2 Investigates: SF drivers not off the hook on Sundays

Cara Lui : KTVU – excerpt

Big changes are coming to San Francisco’s parking enforcement policies.

SFMTA announced this week it was doing away with Sunday metering in the city. But that doesn’t mean drivers are off the hook on Sundays.

Agency spokesperson Paul Rose said you can expect the same number of parking control officers on the roads. They will be focusing on things such as responding to red zone or blocked driveway complaints instead.

“We still feel like we’ll make up the revenue lost by Sunday meters, but we will be able to deploy same parking control officers to respond to quality of life issues,” said Rose.

KTVU has also learned SFMTA issued a total of 1.5 million tickets last year… (more)

We can’t believe anything the SFMTA claims. According to these statements the SFMTA never needed to charge for Sunday parking meters and will not be losing the 6.5 to 11 million dollars they have been claiming.


Cyclists Speak Out Regarding Hazards They’ve Faced On Folsom Street

– excerpt

Dozens of bicyclists heading down San Francisco’s Folsom Street Wednesday morning stopped to sign letters to Mayor Ed Lee asking for the city to improve safety for cyclists in the city’s South of Market neighborhood…
Some of the coalition’s ideas include fast-tracking a redesign plan that would make Folsom Street a two-way street with separate bike lanes.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is analyzing two options for making Folsom Street safer—keeping the street one-way but with fewer lanes for cars or making it a two-way street, agency spokesman Paul Rose said.
The proposed changes are part of a citywide bicycle plan. The changes would still need to undergo an extensive review process before being implemented. That process is expected to take until June 2015, Rose said.
At the earliest, revamping of the street would begin 2017, Rose said(more)

Is this the name of the game? Every Street in town must now get signatures to keep their parking and the traffic flowing? What is the point of forcing everyone to slow down so the bicycles can speed past us? No wonder the animosity is growing between the cars and the bikes.



Is S.F. taking car-theft victims for a ride?

C.W. Nevius : sfgate – excerpt

Each year, roughly 2,000 stolen cars are towed off San Francisco’s city streets and stowed at the private Auto Return parking lot. When the police call and say they have found the car, the owner is relieved – until he or she gets to the parking lot.
That’s when a familiar melodrama plays out:
Car owner: “Hi, I’m here to get my car.”
Auto Return: “Certainly. That will be $500.”
Car owner: “WHAT? But my car was STOLEN!”
Auto Return: “Sorry, that’s the law.”
Sadly, that is the law…
Peskin says they fought the idea on several grounds, but lost the debate when supporters insisted that giving a break to car theft victims would bean unequal application of the law. That we couldn’t take pity on certain people.”
Why not? asks LaBua, who writes a local magazine column as “the parking guru.”
“I think it would be awesome PR,” he says. “We’re the city that cares. You’d say, ‘Hey, your car got stolen, you couldn’t help that. The city isn’t going to charge you.’ I think that would be great for everybody.”
MTA’s Rose says that’s a fine idea. It might even be considered at some point down the road.
“It is something we can talk about in the next parking contract,” he said.
Why wait? Peskin says.
“The response to that is, well, gee, you don’t have to wait until the next contract,” Peskin said. “You could propose it right now.”
Now there’s a thought… (more)

What a concept, rolling back a law that penalizes the victim. Can SFMTA suggest such a kind thing? We shall hold our breaths in anticipation. Better still, send a copy of this article to the Supervisors and ask them to propose it.

Standing Up to Legal Appeal, SFMTA Moves Ahead With Fell Street Bike Lane

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Opponents of the Fell and Oak Street bikeway and pedestrian improvements filed an appeal last week seeking to delay implementation of street safety measures on the critical three-block stretch linking the Panhandle to the Wiggle, but the legal gambit will not slow down construction of the bike lane on Fell currently underway, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency says.
The appeal [PDF] – filed by Mark Brennan, a developer; Howard Chabner, a disability rights advocate; and Ted Loewenberg, president of the Haight-Ashbury Improvement Association — demands that the SFMTA abandon the bikeway, claiming that it discriminates against the disabled and requires environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (which the project was exempted from).
Following the recent removal of a car parking lane on Fell, between Baker and Scott Streets, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the agency will begin striping the bike lane tomorrow, weather permitting. “We are confident in the environmental work that went into this project,” he said. It’s unclear whether the rest of the project is in jeopardy of being delayed (more)

Neighbors seeking review for bike plan on Fell, Oak streets

Why do they need more bike lanes through the panhandle? There are already two of them. Isn’t the point of riding on your bike to ride through the park and the trees? Why do you want to ride a bike on a street when you can ride a bike through a park? This is about eliminating parking spots and pushing residents out of the neighborhood so developers can tear down the old Victorians and build more high rises.
See the Guardian’s article on Economic Cleansing.



SFMTA reopening bids for Central Subway’s Chinatown Station project

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will reopen its bidding process for the construction of the Central Subway’s Chinatown station after a quartet of contractors failed to meet the agency’s requirements during the first round of solicitations.
Tutor-Saliba, a Los Angeles-based firm, offered to complete the construction project for $239 million, the lowest of four bids accepted by the SFMTA. The four bids ranged from 
$239 million to $397 million.
But after reviewing specific elements of the station design, agency engineers identified cost savings that could reduce their estimated construction cost of $235 million, spokesman Paul Rose said.
“It will be beneficial for the agency to reject all bids and re-advertise the project,” he said…

“Under provisions of the specifications for this contract, the SFMTA reserves the right to reject any and all bids,” Rose said.

SFMTA ruling might cost cabbies

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer.com – excerpt

A controversial proposal to reform how The City issues its taxi operating permits will be up for approval today, despite the recent mass resignations from an industry advisory board.
For the past two years, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs in The City, has run a pilot program that allows cabbies to sell their medallions for $250,000 to prospective drivers…
The SFMTA has now offered up a full-time replacement program.
“For 34 years, there was a written promise that if you were a good boy and waited your turn, you’d get a medallion,” said Rich Hybels, owner of Metro Cab. “Now, the SFMTA is using the plan solely to suck money out of the industry.”
Under the new program, the cost of purchasing taxi medallions would increase to $300,000 and the minimum age for selling one would be reduced from 65 to 60. But the major sticking point for the industry is the SFMTA’s plan to collect a 50 percent transfer fee from the sales, up from the pilot program’s 15 percent.
Hybels is one of seven members of The City’s Taxi Advisory Council — established to inform the SFMTA board of directors about industry recommendations — who resigned from the 14-person body in protest of the proposal. The council made a unanimous recommendation that the SFMTA should receive no profits from medallion sales. Hybels said the SFMTA refused to consider the recommendation.
“While it’s disappointing that these individuals stepped down on the eve of such an important discussion, we will continue to work with the industry as we improve taxi service, conditions for our drivers and the overall transportation network,” said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.
Athan Rebelos, the general manager at DeSoto Cab, said the $300,000 price tag is a reasonable rate. But he said the 50 percent transfer fee to the SFMTA is too high.
“Nobody should be paying a tax that high,” Rebelos said. “This proposal seemed to come completely out of left field.”
Malcolm Heinicke, an SFMTA board member, said medallions are public assets and money from sales should benefit the public. Heinicke said the agency has partnered with a credit union to finance loans so drivers can afford to purchase medallions.
Along with taking a cut from driver-to-driver medallion sales, the SFMTA also has sold medallions directly to drivers in the past two years, making more than $20 million. And an additional $3.1 million has been diverted to a cabdrivers fund. However, Hybels said, the agency hasn’t made efforts to curb illegal taxis.
The SFMTA board of directors is scheduled to vote on the proposal today. If approved, the agency projects to receive $14 million from medallion sales over the next two years.

Aside from the 50% tax which the SFMTA seems to think is a reasonable rate, the math is highly suspicious. How can they claim to make $20 million dollars over the past two years at 250K per medallion, but expect to make only $14 million dollars over the next two years after increasing the price to 300K per medallion? What is the point in raising the costs if they expect lower profits?

What is NOT a public asset? This is one of those terms we are hearing constantly now whenever the SFMTA wants to impose a new tax, fee, or fine.

Taxi insurance lapse ensures confusion

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

About one-third of The City’s cabs were either idled or operated illegally Wednesday after more than 500 were abruptly left without sufficient insurance.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency requires that every taxi carry a $1 million liability coverage plan to operate.

On Tuesday, Dmitry Erenkov, the insurance broker for about 525 taxis — many serving smaller companies — revealed that he could not find an insurer to cover that plan, which lapsed at midnight. Calls to Erenkov’s office were not returned.

Made aware of the impending expiration, the SFMTA sent a bulletin to taxi drivers Tuesday afternoon ordering them not to operate unless they carried the $1 million insurance policy. Failure to comply would result in
suspensions or fines…

Rose said his agency’s cab enforcement unit will patrol The City in search of cabs without valid insurance…

“We were completely blindsided by this,”  Gruberg said. “The whole thing is a huge mess. Pulling 500 cabs off the street will certainly not help the public.”

Bob Planthold, an activist for disability rights in San Francisco, said many paratransit passengers will be left out in the cold by the policy lapse, which could have been avoided by better coordination between the SFMTA and the taxi industry…


Next plan: parking meters at SF Zoo

Rachel Gordon : SFGate – excerpt

San Francisco transportation officials are quietly exploring the possibility of installing parking meters on the streets around the zoo, as they increasingly move to eliminate free parking at curbside spaces in neighborhoods around the city…

Just when you thought you could go and spend a nice relaxing day at the beach and the zoo…

They’re also looking at adding meters around San Francisco State University…

As if the poor students don’t have enuf to worry about with rising tuition.

The destinations “generate significant parking and traffic demand in their respective areas, and it’s our responsibility to manage that demand,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

One goal of the city’s meter strategy is to get people out of their cars as part of San Francisco’s transit-first policy, Rose said.

“This is not driven by revenue,” he added.

If he says that one more time…


A group of residents and business interests on the east side of town formed an advocacy group this year called ENUF (Eastern Neighborhoods United Front) to voice their concerns and opposition to the transportation agency’s parking management plans. The MTA has slowed implementation of the proposed plans to allow more time for community outreach.

As for the parking meter strategy for the streets around San Francisco State and the zoo, Rose said there is no formal plan, and no timeline has been set to make a decision. “We’re carefully vetting the plan with stakeholders. The discussions are in the very early stage.”…

Who isn’t a stakeholder in this parking game. Is anybody keeping a record of the dollars they are quoting? Never the same amount twice. Now they are claiming they will make 50 million dollars off the meters? Where are there fluctuating numbers coming from?

Parking enforcement department in SF has flaws, report says

By: Andrea Koskey : SF Examiner Staff Writer – excerpt

Report spotlights issues SFMTA may encounter with enforcement boost.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants to boost revenue through better parking enforcement, but it has hit a bump in the road because the agency is not equipped with enough officers to adequately cover The City, according to a report released this week by the Controller’s Office.

The report highlights other issues, such as the agency’s inability to be reimbursed for officers’ time during festivals and sporting events, low hiring levels and a lack of ongoing training. It also offered 39 recommendations to improve parking enforcement.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the new budget cycle, which started July 1, will help the agency address what is in the audit…

Last month, SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin said increased efforts in parking enforcement are one way the agency could balance a $17 million deficit for this fiscal year. (When does this fiscal year begin and end?)

“Everybody benefits, including motorists, when we enforce the laws that we have,” he said. “We’re not anticipating these revenues from more meters or extending meter hours — it’s enforcing the rules we have.”…

The inability to collect on some 15 festivals, plus Giants and 49er games, means a $65 an hour loss. In 2011, that amounted to some $709,000…


I’ll say there are some flaws in the system. SFMTA claims there are fewer parking tickets being issued due to the fact that it is easier to pay now. So, how will adding more officers increase the number of fines issued when there are fewer parking infractions? Wouldn’t having more people chasing less infractions add to the cost per ticket?

This article triggered some comments on facebook from people who favor more enforcement and less meters.