Reopening California: Here’s how commuting will change for drivers, public transportation when we go back to work

By Dion Lim : abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

Planned changes come as an eye-opening study from Vanderbilt is released, showing if three out of four workers chooses to take a car versus public transportation, drive times increase a whopping 42 minutes.

It’s one of the issues during Thursday’s Bay Area Council webinar with heads of various transportation agencies.

One change already implemented March 20th: The Bay Area Toll Authority decision to switch to all electric tolls on area bridges. That could continue.

“It seems to be working relatively smoothly… We’ll work with the commission on how we’re going to work toward to an all-electric toll future… Stay tuned for that,” says Therese McMillan, Executive Director for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission…. (more)

It is refreshing to hear transportation directors accept the major changes needed in their industry to avoid the spread of COVID-19. One hopes they will allow a lot more involvement by the drivers and riders in re-designing the new system. We also hope they will drop the anti-car actions.

Will the transportation agencies change from standing room only cattle-car vehicles to smaller, shuttle size vehicles with more space between the seats? Will city authorities and Muni riders insist on it? Will the Supervisors refuse to fund the larger vehicles? They are already threatening legislation to stop Muni fare increases.

RELATED:

‘Congestion pricing’ suspended on Bay Bridge, toll to remain at $6 everyday amid COVID-19 pandemic

Total shutdown of Muni service might be best way to curb COVID-19 spread, Union President says

Santa Clara Co. proposal would allow more employees to work from home after pandemic

Sweeping Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleges Racial Bias In Implementation Of California Climate Policies

By Michael Shellenberger : forbes – excerpt

Top civil rights leaders are suing California for climate policies they say disproportionately harm its poorest residents, particularly Latinos and African Americans.

“California politicians are using anti-racist and environmentalist words to hide the regressive impact of their climate policies on the poor and people of color,” said John Gamboa, the co-founder of The Two Hundred, a coalition of prominent civil rights leaders, which filed a lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in Superior Court…

“California’s climate leaders have decided to intentionally increase traffic congestion — to lengthen commute times and encourage gridlock — to try to get more people to ride buses or take other forms of public transit,” the legal complaint alleges…

Lefcoe, who is not involved in the case, said the lawsuit’s challenge to transportation policies is particularly powerful. “Automobiles are the survival mechanism for low-income people,” noted Lefcoe. “If you try to increase the cost of automobiles, you hurt low-income people...(more)

This is one of the most interesting lawsuits to come out that ties low and middle income earners to private vehicles. Given the new distancing guidelines and the importance of drive-through services this is an important case. Allegations of misuse of the cap and trade funds is an interesting component.

Transit Has Been Battered by Coronavirus. What’s Ahead May Be Worse.

By Emily Badger : nytimes – excerpt

“The number of scenarios that we have to plan for is staggering.”

Fare revenue has vanished across the country as transit riders have. Even those essential workers still taking the bus or train aren’t generating much money for agencies strained by the coronavirus pandemic. Many systems have moved to free service, or stopped policing fares. It’s just too risky for bus drivers if anyone comes near the farebox a foot away.

As dire as this moment seems, however, something more worrisome lies ahead…

Uber and Lyft taxes, gas taxes, highway tolls, advertising dollars — all of these ways communities fund transit are shrinking. In Philadelphia, free rides for older passengers are paid for in part by revenue from the state lottery. During the last recession, even lottery proceeds plummeted

“The number of scenarios that we have to plan for is staggering,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, the director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

What if agencies have to maintain this strange status quo, running nearly empty buses for second-shift nurses, into the summer? What if unemployment reaches 30 percent? What if they idle vehicles for so long they fall out of working condition? What if they must lay off the only mechanics who know their way around streetcars?… (more)

Hate to say “I told you so”, but for some time there have been obvious signs that the system is not sustainable.

 

Open Letter to London Breed and the Board of Supervisors

March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor, SFMTA Board of Directors and Board of Supervisors:

You may anticipate seeing a lot of emails and messages coming from the residents of San Francisco who are “sheltering in place” regarding the parking regulations that have been announced by the SFMTA Director this week. I was hesitant to add my voice to the issue at first, since I understand the intense pressure people are under to mitigate the many problems relating to the new order.

After seeing an article that indicates SFMTA is still towing homeless vehicles and that the city is losing 4.7 million dollars a year on the towing program, I decided to act. We heard the towing program has stopped so I hope that article is inaccurate.

Ticketing is still a problem according to residents who are protesting it, so I decided to add my voice to theirs and request a Sunday parking program be enacted during the crisis.

There is a lot less traffic without the commuters streaming in to work and the streets are empty.  The need for parking turnover was given for parking meters and time limits and since that problem is temporarily suspended all parking restrictions should be suspended as well.

The city needs to support those who are still working and volunteers in every way possible. The last thing they should worry about is parking tickets. Volunteers and health care workers are distributing food, taking care of people aging in place and sheltering in place. Residents need to take care of their families. There is no excuses for ticketing and towing during a national “shelter in place” emergency.

Federal, state and local governments are rushing to establish programs to keep small businesses alive. Making parking easy is one of the cheapest ways to support the businesses that are open. Eliminating the fear of tickets will eliminate some stress for the workers who are losing income.

Please rethink the parking policy and establish a Sunday parking policy for the City of San Francisco as long the “Shelter in Place” program is in place.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

With cars banned on SF’s Market Street, top official eyes next target: Valencia

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

As the dream of banning cars becomes a reality Wednesday on San Francisco’s Market Street — an idea dating to when horse-drawn buggies jockeyed for space among puttering Ford Model Ts — one top transportation official is already pitching ideas for the next car-free thoroughfare.

During a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting Tuesday, Chair Malcolm Heinicke called for automobiles to be purged from Valencia Street, a bustling strip in the Mission District.

“I’m not very patient here. I want the next one,” Heinicke told The Chronicle outside the meeting where he and the other six directors discussed themes for the coming year.

He predicts that Market Street sans cars will reap huge benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. Analyses by SFMTA suggest that Muni’s buses and streetcars will run 15% to 25% faster. Planners also expect to substantially reduce collisions, providing a safe path for the 500,000 people who walk along Market Street daily.…

His pitch had activists cheering on social media. But the vice president of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association was stunned.

“I personally think it would be devastating to our business,” said Jonah Buffa, co-owner of Fellow Barber at 18th and Valencia streets. Many of his customers arrive by car, whether driving their own vehicles or riding an Uber or Lyft… (more)

Let’s find out if Market Street merchants really pick up business as Heinicke expects before we role out the plan to further streets.

Business owners in San Francisco’s Chinatown collaborate to fight crime

By Dion Lim : abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A group of business owners in Chinatown is taking matters into their own hands after two violent attacks and what feels like to them a constant stream of break-ins and crime.

While it doesn’t sound like much, many are banking on a change in parking garage fees at night to not only bring in more business but to the area but to also get the attention of law enforcement to provide more resources.

Business owner and entertainment commissioner Steven Lee has been lobbying for more than 6-months to get parking rates reduced at the Portsmouth Square Parking Garage, the primary garage location for those visiting Chinatown.

“There are a lot of empty storefronts we still want to fill…but most importantly we want to push more nightlife. But the biggest problem is that people don’t feel like their cars are safe,” he says.

Before the rate there to park from 5pm to 2am cost $36. Now after working with the SFMTA, SF Rec and Park and garage management the new evening rate will be $8 to park during that same time…(more)

Mission Street merchants have been clamoring for parking for years. Maybe now they will get some relief? Where do you sign up for “safe” parking in the Mission?

Electric-Car Owners Hard Hit by Massive California Power Shutdown

By : caranddriver – excerpt

Tesla’s Elon Musk promises battery and solar solutions for the many EV owners who can’t charge their cars.

  • Nearly a million Californians are now without power as the electric company deliberately shut it off this week, fearing high winds would spark wildfire.
  • The affected area in Northern California surrounds Fremont, home of Tesla, and a great many electric-car owners who can’t charge their vehicles as usual.
  • Tesla’s Elon Musk is swapping in battery Powerpacks and solar power for Superchargers in the region as fast as he can get permits, he claims on Twitter…(more)

Of course if they have solar installations on their roofs, they can charge the cars using their own power during the day and suck off the car during the night. That is if they are free to arrange a schedule to fit that reality. If their job is reliant on energy anyway, they may be off work. Many possibilities for off-the-grid power solutions will no doubt surface soon.

Reopening Of Stockton Street Marks Milestone In Central Subway Project

sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After being closed for seven years, a portion of Stockton Street in downtown San Francisco reopened Thursday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials announced.

Stockton Street between Geary and Ellis streets had been closed for construction of the underground Central Subway, which is set to connect riders from the South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown…

“Stockton Street is a major commercial artery and bus route that brings life into the heart of District Three,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in a statement. “For many residents in Chinatown and North Beach, this throughway also represents equitable and undisrupted access to downtown jobs and services…

The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities… (more)

“The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities.” 

How about reopening Mission Street to rebuild the vital link between two of San Francisco’s other most iconic Latino communities? Isn’t the cultural historical character of the Mission as important as any other in the city or do we detect a hint of discrimination against the Mission? Tear down the wall on Mission Street. Remove the barriers to trade and commerce in the Mission.

SFMTA Proposes Parking Changes to Prepare for Chase Event Center Opening

Public letter from SFMTA:

Dear Dogpatch and Potrero Neighbors and Visitors,

The Chase Event Center, located at 16th and 3rd Streets, is expected to open its doors in August 2019.

The 18,000-seat Event Center could host over 200 sports and entertainment events annually, including up to 50 to 60 Warriors home games, which will start at 7:30 pm on weekdays and 5:30 pm on weekends.

In anticipation of the opening, the SFMTA has worked with the nearby neighborhoods to develop a plan to discourage people from driving to Chase Center events and to maintain parking availability for nearby residents and businesses during events.  The SFMTA presented these plans to neighborhood associations for their feedback, including the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA), the Potrero Boosters and the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association (PDMA). Based on feedback received at these meetings, the SFMTA prepared a proposal for changes to the hours of parking enforcement and meter rates.

Special event meter pricing and extended Residential Permit Parking (RPP) enforcement hours on streets surrounding Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park), home of the San Francisco Giants, have proven effective at maintaining parking availability for residents and local business customers.  As you may have experienced during games and other events at Oracle Park, meter rates are $7 per hour during events, while RPP Area Y parking is enforced from 8 am to 10 pm every day.

The SFMTA proposes to implement similar measures on blocks potentially impacted by the new Chase Event Center. The proposed parking changes, which are illustrated in the attached map, include:

  •  Metered parking
    • The metered blocks listed below and shown on the attached map will have:
    • Enforcement until 10 p.m. Mon-Sat
    • Enforcement 4-8pm on Sundays with events
    • $7/hour special event rates starting an hour before events
  • Metered blocks affected:
    • 7th Street between Daggett Street and Hooper Street will be enforced until 10 p.m.
    • Metered blocks in the Dogpatch north of 22nd Street between Indiana and Illinois Streets
    • 16th Street between 7th and Vermont (meters already legislated, to be installed after 22-Fillmore transit improvements are completed)
    • New signs will be posted on special event metered blocks to inform drivers to check the meter for current rates
  • Residential permit parking
    • All Area EE blocks will be enforced Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.
    • Some Area X blocks (see attached map) east of Wisconsin Street and north of 18th Street enforced Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.
    • Existing time limits (1-hour or 2-hour, depending on the block) will remain the same
  • General time-limited parking                       
    • The 4-hour general time-limited parking will not change
    • 4-hour general time limits will continue to be enforced between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday

We want to know what you think. Comments on the proposal received prior to February 25th will be considered as we prepare the final proposal.  Please send your comments to pamela.johnson@sfmta.com

In order for the modified hours of enforcement to be in place by the time the Chase Event Center holds its first events, the final proposal would need to be presented at the SFMTA Engineering Public Hearing in March, tentatively scheduled for March 8th at City Hall. (Check the SFMTA website for actual public hearing date).

Depending on the outcome of the public hearing, the SFMTA Board of Directors could consider these changes at an April board meeting.  This will allow new signs to be ordered and installed in August or September.

We will send updates when the Public Hearing and SFMTA Board of Directors meeting dates have been finalized.

For more information visit: Special event meter pricing.

Map of Proposed Parking Enforcement Changes.jpg

SFMTA extends special event parking for sports fans into more neighborhoods.  SFMTA intends to turn most of Mission Bay, part of Dogpatch, and most of the SE part of Southbeach into event parking for the sports fans.

Let Mat Haney and Shamann Walton know how you feel about this plan. How much should the citizens of SF give up to the wealthy fans of wealthy ball teams and owners? How many ticket holders are going walk a quarter mile to a game, especially through the kind of streets we have in SOMA? Most will park and take an Uber or Lyft to the event. If you can think of an alternate plan, suggest it.

For people who call vehicles home, SF supe wants to provide safe haven

Supervisor Vallie Brown has been preparing the latest of a round of city legislative efforts to help the rolling homeless get into permanent housing and avoid racking up pricey parking and registration tickets. But getting those people to accept help is always a tough task.

The measure calls for the creation of a “triage center,” where people living in a vehicle could come to access services like showers and bathrooms without fear of their vehicle being towed. They could also then be assessed by homelessness specialists en route to services, if they choose to pursue them.

Brown’s ordinance also seeks to create a pilot program for what she’s calling a “Vehicular Navigation Center,” a safe place to park overnight for people living in a car or RV. Similar initiatives in Seattle and other California cities have been met with mixed results…

Plans in Los Angeles, where the latest official street counts show at least 9,000 people living in vehicles, and in Seattle, where counts show the surrounding county has 2,300 vehicle campers, have been met with such resistance that few have been actually launched. The most successful program is in Santa Barbara, where a program begun in 2004 has grown to include 133 parking spaces…

Sonoma County ran a lot in Santa Rosa with about 80 safe parking spots for several years until 2017, when the state funding used to run it ran out. County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who helped spearhead the program, called it “very successful,” and said she’d like to see it replicated if money ever comes available again…(more)