Supervisors call for financial aid fund for merchants harmed by construction

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

From Chinatown to Van Ness Avenue, long-running, much-delayed Muni construction projects have threatened businesses and even caused some to shut down.

Now San Francisco leaders may have a solution: cold hard cash.

The Board of Supervisors, acting in their capacity as the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, pitched the idea for a “city construction impact mitigation fund” Tuesday morning

Later in the day, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told the San Francisco Examiner the proposal could potentially throw a wrench into future transit projects.

Right now, “we’re doing record levels of public construction, the likes we have not seen,” he said. But if project costs go too high “depending on how you set the parameters, it limits the amount of work we could do.”

On Tuesday, however, nine out of the eleven supervisors either signaled future support for a construction mitigation fund openly during Tuesday’s transportation authority meeting or told the San Francisco Examiner that they support it… (more)

Right now, “we’re doing record levels of public construction, the likes we have not seen,” he said. But if project costs go too high “depending on how you set the parameters, it limits the amount of work we could do.”

DO NO HARM sounds like a better goal. Protect the businesses by limiting the projects. The goal to finish the projects not start them. The Supervisors could limit the number of contracts in each neighborhood by only awarding one at a time. Finish the Central Subway before cutting up any more streets within a quarter mile of it. If the project is overly complex, move the businesses into empty storefronts on other streets during the construction.

I remember hearing rumors about rules that used to exist that precluded more than one construction project per block. Limiting SFMTA projects to one per neighborhood would save the taxpayers money instead of adding to the cost. Maybe we should have some incentive built into the system that would award the contractor and the project manager for finishing the projects instead of starting them. All those workers can be directed to the few projects that are underway instead of spreading them thinning all over the city.

If you agree, write your supervisors. This could be the key to solving many of our traffic problems faster than anything else we can do. Less construction would get traffic flowing again. Limiting the noise and dust in the air would improve our healthy and relive the stress on our streets while protecting our businesses.  And best of all, it would cost us nothing because doing less costs less.

When Will the S.F. Transit Center Reopen? It Will Be Weeks Before We Have a Date

: kqed – excerpt

Transbay Transit Center officials said Tuesday it will be weeks before they can offer an estimate about when the facility — shut down for a month after workers discovered fractures in steel beams — will reopen.

Mark Zabaneh, chief of the agency that oversaw the $2.2 billion center’s construction, told a meeting of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board that resumption of service hinges on the results of tests trying to determine why two beams in the structure cracked…

Zabaneh offered no new details about the cracked beams, but acknowledged that the project’s multi-tiered inspection process had failed…

Peskin said in an interview Wednesday the review is necessary because of a long string of problems involving the transit center. He noted that the transit center is about $800 million over budget, was finished more than a year behind schedule and that the joint powers agency is now the target of a $150 million lawsuit filed by the project’s principal contractor.

Those problems and others, including the Sept. 25 discovery of cracked beams in the sprawling structure, raise doubts about the TJPA’s competence and its ability to handle the downtown rail extension.

“The organization that developed the Transbay Terminal is out of its depth, out of its league and needs a new governance structure,” Peskin said. “I think it’s time to rethink this to make sure we have an organization that can actually deliver a remarkably complex project.”… (more)

This has to be one of the most concise descriptions of the problems leading up to the decision to cut the chord of the money train for JTPA.

Muni cuts ties with contractor who pleaded guilty to bid-rigging, federal fraud

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency is severing ties with Derf Butler, a city contractor who pleaded guilty to bid-rigging and federal fraud last week.

Butler, named in a federal indictment as the owner and president of Butler Enterprise Group, was also named in the federal trial of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow when court documents revealed transcripts of FBI wiretaps where a colleague claimed Butler bribed a San Francisco official.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency told the San Francisco Examiner Monday it has terminated its outstanding contracts with Butler Enterprise Group following Butler’s guilty plea in U.S. District Court last week. The company was awarded two $1.6 million public outreach contracts by the SFMTA in August last year, even after Butler himself was federally indicted in April 2017 for an alleged bid-rigging scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Energy. The company also previously was a subcontractor on the Central Subway project… (more)

Uber, Lyft main reason for increased traffic congestion in SF, study finds

by Teresa Hammerl : hoodline – excerpt (includes map)

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft accounted for approximately 50 percent of the rise in vehicle congestion in the city between 2010 and 2016, according to a report released by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) earlier today.

The study’s indicators for congestion are vehicle hours of delay, vehicle miles traveled, as well as average speeds. “Understanding the factors of congestion is key to our ability to address the problem effectively and maintain the accessibility of our downtown core,” said SFCTA executive director Tilly Chang in a statement… (more)

The map shows an abundance of Uber/Lyfts in the downtown area where congestion is the worst. Is this a coincidence or evidence that ride hails are congesting the area?

Privatization of our Streets

Multiple media stories over the last week prove that corporations plan to control our streets. They are fighting for them. What are we doing to keep them?

Lyft’s Big Bike-Share Buy Is About Ruling the Streets: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/lyfts-big-bike-share-buy-is-about-ruling-the-streets/

The SFMTA has not done a great job of protecting our interest and may come under fire. Follow the action this week: https://cancalendar.wordpress.com/special-events/

Supervisors passed an Ordinance to help us. We need to ask for their help now.
Ordinance: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/sfmta-review/  
Charter Amendment: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/charter-amendment/

Stay in formed. Demand Respect. Support the candidates running for supervisor who will protect our city and our streets. Put SFMTA needs listen the voters, not their staff.

City report says Uber and Lyft are hoarding vital transit data

By Elizabeth Creely : missionlocal – excerpt

Uber and Lyft — whose ride-hailing services bring an estimated 45,000 cars into the city each day — generate trip data every time they pick up or drop off a passenger. This data, say city transit officials, is essential for long-term planning.

And yet, as a recent draft report from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority makes clear, mobility tech companies have declined to share vital data with city and county transportation planners.

That draft report, “Emerging Mobility Evaluation Report: Evaluating Emerging Mobility Services and Technologies in San Francisco” evaluated mobility companies currently operating in the city against the city’s guiding transportation standards. The problem is the lack of data: Fully 85 percent of all possible “outcome metrics” were not reported by any company, Uber and Lyft included… (more)

 

 

San Francisco teachers allowed to request residential parking permits

By : sfcurbed – excerpt

“An $84 ticket for not having a residential parking permit is an economic hardship for a teacher making less than $70,000 a year”

It’s a small but important step in helping the city’s teaching force. Today the MTA Board will make changes to transportation code, which will give teachers in smaller San Francisco schools the chance to apply for residential parking permits.

As the law currently stands, schools with 15 or more teachers can access residential parking permits, but those with fewer than the required number (e.g., preschools) are out of luck. With restrictive parking in the city, and a lot of schools located in residential areas a good distance from public transit, this could prove a small yet effective move…

According to a MTA report, there are 141 facilities within residential parking permit areas. “Of these, 30 have been issued a total of 202 permits.”… (more)

As more parking permits are issued it becomes more important than ever to stop removing public access to public street parking spaces. A balance of public parking access and assets needs to be maintained before any further leases or private/public contracts are signed by the SFMTA that transfers public assets to private enterprises.

The Board of Supervisors, acting as the county SFCTA, should request a report on the effects these contracts have had so far on the economy, including, but not limited to, gentrification of neighborhoods, Muni ridership levels, and economic impacts to businesses and the city. Have these partnerships benefited the citizens of San Francisco? Have these contracts resulted in a net gain or loss of revenue for the city? Can they uptick in car break-ins and delivery problems be attributed to the loss of parking?

The Board of Supervisors should immediately put a stop to any further removal of parking spaces until the impact reports are completed.

Unspent Muni bond draws ire of SF supervisors

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, with the support of Supervisor Aaron Peskin, requested a hearing Tuesday to determine why the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, isn’t spending the $500 million in bond money voters approved in November 2014 even when there is so much need.
“Almost two and half years later, do you know how much of the $500 million has actually been spent to improve our transportation infrastructure?” Breed asked. “Twelve — $12 million. Twenty-seven months later, the MTA has spent 2 percent of the bonds we all authorized—the bonds we all said were urgently needed.”
Breed noted that the unused bond money is incurring interest payments and the value is decreasing with time, but also emphasized the importance of spending the funding on pressing needs…(more)

We deserve a list of the projects this money is being held for and details on how that money was allocated. The process is flawed. Too much emphasis is being put on future projects while nothing is being done to increase capacity or maintain the fleet of buses we have today. Our SFMTA has no interest in running the system they are charged with running efficiently or economically. All they care about is their new planning department and the latest digital gizmo they can put in the bus shelters to entertain and placate us. Thanks to the Supervisors for demanding some answers.

Holding onto 500 million while crying for more money. This is why the public does not trust the SFMTA and why they voted against the last sales tax pitch. At some point the voters were promised road repair in one of those sales pitches and we didn’t get it.
Everyone complains about potholes. Muni riders complain about how bumpy the ride is. Guess why it is bumpy? The potholes are destroying their shocks along with everyone elses. Use that money to fix the potholes before painting the streets or changing any more lanes. There are streets all over town with no plans to do anything to them. Fix those first.

RELATED:
SFMTA thrown under the bus over disuse of bond funds

Merchants, community organizations sue to block Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project has been in the works for more than a decade, but a newly filed lawsuit wants local courts to “slow down” the project.

An environmental lawsuit against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco County Transportation Authority project was filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, taking aim at the controversial project that is intended to improve public transit from the northwest side of The City to downtown.

The SFCTA declined to comment, and the SFMTA could not be reached for comment…

The suit was brought by San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, a nonprofit touted by Geary Boulevard merchant David Heller, a staunch opponent of Geary BRT.

“This action is brought to stop a grave error in judgment from taking form as a bus thruway [sic],” the claim states, “which destroys the quality of life and economic health of the Richmond District of San Francisco.”… (more)

There are a lot of people who oppose the Hybrid Alternative Geary BRT, the mess on Van Ness, and the Red Lanes on Mission. We need a break from constant changes on the streets and musical chairs with bus stops. We need a return to civility, but it is hard to be civil when you are stressed by having to deal with constant change. We need a moratorium on disruptions. This suit is a strike against maximum change and disruption, in favor of a cheaper, less damaging alternative. Who wants to spend an extra $300 million dollars and endure years of turmoil when you don’t have to?

Transportation board picks new exec

Michael Cabanatuan, Jill Tucker : sfgate – excerpt

A deeply split San Francisco County Transportation Authority board, also known as the Board of Supervisors, chose a new executive director after a closed session that concluded months of meetings and leaves lots of questions.
Supervisor John Avalos, chairman of the board, announced Tuesday only the selection of an unnamed primary candidate, but it’s Tilly Chang, deputy director of the authority formerly headed by Jose Luis Moscovich, who retired in November.
Not selected was Sonali Bose, finance director for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The board voted 11-0 to back her as the secondary candidate. Bose reportedly had four or five backers for the position. A third finalist was Stephanie Wiggins of the Orange County Transportation Authority.
But will the new chief continue the status quo of butting heads over transportation planning with the Municipal Transportation Agency? Or will the two agencies hold hands, sing you-know-what and work together to improve the city’s transportation system?
And does the vote signal a major split among supervisors on transportation? The authority, which oversees spending of transportation sales tax revenues and does some planning and project delivery, is the supervisors’ only chance to directly influence transportation policy. The MTA board is appointed solely by the mayor and doesn’t have to answer to the supervisors…
Board members, er, Supervisors Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Jane Kim, Eric Mar and Norman Yee voted for Chang, with London Breed, Malia Cohen, Mark Farrell, Katy Tang and Scott Wiener voting against her appointment… (more)

City – SFMTA, Board appointed by the Mayor

County – SFCTA, Board controlled by Supervisors

Let your Supervisors know what you want them to do with your tax dollars and when they should deny funds to the SFMTA.