Bay Area Public Transit Agency To Subsidize Uber, Lyft Rides

By Ian Wenik : thestreet – excerpt

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), a public transit agency that operates in the California Bay Area suburbs, is testing out a new initiative: subsidized ridesharing trips.

LAVTA, which operates buses in cities such as Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, is set to roll out the service on a one-year trial in mid-September. The plan will offer riders in certain areas of Dublin subsidized Uber and Lyft fares to local destinations at prices ranging from $3 to $5, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

LAVTA Executive Director Michael Tree explained the reasoning behind the program in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.”… (more)

If you didn’t need more proof that the plan is to privatize transportation systems after the government takes away your right to own your own transportation, this is it. It is the classic”Bait and Switch” scheme.

  • First they convince you that “parking isn’t free so they can charge you to park on the public streets.
  • Then they claim they can provide the transportation system you need while “calming traffic”.
  • Next they claim they need more money to “improve service” and raise the taxes fines and fees.
  • Next they “improve service by removing bus stops and seats, forcing more people to stand so they can fit in more people.
  • Then, when they have millions of people depending on them for service, they tell you to take the new “smart” corporate car service that they will subsidize so you can afford it.

The joke, if it was a joke, is that we had the private car service when we started on this journey, but now instead of owning our own homes and cars, we rent them from the corporation that can control our every move, and the worst traffic nightmare imaginable.

If this picture bothers you support the Prop L, the SFMTA Charter Amendment: stopsfmta.com

 

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SFMTA offers compromise over Mission Street red lanes

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

After anger erupted from merchants and residents from traffic changes made on Mission Street between March and April of this year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency now has a compromise it hopes will ease concerns from the community.

The project called the 14-Mission Rapid Project included changes on Mission Street between 14th and 30th streets that included a red-transit only lane for the 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes, a number of restricted left turns and forced right turns at some intersections.

Officials said the goal of the project was to improve the reliability of the two Mission Street Muni routes and to improve traffic safety in the corridor.

Since the implementation of the traffic changes, merchants have said that patrons are having a harder time accessing stores, which has led to a decrease in sales for some merchants. Drivers have also said that they have harder time accessing Mission Street merchants and finding parking, according to a survey conduced by the transit agency.

After a community meeting held in June with the SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and District 9 Supervisor David Campos, the transit agency has come up with a slightly different plan… (more)

SFMTA has a trust problem. The voting taxpaying public does not trust them to make wise decisions that will benefit the public. After 5 solid years of street diets and parking games, no one anticipates the SFMTA personnel on staff now to solve the traffic problems. We just want them to go away and leave us alone, starting with the boss. We are still waiting for the public apology.

 

Charter amendment targets mayoral seats on SFMTA board

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Acharter amendment introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee could threaten the mayor’s appointment power over the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors.

The charter amendment proposed by Yee would allow the mayor to appoint four SFMTA board members and the Board of Supervisors would to get appoint three. It would also lower the number of supervisors it takes to reject the transit agency’s budget from seven to six.

Currently, the City Charter allows the mayor to nominate all seven of transit agency’s directors, but nominees still need approval from the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors Eric Mar and Malia Cohen voted in favor of the charter amendment at the board’s Rules Committee on Wednesday. Supervisor Katy Tang voted against it. If approved by the full Board of Supervisors, it would appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Last I checked only six supervisors are needed to put a charter amendment on the ballot.

Yee said at the board’s Rules Committee on June 30 that his constituents from District 7 are calling his office over concerns about some of the decisions that the transit agency makes on The City’s streets: (more comments below.)

“…this is why I am introducing this legislation to see if there is a way to actually change the dynamics so that maybe we could reduce the types of complaints that we get.”…

“There’s an expectation from the public that the Board of Supervisors share the burden of SFMTA’s decisions when we have very little do with who sits on the Board of Directors.”…

“I think a split appoint process allows for a broader, more diverse level of engagement from the public as we have seen at this very committee.”…

“I’m always searching for answers. For me, this is one way to change it. It’s certainly not the only way and I’m willing to sit down with the director, Mr. Reiskin or any of the other Board of Directors to continue that discussion.”… (more)

This is a welcome development in a situation that is rapidly turning into a disaster for many residents and merchants who are lashing out at the Mayor and Supervisors. Complaints are coming from everyone, including drivers, Muni riders, people with families, the elderly and physically challenged. Removal of bus stops and seats from buses is only the last straw.
Plausible deniability is not protecting them from the public anger. This is the year of discord and San Francisco officials are reacting by giving the voters a lot of options to shift the balance of power. The voters should take this opportunity to do just that.

Merchant concerns only half of Muni battle

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

On the surface, a meeting in the Mission District on Monday night was meant for the community to weigh in on new “red carpet” bus-only lanes on Mission Street. The lanes rolled out in February and stretch from 14th to 30th streets.

But the meeting exploded.

“A woman got hit by a car on Cesar Chavez!” shouted Roberto Hernandez, a community advocate often called the “Mayor of the Mission.”

Hernandez decried transit officials for allowing the new red lanes to cause traffic mayhem, not reaching out enough to residents and for hurting small businesses in his life-long home.

Half of the meeting’s 200 attendees cheered in support. The other half howled for Hernandez to stop.

In the crowd, two men stood within a few inches of each other’s faces, pointing and shouting.

This same scene has played out at recent Geary Boulevard and Taraval Street transportation meetings and may soon play out at West Portal, too.

Merchants from those neighborhoods were present for the Mission meeting as well.

A tide of merchant and neighborhood resentment is rising against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — and they’re now banding together for support.

“I think it’s real clear a citywide coalition is in the formation and building to really address how we need to put a stop to the way [the SFMTA] is planning,” Hernandez told the San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday.

And in small ways, those merchants are winning… (more)

Continue reading

Tweaks sought to Mission Street transit lanes

By Sara Gaiser : sfbay – excerpt

fter complaints from Mission District merchants and drivers, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials will hold a public meeting and seek public feedback on the impact of red transit-only lanes added to Mission Street earlier this year.

The public outreach, announced in conjunction with Supervisor David Campos, will include a community hearing to be held next week, merchant walks in the area and a survey of residents and visitors on Mission Street, SFMTA officials said.

Red transit-only lanes and other changes were installed on Mission Street between 14th and 30th streets earlier this year in an effort to speed up bus travel times through the busy transit corridor and increase pedestrian safety…

The project has successfully reduced travel times and increased reliability for buses, and appears to have reduced collisions from three or four per week to only one since late March. The agency has received positive feedback from Muni riders and neighborhood residents on the changes, SFMTA officials said.

However, drivers have complained that it is now difficult to access Mission Street, and some merchants have reported a decrease in sales because of reduced vehicle traffic.

Campos said in a statement that fulfilling The City’s Transit First policy and Vision Zero goal, which aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths in San Francisco by 2020, requires tradeoffs, but that the tradeoffs “must be considered thoughtfully”:

“While I wholeheartedly support the goal of improving Muni reliability and speed, I want to make sure that the project works for everyone and take into the account the unique aspects of the Mission.”…

The public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts at 2868 Mission St… (more)

 

Unnoticed NON-Permitted Sidewalk Work Spotted on Lombard

Sent by a resident on Lombard

IMG_1131    IMG_1134

Today signs were posted in front of our property stating that this will be a tow away zone for the next 30 days. The sign is a Department of Public Works sign. This is the work I emailed the supervisor’s aide about a week ago.

So, today I call the DPW to find out what is going on out there. The “mystery workers” have covered the sidewalk with white and green lines and dots, they have made cuts in the sidewalk around the parking meter, along the building wall and around the PGE boxes on the sidewalk. As if the sidewalk is to be removed. I sent them a photo of the signage.

Drum roll: The DPW has NO PERMITS on record for this project. The person I talked to, Sid Lezama, said that the signs are not the current signs used by the DPW; in fact he said they were false signs. He has nothing in the computer for the work being done. He suggested I call 311, tell them about it and make a formal complaint.

So I did. Guess what? It is TOTALLY ILLEGAL to work on any sidewalk in SF without first notifying the property owners in the area. Obviously that never happened. She registered a formal complaint which will go back to DPW. Then Sid said they can investigate what is going on from there. They are going to call us with the information once found.

This smells like the SFMTA to us! The aide sure knew about this project when she replied to my email, didn’t she? And yet the project was never permitted by the DPW, which is required, and no one there knows anything about it!

The work is supposedly going to begin TOMORROW!!

We will keep you posted, but everyone should be aware of the regulations here and watchdog any project in their neighborhood that even smacks of the City. Make sure permits are in place and that property owners have been properly notified.

Sid’s phone number at the permit department of the DPW is 415-554-5824;
to reach the 311 person you can also phone 415-701-2311.

Feel free to forward to other neighborhood groups. Maybe we can red tag the City’s own projects!!

– Concerned Citizen

Use the Mayor’s new 311 system that goes directly into the record and gives you a case number that you can use to check up on the progress being made on your complaint.

Muni’s impact on small business

from hoodline – excerpt

May 9 Small Business Commission meeting: From transit-only lanes to the loss of parking spaces, neighborhood activists have been using the Commission as a venue to criticize San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for projects that they say put small business in jeopardy. This meeting was no different.

Staffers from various departments within the SFMTA gave presentations on a variety of topics, including the agency’s public outreach, the residential parking permit program, capital projects and improvement projects on Lombard and Mission streets.

Neighborhood activists attended the meeting to speak during the public comment period on all items. They represented commercial corridors on which SFMTA has ongoing or recently-completed projects, including Mission Street, Geary Boulevard, Lombard Street and Taraval Street.

Safety was consistently cited by SFMTA staff as the reason behind all their improvement projects to heavily-used corridors.

The criticisms of those who commented on each item centered largely on the agency’s re-engineering of streets to accommodate transit, bicycles and pedestrians over private automobiles, leading to reduced auto traffic along commercial corridors and an attendant loss of parking spaces.

Bob Starzel, a representative with the Greater Geary Merchants and Property Owners Association, laid out the small business perspective of transit changes as a counterpoint to the City’s Transit First policy approach.

“If we took [SFMTA’s] numbers, and they were right, and only 30 percent of people drive, think to yourself what it means to your business if now some good proportion of that 30 percent is not gonna come to do business with you,” Starzel said. “What that means is your profit margin is hurt.”

SFMTA staff will continue appearing before the Commission to address how their projects and programs affect small businesses for the next few months… (more) Scroll the the page for this part of the article.

SFMTA is using our taxes to against us

Business owners all over town are doing a lot more than just going to meetings and City Hall. They are organizing to fight for their businesses. Fighting the taxes that feed the SFMTA are a big part of the fight.

Plans to remove traffic from our major commercial corridors are not the only thing SFMTA is doing to close businesses in the city. We know of at least three new taxes they have planned for us that are guaranteed to raise the cost of living and doing business in the Bay Area.

Prop AA – the SF Bay Authority (SFBA) is a new regional taxing entity that wants a $12 parcel tax from all property owners within a 9 county region. The claim they need it is to clean the Bay. There are plenty of other entities working on that already. If Prop AA passes the SFBA will request an additional 10 cents per gallon gas tax next. Do yourself a favor and vote against Prop AA. Look what happened when the voters voted down Prop L. They decided they could get away with tearing up our streets and removing street parking that is what they are doing. (more 0n Prop AA)

Another Sales Tax – The SFMTA assumes the voters will approve another half cent sales tax in November. In fact, they informed the Board of Supervisors that they have budgeted in that tax increase for the next two years. What will that and the parcel tax and the 10 cents per gallon do to the businesses in San Francisco? Let your supervisors know how you feel about these regressive taxes.

If you haven’t yet signed the StopSFMTA petition, please do and share it with your friends. Join the many who are fighting to keep San Francisco for the residents who live here. Leave a comment below if you want to be put in touch with your local business organization.

SF looks to better manage transit plans for new development

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Managing transportation options for new development projects in San Francisco could become more streamlined under a proposal set to go before the Planning Commission today.

City planners have proposed a planning code amendment that would include a set of requirements for managing transportation in new projects, including for the first time mandating that The City monitors and follows up with developers to ensure project developers actually uphold their promises to manage transportation.

Currently, developers are required to meet transportation demands generated by new projects, but how the plans are implemented is scattered and inconsistent. Some projects may include a transportation management program as part of an Institutional Master Plan, while others will include the program as part of its California Environmental Quality Act analysis.

A handful of existing transportation management planning codes have been implemented since 1978, including off-street parking, bicycle parking, car sharing and parking costs…

The new planning code is designed to further encourage other types of transportation than driving.

“The whole idea of transportation demand management is that for any trip that someone takes, you’re giving them choices and making it easier for them to opt for something other than a car,” Jones said.

The Planning Commission today is scheduled to initiate the ordinance, and it will be voted on at a later date… (more)

Want to Ease Parking in Your Neighborhood? Join Our Open Houses

by Pamela Johnson : sfmta – excerpt

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Residential parking is an issue in any crowded city, and San Francisco is no different. But while San Francisco’s Residential Parking Permit program hasn’t changed much since it began in 1976, the city has. That’s why we’re continuing our community meetings to address the natural questions: does the program still work? And if not, what changes could make it work better?..

The SFMTA would like to hear from you! We hope you can attend one or more of these upcoming workshops to discuss San Francisco’s neighborhood parking.

5/3/2015 6 to 8 PM San Francisco Day School 350 Masonic Avenue
5/4/2016 6 to 8 PM Calvary Presbyterian Church 2515 Fillmore Street
5/9/2016 6 to 8 PM Richmond Rec Center  251 18th Avenue
5/10/2016 6 to 8 PM Grace Lutheran 3201 Ulloa Street
5/18/2016 6 to 8 PM CCSF Chinatown/North Beach 628 Washington Street
5/19/2016 6 to 8 PM CCSF Mission Campus, Room 109 1125 Valencia Street
5/23/2016 6 to 8 PM St. Stephen Catholic Parish 475 Eucalyptus Drive
5/25/2016 6 to  8 PM Minnie Lovie Ward Rec Center 650 Capitol Avenue
6/1/2016 6 to 8 PM St. Anthony’s 150 Golden Gate Avenue
6/2/2016 6 to 8 PM CCSF South East Campus 1800 Oakdale Avenue
 6/8/2016 6:30 to 8:30 PM Harvey Milk Arts Center 50 Scott Street

If you can’t make it, you can also provide feedback to:

Kathryn Studwell
Program Manager of Residential Permit Parking
InfoRPP@sfmta.com (more)

More changes to be ignored?

After removal of hundreds of parking spaces both on and off street, and new laws that limit building new parking spaces, it is pretty disingenuous of the SFMTA to ask how the parking is in San Francisco. If anyone wants to know how the parking removal is effecting SF businesses, you can watch the April 25th Small Business Commission meeting tapes for a pretty common description of how bad business is after the SFMTA establishes its plan on your streets. It sucks!

We know the SFMTA plan is to put parking meters, or should I say, “park by phone only” (http://enufsf.com/) options on all the San Francisco streets so you will have to constantly play musical parking chairs. STOP THEM NOW. Sign the Stop SFMTA petition and find out about all the other petitions and opportunities to oppose the SFMTA plan to privatize our public streets. http://stopsfmta.com/wp/

 

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.