Rob Anderson and Mary Miles Take Aim at the SFMTA’s Plans for Polk Street

This was the team that tied SFGov up in knots with an injunction for four long years.

FROM:
Mary Miles (SB #230395)
Attorney at Law
for Coalition for Adequate Review
San Francisco, CA 94102
TO:
Edward Reiskin, Director
Roberta Boomer, Board Secretary
and Members of the Board of Directors of the Municipal Transportation Agency
#1 South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
DATE: March 3, 2015
PUBLIC COMMENT, MTA BOARD MEETING OF MARCH 3, 2015, AGENDA ITEM 12 (“Polk Streetscape Project”)
This is Public Comment on Agenda Item 12, the “Polk Streetscape Project” (“Polk Project” or “the Project”), on the MTA Board’s March 3, 2015 Agenda. Under the Brown Act and CEQA, you are legally obligated to accept and consider this Comment and to place it in all public files on the Project. Therefore, please assure that this Comment has been distributed to all members of the MTA Board and placed in all applicable files on the Project.
The “categorical exemptions” invoked do not apply to the Project, and therefore you may not lawfully approve the Project or any part of it as proposed, since such approval will violate the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) (Pub. Res. Code §§21000 et seq.)
The Project proposes to reduce traffic and turning capacity on Polk and other Streets by eliminating existing parking lanes, reducing traffic lanes and installing obstructions to traffic flow and turning on this busy commercial corridor.
The unusual and highly inconvenient scheduling of this hearing before the MTA Board after 3:00 p.m., on a day with an extraordinarily long MTA Board Agenda shows the MTA Board’s contempt for the public and the significant impacts of the Project. The hearing should be continued to a date and time when the public can be heard without waiting hours for hearings on unrelated matters, and where the public’s comments will receive the Board’s full and serious attention. The hearing precludes public attendance by many people, including all those people who have to be at work. Combined with the short notice, that scheduling deprives the public of the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the environmental review and administrative proceedings on the Project.
On January 15, 2015, the San Francisco Planning Department issued a “Certificate of Determination of Exemption from Environmental Review” (“Exemption”) claiming that the Project was categorically exempt under Classes 1, 2, and 4 of CEQA, invoking 14 Cal. Code Regs. [“Guidelines”] §§ 15301, 15302, and 15304. None of those categorical exemptions apply to this Project. Further, the significant cumulative impacts on traffic, transit, parking, loading, and air quality caused by the Van Ness BRT project one block away, and by the CPMC Project at Van Ness Avenue at Geary Boulevard, make the Polk Project not categorically exempt. (Guidelines §15300.2) Both of those Projects also present “unusual circumstances” precluding categorical exemption of the Polk Project.
1. The Polk Project Does Not Fit Within The Categorical Exemptions Invoked… (more)
This is not the only legal threat that we know of. We heard from other attorneys at the hearings. We will watch this closely.

Geary BRT Plan Watered Down to Appease Parking-Obsessed Merchants

by Aaron Bialick : sfstreetsblog – excerpt

Planners are touting a new proposed configuration for Geary Bus Rapid Transit that would forgo bus passing lanes in order to preserve car parking to appease merchants. Separated, center-median bus lanes would be retained, and project backers hope the changes will clear the way for implementation…
The new proposal [PDF], called “Alternative 3 Consolidated,” would run buses in two center lanes between dual medians. But unlike the original Alternative 3, it wouldn’t include passing lanes at stops that allow express BRT buses to pass local buses. Instead, the proposal would include only one “medium” bus service in which stops would be closer together than typical BRT, “but more spaced out compared to the local,” said David Parisi, a consultant working on the project for the SFCTA…
Mar, along with Supervisors Scott Wiener, David Chiu, and David Campos, grilled SFCTA staffers on the snail’s pace of the city’s BRT projects on Geary and Van Ness at a board meeting last week…
Peter Lauterborn, an aide to Mar, said the new “consolidated” proposal would simplify transit service and the street geometry on Geary, as well as help the SFCTA meet its launch target of 2018. “This helps us get over the hurdle of negotiating parking loss in the district, which has been a major sticking point in the past.”…
Although the SFCTA had considered filling in the Geary underpass at Masonic Avenue, planners said that option is no longer being seriously considered as part of the BRT project, citing high costs, though it could happen in the future if funding is devoted to it separately….
The Fillmore Street underpass, however, is still being considered for a fill-in. As the SF Examiner reported last week, Supervisors Mar and London Breed called for a hearing on the feasibility of that project, which would help re-connect the Japantown and Fillmore neighborhoods at an estimated cost of $40 million…

(more)

Central Subway a fast track to chaos

By Willie Brown : sfgate.com – excerpt

One day there may indeed be something called the Central Subway, but today the 1.7-mile dig to Chinatown has turned downtown into the Central Circus or, if you are unlucky enough to be behind the wheel of a car, the Central Headache.

Last week two blocks of Stockton Street near tourist-heavy Union Square were closed, and it created confusion for everyone and cars backed up in every direction.

Adding to the chaos was the decision to change two blocks of Grant Avenue between Bush and Geary into a two-way street. You would not believe the number of people I watched almost get clobbered because they didn’t look both ways before crossing.

And things aren’t much better on Fourth Street where the dig is gearing up. Forget about trying to get down that street at rush hour.

Add in that we no longer have parking officers to keep the intersections clear, and you have traffic backed up so badly that cabdrivers are refusing to cross Market Street unless you agree to pay twice the fare – one fare for the mileage, and one fare for the extra half hour it takes to get there… (more)

Maybe Willie should join SaveMuni and help his North Beach buddies in their fight against the  extraction on Columbus.