Muni oversight board to nominate new leadership as group calls for ouster

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

ed-head

The transportation oversight board that oversees San Francisco’s Muni system — and hires and fires its executive director — is set to see a shakeup in its leadership.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors is poised to vote among its members for a new chair and vice chair next week, the agency confirmed. The move comes during a time of great scrutiny for the agency…

The co-presidents of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, an influential political group in the local LGBT community, called on Mayor London Breed to oust its longest standing directors in a letter

The letter cites the summer Muni meltdown, ongoing Muni train “switchbacks,” and an agency contractor laying 3 miles of the wrong type of steel track as mounting grievances that it lays on the shoulders of the current SFMTA board…

The letter noted those directors could fire SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, who Breed herself put on notice with her own scathing letter earlier this year…

Heinicke, who has served on the board since 2008, has often been the voice for the ailing taxi industry, but is also known as a pragmatist who weighs both drivers and transit options.

“Drivers are people too,” he argued last September when asking SFMTA staff to reach out to local drivers while planning a pedestrian safety project.

Gwyneth Borden, another SFMTA board director and head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, is expected to be voted in as vice-chair. She also is seen by some insiders as a vote to possibly oust Reiskin, the SFMTA director.… (more)

It is about time. Ten years of damage is enough for any city to put up with. Now is the time to hit City Hall with the personal letters you have been meaning to write. Now is the time to demand change at SFMTA.

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Paradise narrowed its main road by two lanes despite warnings of gridlock during a major wildfire

: latimes – (excerpt from November 20, 2018 article)

After a fast-moving fire swept into town a decade ago, burning more than 200 homes and trapping thousands of fleeing residents on gridlocked mountain roads, a grand jury called on officials to improve evacuation routes.

But six years later, the city decided to narrow a portion of the main road through town from four lanes to two as part of an effort in the downtown area aimed at boosting commerce as well as traffic and pedestrian safety.

Two other roads in the city were also narrowed, records show..

The so-called Skyway “road diet” slowed traffic, and a local civic group donated benches and landscaping to beautify the zone.

Nearly two weeks ago, Skyway was the scene of unspeakable horror when the worst wildfire in California history besieged Paradise. Up to 27,000 residents trying to escape the flames instead were stuck in traffic, the buildings around them burning. Some died in their cars when the fire roared over them… (more)

A number of people have raised this issue with San Francisco authorities. How are the evacuation plans supposed to work in San Francisco? We have very few lanes for traffic to flow from the Bay side of of the city to the Western side. Only two streets cross both 101 and 280, and one of those is up for major alterations. How is this making San Francisco safer? How does removing street lanes from evacuation routes make these neighborhoods safe?

Mission Street merchants hate the red lanes, regardless of any benefits to transit

By Liliana Michelena and Abraham Rodriguez : missionlocal – excerpt

A door-to-door survey of 73 Mission businesses reveals deep unrest

Nearly three years after the city installed red bus lanes on Mission Street, merchants still hate them. Fewer cars on the street, they said, has translated into fewer people visiting their shops, and a drop in sales that threatens many of the businesses.

A door-to-door survey of 73 businesses on the Mission Street corridor from 16th to 24th Streets revealed that the changes have been especially hard to stomach for older businesses, many of which are owned by Latinos and Asians. Moreover, few feel they have any organization or city official to turn to…

Although Uber and Lyft have been around longer, the impact on traffic in San Francisco — and likely on Mission Street as well — spiked in 2016, the year the red lanes went in(more)

 

Citing management failures, city withholds funds for Salesforce Transit Center expansion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A city transportation body voted Tuesday to suspend “all further financial assistance” for work on the Salesforce Transit Center, citing a lack of faith in the project’s leadership.

It is the latest delay to transit center funding, after $200 million was held up by a Board of Supervisors committee last Thursday for clarification purposes. That funding will return for a vote this week at the board.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, which is comprised of the Board of Supervisors, voted unanimously to delay $9.6 million in funds to the Transbay Joint Power Authority until The City can evaluate what led to the discovery last month of cracks in two steel beams, shutting down the newly constructed $2.2 billion transit center…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said it is vital that The City plans the multi-billion dollar project effectively, making it essential to re-evaluate the transit center’s leadership before the next phase of transit center design begins.

“The right time to get it right is in the beginning,” Peskin said…(more)

The solution to dealing with the accountability problem is to pass a Charter Amendment to restructure the departments that are responsible for the transportation mess that seems to be pushing us toward a private corporate takeover of our streets. The shadowy regional TJPA has been a thorn in our sides for a while. Now we see the results of their efforts. What will it take for citizens to act? Ask the candidates for supervisor what they will do when they are in charge.

City withholds Salesforce Transit Center funding as allegations of mismanagement mount

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco city officials are withholding $9.6 million meant to fund expansion planning for the Salesforce Transit Center, in a bid to hold its leadership accountable for alleged mismanagement of the $2.2 billion project.

The move to delay the funding Tuesday came the same day as a lawsuit filed by a major contractor, and amid new revelations that the transit center may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue due to its closure following the discovery of two cracked beams holding up its rooftop park in late September…

“We are taking a little ‘time out,’” Peskin told the Examiner Tuesday. … (more)

My mind is boggled. I can hardly think. Someone is finally questioning the rush to prop up failing projects with more tax dollars. TIME OUT is the right move. We need a chart to follow the action with these fast-paced legal maneuvers coming from all directions.

TJPA just got a strong wave of descent rippling through their regional quarters as the change order system is turned off. If a few hundred buses rattling though the center are going to crack beams, imagine what the vibrations of fast moving trains will do. And has anyone considered how much weight will rain add to the rooftop garden? We might find out next week.

At least we know who is NOT to blame. The motor vehicle drivers and the taxpaying public, unless you blame them for passing the legislation that funded this regional monster ie: passing regional tax and the bridge toll bills. How many new “world class” exhibits in bad designs can any city handle in a decade?

 

 

Here is a novel approach to solving the escalator mystery

Why don’t we stop building escalators until we find the answer to why they don’t work in San Francisco but do work in other cities.

Is it a design flaw? Is it a management issue? Is there a built in obsolescence feature such as some people suggest? A giant sucking magnetic force that renders all escalator’s unable to function properly? How can we continue to build systems that never work? Let’s just stop building them until we figure out why.

How we people going to deal with broken escalators at the Central Subway stations when they malfunction? Will they put up with a steep long climb?

Find a city where escalators work, find what who designed them and why they work there, and try to use a proven design and contractor in San Francisco and on the BART systems. Solve the mystery before continuing to build more broken elevators.

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.

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.

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents… (more)

Most people blame the SFMTA for the mess that makes the Millennium Tower look like small potatoes. We need Peskin to direct the 30 plus SFCTA staffers at the SFCTA to prepare a report on the Walsh contract. Who suggested using a Design-to-Build contract, used in small construction jobs, as a good way to design and manage the massively complex and growing multi-contractor mess that we have on Van Ness Avenue.
Who supported this project management style and who advised against it? Can we quit listening to the people who get it wrong and start paying attention to the people, and the public, who get it right?
Until this mess gets sorted out City Hall should stop all non-essential new projects from breaking ground.

We should stop installing building billion dollar old technology on our streets when new tech may solve much of the problem. See this new system being tried on China now and then decide how to “design for the future”. http://www.sfexaminer.com/v…

SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Op-Ed

Objections to the Potrero streetscape rollout took center stage at a neighborhood meeting at Zuckerberg SF General that was called to update concerned neighbors on the various construction projects underway and planned for the hospital grounds. The public has been complaining for months about the new slalom run on Potrero that mimics the curvy streets on Third Street, where traffic is forced on and off the light rail tracks, and distracted drivers have difficulty watching for pedestrians while they attempt to follow the lane changes.

Nobody addressed the new hospital plans. Complaints were about:

  • The lack of notice about the meeting
  • Distracted driving
  • Dangerous new curvy lanes with up to 22 turns and constant changes.
  • Medians and trees – design, placement, and choice of trees.
  • Increase in traffic on narrow sides-streets where most cyclists choose to ride.
  • Confusing signs and directions
  • Traffic signal removal
  • Some mention was made of the Fire Department’s concerns that are supposed to have the project on hold, but, more details are needed on that subject

There were a lot of suggestions for improvements:

  • A better noticing system for neighborhood with a 2-week lead time
  • Elimination of the extended medians past the pedestrian walkways that drivers are not anticipating
  • Removal of some of the most objectionable medians that restrict traffic flow
  • Re-opening the 23rd Street pass through from the Potrero Hill ramp that allows entry into the Mission. It was noted that this is the second barrier to keep people out of the Mission devised by SFMTA.
  • Better clearer signage and possibly a freeway sign warning of a construction site ahead for drivers who wander off the freeway
  • Elimination of forced right turns and no right turns.
  • Moving bike lane to side street and possible speed controls on those streets.

All of the changes and experiments that SFMAT claims will calm traffic are making drivers more angry and less safe and calm. Residents on the narrow side streets are seeing claim the accident count is up more accidents, making everyone less safe, and creating havoc on the street, as drivers attempt to watch the road changes and other cars, they are finding it hard to watch out for pedestrians and the occasional bike at the same time. This AAA study seems to back up the public’s fears about distracted driving, and explains why many of the traffic infractions are attributed to Ubers and Lyfts who don’t know the city and are depending on dashboard maps to get around.

We need to insist that our supervisors look at these studies and accident reports and consider what options they have to reverse the SFMTA project approvals, straighten the streets, and limit out-of-town TNCs that do not know the city. This study should also be sent to the Governor who may have signed SB 182 into law last week. That state bill was passed prior to all these reports as far as we know. If this bill is written into law, the next step is to go to the state level agency and deal with is there. More on that to come.