Reopening Of Stockton Street Marks Milestone In Central Subway Project

sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After being closed for seven years, a portion of Stockton Street in downtown San Francisco reopened Thursday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials announced.

Stockton Street between Geary and Ellis streets had been closed for construction of the underground Central Subway, which is set to connect riders from the South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown…

“Stockton Street is a major commercial artery and bus route that brings life into the heart of District Three,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in a statement. “For many residents in Chinatown and North Beach, this throughway also represents equitable and undisrupted access to downtown jobs and services…

The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities… (more)

“The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities.” 

How about reopening Mission Street to rebuild the vital link between two of San Francisco’s other most iconic Latino communities? Isn’t the cultural historical character of the Mission as important as any other in the city or do we detect a hint of discrimination against the Mission? Tear down the wall on Mission Street. Remove the barriers to trade and commerce in the Mission.

SF red transit lane beloved by riders, but merchants unhappy

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s controversial red-painted transit lanes are beloved by many Muni riders, and the city’s transportation planners. But they’re not necessarily here to stay. The crimson lanes are, as the saying goes, only a test.

Results of the test are still being gathered, but federal transportation authorities are expected to rule within months whether the bright-red pavement can stay or whether the city will have to remove it and live with drab but conformist white lane markings and signs.

Officials with the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency gained permission from state and federal authorities in 2012 to color some street pavement red to make transit-only lanes more visible and to try to persuade car and truck drivers to stay out of them. New York and other U.S. cities are also experimenting with red lanes. San Francisco’s are not actually covered in paint, but rather an acrylic pavement treatment applied in sheets.

The New York experiment ended years ago when they failed to gather sufficient data. They also had a problem with double parking. Some of the streets in SF, I believe Church is one of them, are covered with paint and some with the thermoplastic, depending on whether they are concrete or asphalt.

Beginning in 2013, the MTA tested the idea on a short stretch of Church Street before rolling out what it calls “red carpet lanes” on stretches of other thoroughfares where heavy traffic causes delays for transit: Market, Geary, Third, O’Farrell, Haight, Judah and, perhaps most controversially, Mission between 14th and Randall streets.

Geary to Gough is on the list. Mission Street from Embarcadero to 11th Street was on the list.  In 2012, according to meeting minutes, the SFMTA representative specifically stated they would only be applying the test to streets that were currently transit-only lanes and were on the list. This proves, once again, you can’t trust the SFMTA.

In total, 17 San Francisco streets with existing transit-only lanes were approved for the red pavement test, as well as three that didn’t have reserved bus lanes. Not all of the stretches have yet been covered with red.

Anyone want to guess who is next in line?

“We shared our citywide plan with (state and federal officials) and they gave us the green light,” said MTA spokesman Paul Rose…

When and how was the application of the experiment to Mission Street past 11th approved?

This is typical of the SFMTA. Years after they start a process they inform the public. At no time, during any of their many public street design dog-and-pony shows  did they inform the public that they were planning to conduct a Red Lane test on our streets. When some of us discovered the truth of the matter and started to investigate and complain to the state and federal authorities they must have felt compelled to admit it.

We finally have an admission that THIS IS A TEST! THE RED LANES MAY GO AWAY! Where is the explanation for the test? What are they testing? How is the public involved in the test? If you want to know, keep reading and contact the links below.

Some of us went to Sacramento in December and saw first hand how the SFMTA operates. They started by trying to silence the public, claiming the public had no right to go to the state commission. More time went into that debate, (SFMAT lost that arguement.) than the actual presentation and discussion about the test that followed. Guess what? the SFMTA cherry picked a short blocks of two streets in the entire experiment to prove that the tests were being done as required. The analysis presented was more or less inconclusive.

If any one has anything to say about the Red Lane Experiment, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.  If you need help figuring out how to file a complaint, or want to join the fight against the Red Lanes, let us know. Here are two sites that are dealing with the problem and trying to stop the spread of red lanes in San Francisco:   http://www.redcarpetmess.org and http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

Continue reading

Muni’s $2.4 Million Mission Transformation Saves 2 Minutes, Costs Shopkeepers More

Phil Matier : cbslocal – excerpt – (video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco’s plan for Muni in the Mission District promised to speed up commutes, but the time saved has come at a startling cost: a million dollars a minute…

For the past five months crews have been busy remaking 23 blocks of Mission Street to make it more bus friendly, putting transit only lanes, taking out parking and rerouting traffic.

The price tag on the project? $2.4 million.

Muni says the transformation will save commuters about two minutes.

Local business owners say the money, along with the time saved, is just not worth it.

“We support better service for Muni riders, but this is basically hurting the businesses and the economic vitality of this community,” says Roberto Hernandez of the Mission Merchants Association.

The trouble is faster buses also means fewer cars coming in to shop.

Take, for example, the busy intersection at Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

“They created what we are calling the “Trump wall” – people cannot drive onto Mission street. They are forced to make a right-hand turn,” says Hernandez.

Drivers are forced to go around the block to get back on Mission Street. No sooner than you get back on Mission, you’re ordered off again, and the again , and still again…

“What it has done is stopped people from coming onto Mission Street,” says Hernandez. “Consequently, for over 300 businesses revenue has dropped drastically over the last five months.

City Hall feels the time-saving project is worth it…(more)

If you don’t agree with City Hall that “it’s ok to spend 2.4 million dollars to save 2 minutes”, cut off the normal flow of traffic on a busy commercial cross-town street, put hundreds  businesses and employees at risk, force elderly and young people to walk longer distances to catch more crowded buses with less seats, support Proposition L, the SFMTA Charter Amendment, that calls for changes on the SFMTA Board. Get the details and join the campaign: stopsfmta.com

 

 

MTA Impact on Mission Bernal – My perspective

Eden.jpg

Walk, Bike, Bus, or drive to support Mission Street Small Business

Two months ago, MTA reconstructed Mission Street, introducing red transit lanes and forced right turns. The bus is running two to five minutes faster, but I have observed a decrease in pedestrian traffic and clientele, especially for daytime businesses. My business is not only a go-to for locals, but a destination for people from all over. The forced right-hand turns funnel drivers away from shopping and local restaurants, making it harder for our customers to show up and support us. This is a direct call to our customers to walk, bike, take public transit, or drive to support local businesses impacted along Mission Street.

My specific concerns for Mission Bernal are to make sure it is safe for pedestrians, residents, and our valued customers. A request has been made to MTA to put in protected left turn signals at 29th and Valencia, remove the right hand turn at Cesar Chavez, and review positions of new bus stops. I am concerned that the Mission-Powers bus stop is not well-lit and is located in front of a preschool. My other concern is when it rains the red paint is causing the buses difficulty in stopping. I have seen the buses slide through the intersection at 29th Street on the red light because they are slipping on the red lanes. This is a safety concern for our whole community. I support public transit, but not at the cost of safety or small business. I am for finding a balance that works for all us.

My grandparents owned a storefront for over 40 years in Philadelphia. Their legacy business was one of the things that inspired me to open Secession Art and Design in an emerging area of the Mission in 2007. Mission Street has been home to my gallery and boutique for 9 years, supporting over 60 local and independent artists and designers. Businesses along Mission Street all want the chance to be legacy businesses, and live out our dream that small business can thrive in San Francisco. This is why I became president of the Mission Bernal Merchants Association, so my neighborhood would have a passionate point person who lives and works in Mission Bernal.

I have attended many MTA meetings,sometimes closing my store to make sure my voice is heard. A happy medium needs to happen, so small businesses aren’t forced to shut down. I want to continue my grandparent’s legacy of doing what I love everyday being the owner of a small business. I’m working to help Mission Street culture return back to its vibrant and artistic hustle.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive, encouraged me to go outside my comfort zone and speak up for my community, and reminded me to be strong and love what I do!

You rock, Eden

Secession Art & Design • Owner & Curator
3235 Mission St.,SF, CA 94110
Gallery & Boutique open Tues-Sun: Noon-7pm
www.secessionsf.com

 

Mission Street Transit Lanes: What About the Bikes?

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Earlier this week, the SFMTA sent out a release with a progress report on the “Red Lane” paint (actually, a thermoplastic adhesive) they are applying, clearly marking lanes for Muni Streetcars and buses (and taxis):

Early signs indicate success. Preliminary data shows transit-only lane violations dropping by more than 50 percent on some segments of 3rd Street. On Geary and O’Farrell streets, the red lanes have reduced Muni travel times by 4 percent despite traffic congestion increasing on the same segments by 15-18 percent… (more)

If there is any doubt in your minds about the plans SFMTA is working on. Here you have it in their own word. Muni gains 4% in traffic congestion while the rest of use loose 15-18%. This is how they fix traffic problems.

Let’s here from the health and science community about how much more pollutants are going in the air as a result of this slow down of traffic.

Ask the riders how much longer it takes them to walk from the bus stop to their destination. Do faster buses cut their trip time?

Stop Displacing SF Businesses!

OpEd

Notice-Complaints.jpg

photo by zrants

We know what SFMTA and SPUR have done to help developers remove longtime residents from the neighborhoods. Now we have proof that they are after the established businesses as well.

SFMTA USED THE GREEN ARGUMENT, CLAIMED “THE STREETS ARE NOT FREE”

SFMTA was the first tool used to run people out of town by threatening to take away our cars. This was step one in the plan.

They developed a number of methods to remove cars and make residents dependent on public transportation. We recently found out the real purpose is to prove that there is a demand for public transit so they can find private funding to invest in it, because public transit is too expensive to be supported by the public without any private support. It cost drivers less to get across town than it costs the government to move them.

First the government convinced the citizens of San Francisco to trust them to merge all the street management agencies and Muni, including enforcement, under a single umbrella organization. They claimed it would be more efficient and to save costs. It hasn’t turned out that way. Muni is still broke because most of the SFMTA efforts have gone into mode change not providing Muni service to those who need to rely on it.

Next SFMTA, SPUR, the banks and developers bought the media and at some point they created a number of non-profit relationships.

Then they bought City Hall. By sending out an army of precinct workers who helped elect their supporters. Let’s not continue to make that mistake. We need to elect people who will protect us, not them.

Once established, SFMTA threatened to blanket the Eastern Neighborhoods with meters. Citizens in all the districts fought back and won a reprieve with an amended contract, which is, even now, being threatened in the Showplace Square area, where the SFMTA is using the promise of removing the homeless parking in vehicles in the area, as a carrot to approve installation of parking meters. We are asking where they are getting these meters they claimed would not have under that amended parking meter contract. Did they lie?

SFMTA retaliated, by increasing enforcement hours, fines, and rates for parking wherever they could get away with it. The claimed they were trying to create a better parking experience for everyone, while making parking harder and more expensive for everyone. They lied.

SFMTA removed more parking spaces from public access by selling exclusive rights to private enterprises, including their “car and bike sharing” services, many of which benefit SFMTA directly or indirectly.

To create more havoc and traffic congestion on the streets, SFMTA re-timed traffic lights making it harder for pedestrians to cross safely and for cars to clear the intersection. Then they ticket cars stuck in the middle, adding to their revenue.

Under the street diets program, SFMTA removed or narrowed street lanes, forcing cars to “share” lanes with bikes on some streets, while restricting them from bike lanes on others. Confusion among drivers and bikers is a major SFMTA tool that is not appreciated by anyone. No one knows what to expect from block to block, as the lanes of traffic and bikes merge and separate without warning. Remember traffic merging signs? Many drivers and bikers ignore the lanes. It is pretty difficult to see them in the rain.

Not content with traffic jams and huge numbers of complaints, the SFMTA introduced transit only BRT lanes, with limited access for non-transit traffic, claiming the buses would move faster. They also removed a lot of bus stops, forcing their riders to walk longer distances, and removed seats on the buses, forcing their riders to stand on the bus. To save something somewhere, SFMTA also insisted on moving bus stops and bus shelters away from long-established spots to less convenient areas like driveways, claiming they are saving seconds.

Land Use and Transportation are now linked and the developers have reshaped the legal landscape that used to protect the residents and businesses, using all the legal maneuvers they can come up with, They limit on-site parking on new construction and force higher, denser buildings everywhere they can get away with it, creating a no-limit policy that, along with tax freezes has pushed land values through the roof.

While SFMTA was working on reducing cars on the street, the developers were busy obtaining land, starting with cheap foreclosures, and buying out as much land as they can talk owners into selling. As we have heard, huge amounts of cash have poured into property purchases in the recent years. The money is funding a lot of the political changes we are seeing that is making it easier for big developers to build higher and denser realizing greater profits.

Now they are poised to elect a new batch of politicians who will do their bidding and continue the plan, unless we stop them.

Many people, including scientists, and the courts, question the claim that transit oriented development is good for the environment. Cars are going electric and gas sales and tax revenues have gone way down due to more efficient car engines. ABAG questions claims that slower traffic is better for the environment. They find that the faster the cars move, the less time they spend on the road, they less emissions they produce. We have been thinking that all along.

The public, including affordable rent advocates, have become wise to City Hall’s Affordable Housing Bonus Plan and have effectively killed it. SFMTA needs a new excuse to push SPUR displacement plans. Enter Vision Zero.

ESTABLISHING VISION ZERO, CLAIMING SAFETY IS THE NEW SFMTA ANTI-CAR PRIORITY EXCUSE.

For the last two or more years, SFMTA has been trying to reduce parking spots by installing corner bulbouts, (at $150K a pop) and bus bulbouts (much starting at around $300K each), claiming they cut the time if takes pedestrians to cross the street. This is a much more expensive method than re-timing the lights or putting in more pedestrian cross switches or traffic countdowns. We heard they removed pedestrian crossing switches on Lombard Street (much to the dismay of the neighbors) before claiming they needed more expensive draconian safety measures.

Ed Reiskin admitted at the March 15th SFMTA Board meeting that the number of pedestrian fatalities has not gone down since Vision Zero was put into practice. This leads us to question their methodologies, but the Board is convinced that more stringent car taming measures are needed. Given these facts, we think we need an outside investigation into the efficacy of the program before spending another dime on it, especially since the SFMTA claims they are broke and have two years of deficits coming up. All they need to do is pause the complete streets program for a while and they will be caught up in no time. Lay off a few planners and they can hire bus drivers and mechanics.

Some of our questions about Zero Vision: Where have the fatalities occurred? How many drivers were at fault and how many occurred in areas where safety measures were already in place? We know some have involved Muni transit vehicles and other large vehicles such as garbage trucks with limited side vision and at least one involved a cyclist riding between two bus lanes on Market Street.

NOT CONTENT WITH THE DISPLACEMENT OF RESIDENTS, DEVELOPERS NOW WANT TO OUST ESTABLISHED BUSINESSES.

We only have some data on the fate of the Castro merchants so more needs to be done to find out how they dealt with the construction phase and why so many closed their businesses, leaving many empty retail spaces in the neighborhood. The increase in empty retail units also leads us to wonder what is driving the escalating retail rents?

We know more about the situation on Polk Street. The merchants have lost parking and loading zones and are huge increase in traffic on their narrowing street as the Van Ness project is expected to get underway. To make matters even more difficult, they are being threatened by major rent increases. Many long-established, popular businesses got together to produce a video of their community of merchants expressing their hope for a future on Polk Street. They are planning to request a Special District designation and whatever protection they can get.

I walked down to see how the results of the new Complete Streets plan and was pretty appalled. I saw produce delivery trucks parked in the traffic lane next to huge empty red zones, and crates of fresh produce on the sidewalk next to produce stands. One van had a Santa Clara license plate. This scene must be repeated daily for all the produce stores and all the restaurants on Mission Street that offer fresh food. If people want fresh produce from local farmers, they cannot expect to get it any other way.

I shot photos of the scene, including one of a notice that the bus stop has been moved a few blocks away. As I walked up Mission I saw more doubled parked produce trucks unloading produce parked in the traffic lane. The situation on Mission Street is pretty dismal and not sustainable. There are at least four or five produce stands within a block of16th and Mission, not to mention the restaurants and cafes. Each day they must have fresh produce delivered. They need loading zones.

If all this is beginning to sound familiar, there is a reason for that.

City Hall embraced the new smart economy, giving preference to high tech and forcing many existing residents and businesses out of the Market Street transit rich area. We know what happened there.

You can copy and paste this in any neighborhood in the city, or the country and you will see the same thing. This is the result of urban planners running the country building a better future while they enhance their bank accounts and ignore the needs of the people living today.

How much wealth is transferred from the workers to the landowners every year in rents? How much of our tax dollars go to subsidize these same landowners?

That is how the planners clear the ground for the vision of a new green future.
First they take your parking
Then they take your car
Then they take your job
Then they take your home
When you have nothing left you are on your own.