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.

Opening Up to New Traffic

Alex Kriese : sffogline – excerpt

…Chase Center will not only be the Golden State Warriors’ home arena, but will also host another 200 hundred concerts and events other than basketball games. This new stadium will increase the number of jobs in San Francisco on event days, but will also increase the traffic in an already crowded part of the city. The Chase Center will be located near Piers 30 and 32 and across the street from the UCSF medical center, which many people believe will cause a huge increase in traffic in the North East corner of the City. Not only will traffic increase, but the noise will also. The increased noise from Warriors games and other concerts and events held during the year might impact some of the patients who are being treated at the medical center nearby..

Although the overlap is only a few weeks at a time, if both the Giants and Warriors play home games on the same day, the traffic implications seem daunting. In addition to the Chase Center, AT&T Park holds 42,000+ people. With only an additional 200 parking spots dedicated to the new arena, an influx of 60,000 bodies dispersing simultaneously after a pair of coincidental home games would cause an immense traffic jam that could rival LA’s rush hour. BART and Caltrain stations, which are already brimming on Giants game days, may feel the need for “pushers” like in Japan, people who are paid to help push and shove people into trains to make them all fit. It may be a little overdramatic but the thought of it is funny.

In due time, we shall see how San Francisco and the respective sports organizations plan to alleviate any added headaches to the fans and residents…(more)

This is one of the worst mistakes the city has made in years. Let’s spend a fortune on a new stadium next to the water on landfill with rising sea levels anticipated and see which disaster strikes first. Pushers indeed.

 

Geary BRT is an expensive pledge to the past

By David Hirtz : sfexaminer – excerpt

Transit planners have been at work for many years to come up with a plan to improve bus service for all of Geary Boulevard, but let’s just talk about the 2.2-mile western portion from Masonic Avenue to 27th Avenue. Planners envision the median there with more than 100 trees replaced by two, red-painted central bus-only lanes for 24 hours a day. Riders would board from narrow platforms in the middle of the roadway, between the bus lanes and other traffic.

Riders are now are accustomed to two levels of service: the infrequently stopping Rapid, and the Local that makes stops every two blocks or so. With only one lane for buses, there will be just one quality of service: Local, as all buses will back up behind the slowest moving one. But Local service will have fewer stops, as statistically that will reduce rider times — even if you have to walk farther to find one.

That certainly won’t save you any rider time if you like the Rapid…

A public-spirited citizens group offered comment to Muni and officials with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on this project and were summarily dismissed. They then founded San Franciscans for Sensible Transit to advocate for transit issues all over San Francisco. After much study, they support a number of improvements — more buses, better schedules, holding green lights for buses, street paving and others — at a cost of $50 million as a more sensible idea. See what you can get for these proven steps, they say. Their cost-benefit comparisons are on the website of both the Muni-favored version, called the Hybrid, and the Sensible Transit concept…

Our Transit First Policy first requires that all transportation projects ensure the quality of life and economic health of the community. No studies of economic health were done for the planners, who dismiss concerns about quality of life as well. The potential loss of many small businesses and their jobs is also ignored.
A representative of Mayor Ed Lee told Sensible Transit that we already have too much retail at street level…

The SFCTA meets to vote on the project on Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. at room 250 at City Hall. This is the time to find your feet and your voice or prepare to live with a very unfortunate outcome.

David Hirtz is president of San Franciscans for Sensible Transit and a resident of the Richmond neighborhood for 35 years… (more)

Do read the entire article and comment if you can. Letters and your presence at the SFCTA Meeting are appreciated. Sample letter is here: sfsensibletransit.org

Ask the supervisors what they would prefer to spend the $300 million dollars on. Each of them probably has better ideas than destroying more trees and businesses on Geary. Only the SFMTA and their contractors stand to benefit from this nightmare, that already has the makings of a number of lawsuits, starting with the insistence on fast-tricking it, ignoring the 30 days minimum for public review and response to the EIR. Sample letter here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

 

December 2015: Best Month Ever for Electric Vehicle Sales in U.S., Despite Incredibly Low Gas Prices

By Gina Coplon-Newfield :sierraclub – excerpt

In December, when gas prices were the lowest they’ve been since 2009, U.S. consumers bought more electric vehicles than in any month ever. That month, 13,650 drivers bought or leased a new Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, BMW i3, i8 and X5, or the many other models available. These fortunate people and their families will rarely, if ever, stop at a gas station. The December sales height marks a more than 10-percent increase from last December, which previously held the record for highest monthly sales of electric vehicles…

Plug-in electric vehicles are a clean, affordable choice over the gasoline-fueled conventional vehicles that are leaving our air dirty, our families sick, and our climate in peril. Even when considering the emissions from the electricity sources used to charge the vehicles, nationwide, EVs are significantly cleaner than conventional vehicles…

December’s record-breaking EV sales (after a strong November showing too) demonstrate that 2016 could be a big year for EVs and their happy drivers. I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we need to do more to pick up the pace(more)

The truth inside the Google bus lawsuit: gentrification hurts the environment

by Susie Cagle in Oakland : theguardian – excerpt

Stop blaming poor people for pollution. When Silicon Valley’s class war prices out city workers and forces them to the suburbs, they become more eco-evil than Google

A new lawsuit brought by San Francisco activists against the city places blame squarely on Silicon Valley’s now infamous private tech-employee shuttle buses, claiming that they not only spew air pollution across the city and endanger cyclists and pedestrians, but also that they directly displace residents from their homes. But this lawsuit – and the city’s bypassing of a review process, and the buses themselves – isn’t really about the environment. It’s about class, and it could foretell big changes for how California’s cities grow in the future…

San Francisco tries to scuttle environmental reports all the time, and activists constantly sue them for it, so, in a certain sense, this is business as usual. But if this group can make their case against the company shuttles, they might not just force a city drunk on the promise of technology to take stock of its values – they might impact development across the entire Golden State… (more)

San Ramon needs to plan transportation before building

by Jim Gibbon, Sierra Club Mount Diablo Group – theyodeler – excerpt

The Sierra Club is urging San Ramon to prepare a transportation master plan to figure out how to solve our transportation problems for the coming decades–before  spending hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that may not help in the short term and that may close off long-term solutions. (There is a 2009 Countywide Comprehensive Transportation Plan, but it doesn’t really do the job.)

For example, the city is studying building on- and off-ramps for high-occupancy vehicles in the middle of I-680 at the Norris Canyon overpass. The ramps might shave three minutes off commute times for about 500 bus passengers a day using the Walnut Creek and Dublin BART stations–but at a cost of $101 million dollars. Unfortunately, because the freeway right-of-way is limited, the ramps would require reducing the number of freeway lanes, thus turning what is now a congested stretch of freeway into an absolute bottleneck. The ramps would replace the current Norris Canyon Road overpass, which provides a safe path for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians between neighborhoods on the west side of the city and the schools and parks on the east side. Even worse, the ramps would preclude other future freeway traffic solutions… (more)

Supervisor Farrell Has Some Questions About The SFMTA’s Parking Meter Expansion Plan

sfappeal.com – excerpt

A San Francisco supervisor on Tuesday asked for a hearing on a Municipal Transportation Agency proposal to expand parking meters into various neighborhoods in the city.
The SFMTA is currently conducting outreach in the northeastern part of the Mission District, the first neighborhood that could potentially be affected by the expansion.
In the coming months, the outreach will be extended to residents and business owners in the Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and western South of Market neighborhoods, which are also being eyed as locations for more meters, agency officials said.
Supervisor Mark Farrell said he has “serious concerns” about the expansion idea, and said he has heard concerns from residents in his district, which includes the Marina and Pacific Heights, that parking meters may be installed there as well… (more)

Let Supervisory Farrell know how you feel about the parking situation. Write, call, or email:
Supervisor Farrell
City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689
(415) 554-7752 – voice
(415) 554-7843 – fax
Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org
http://www.sfbos.org/index.aspx?page=11506
Aids: Catherine Stefani, Margaux Kelly, Jess Montejano

The Greenest Building Is One That’s Already Built

 Jerri Holan : sanfrancisco.urbdezine.com – excerpt

If the biggest threat to human survival is climate change, then American construction is probably the industry most responsible for causing it.  Every new construction site represents the climate being changed, the environment being degraded, energy being consumed, and irreplaceable natural resources being used.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Statistics Center, 48% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the construction and operation of buildings.  That’s almost twice the amount of emissions that come from cars, trucks, and airplanes combined.  While the industry and transportation sectors each consume about 26% of our energy, the construction sector uses 48%.   And, according to National Association of Homebuilders, one 2,000 square-foot home uses up to 1.5 acres of forest and for each ton of Portland cement produced, one ton of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere(more)

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Livable City: Extra Parking for Car-Share Could Be Abused

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Developers would be allowed to skirt limits on car parking if they devote the extra spaces to car-sharing, under a proposal approved unanimously by the SF Planning Commission yesterday. The bill [PDF], which advocates warn could be abused as a loophole to expand private parking, would apply to residential and commercial buildings. The legislation must still be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Under the proposal, developers who want to build the maximum number of private parking spots permitted by the planning code but aren’t willing to devote any of those spots to car-share would be allowed to add up to five extra car-share spots in a building of 50 residential units or less. For buildings larger than that, up to eight could be added. To be eligible for the exemption, a developer cannot apply for a conditional use permit to exceed the maximum allowance for private parking, according to Andres Power, an aide to Supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the proposal.
Advocates say that letting developers exceed parking maximums undermines the purported spirit of the bill. “Car-share is meant to reduce demand for residential parking, so car-share spaces ought not be over and above the maximum number of residential spaces,” said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich. “Using car-share to justify excess parking is cynical greenwash, and nothing more.”… (more)

How California is planning growth for a prosperous economy and clean environment

Kaid Benfield’s Blog – excerpt

A thorough new report developed by my colleagues at the Natural Resources Defense Council, together with Move LA, a transportation and smart development partnership in southern California, documents the impressive progress made over the last four years to ensure that our nation’s most populous state will absorb future growth in a sensible way.  Called Bold Plans for California Communities, the report traces the history and implementation of the state’s landmark planning framework, adopted by the state legislature and signed by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.

California’s planning framework
In California, laws tend to be known by bureaucratic names or abbreviations and numbers (think Proposition 13 or AB 32).  The planning legislation, known by most as Senate Bill 375 or simply “SB 375,” wisely takes account  of the growth pressures facing the state – population is expected to increase about ten percent in each coming decade – and directs each of its metropolitan planning organizations to coordinate transportation investment, land use and housing so that growth occurs efficiently while minimizing emissions and  other environmental impacts.  The most significant environmental provisions of the law direct the California Air Resources Board to develop and assign transportation emissions targets for each region, and then requires each region to develop a detailed strategy to assure that those targets are met.  The Air Board must review the plans and certify that each is adequate to meet the targets.  It’s not quite that simple, of course, but that’s the general idea…. (more)