues, is the lack of skilled labor in the construction business due to the overwhelming number of projects underway. We are doing too much too fast and the quality of the work is suffering because of the unrealistic pace. This is why we need to slow it down. We will be having talks this month over various options for solving this problem. Thanks to supervisors Peskin, Yee and Kim for taking this on.

NO NOTICE: A number of other issues were raised at the meeting described here. One is the most familiar of all that accompanies every complaint being raised from “overnight” tow-away signs to sudden contractors tearing up sidewalks without a visible permit – NO NOTICE ahead of the sudden pop-up construction work. Obviously the multi-million dollar noticing system that SFMTA is using to communicate with the public is failing to do the job. We need a new procedure of noticing.

As Supervisor Breed pointed out at the meeting, unnecessary controversial bulblouts and other street “improvements” are going onto small side streets with no accident history under the guise of “Safe Street improvements.” The SFMTA staff had no real excuse for this when quizzed on the matter.

A similar issue is ongoing with regard to the hated Red Lane “experiments” that were put into areas of the city, in including Mission Street, that were not designated as “experimental” areas, and the required “studies” for the “experiments” were not done in a timely fashion.

Concerned citizens conducted their own “unpaid” studies and discovery, and obtained documents showing an uptick in accidents on certain Red Lanes were not included in the final reports given to the state agency in charge of approving the extension of the Red Lane “experiments”. The SFMTA cherry picked the test areas that proved the Red Lanes improved the speed of the buses yet neglected to “share” the data that showed an increase in accidents on some of the “experimental streets.

Complaints were filed and if the judicial system works, the matter should be investigated.

Self-Driving Taxis Could Have a Vomit Problem

By David Welch and Gabrielle Coppola : bloomberg – excerpt (includes video and audio)

  • Managing self-driving rideshare fleets could be costly, yucky
  • ‘It is a really big issue and no one has figured it out’

It didn’t take long for Pritam Singh to learn a key lesson about working for Lyft. People are disgusting. They have a nasty habit of throwing up in moving vehicles.

Rideshare drivers are acutely aware that customers tend to do that, along with slightly less annoying things like wiping hamburger-greasy fingers on armrests and turning floor mats into swamps of slush. Singh, who ferries passengers for Lyft Inc. in Manhattan several evenings a week, drops about $200 a month cleaning — really, sometimes it feels like sanitizing — his Toyota Camry… (more)

People can be incredibly disgusting, and don’t respect other people’s property. If you take public transportation you know what to expect in a public car. Cars with no drivers are especially at risk of sustaining damage and being trashed.

But the major point of this article is that the industry is moving much too fast into unknown territory and there are a lot of reasons why the rush to robotize cars may not pan out to be as profitable as some people anticipate. Read the article and see what you think.

Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots

Kevin McCoy : usatoday – exceprt (includes video)

Searching for parking is more painful than ever for U.S. drivers.

Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for spots on streets, in lots, or in garages, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The hunt adds up to an estimated $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel, and emissions, according to the analysis by INRIX, a leading specialist in connected car services and transportation analytics…

Hunting for parking “imposes significant costs on our pocketbooks that we often don’t think about,” and also adds to (traffic) congestion,” said Bob Pishue, an INRIX transportation analyst and co-author of the report. “This is a problem not only drivers face, but local shops and businesses, too.” … (more)

Thank you Supervisor Yee for requesting a Controller’s analysis of the effect of large street projects on our local businesses, but, do we need more evidence that local businesses are at risk when parking is removed, lanes are reduced and getting round the city is a pain instead of a pleasure?

San Francisco residents need to be put on notice that the anti-parking and cars movement is purposefully being used to kill our local economy in favor of the Amazon jungle SFMTA planners envision for us. According to them we have too many retail businesses. Everybody should shop online and take deliveries. Not that there is a plan for delivery parking either. They were probably planning on sidewalk robots, but, that plan was put on hold to protect the walkers.

Who needs safe streets to walk down when you can put on your army boots and pack your weapon of choice as you stroll down the crowded sidewalk ankle-deep in waste to the street corner. If you are lucky we will picked up by a self-propelled vehicle or make your way up to the roof for the Drone delivery of your lunch. The not so fortunate must make their way to a crowded bus or walk if walking is still free.

This is where we are headed if we continue along the path they have chosen for us. Look at the designs of all the buildings and you can see the plan in action now. What does it take to change this picture? Stay tuned.

The anti-car traffic congestion and parking problems and street obstructions did not happen by accident. This condition was planned and implemented by the people you see and hear from every week at the SFMTA. They are the power brokers who are running the show. You can read their treatise and see exactly how rose to their positions of authority.

Outreach Launches This Spring to Finalize Details for Geary Rapid Upgrades

by Kate Elliott : sfmta  (includes graphics)\

We’re gearing up to start the first set of Geary transit upgrades later this year.

In the coming months, we will launch further outreach for the Geary Rapid Project, which focuses on early improvements on the stretch of the 38 Geary route between Market Street and Stanyan streets. In the meantime, we will finalize the design and construction of longer-term improvements for the Geary Boulevard Improvement Project.

With the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) approved unanimously by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) Board in January, lead management of the project is transitioning from the SFCTA to the SFMTA, which will design and implement Geary improvements as two separate projects… (more)

Outreach is a joke, or  I should say an insult. Angry people gave up on talking to the SFMTA wall and filed a lawsuit to stop the excesses in this project. the case is making its way through the courts now and many are praying the ruling will stop this and other controversial projects.
Taxpayers revolted in the fall when asked for more money to show their displeasure in how the SFMTA is spending the money but they have hungry contractors to feed and more high-paid planning staff to hire so they could care less what we want.
SFMTA is removing stops and bus seats and constantly forcing the public to deal with their baggage and can’t figure out why ridership is slipping. They are especially short on the weekends and evenings. Why would anyone want to spend their time off on the Muni after putting up with it all week?

Public Meeting for EIR on January 5, 2017

richmondsfblog – excerpt

The final Geary BRT EIR will be under review at an upcoming public meeting of the San Francisco Country Transit Authority (SFCTA) on Thursday, January 5, 2017 (2pm, City Hall, Room 250). At that meeting, the SFCTA will be asked to certify the EIR, which includes approving the design and configuration described in the EIR. The meeting, which will not be the last public discourse on the Geary BRT, is an opportunity for members of the public to speak their views on the Geary BRT project.

If the EIR is approved at the January 7 meeting, the project will then go into final design planning, which culminates with the SFMTA Board taking action to legislate every one of the recommended changes for the project.

But given the historic pace of the Geary BRT project so far, that is a ways off. The earliest any construction would begin is in 2018 on the downtown portions of Geary. It would not be until late 2019 / early 2020 that any construction would occur west of Stanyan.

To find out more about the Geary BRT and the release of the final EIR, please visit gearybrt.org.

Sarah B…(more)

Comments on the source as well as here are welcome…

There are so many issues involved with this project, we will have to get back on what they are, but, if you are concerned and want to oppose this, there are two meetings scheduled for next week with two different groups and each may be contacted with public comments. Sample letters and contacts are here:

Open Letter to the City Authorities:

Our plea to San Francisco city authorities is to delay the decision for 30 days and consider what you can better spend $300 million dollars on than cutting trees and digging holes on Geary and killing more local businesses like you did on Mission Street. We need economic impact and socioeconomic impact reports on all projects that involve shifting traffic on major commercial streets.

Wasting time and taxpayer money on a $300 million dollar boondoggle when there are thousands of homeless people on the streets who need immediate attention is a criminal act as far as many are concerned. For once the SFMTA should allow the much cheaper and less disruptive public plan to more forward. See if the public is smarter than the SFMTA. Just give us this one street to prove we can do it cheaper and get better results.

Notice there is no mention of safety here, only speeding Muni on Geary. Who ever came up with the idea of moving the BRT lanes from the curb to the center and back again? That cannot be a safe move. Already we have seen the results of merging traffic with the BRT on 3rd Street and merging bike lanes and traffic lanes without warning. What happened to merging lane warning signs? Bike lanes crossing over traffic lanes has got to be the worst way to protect cyclists.

This plan is all about moving more than $350 million dollars of taxpayer money from our pockets into the contractors’ bank accounts. Read the alternative plan and see if you don’t agree that it makes sense to try a different approach.

– Concerned San Francisco Citizen

Upcoming meetings on this issues listed on the SFCTA website:
http://www.sfcta.org/meetings-agendas-and-events#jan2017

Wednesday, January 4, 6 PM –  Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee – 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor – Details  CAC is scheduled to hear and vote on the Geary BRT.

Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM –  Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting Room 250, City HallDetails This is where the Board of Supervisors, acting as the County is expected to approve the $350-360 million dollar Geary BRT large project authorization, before the public or the Board of Supervisors has sufficient time to review and analyze the large document that was just released on the 15th of December. CEQA still allows a 30 day period for public review and comment, so this will cut that allowance down, leading, once again to a violation of CEQA by the SFMTA.

SFMTA will have an excuse for fast-tracking their Geary BRT, so we need as many letters and people to protest against this outrage at this meeting as possible. Sample letter:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

There is a second excellent letter requesting a delay that is here requesting that the Chairman of the SFCTA Board of Commissioners, Aaron Peskin, postpone the Geary BRT EIR vote for one month. Quite a few letters have gone out with that request.

Continue reading

Feds award millions to Van Ness Avenue bus improvement project

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it was awarding San Francisco $75 million for a project to improve one of the city’s busiest public transportation arteries.

Work has already begun on the $223 million Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Project that will result in the installation of dedicated transit lanes and station-like stops for what will be the city’s first bus rapid-transit line. When the project is complete, buses will run every four to five minutes, shaving several minutes from riders’ trips.

The grant is coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration. The rest of the Van Ness Avenue project is being covered by local, state and other federal sources.

“The new BRT line will provide a convenient connection to the Muni light rail system, and it will improve access to jobs, health care, and opportunity throughout the Bay Area,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement…(more)

Comment on the source if you can.

 

Transit officials offer tweaks to Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A major overhaul of how buses and other traffic negotiate Geary Boulevard is set to reach a significant milestone early next year.

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, which aims to make buses behave like trains by repurposing a lane of car traffic exclusively for buses, released its final environmental impact report Dec. 9, which may be approved in early January.

Along the way, the project’s planners received thousands of public comments, from fiery verbal lambasting at meetings — where a box filled with paper public comments was stolen, then returned — to online surveys, to meetings with multitudes of community groups…

On Jan. 5, the EIR will go to the SFCTA board for approval. After that, the SFMTA will bring individual elements of the project to neighbors for further public input, which will require individual approvals by the SFMTA Board of Directors to move forward.

Some Geary Boulevard neighbors have asked the SFCTA commission to delay approval of the environmental report so they have more time to read and analyze it.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce also sent a letter to the transportation authority asking for the board to delay action on the final EIR until February or early March, and wrote that meeting during the holidays “does not serve the public interest.”

Responding to the request for delay, Supervisor and Transportation Authority Commissioner Eric Mar said, “The significant community outreach done and many community meetings with those in the audience, and staff work, has been years in the making.”.

“There have been endless delays,” he said…(more)

THERE IS NO RUSH! There have been endless delays for good reasons. Each time there is a delay, the public has more time to suggest a better plan. Already many of their suggestions have been incorporated into this project and more alterations are needed on the Geary BRT. There is a sensible much cheaper plan supported by the public.

Who is rushing to approve the SFMTA $350 million dollar plus Geary BRT Hybrid Plan when there is a much cheaper version that will save the taxpayers up to $300 million? Who is rushing to approve more money for the SFMTA?

This is the department has bungled the design at Glen Park twice and still hasn’t gotten it right yet. The buses are getting hung up on the curbs.

This is the department that is planning to cut service and raise rates for cash-paying riders, and remove seats from the new faster-moving buses, so that Muni riders will be forced to walk further and stand instead of sit as they speed along city streets on public transit vehicles.

This is the department that lost the sales tax increase that included $100 million dollars for the Geary BRT.

This is the department that needs to be put on a cash diet before it eats the rest of the businesses on Mission, Van Ness, Polk, and Geary.This is the department that can’t figure out how to balance Ubers with taxis and the rest of the traffic mess and will eventually be out teched out by self-driving cars.

This is the department that wants to tell our fire department to buy smaller vehicles to run on narrow streets that do not meet state standard widths.

The emergency responders are getting caught up in the traffic mess.

This is the department that just “discovered” the large number of Ubers on our streets that the rest of us have known about for months. They probably needed to conduct an expensive study to “find” them and prove they exist. We just looked around and figured it out for ourselves.I could go on, but you get the idea.

Stop the SFMTA: Write letters to request a delay and show up if you can to protest in person. Sample letter is here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

Meeting details:

Scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, 6:00 PM, SFCTA, 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor: The Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee will vote to support certification of the Geary BRT Environmental Impact Report (EIR). More info: http://www.sfcta.org/geary-bus-rapid-transit-citizens-advisory-committee-january-4-2017

Scheduled for Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM, Room 250, City Hall: SF Supervisors, as board members of the SF Transportation Authority, will vote to certify the Geary BRT EIR  (2nd item)  More Info: http://www.sfcta.org/special-board-january-5-2017

 

 

Transit Supervisor slams brakes on L-Taraval changes

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

It’s back to the drawing board for proposed changes to the L-Taraval Muni line after neighbors rallied against adding boarding islands at stops on Taraval Street.

Through three meetings last month, Sunset district neighbors and transportation planners worked on a new plan for the L-Taraval revisions. Those meetings were spearheaded by Supervisor Katy Tang, who said the acrimony over the initial proposal “couldn’t continue.”

The community had expressed anger over the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s plan to build pedestrian boarding islands on Taraval Street. Currently, train riders disembark directly onto the street.

Albert Chow, owner of Great Wall Hardware on Taraval Street, said, “We would like to seek safety, but not see boarding islands” built, because Taraval would lose parking.

Parking would be extended on side streets, the SFMTA has said, but neighbors still fear it would adversely impact businesses.

Instead of boarding islands, Chow said he and others asked for flashing bumps on the roadway, painted white pedestrian zones on the streets and overhead signs to warn away cars when people disembark from trains.

The recent SFMTA meetings followed a more contentious one in February in which hundreds of Sunset residents booed and hissed at the SFMTA planners.

“I think [the SFMTA] did listen” to neighbors’ concerns about initial L-Taraval plans, Tang said. “But because we didn’t see the final revision [to the plans], we’ll see.”… (more)

Should S.F. make it easier or harder to drive and park in the city?

Business Pulse – Polls and Surveys : bizjournals – excerpt

Easier. Most people still drive; deal with it. 41%

Harder. More cars will just mean more gridlock. 25%

Neither. Transit vs. cars doesn’t have to be either/or 33%

Votes Cast: 221

VOTE NOW: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/poll/poll/15073351#comments

This survey is not a scientific sampling, but offers a quick view of what readers are thinking