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.

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The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Red transit-only lanes have no use in West Portal

By Sally Stephens : sfweekly – excerpt

MissionReds
Merchants blame the experimental Red Lanes on Mission Street for 30% loss of business. Photo by zrants.

One Red Lane too many : SFMTA is using Red Lanes like these on Mission Street to remove “blight” like thrift shops, small unique craft businesses and repair shops all over town as loss of easy access and parking divers customers away.

Studies of displaced communities all over the world prove that gentrification is killing neighborhoods and the unique community character that created the charm the new residents think they are moving into. Views are a past memory as new towers scrape for the clouds and fog moves inland as the trees that blocked it are removed for the hilltops.

The small collection of cobblers, repair shops and bookstores left on West Portal, are slated for extinction because they are on a “transit rich” street. Red Lanes are the answer to curb these hangers on. They must go to make room for more high rise units of housing, coffee shops, gyms and bike shops. Everything else will be delivered by Amazon drones soon, unless they get permission to have the self-driving vehicles roam the sidewalks.

One size doesn’t always fit all. Most of us know that, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has yet to learn that lesson.

The SFMTA recently received federal approval to expand red transit-only lanes to 50 streets throughout The City. While most are in the highly congested downtown and South of Market areas, others are not.

West Portal Avenue is one of the shortest streets included in the expansion. Two Muni light-rail trains and two bus lines travel at least one block on the street.

I go to West Portal nearly every day to shop, eat or meet friends. I see lots of trains and buses, but I rarely see one stuck behind a line of cars slowing it down. The trains move easily — sometimes, too fast — down the street. So, why does the SFMTA want to put red lanes there?

The Federal Highway Administration considers red transit-only lanes — like those painted on Mission Street — to be an “experiment” in speeding up mass transit. Indeed, the proposed expansion is also considered an experiment.

A few months ago, the SFMTA released a study of red lanes on three streets in The City’s northeast section and declared them a grand success. According to its blog, the SFMTA considers red transit-only lanes to be the “new standard” for city streets.

But this new standard may not be a good fit for West Portal…(more)

It is up to the residents and businesses to stand up and say San Francisco will not tolerate any more Red Lanes or experiments on our streets. People in the eastern neighborhoods tried to warn everyone and they were ignored. Now they are coming after everyone on the West side. It is time to act. Let you supervisor, Mayor and state and federal reps know if you are fed up and want to stop being the guinea pig for transportation experiments. Roll back the Red. Join the Sensible Transportation movement: http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

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.

 

Backpacks On Public Transit: Agencies, Commuters Weigh In

by Saul Sugarman : hoodline – excerpt

We’ve all been there: you’re having a pleasant ride on a Bay Area train or bus, only to get rudely smacked by someone’s bag.

SFMTA and BART officials have received complaints about the problem, but “of course” there is no direct policy to address it, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

However, her agency has put posters in many BART cars asking riders to please remove their bags and put them between their legs, she noted.

“It is an absolute fact: if everyone took their backpacks off and put their bags between their legs, we could fit more people on our train cars,” Trost said.

Some forthcoming BART cars offer remedies to the bag issue, she added. The agency’s “Fleet Of The Future” cars, a $2.6 billion project set to debut later this year, will have added room underneath seats for passengers to store their bags. And a new extension to Antioch will have cars that have luggage racks… (more)

I heard that schools no longer have lockers so student must carry everything in backpacks. When you force people into contraptions without seats and with no real consideration into what people need to carry with them, you should anticipate a lot of extra stuff on the bus.

When you expect everyone to use public transit for all their errands your virtual reality designs should anticipate a lot of stuff will accompany the passengers.

You must expect a lot of backpacks, baby carriage, grocery bags and luggage, along with the every present bikes and skateboards and every other imaginable personal items that people would normally put in a car or other personal vehicle if they had one to carry their stuff in.

I’ve got an idea for you, instead of having special compartments and special sections for putting the stuff, why don’t you just return the seats to the buses and make sure that everyone can sit comfortably with their stuff in their laps like they used to.

Leave it up to the SFMTA to take a system that works and screw it up!

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/

 

Transit officials offer tweaks to Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A major overhaul of how buses and other traffic negotiate Geary Boulevard is set to reach a significant milestone early next year.

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, which aims to make buses behave like trains by repurposing a lane of car traffic exclusively for buses, released its final environmental impact report Dec. 9, which may be approved in early January.

Along the way, the project’s planners received thousands of public comments, from fiery verbal lambasting at meetings — where a box filled with paper public comments was stolen, then returned — to online surveys, to meetings with multitudes of community groups…

On Jan. 5, the EIR will go to the SFCTA board for approval. After that, the SFMTA will bring individual elements of the project to neighbors for further public input, which will require individual approvals by the SFMTA Board of Directors to move forward.

Some Geary Boulevard neighbors have asked the SFCTA commission to delay approval of the environmental report so they have more time to read and analyze it.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce also sent a letter to the transportation authority asking for the board to delay action on the final EIR until February or early March, and wrote that meeting during the holidays “does not serve the public interest.”

Responding to the request for delay, Supervisor and Transportation Authority Commissioner Eric Mar said, “The significant community outreach done and many community meetings with those in the audience, and staff work, has been years in the making.”.

“There have been endless delays,” he said…(more)

THERE IS NO RUSH! There have been endless delays for good reasons. Each time there is a delay, the public has more time to suggest a better plan. Already many of their suggestions have been incorporated into this project and more alterations are needed on the Geary BRT. There is a sensible much cheaper plan supported by the public.

Who is rushing to approve the SFMTA $350 million dollar plus Geary BRT Hybrid Plan when there is a much cheaper version that will save the taxpayers up to $300 million? Who is rushing to approve more money for the SFMTA?

This is the department has bungled the design at Glen Park twice and still hasn’t gotten it right yet. The buses are getting hung up on the curbs.

This is the department that is planning to cut service and raise rates for cash-paying riders, and remove seats from the new faster-moving buses, so that Muni riders will be forced to walk further and stand instead of sit as they speed along city streets on public transit vehicles.

This is the department that lost the sales tax increase that included $100 million dollars for the Geary BRT.

This is the department that needs to be put on a cash diet before it eats the rest of the businesses on Mission, Van Ness, Polk, and Geary.This is the department that can’t figure out how to balance Ubers with taxis and the rest of the traffic mess and will eventually be out teched out by self-driving cars.

This is the department that wants to tell our fire department to buy smaller vehicles to run on narrow streets that do not meet state standard widths.

The emergency responders are getting caught up in the traffic mess.

This is the department that just “discovered” the large number of Ubers on our streets that the rest of us have known about for months. They probably needed to conduct an expensive study to “find” them and prove they exist. We just looked around and figured it out for ourselves.I could go on, but you get the idea.

Stop the SFMTA: Write letters to request a delay and show up if you can to protest in person. Sample letter is here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

Meeting details:

Scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, 6:00 PM, SFCTA, 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor: The Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee will vote to support certification of the Geary BRT Environmental Impact Report (EIR). More info: http://www.sfcta.org/geary-bus-rapid-transit-citizens-advisory-committee-january-4-2017

Scheduled for Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM, Room 250, City Hall: SF Supervisors, as board members of the SF Transportation Authority, will vote to certify the Geary BRT EIR  (2nd item)  More Info: http://www.sfcta.org/special-board-january-5-2017

 

 

Retired San Francisco Public Works Chief’s Opposition to Geary BRT (Red Carpet)

Why I Oppose the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System (The “Red Carpet”)

The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA or “Muni”) proposes to spend $300M to tear up the median along Geary Boulevard and construct two “buses only” lanes painted red (the “red carpet”) down the middle of the street. The 120 trees planted in the median would be removed. Angle parking would be replaced by parallel parking. Why?

The City’s “Fact Sheet” says the Bus Rapid Transit Project will:

  • “Improve bus travel times and on-time performance”
  • “Improve safety and access for all users”
  • “Enhance neighborhood livability and community vitality”

Really?

Travel time. Muni wants to speed buses through downtown. That works. Then they want to slow them down between Van Ness and Masonic. Why? And then City staff admitted that west of 25th Avenue, the project will cost $18M and MAY save ONE MINUTE. Does MTA have too much money?

On-time performance. In the Richmond District, the buses will run in a slot down Geary Boulevard, one behind another. If one bus is delayed, there is no room for other buses to pass. Express buses will be eliminated – all buses will make all stops. If your idea of on-time performance is no buses for twenty minutes, followed by six buses in a row, then welcome to today’s Muni.

Safety. Muni’s “Vision Zero” presentation shows 6 accidents per year in the 48 block Richmond District. When I worked for the city I managed a study of high accident intersections. Geary Boulevard in the Richmond NEVER made the “Top 100” most dangerous intersections. This argument is bogus.

Access for all users. Eliminating some bus stops would make the elderly and handicapped travel farther to reach a bus stop. Bicycles are banned from the buses only lanes, even when the lanes are at the edge of the street. How does this improve access for all users?

Neighborhood livability. Start by tearing out 120 trees. Put narrow concrete medians in the middle where an occasional stick tree can be planted (“one-for-one replacement”). Remove most angle parking forcing shoppers to double park or circle the block and park in front of residences, “temporarily” blocking driveways, but it’s ok, City dwellers shouldn’t own cars anyway.

Community vitality. Provide a red painted concrete slot through a vibrant community commercial district. Then change the zoning so that Geary can look like Van Ness. Then remove parking spaces causing small businesses to fail. (Merchants along Mission Street report a drop in sales of as much as 1/3 since their “red carpet’ went in.) But that’s ok, because a City staff person said “everyone knows there’s too much retail in San Francisco anyway”. After all, you can always shop on Amazon.

Still feel like spending $300M of your tax dollars? I don’t.

Vitaly B. Troyan, PE
Chief, Public Works Bureau of Engineering (ret)

from redcarpetmess.org

Sign the petition and support our efforts to Stop the Spread of Red.

Dangerous plan afoot to narrow and slow 16th Street traffic access to Mission Bay

The other day as I walked down 16th Street to the BART station I witnessed a traffic jam on 16th Street and shot some photos as the drama unfolded.  There was a repair truck stopped in back of the bus and three people directing traffic around it. There is a single East facing lane on 16th Street now and two West facing lanes so traffic may pass the broken bus without too much trouble now.

As you can see by looking at the photos, the traffic builds up rather fast when a lane is stopped. An ambulance came up 16th Street while I was there and it was directed around the stopped traffic, but stopping the other lane, but, I realized how difficult it would be to maneuver traffic around a broken bus if there was a BRT or separated lanes as the SFMTA plans for 16th Street.

Separated roadways, swerving traffic in narrow lanes do not slow traffic down it makes drivers mad and creates obstacles for the buses and larger vehicles. This is not a safe way to manage traffic.

Please stop this insane constant construction and destruction of our streets! Vote Yes on L and tell the SFMTA to back off. Leave the bus stops and return the service they cut. Stopsfmta.comStopsfmta.com

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Grand Plans to Unclog Highway 101 in Silicon Valley

nbcbayarea – excerpt – (includes video)

How many hours do you plan to spend in traffic in a week?

There are plans to reduce your commute time and it includes changing some lanes on U.S. Highway 101 in Silicon Valley.

Caltrans, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and other agencies are set to discuss a plan Thursday to link “managed lanes” on U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Clara County to new ones in San Mateo County…

A number of major Silicon Valley employers, including Facebook, Genentech and Stanford University are pushing for more carpools, public transit and other mechanisms to get more cars off Highway 101 and I-280, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

The purpose of the meeting, according to a Facebook page dedicated to the managed lane project, will be to discuss the scope of issues to be addressed in the draft environmental document, range of alternatives under consideration and the potential environmental effects of potential modifications within the corridor. The community is invited to submit questions, concerns and advice to: Yolanda Rivas, Caltrans Office of Environmental Analysis, P.O. Box 23660, Oakland, CA, 94623-0660; e-mail: sm101scoping@dot.ca.gov.

The deadline is Nov. 18. Thursday’s meeting is being held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at San Mateo City Hall, 330 W. 20th Ave(more)