MTA Public Meeting Disappoints as its Transparency Continues to Erode.

By Rick Hall and Ted Lowenberg

The SFMTA is becoming much less transparent. We have noticed the bundling of “projects” into an incomprehensible mass. For example, TEP (now Muni-Forward) – proposed massive changes that reduced neighborhood service but promised – system wide improvement. The massive scope of this plan made it unlikely that any but the most astute would detect the impacts on their commute. SFMTA’s “community meetings” are structured by their consultants in an “open house” setting to discourage individual attendees from hearing other’s comments and (heaven forbid) coming together on an issue as a real community.

One of our readers was disturbed by this charade at a recent SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting (April 21, 2015). He was particularly concerned about the confusing manner in which street parking removal was described in the consent calendar, where it would presumably be approved en mass, along with other items. The notice was vague and it was difficult to discuss individual streets with any clarity or precision.

He wanted to know exactly how many spots were to be removed in each area and why there were no proposed mitigation measures or consideration of environmental impact. The curb space was targeted by MTA for “car share parking” but there was no mention of how much revenue was expected from the sale of the space. He sees this project as “selling public assets to private companies at bargain prices” for the benefit of the regulatory agency that is proposing the contract. Is this legal or ethical?

During the meeting the Chairman was not speaking into the microphone, so much was missed by the audience of about 35 persons. When our reader pointed this out twice, he was ignored. He said ”it’s not a public meeting if the conversation cannot be heard by the public,” in reference to the Brown Act.

There will be a chance at a future meeting to argue against this public give-away to private, profit companies. We will let you know when to turn out for this – the more people the better. As the commission “goes silent,” we need to go LOUD.