Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…


In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827


SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.

California CPUC is to blame for the corporate takeover of our streets. We need new leadership at the CPUP.

Video by Spenser Michael, PBS NewsHours : KQED  – excerpt (video included)

This story ran in 2014.

Every weekday morning, dozens of sleek buses roll through the heart of San Francisco, picking up a cargo of workers commuting south to companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. But critics say the buses are clogging city bus stops and are symbolic of the disparity in wealth between the new tech workers and the long-time working class residents… (more)

Matters have gone from bad to worse. The SFMTA turned public parking spaces over to the buses and now we dealing with more buses and TNCs. As the street parking disappears a new parking need arises for delivery services.

Nothing the state, county, city agencies have done with the millions of dollars in federal, state, regional, county, or city taxes, fines and fees, has put a dent in the traffic problem.

California citizens all over the state are calling for a halt in the failed projects until major changes are enacted to stop the flawed plans that are not working.

RELATED: National coverage has been building on this subject for years.

Fast forward to 2018:

We now know a lot more about the “healthy economy” and it is unhealthy for most people.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) does not work for the public. At their last meeting they determined that because they are spending less money than anticipated on enforcement, the fees should be lowered on the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) they are supposed to regulate.

Cities have no way to combat this agency. The only thing they regulate is the routes and the stops.

This is a perfect example of why we need to stop the state from usurping power from local governments. As the state legislature gives itself the right to regulate land use and traffic laws though such bills as Wiener’s SB-827 and 828, neighborhoods are being turned into futuristic holding cells for transients out to make a fast buck. They better grab fast, because they are killing the golden goose. Cities are crumbling under the weight of expectations and unrealistic priorities.

California has a number of regulatory agencies that make the rules and enforce them at their own discretion. There is no separation of powers here. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority has a similar problem. Too much power and too much money has a bad influence on performance. The process does not work for the public. It works for the corporations and their lobbyists who control the agencies.

Because over 2% of the corporate bus trips cross into other local jurisdictions, they are regulated by the state. This encourages more regional traffic, not less, as TNCs scramble to grab those rides.

Uber’s new CEO admitted that his company is in competition with Muni and wants to run the city bus programs. We need  new cop in town and City Hall who can work some magic in Sacramento by taking back local control.

As it stands now the only thing the voters can do is stop the flow of money into the coffers of the agencies until City Halls get the message that the plan is flawed and the citizens are not going to take it anymore. The next tax on the ballot for transportation will be the regional RM3 bill that would increase bridge tolls to pay for more of same.

Fighting back means replacing people who are responsible for this untenable situation, and have not learned by their mistakes. It is one thing to posit an idea that doesn’t work. It is another to pretend like the world is your oyster when millions of people are suffering because of a flawed plan based on false assumptions.

We now know that algorithms can be manipulated thanks to Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation that uncovered massive manipulations by facebook algorithms. Next time someone tells you they based a zoning plan or a traffic pattern future project on an algorithm run for the nearest exit. Computer models are only as good as the input. When there are no recent studies based on current conditions, the computer models are flawed and the algorithms meaningless.

There is a new kid on the block intent on fighting back with renewed public outreach. is taking on the buses that are ravaging the Noe Valley neighborhood. See the recent action at the last stop at 29th and San Jose. Marvel at the chutzpah of the huge empty buses as they head for the 280 freeway.

State legislators need to take control the CPUC just as our Supervisors need to control the SFMTA. Let them know how you feel.



Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities

: kcra – excerpt (includes video)

One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…

“The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion,” Wilson said…

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that on a typical weekday, ride-hailing drivers make more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips, and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city…

“I would prefer to have the Uber take me there directly rather than having to transfer several times and wait at a bus stop,” said Wu, who doesn’t own a car…(more)

SMART technology is not so smart when it comes to understanding humans.

Expanded Uber Express Pool option: Walk a bit, ride for less

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

Uber is expanding Pool, its shared-ride option, offering passengers the chance to save money if they wait a few minutes and walk a few blocks for a ride.

The company has run a pilot of the new program, called Uber Express Pool, in San Francisco and Boston since November. This week it will add six cities: Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver and Washington, D.C.

“Regular” Uber Pool, which the company has offered since mid-2014 and which now exists in 36 cities, lowers prices by letting multiple passengers split costs on a ride, like a form of carpooling. But Ethan Stock, an Uber product manager, acknowledged in a press call Tuesday that passengers get frustrated if their cars drive in circles to pick up and drop off others — and that such an approach is not the most efficient.

Express Pool takes a more streamlined approach, with some of the extra effort coming from passengers on foot so the cars can follow a straighter route.

People requesting an Uber ride will see the options of Express Pool, regular Pool and UberX, and the associated prices and estimated arrival times for each. Those who select Express Pool will be asked to wait a few minutes to increase the odds of finding compatible passenger matches, and then to walk one or two blocks to be picked up. Likewise, at the end of the ride, passengers may have to walk a couple of blocks to their destination… (more)

Uber completes with Muni. What doesn’t ?


Uber Express Pool offers the cheapest fares yet in exchange for a little walking

Uber officially launches Uber Express POOL, a new twist on shared rides

Uber Express Pool is like a minibus with cheaper rides


Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

Firefighters union asks mayoral candidates for veto power over bike lanes, pedestrian safety projects

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Firefighters want their department to wield veto power over Vision Zero street safety projects — which often include bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements — and they’re asking mayoral candidates to help them achieve it.

That’s according to a questionnaire sent to mayoral candidates by San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, which was obtained by the San Francisco Examiner Wednesday.

The questionnaire states that though firefighters support Vision Zero, such street changes can create “serious problems” for fire engines navigating narrow streets and firefighters deploying ladders.

It continues, “Do you support giving the SFFD Fire Marshall more discretion and the ability to reject any Vision Zero proposals that will compromise public safety and the ability of SFFD Firefighters to respond to local emergencies?”…

Leno’s answer to the firefighters emphasized all stakeholders, including merchants and transit advocates. “Any challenges in implementing Vision Zero must be discussed with all stakeholders at the table, working together in good faith,” Leno wrote.

Local 798 is hosting a mayoral candidate forum Feb. 8 to inform their members before they conduct an endorsement vote… (more)

Firefighters want their department to wield veto power over Vision Zero street safety projects — which often include bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements — and they’re asking mayoral candidates to help them achieve it.

If the Supervisors agree to support the SFMTA Ordinance that would give them oversight over SFMTA Board decisions and the Fire Department would be able to address their issues through the supervisors. We will soon see which mayoral candidates are more supportive of the SFMTA and the Bike Coalition than the Fire Department and the rights of citizens.


Luxor Cab sold to competitor, will merge into consolidated Yellow Cab company

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexminer – excerpt

Another major taxi company has been sold in The City, and will soon become part of a taxi consolidation that hopes to boost the industry citywide.

Formed in 1928, Luxor Cab Co. was officially enshrined in San Francisco’s historical lexicon as a legacy business in 2016. Now, one of its competitors, Citywide Taxi, is in the process of purchasing the assets of the historic company in a bid to reclaim some of the business lost to tech rivals Uber and Lyft, leadership at both companies confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner…

The merger would solidify Yellow Cab’s position as the largest taxi company in San Francisco. The next largest competitor, Flywheel Taxi, has a fleet of 239 cabs, according to the SFMTA.


The history of taxis in San Francisco should make for interesting reading someday. We need to see a complete review and history of the disastrous medallion program, including, who suggested it, who promoted to it, and who approved it.

Ordinance introduced at Roll Call January 23, 2018: Board of Supervisors Review of Certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions

We hope this clears up the details of the Supervisors’ plans to address some of our problems with the SFMTA by adopting an ordinance and consider a Charter Amendment that addresses neighborhood issues at the district level. We are looking forward to further explanations as the Supervisors work out the details. Stay tuned.

Ordinance: 180089  [Transportation Code – Board of Supervisors Review of Certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions] Sponsors: Safai; Peskin

Link to Ordinance Language

Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of certain Municipal Transportation Agency Decisions. ASSIGNED UNDER 30 DAY RULE to Land Use and Transportation Committee.

Existing Law

Notwithstanding the SFMTA’s exclusive authority to adopt various parking and traffic regulations, Charter section 8A. 102(b)(8) permits the Board of Supervisors to establish procedures by which the public may seek Board of Supervisors review of certain SFMTA decisions ; however, the Board of Supervisors have not yet adopt procedures to provide for such review.

Amendments to Current Law

This ordinance amends Division I of the San Francisco Transportation Code to establish procedures for review of certain SFMTA decisions by the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance: (1) creates definitions for “Final SFMTA Decision,” “Private Transportation Program,” and “Proximity to Final SFMTA Decision”; (2) establishes a procedure for the public to request review of a Final SFMTA Decision by the Board of Supervisors; (3)  requires that notice of the review hearing be posted in the Clerk’s Office; and (4) provides a procedure for the Board of Superiors to affirm or reverse a Final SFMTA Decision following the review hearing.

Background Information

Supervisors Safai and Peskin requested legislation to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of certain SFMTA decisions.

YOU WON! The Supervisors heard your demands for relief from the excesses of the SFMTA and calls to decentralize the department.

All your efforts to get the attention of City Hall paid off. You have a chance to take back control of your streets. You also have some good questions to ask the candidates who are running for office in your district.

Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters

Here is the first draft of the language put forth to as a proposal to amend the charter that establishes the authority of the SFMTA, referred to as the SFMTA Charter Amendment ballot initiative. Please review this and let your supervisors know how you feel about this amendment. Contacts are here.

As of this week, the Supervisors have announced a new Ordinance that would take place a lot sooner and would bring the control over neighborhood issues into the jurisdiction of the Supervisors. The plan is to try that out for a few months to see if a Charter Amendment is needed to straighten out the problems that the public is having with the SFMTA department.

The Ordinance will be posted soon. Sorry for any confusion that was caused by lack of detailed information. We generally track the media and on this issue the media is confused. Therefore we are getting mixed messages. As of Wednesday, January 24th, the deadline for the Charter Amendment was amended to be on the November ballot. There is plenty of time to work with your Supervisor to find out how this new Ordinance may apply to your problem.

FILE NO. 171309 First Draft, 12/12/2017 : LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS  [Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters, sponsored by Peskin and Safai

Read it here and follow the updates here.

Describing and setting forth a proposal to the voters at an election to be held on June 5, 2018, to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to eliminate the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s jurisdiction over parking and traffic regulations; to grant the legislative authority over parking and traffic to the Board of Supervisors; to create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department to manage parking and traffic; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Existing Law:

Currently the Charter grants the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) exclusive jurisdiction over local public transportation, taxis, and a variety of parking and traffic related functions. The SFMTA Board has legislative authority to adopt regulations related to parking and traffic. The SFMTA Board also serves as the Parking Authority Board with responsibility over a number of garages.

Amendments to Current Law:

The proposed Charter Amendment would eliminate the SFMTA’s exclusive jurisdiction over parking and traffic issues, and taxis. It would create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department that would have authority over parking and traffic functions and taxis. The Livable Streets Commission would be comprised of the members of the Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. The Board of Supervisors would have legislative authority over parking and traffic. Under the amendment parking and traffic functions under the responsibility of the Livable Streets Commission include:

  • Setting rates for off-street and on-street parking, and all other, rates, fees, fines, penalties and charges for services provided or functions performed by the Department;
  • Controlling the flow and direction of motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic;
  • Designing, selecting, locating, installing, operating, maintaining and removing all official traffic control devices, signs, roadway features and pavement markings;
  • Limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading as provided by state law and establishing parking privileges and locations subject to such privileges for categories of people or vehicles as provided by state law;
  • Establishing parking meter zones, setting parking rates, and selecting, installing, locating and maintaining systems and equipment for payment of parking fees;
  • Establishing policies for the enforcement of regulations limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading and the collection of parking-related revenues and, along with the Police Department, have authority to enforce parking, stopping, standing or loading regulations;
  • Cooperating with and assisting the Police Department in the promotion of traffic safety, among other things;
  • Having authority over taxi-related functions and taxi-related fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel; and
  • Coordinating the City’s efforts to address emerging mobility services.
  • The proposed Charter Amendment also provides that the Livable Streets Commission would serve as the members of the the Parking Authority
    Commission. The Livable Streets Commission would have authority over City-owned off-street public parking facilities, except those specified as under the jurisdiction of other City departments.

The proposed Charter Amendment provides for an operative date for the transfer of jurisdiction and the creation of the Livable Streets Commission of July 1, 2019.

(First Draft, 12/12/2017)