Central Subway: Muni’s Drilling Plan Strains Credulity

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

When news broke that the city is holding the bag for the tens of millions of dollars the America’s Cup Organizing Committee hasn’t raised, Supervisor John Avalos gave an impassioned lamentation. “I was fucking played. All the members of the Board of Supervisors were fucking played,” he wailed. “I am totally fucking ashamed.”
This showed remarkable candor — but not remarkable foresight. Every city official tasked with adding numbers and looking at contracts had warned of this exact scenario. SF Weekly and other newspapers had done the same, repeatedly, in 2010, 2011, 2012, and this year too. Decision-makers may or may not have been played, but they were certainly informed.
One can only predict the impassioned lamentations due to be inspired by the Central Subway. Over the past decade, a bevy of reports and articles have revealed the bizarre logistics for the proposed Muni line to Chinatown — and, potentially, beyond — could actually reduce passengers’ ability to get to their desired destinations in a timely fashion. In that time, the project’s price tag has jumped from around $647 million to some $1.6 billion, while anticipated daily ridership dropped from 100,000 to an optimistic 2012 estimate of 35,100. In 2007, Muni reported that the subway would be a net gain, reducing Muni’s operating and maintenance expenses by $23.9 million. In 2010, that number was glumly revised: The subway is now expected to eat $15.2 million in yearly O&M costs — siphoning resources away from a perpetually underfunded system.
Last year the Wall Street Journal labeled the subway “a case study in government incompetence and wasted taxpayer money.” So, decision-makers have been informed. And we’re building this thing anyway…. (more)

Joe is not afraid to tell it like it is. Leave your comments on the sfweekly.com article.

Hi Everyone, let’s keep together as a neighborhood!

The Land-Use Committee is your only opportunity to make public comments.
Voice your concerns and tell your stories.  Members of our community will still suffer from the Pagoda Theater’s unnecessary work.  Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) can be buried underground or extracted in Chinatown.  The Pagoda Theater requires a Supplemental EIR—due to unstable soil conditions, adjacent historic buildings and spot-zoning to benefit one property.  Let’s support ALL our North Beach merchants and neighbors!

City Hall Legislative Chambers, Room 250
AGENDA:  Item 2 Special Order at 1:30 pm—Pagoda Theater

Email the Mayor and Board of Supervisors:
Mayor and Supervisors: (Updated January 13, 2013)

AGENDA:  Item 33 Pagoda Theater—3:30 PM (?)
Note: No further public comments are allowed.

Bury TBMs or Extract TBMs in Chinatown – The Pagoda Theater’s TBMs extraction is totally unnecessary.  It is fiscally irresponsible to spend up to $80 million for the northern tunnel extension to North Beach—to get only $4.4 million in TBM salvage value.  Instead, per the original plans in 2005-08, the TBMs can be extracted or buried in Chinatown, saving up to $80 million and eliminating all disruptions.

Pagoda Theater Extraction Cuts Muni Bus Service – TBMs extraction at the Pagoda will cost an unnecessary $9.15 million in Muni operating funds.

STREETSBLOG:  “Central Subway Pagoda Deal Will Take $9 Million From Muni Operating Funds”   http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/02/20/central-subway-pagoda-deal-will-take-9-million-from-muni-operating-funds/

Telegraph Hill Dwellers asks for TBMs extraction in Chinatown. –  If built, the Central Subway Project will reduce surface transit throughout the northeast quadrant.  In the Federal Transit Administration’s summary, the Central Subway will take $15.21 million in operating funds from Muni—annually.  Per the Final SEIS/SEIR, the subway will cause 76,400 hours of reduced Annual Diesel/ Trolley Bus Hours.  In the FY 2012 New Starts Criteria Report, the subway will cause 34,426 hours of reduced Annual Trolley Bus Hours.

Central Subway Pagoda Deal Will Take $9 Million From Muni Operating Funds

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.com – excerpt

A deal struck by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency to extract tunnel drills at the site of the abandoned Pagoda Theatre will cost the agency an estimated $9.15 million. While the deal with site owner Joel Campos allows the SFMTA to move forward with an extraction plan that’s less disruptive to the North Beach neighborhood than the original one, agency Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the money will come out of Muni’s operating budget, unless it receives an additional grant from the Federal Transit Administration to plug the gap, according to the SF Examiner.

The site of the abandoned Pagoda Theatre at Powell Street and Columbus Avenue. Image: Google Maps

The news confirms fears that the Central Subway’s ever-ballooning costs will eat away at funds needed to provide existing Muni service. Put in terms of bus service lost, $9.15 million equates to roughly 100,000 service hours, based on a back-of-the-envelope calculation using the cost savings estimated by the SFMTA when it proposed service cuts in 2010
“Diverting $9.15 million in precious funds from MUNI’s operational budget will steal that money directly from the bus service we desperately need for an unnecessary drilling machine extraction site we absolutely don’t,” said Sonn… (more)

…Total costs to SFMTA, including the lease, demolition of site and extraction of the TBMs, will not exceed $9.15 million.
The Pagoda Palace is the preferred location to remove the TBMs. As a result of community objections to the original plan that was approved in 2008, SFMTA initiated a review of alternatives, which called for the removal of the TBMs on Columbus Avenue near Washington Square Park. Removing the TBMs at the Pagoda Palace, a building that has been vacant for nearly 20 years, minimizes local construction impacts and leaves no physical impediments to a potential extension of the Third Line to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf.
The project will also require National Environmental Policy Act clearance by the Federal Transit Administration. If all of the necessary legislative processes and approvals occur by April 1, 2013, then the demolition of the Pagoda Palace site can then commence. Before any construction begins, SFMTA will conduct building surveys on the properties adjacent to the Pagoda Palace site to assess existing conditions (more)

Why is the SFMTA signing a contract prior to the EIR? Isn’t that what happened to Plan A. They signed the contract to extract the TBMs four years before they presented the plan to close down Columbus Ave. to the neighborhood. (That is what I heard at the November 19th meeting.)

North Beach update: Planning Commission votes to move TBM retrieval site relocation forward

For the past two months, SFMTA staff and multiple city agencies have been working to allow the relocation of the retrieval site of the Central Subway’s tunnel boring machines (TBMs) from Columbus Avenue to the Pagoda Palace (1731-1741 Powell Street). This effort has been undertaken in response to community concerns about construction and traffic disruption associated with the original plan.

On Wednesday the SFMTA completed lease negotiations with the owner of the Pagoda Palace. The lease, a major step forward in the agency’s efforts to relocate the retrieval site, allows for the demolition of the existing building and the use of the property to retrieve the TBMs. We thank the community, Mayor Lee, Supervisor David Chiu, numerous city agencies, and the property owner for their support and cooperation in achieving this agreement. You can view the press announcement about the lease agreement here.

Although several steps remain before the retrieval site relocation is finalized, yesterday two integral components of the relocation plan moved forward when the Planning Commission voted to approve a Conditional Use (CU) application and recommend a Special Use District (SUD) for the Pagoda Palace site. The SUD and CU would allow the owner of the Pagoda Palace to move forward with a previously approved development project after the building is demolished and the TBMs extracted.

centralsubwayblog.com – excerpt

In the coming weeks, items related to the relocation plan will be considered at the following meetings:

  • On Tuesday, February 19, the SFMTA Board of Directors will consider the Pagoda Palace lease. This meeting will begin at 1 p.m. at City Hall, Room 400.
  • On Monday, February 25, the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee will consider the SUD. This meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, Room 263.

As always, we welcome and encourage public comment at these meetings.
We will continue to keep you informed as we work to finalize the retrieval site change. We thank you for your continued participation as we work to respond to community concerns about construction in North Beach. (more)

FEB. 22, 2013 DEADLINE: COMMENTS ON TEP (Transit Effectiveness Project).

SFMTA is proposing improvements to Muni.  Some proposals have drawn controversy.  And everyone has good/ better ideas.
When commenting, remember that the Central Subway’s hundreds of millions of dollars of state/ local funding can be better used to improve hundreds of miles of Muni routes.  The Central Subway Project has drained Muni dollars, cut Muni services, eliminated bus lines and increased fees/ fines/ fares to subsidize the 1.7 mile Central Subway.  BETTER PRIORITIES =  BEST TEP SOLUTION.   Fix Muni first!
Regards, Howard Wong, AIA, www.SaveMuni.com



If you have general questions regarding the environmental review for this project, please contact Debra Dwyer at (415) 575-9031 or debra.dwyer@sfgov.org


SFMTA reaches private property lease terms for Central Subway construction

rtands.com – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) finalized the lease terms with the owner of the Pagoda Palace property in North Beach, Calif.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) finalized the lease terms with the owner of the Pagoda Palace property in North Beach, Calif.
This step brings SFMTA closer to finalizing plans to extract its two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will be used to construct the Central Subway. The lease is subject to approval by the SFMTA Board.
“The Central Subway invests in a modern 21st Century public transportation system for San Francisco that will connect our city’s diverse neighborhoods and create thousands of jobs,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. “This next step will allow the project to move forward in building a transit system for the growing population and workforce of the future and minimizes the construction impact to the North Beach neighborhood.”
The two-year lease, capped at $3.15 million, allows SFMTA to demolish the existing structure and utilize the property to retrieve the TBMs…
The project will also require National Environmental Policy Act clearance by the Federal Transit Administration. If all of the necessary legislative processes and approvals occur by April 1, 2013, then the demolition of the Pagoda Palace site can then commence. Before any construction begins, SFMTA will conduct building surveys on the properties adjacent to the Pagoda Palace site to assess existing conditions…  (more)

Deal reached to lease out North Beach theater for Central Subway work

By: Will Reisman : sfexaminer – excerpt

A deal has been reached to bring up Muni’s Central Subway machinery at an abandoned theater in North Beach.
The transit agency, along with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and the Mayor’s Office, had been locked in talks to lease out the Pagoda Palace as a way to store equipment and extract tunnel-boring machines needed for the 1.7-mile transit extension project.
Per the agreement, Muni will pay $9.15 million to use the site, which includes up to $3.15 million to building owner Joel Campos for 24 months of rent and other reimbursements. The rest will be spent tearing down the existing building and extracting the machinery.
Originally, Muni had planned on bringing up the machinery in the middle of Columbus Avenue, but backed off after a strong outcry from local residents and merchants.
As part of the deal, city officials have agreed to waive some zoning restrictions for future development at the site. That requires naming the site a special-use district. The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote today on whether to declare the site a special-use district… (more)

Deal Reached for Central Subway Project


This is your opportunity to protect North Beach from debilitating construction impacts. The SFMTA has not clearly explained their plans.  Your questions have not been answered, especially with the fire alarm that ended the 1-22-13 community meeting.  Because similar projects have put businesses out of business, the City needs to hear your concerns.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2013, 12 PM, ITEM 7a (12:30 PM ?, Pagoda Theater)
AGENDA:  http://sfplanning.org/index.aspx?page=3388
ORDINANCE:  http://commissions.sfplanning.org/cpcpackets/2013.0050CTZ.pdf

Central Subway extraction deal in North Beach still up in air as decision looms

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

With a crucial vote on the project scheduled for Thursday, Muni has yet to reach a deal with a North Beach property owner about bringing up its Central Subway boring equipment at an abandoned 
The agency wants to purchase a two-year lease of the Pagoda Palace on Powell Street so it can remove equipment for the $1.6 billion subway project. Originally, Muni planned on using Columbus Avenue, but changed course to 
alleviate neighborhood concerns.
Despite being in talks for months with theater owner Joel Campos, the agency still hasn’t come up with compensation terms for the property. Campos planned to build a mixed-use development and wants The City to pay for the increased construction costs he will incur from delaying it until 2015…

As part of the plan, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu — whose district includes North Beach — crafted legislation to create a special-use district. It would waive some height restrictions and allow for an extra 1,000 square feet at the restaurant Campos plans to eventually build. Residential units also are planned.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the special district Thursday, but the deal is contingent upon Muni and Campos reaching lease terms. A delay on the vote also would affect the approval schedule of the Board of Supervisors, which must sign off on the plan as well…

The testy negotiations between Campos and Muni aren’t the only issues facing the project. A lawyer representing SaveMuni, a group opposed to the Central Subway, sent a letter to the transit agency Tuesday saying additional environmental study of the Pagoda site is required before extracting the tunnel equipment there. The note came attached with testimony from consulting engineer Lawrence Karp saying that the project would unsettle groundwater levels, leading to extensive damage at nearby properties.

Paul Rose, spokesman for the transit agency, dismissed those claims, saying that the project has some of the best engineers in the world working on it.

Even if the deal were to eventually move through, local businesses have expressed concerns about the economic impacts…  (more)

Pagoda Theater to Become Home to Central Subway Boring Machine

Meter Madness

Reporting Phil Matier : SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway project is once again coming under fire after auditors took a look at some of the expenses that a handful of consultants have submitted.
In expenses filed by 14 of the project’s 35 outside consultants, the audit found more than $887,000 in either questionable costs or those lacking proper receipts… (more)

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