Why I oppose the Bay Area $3 bridge toll hike

Op-Ed by DeSaulnier : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Weekend traffic on the Western span of the Bay Bridge at Sunset photo by zrants

The region urgently needs new investment in transportation. But Regional Measure 3 is not the answer.

Regional Measure 3, the $3 bridge toll hike on the June ballot that would raise money for transportation improvements, is a highly flawed initiative born out of dysfunctional policy-making. Voters should reject it.

There is no question that the San Francisco Bay Area urgently needs new investment in transportation. The fact that many voters are willing to pay substantially higher tolls reflects their frustration with traffic congestion. Workers are facing too many hours stuck in traffic, stressful commutes in crammed BART cars, lost family time and reduced productivity.

As I and others have argued, if the Bay Area fails to address the challenges of traffic and affordable housing, we will lose our competitive edge. However, Regional Measure 3 is not the answer…

The Bay Bridge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters acquisition and renovation, and the Transbay Terminal are projects that have involved billions in cost-overruns and undermined confidence in governments’ ability to plan and prioritize.

Now is the time to stop this cycle of waste and frustration and to engage in serious and coordinated planning, because the Bay Area needs and deserves better. Without greater transparency and accountability, Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, serves on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and previously served as chair of the California Senate and Assembly transportation committees... (more)

VOTE NO ON RM3. This controversial bill has been cobbled together by a regional group of transportation politicians with no successful track record that has lost the public trust due to cost overruns on wasteful projects like the Transbay Terminal and MTC headquarters.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  The laundry list of projects was created to offer something to everyone, but no guaranteed deliverables, and the bill contains a poison pill that will allow unchecked inflationary rate hikes in the future without voter approvals.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  If passed this bill will add considerably to the cost of living in the Bay Area and will guarantee inflationary rate hikes on all goods that are delivered by trucks that cross the bridges.

VOTE NO ON RM3. This bill, in conjunction with gas tax hikes, will make commuting into the city impossible for many employees, who will choose jobs in the suburbs closer to their new homes.

VOTE NO ON RM3. As DeSaulnier points out, Regional Measure 3 is a flawed bill that provides:

  • No framework for performance measures or oversight to gauge progress
  • No vision for how residents and commuters will benefit.
  • No analysis to show how congestion on major corridors would be reduced, or when the improvements may kick in.
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Muni Metro stop at Warriors’ new SF arena is one pricey platform

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_3178.JPG

Arena with passing T-Line car going up at 16th and Third Street shot by zrants

The cost of building a bigger Muni Metro platform to handle fans at the Mission Bay arena is growing faster than the Warriors’ injury list.

The plan is to tear out the 130-foot-long Metro platform, just down Third Street from the under-construction Chase Center, and build a 320-foot replacement right in front of the arena.

Building the new platform, however, is just part of the job…

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Torres’ concern is prompted in part by news that Muni already is coming up short on the project and will need borrow $10 million from the city to complete the job.

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

“This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board… (more)

Government needs to remember that the real world does not exist on a piece of paper and a handshake with the biggest money man in the room. Government officials need to serve the people not themselves.

Even if money did grow on trees, willing contractors do not. Labor is lacking and not easy to import with the current climate in Washington. Materials and financing costs are going through the roof, and the mood among likely voters favors big changes at City Hall.

“Leno’s first-place finish was “a real boost” for him and “a vote for change at City Hall,” said former Supervisor David Campos, the committee’s chair.”

The likelihood of passing another regional tax and spend scheme among the nine county voters is getting slimmer with the increase in weather temperatures followed by the increase in anger and frustration with the current policies and practices that got us where we are now.

Trust in government is at an all time low. If San Francisco is to survive as we know it, a change must come. Spending $62 million dollars to shift priorities to a sports arena that will serve only the wealthy few who can afford expensive tickets, is a bad idea in this climate. A recent D-10 Superviosor race found NOT SUPPORT among hte candidates at who spoke.

A number of departments heads may soon find themselves without their exorbitant salaries if these schemes continue to roll through. The residents will have the chance to vote against a litany of controversial  projects and waste by opposing Regional Measure 3, the bridge toll $3 increase.

California voters may also have the chance to repeal SB 1 that could roll back the gas tax that is raising the costs of products being brought in on trucks that are hardest hit by this tax. $25 dollar burgers and $8 avocado toast is not joke to the people who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

These two bills alone will determine how the city and region continues to deal with the traffic problems and the transportation schemes they are developing. Our state representatives who are pushing unpopular legislation in Sacramento may also find themselves out of work as the voters will have the chance to replace them soon. Senator Josh Newman is facing a recall election, after being blamed for casting the deciding vote that passed SB1.

More changes in Sacramento may come as a result of Scott Wiener’s unpopular SB 827 bill that would up-zone the entire state around a transit-based up-zoning scheme by “allowing  the state to seize control of your neighborhood” planning and zoning decisions.

With the recent power grabs in Washington, citizens may not be prepared to relinquish any more powers to any government bodies they feel are chipping away at their personal freedoms by centralizing control.

Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…

BAY AREA MAP > TALLER BUIDINGS NEAR TRANSIT? (maps)

In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827

SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.

California CPUC is to blame for the corporate takeover of our streets. We need new leadership at the CPUP.

Video by Spenser Michael, PBS NewsHours : KQED  – excerpt (video included)

This story ran in 2014.

Every weekday morning, dozens of sleek buses roll through the heart of San Francisco, picking up a cargo of workers commuting south to companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. But critics say the buses are clogging city bus stops and are symbolic of the disparity in wealth between the new tech workers and the long-time working class residents… (more)

Matters have gone from bad to worse. The SFMTA turned public parking spaces over to the buses and now we dealing with more buses and TNCs. As the street parking disappears a new parking need arises for delivery services.

Nothing the state, county, city agencies have done with the millions of dollars in federal, state, regional, county, or city taxes, fines and fees, has put a dent in the traffic problem.

California citizens all over the state are calling for a halt in the failed projects until major changes are enacted to stop the flawed plans that are not working.

RELATED: National coverage has been building on this subject for years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs7N0023ziw

Fast forward to 2018:

We now know a lot more about the “healthy economy” and it is unhealthy for most people.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) does not work for the public. At their last meeting they determined that because they are spending less money than anticipated on enforcement, the fees should be lowered on the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) they are supposed to regulate.

Cities have no way to combat this agency. The only thing they regulate is the routes and the stops.

This is a perfect example of why we need to stop the state from usurping power from local governments. As the state legislature gives itself the right to regulate land use and traffic laws though such bills as Wiener’s SB-827 and 828, neighborhoods are being turned into futuristic holding cells for transients out to make a fast buck. They better grab fast, because they are killing the golden goose. Cities are crumbling under the weight of expectations and unrealistic priorities.

California has a number of regulatory agencies that make the rules and enforce them at their own discretion. There is no separation of powers here. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority has a similar problem. Too much power and too much money has a bad influence on performance. The process does not work for the public. It works for the corporations and their lobbyists who control the agencies.

Because over 2% of the corporate bus trips cross into other local jurisdictions, they are regulated by the state. This encourages more regional traffic, not less, as TNCs scramble to grab those rides.

Uber’s new CEO admitted that his company is in competition with Muni and wants to run the city bus programs. We need  new cop in town and City Hall who can work some magic in Sacramento by taking back local control.

As it stands now the only thing the voters can do is stop the flow of money into the coffers of the agencies until City Halls get the message that the plan is flawed and the citizens are not going to take it anymore. The next tax on the ballot for transportation will be the regional RM3 bill that would increase bridge tolls to pay for more of same.

Fighting back means replacing people who are responsible for this untenable situation, and have not learned by their mistakes. It is one thing to posit an idea that doesn’t work. It is another to pretend like the world is your oyster when millions of people are suffering because of a flawed plan based on false assumptions.

We now know that algorithms can be manipulated thanks to Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation that uncovered massive manipulations by facebook algorithms. Next time someone tells you they based a zoning plan or a traffic pattern future project on an algorithm run for the nearest exit. Computer models are only as good as the input. When there are no recent studies based on current conditions, the computer models are flawed and the algorithms meaningless.

There is a new kid on the block intent on fighting back with renewed public outreach. http://brokenheartsf.com is taking on the buses that are ravaging the Noe Valley neighborhood. See the recent action at the last stop at 29th and San Jose. Marvel at the chutzpah of the huge empty buses as they head for the 280 freeway.

State legislators need to take control the CPUC just as our Supervisors need to control the SFMTA. Let them know how you feel.

 

 

Expanded Uber Express Pool option: Walk a bit, ride for less

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

Uber is expanding Pool, its shared-ride option, offering passengers the chance to save money if they wait a few minutes and walk a few blocks for a ride.

The company has run a pilot of the new program, called Uber Express Pool, in San Francisco and Boston since November. This week it will add six cities: Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver and Washington, D.C.

“Regular” Uber Pool, which the company has offered since mid-2014 and which now exists in 36 cities, lowers prices by letting multiple passengers split costs on a ride, like a form of carpooling. But Ethan Stock, an Uber product manager, acknowledged in a press call Tuesday that passengers get frustrated if their cars drive in circles to pick up and drop off others — and that such an approach is not the most efficient.

Express Pool takes a more streamlined approach, with some of the extra effort coming from passengers on foot so the cars can follow a straighter route.

People requesting an Uber ride will see the options of Express Pool, regular Pool and UberX, and the associated prices and estimated arrival times for each. Those who select Express Pool will be asked to wait a few minutes to increase the odds of finding compatible passenger matches, and then to walk one or two blocks to be picked up. Likewise, at the end of the ride, passengers may have to walk a couple of blocks to their destination… (more)

Uber completes with Muni. What doesn’t ?

RELATED:

Uber Express Pool offers the cheapest fares yet in exchange for a little walking

Uber officially launches Uber Express POOL, a new twist on shared rides

Uber Express Pool is like a minibus with cheaper rides

 

Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

SFMTA is outdoing themselves this week

There are so many pages of details of street changes and parking and traffic alterations that it is hard to list them all. Here is the agenda.

Note the extra long pages and the fact that there are six of them.  A letter arrived from London Breed’s district regarding a mass of parking removal and plans to install more of those GoBikes in the Haight. I will share a slightly edited version here:


Dear Friends and Neighbors:

MTA is planning to remove parking spaces at the corners along Fell Street and at the intersections of Fell with the cross streets from Baker through Shrader.  There will be a hearing before an MTA hearing officer on Friday, February 2, at 10 AM at City Hall, Room 416.  We are very concerned about the loss of yet more parking spaces in our neighborhood.

Even if you have a garage, you may be impacted because eliminating these parking spaces would make it more difficult for guests, babysitters, employees, contractors, visitors, delivery people, housekeepers, movers, etc. to find parking.

Here’s a link to an article on Hoodline that describes the plan and neighbors objections. You might also want to let Supervisor Breed know how you feel about the SFMTA when you see her on the campaign trail.

If you oppose the loss of these parking spaces around Oak and Fell Streets described in this article, please attend the hearing and/or submit written opposition to the following officials. Always copy your supervisor:
MTABoard@sfmta.com
Ed Reiskin MTA Director ed.reiskin@sfmta.com
MTA spokesman ben.jose@sfmta.com
MTA Livable Streets  mike.sallaberry@sfmta.com
MTA Livable Streets luis.montoya@sfmta.com
Supervisor London Breed london.breed@sfgov.org
legislative aides to Supervisor Breed breedstaff@sfgov.org

Cordially,
Concerned Neighbor


There are many objectionable projects on this agenda.

This week’s projects include two more Bike Share Stations near freeway access points. One on Berry and King Street that will remove 4 metered parking spaces. Another one is planned for the sidewalk at Indiana and Cesar Chavez Street. Few cyclists ride on Cesar Chavez. The Mission specifically opposes the corporate takeover of our streets.

There is one full page of reversing projects that must not have worked as planned. Traffic circles, left hand turns and tow-aways that appear to be in District 11 will be rescinded. That would be the supervisor who is working on the Charter Amendment. He appears to be getting the attention of the SFMTA.

I wonder how much the traffic circles cost to install and how much it will cost to take them out. I heard the ones in District 2 are really a problem for pedestrians and bikes because the streets are not wide enough to accommodate them. Maybe our new Mayor or the Supervisor he appoints can do something about that. Maybe he can even get rid of some of the GoBikes stations that residents oppose.

RELATED:
Pruned Panhandle Parking Protects Pedestrians, Says SFMTA

 

 

 

Ordinance introduced at Roll Call January 23, 2018: Board of Supervisors Review of Certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions

We hope this clears up the details of the Supervisors’ plans to address some of our problems with the SFMTA by adopting an ordinance and consider a Charter Amendment that addresses neighborhood issues at the district level. We are looking forward to further explanations as the Supervisors work out the details. Stay tuned.

Ordinance: 180089  [Transportation Code – Board of Supervisors Review of Certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions] Sponsors: Safai; Peskin

Link to Ordinance Language

Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions. ASSIGNED UNDER 30 DAY RULE to Land Use and Transportation Committee.

Existing Law

Notwithstanding the SFMTA’s exclusive authority to adopt various parking and traffic regulations, Charter section 8A. 102(b)(8) permits the Board of Supervisors to establish procedures by which the public may seek Board of Supervisors review of certain SFMTA decisions ; however, the Board of Supervisors have not yet adopt procedures to provide for such review.

Amendments to Current Law

This ordinance amends Division I of the San Francisco Transportation Code to establish procedures for review of certain SFMTA decisions by the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance: (1) creates definitions for “Final SFMTA Decision,” “Private Transportation Program,” and “Proximity to Final SFMTA Decision”; (2) establishes a procedure for the public to request review of a Final SFMTA Decision by the Board of Supervisors; (3)  requires that notice of the review hearing be posted in the Clerk’s Office; and (4) provides a procedure for the Board of Superiors to affirm or reverse a Final SFMTA Decision following the review hearing.

Background Information

Supervisors Safai and Peskin requested legislation to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of certain SFMTA decisions.

YOU WON! The Supervisors heard your demands for relief from the excesses of the SFMTA and calls to decentralize the department.

All your efforts to get the attention of City Hall paid off. You have a chance to take back control of your streets. You also have some good questions to ask the candidates who are running for office in your district.

Gas tax repeal sponsored by Assemblyman Travis Allen fails to qualify, but another effort could reach the ballot

By Casey Tolan : mercurynews – excerpt

A ballot measure to repeal California’s controversial new gas tax sponsored by Assemblyman and Republican governor candidate Travis Allen failed to submit signatures by its deadline this week. But voters could still have a chance to have their say on the law in November, as a separate ballot measure to repeal it continues to gather signatures.

Allen’s campaign was unable to collect signatures due to a series of legal battles with Attorney General Xavier Becerra last year over the wording of the ballot measure, Allen said in an interview Friday afternoon…

separate ballot measure campaign to repeal the gas tax — sponsored by Allen’s Republican rival for the governor’s office, businessman John Cox, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — is still collecting signatures and has a May 21 filing deadline. That petition has gathered 400,000 signatures of the necessary 585,407, the campaign said in a statement Friday.

Allen said he would support that campaign, and that all funds raised by his ballot measure campaign — $87,188, as of the latest filing in September — would go to the Howard Jarvis campaign and to legal costs. His campaign will send all of his donors a form to sign to support the other anti-gas tax ballot initiative. “The movement to stop Jerry Brown’s massive tax increase is larger than any one person or any one group,” Allen said…

poll conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies last month found that 52 percent of likely voters in California backed the repeal… (more)