SAN FRANCISCO MAGIC: A DYNAMIC MELTING POT

Fight to save San Francisco’s character, diversity, soul and uniqueness

San Francisco has a legacy of financial wealth, art, architecture, culture, diversity, nonconforming subcultures, counter-cultures, crazies…. Today’s imbalance of a money tsunami is atypical, threatening to destroy the things that everyone loves about the City. The overemphasis on the monetization of land values ignores seminal investments in cultural amalgamation, eccentric creativity and diverse entrepreneurship that underlie our unique primordial melting pot. The City shouldn’t be homogenized to resemble “anyplace” found anywhere else. Intense urban battles are happening around the world—to save traditions and values from gentrification. We can learn from other cities, especially when San Francisco is much better equipped to solve a cultural and social crisis.

PUBLIC POLICY CHOICES: Determinants of San Francisco’s future.

Wise public policy choices can cultivate the next great innovation, social movement, creative spark and crazy cultural cross-pollination—integral to San Francisco’s urban genetic code. Today’s tech-movement follows in the footsteps of significant social movements, non-traditional thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, wild ideas, nonconformity… A new partnership is possible. There can be a natural evolution of San Francisco’s economic primordial pot, blending the diversity of innovators, immigrants, artists, cultures, entrepreneurs, rich and poor—all who call the City home.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
―Apple “Think Different” Ad

REINFORCING THE CITY’S SOUL: Beauty, Character, Diversity, History and Imagination

Architecture, city planning, public policy and urban design should reinforce San Francisco’s Mediterranean-imagery, laissez-faire social milieu and rich cultural diversity. San Francisco should be surprising and unconventional—building on its unique topography, social nonconformity, aesthetic sensibilities and architectural distinctiveness. Gentrification and homogeneity are confluent partners threatening San Francisco’s economic and social creativity.

SF CITY BUDGETS MASSIVE INCREASES IN CITY BUDGETS—

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

San Francisco’s annual budget exceeds the budgets of ten U.S. states and many small countries.
San Francisco’s population of 852,469 resides in an area of 46.9 square miles. With 18,187 people per square mile, San Francisco is the most densely populated large city in California and the second densest major city in the United States (after New York City).
Current public policy advocates more density—but overstresses monetization of land values at the expense of overall livability. With more development, density has increased without proportional increases in public transit, utilities, parks, open space, schools, cultural/ social facilities…. Homelessness, dirty streets, crumbling infrastructure, displacement and gentrification persist—in the midst of a growing oligarchy of wealth and power.

YEAR AMOUNT
2015-2016 $8,938,774,083
2014-2015 $8,581,831,912
2013-2014 $7,908,801,656
2012-2013 $7,354,371,247
2010-2011 $6,562,658,343
2008-2009 $6,531,467,931
2006-2007 $5,749,169,447
2004-2005 $5,623,303,395
2002-2003 $4,977,818,648
2000-2001 $4,493,814,996
1998-1999 $3,881,118,608

Block By Block: 5 Cleaning Strategies from 5 of the Cleanest Cities in the World

http://blockbyblock.com/blog/5-cleaning-strategies-5-cleanest-cities-world/

Undistributed wealth is not the ingredient for a successful city.

If tax breaks and political favors go to elite companies, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, why not tax breaks and favors for artists, nurses, taxi drivers, teachers and the underprivileged of society?

Happiest People in the World

http://time.com/3833081/happiest-people-world/

UN World Happiness Report: The report aims to provide policymakers around the world with new metrics that place a higher emphasis on subjective well-being. While income appeared to play a significant role in boosting happiness—the GDP per capita is 25 times higher in the 10 happiest countries than in the 10 least happy—it was far from the only factor. Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom, generosity and corruption levels also helped explain the happiness scores, according to the report.

“It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

Healthiest People in the World

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/12/13/japan-tops-list-of-healthiest-countries/

“It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that makes certain countries healthier,” said Joshua Salomon, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health and one of the lead investigators on the study. “It’s likely a combination of factors, a combination of genetics and of healthy behaviors, including diet.”

“I was surprised to see that over the last 20 years we have given up more healthy life years. That’s true for countries with high life expectancy and countries with low life expectancy,” said Salomon. “This is not a problem of only rich countries or only poor countries. It’s a problem of all countries around the world.”

VIDEO: “Bye Bye Barcelona” (applicable to San Francisco)
http://ragingbullshit.com/2015/05/21/bye-bye-barcelona/

UC BERKELEY NEWS: “More gentrification, displacement in Bay Area forecast”

http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/08/24/more-gentrification-displacement-in-bay-area-forecast/

The San Francisco Bay Area’s transformation into a sprawling, exclusive and high-income community with less and less room for its low-income residents is just beginning, according to UC Berkeley researchers who literally have it all mapped out.

The interactive Urban Displacement Project map, released today by a Berkeley team, indicates the displacement crisis is not yet half over, as rising housing prices and pressure on low-income residents to relocate to the outer suburbs accelerate.

Bay Area Urban Displacement Map: http://www.urbandisplacement.org/

UC Berkeley analyzed regional data on housing, income and other demographics to better understand and predict where gentrification and displacement is happening and will likely occur in the future. This analysis, which is summarized in the interactive maps, will allow communities to better characterize their experience and risk of displacement and to stimulate action.

· In 2013, 48 percent of census tracts and more than 53 percent of low-income households lived in neighborhoods at risk of or already experiencing displacement and gentrification pressures.

· Neighborhoods with rail stations, historic housing stock, an abundance of market rate developments and rising housing prices are especially at risk of losing low-income households.

· Low income neighborhoods are not the only ones experiencing displacement pressures – many higher income neighborhoods that still house low income households are also rapidly losing low income population.

· The number of tracts at risk of displacement are 123% higher than the numbers already experiencing them, indicating that the transformation of the Bay Area will continue to accelerate.

SF EVICTIONS MAP (Anti-Eviction Mapping Project)

http://www.antievictionmappingproject.net/ellis.html

SAN FRANCISCO MAGAZINE: The Battle Over San Francisco’s Skyline Is a Battle Over Its Soul

http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/the-battle-over-san-franciscos-skyline-battle-over-its-soul

The urban-design issues raised by the dizzying proliferation of new structures are tangled up with questions of social justice and quality of life—the housing crisis, displacement, racial and ethnic homogenization, strained public transportation, congested streets, crowded parks, loss of legacy businesses, and so on. It’s hard to see a building clearly when you’re judging it not only on its cornice lines, massing, and fenestration, but also on whether it’s helping to save or destroy San Francisco’s soul.

Jacobs [Alan Jacobs,
Former Planning Director] does not like what is growing in San Francisco today. Inappropriate buildings are springing up all over the place, he says, a disaster for which he blames the city’s promiscuous granting of individual exceptions to its Planning Code. “More and more things are being done by discretion rather than by what the zoning laws say,” he explains. “That is always a mistake because when you do that, the party with the most power always wins. And that party is never the city planner.”

Those qualities are priceless, not something to be bartered away to the highest bidder. If we allow today’s tidal wave of money to deluge our beautiful urban sand castle, we won’t just lose our San Francisco—we’ll gain somebody else’s Houston.

SOCIETAL IMBALANCE is like cellular imbalance in organisms—unhealthy and malignant.

San Francisco ranks second highest for income inequality among America’s 50 biggest cities, behind only Atlanta. Its top households earned a staggering $423,171 – by far the highest income of any city and 17 times the lower income group’s $24,815. Hi-Tech workers’ annual wages rose to $156,000 in 2013. San Francisco’s income inequality is on par with underdeveloped nations like Rwanda. The wealth gap is growing—along with unbalanced political power and money. But even tech leaders are conflicted about their industry’s impacts on social inequality—posing a possible shared responsibility to shape San Francisco’s diversity and heritage.

VALLEYWAG VIDEO: “Ron Conway Flips Out Over Call for SF Mayor Ed Lee to Resign”

http://valleywag.gawker.com/ron-conway-flips-out-over-call-for-sf-mayor-ed-lee-to-r-1588288701

Palihapitiya, an early employee of Facebook and investor in Yammer, attempted to have a conversation with Conway over housing policy. But Conway continued ranting, slamming Palihapitiya’s apparent calls to levy a 1% equity tax on San Francisco startups to help fund affordable housing.

So it’s unsurprising that Conway’s blind faith in the Mayor wasn’t enough to sway Palihapitiya. “All I’m saying is you can provide economic frameworks to solve these problems. You can say for all these companies that want to be [in
San Francisco], you could [create] another kind of tax that says ‘this is a subsidized housing tax’ and we want a piece of your equity. And a company can choose not to be there. But imagine how many more units they could build? 300,000. A million!”

CNN: Sean Parker—Wealth Gap

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Sean Parker is giving away $600 million and says everyone needs to spend “more time” thinking about the wealth gap in America.

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/economy/2015/06/26/sean-parker-wealth-gap.cnnmoney/

There’s a lot of people who are left out of this hyper-growth that’s occurring in technology, finance and elsewhere.

There are places in the country, where cost of living is incredibly high, where you have extremely well-paid technology workers, for instance, living in places like San Francisco, where you have a working poor pushed out of the City by rising real estate prices. Something needs to be done about that….

For a place to be so homogenously wealthy, you’re jeopardizing your own existence and you’re pushing people into a position that’s unsustainable and difficult.

HOUSING BALANCE REPORT

https://sfgov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4010663&GUID=FD2BF45D-6544-4A9A-9BF4-B60D156444F4

Analysis From the Council of Community Housing Organizations:

This report shows that our affordable housing situation is only getting worse – the citywide housing balance of net new affordable housing from 2005-2015 dropped to a new low of 15.2%, down from the previous July report of 16%! Across the City there is a great need to correct an imbalance of low and moderate income housing compared to the rate of market rate housing.

And the future looks even worse, based on the entitlement “pipeline” of projects, the city is slated to produce only 13% affordable housing moving forward. We are far behind the goal of minimum 33% affordable housing for low and moderate income San Franciscans set by the voters in Proposition K last year, and unfortunately only getting worse.

“There are a lot of numbers thrown around these days about housing goals and aspirations of an affordable city for all, but as it is said, ‘torture numbers and they’ll tell you anything,’” commented Peter Cohen, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. Cohen added, “Here in this Housing Balance Report authored by the Planning Department we have the real story. This is from the City’s own building permit data, and the City’s own planning pipeline data, and the City’s own rent board data. It doesn’t get more truthful than this. 15.2% affordable and dropping! We as a city have a long way to go to climb out of this hole.”

The problem is not just about production – these Housing Balance Report numbers make clear how the loss of protected rental units completely undermines the City’s efforts to build more affordable housing. The calculated affordable housing balance is actually negative in 8 out of the 11 supervisorial districts! Sara Shortt, the director of Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco reacted to the Report saying: “I don’t think there’s any more compelling evidence than this that makes clear the siege of gentrification in San Francisco.”

New global “industries”: The overarching problem is the loss of the historical stream of social consciousness, traditions, housing and diverse neighborhoods.

USA TODAY: Europe cracks down on Airbnb, other room-sharing sites

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/07/06/europe-airbnb-room-sharing/29263881/

While popular tourist destinations like London and Amsterdam have embraced room-sharing, other European cities like Paris and Berlin are moving to stop out-of-towners from overrunning neighborhoods and displacing local residents.

“If Parisians want to rent out their home when they go on holiday, that is not really a problem,” said Ian Brossat, Paris’ deputy mayor in charge of housing. “What concerns us is when someone purchases one or more properties with the aim to turn them into tourist rentals. We don’t have enough properties to house Parisians.”

ROAD WARRIOR VOICES: Paris officials go on door-to-door raid of illegal Airbnb rentals

http://roadwarriorvoices.com/2015/05/26/paris-officials-go-on-door-to-door-raid-of-illegal-airbnb-rentals/

Similar to officials’ claims that Airbnb cuts into the rental market in San Francisco, Paris officials estimate between 25,000 to 30,000 units have vanished from the city’s rental market during the past five years.

BUSINESS INSIDER: Barcelona just declared war on Airbnb

http://www.businessinsider.com/barcelona-just-declared-war-on-airbnb-2015-8

However, this money has come at a price, as the documentary film Bye Bye Barcelona documents.

As many local Barcelona residents are all too fond of complaining, Barcelona is fast becoming a theme-parked city that is reaching the very limits of its physical capacity. Rents in many neighborhoods are surging as real estate owners and developers focus their attentions almost exclusively on meeting the much more profitable needs of short-term visitors.

Another downside of Barcelona’s tourist boom has been the widespread closure of traditional, often family-run shops as decades of rent controls came to an abrupt end last year. As a consequence, the city is fast losing its distinctive character – the same character that attracted tourists in the first place – in the face of homogenization that accompanies the arrival of multinational chain stores.

The Big Shakedown

In a press conference last week Barcelona’s deputy Mayor Geraldo Pisarello Pin launched a new pilot scheme. People caught running unlicensed apartments through websites will be offered the chance to have 80% of their fine canceled if they allow the city council to use the apartment as social accommodation for three years.

In other words, the city council gets to pocket a much-reduced rent for three years while providing accommodation to local residents who are currently priced out of the renting market.

REUTERS: Barcelona mayor’s tourism crackdown puts Airbnb in firing line

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/26/us-spain-tourism-airbnb-idUSKCN0QV1LR20150826

Barcelona’s new mayor is picking a fight with home rental websites as she tries to crack down on uncontrolled tourism that she fears could drive out poor residents and spoil the Catalan capital’s charm.

“The tourist flats are making the area much more expensive. Flats that could perfectly well be rented for 300 or 400 euros (a month) are being rented for 600 or 700,” said Oriol Casabella, spokesman for a La Barceloneta neighborhood group.

“If this doesn’t stop, a time will come when they will throw us out because there are many people who can’t afford these flats,” he told Reuters.

NEW YORK POST: Airbnb feeling effects of Big Apple’s illegal rent crackdown

http://nypost.com/2015/06/05/airbnb-feeling-effects-of-big-apples-illegal-rent-crackdown/

The crackdown could slow Airbnb’s growth in New York — and potentially other big cities that see the online room-rental company as a threat to affordable housing and the hotel industry.

But public sentiment appears to be shifting with city officials focusing on the number of affordable housing units lost to the industry, along with residents who are irritated by neighbors renting out their apartments to noisy tourists.

PUBLIC POLICY CHOICES: If elected officials falter, citizens and voters must guide public policy choices—to secure the societal equity and dynamic melting pot that is San Francisco.

FUNNY HALLOWEEN BENEFIT PARTY

NEXT Village SF: Helping Seniors Stay In Their Own Homes

Comedian Will Durst: “BoomerRaging: From LSD to OMG”

Saturday, October 31, 2015, 7pm at SF Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street (at Jones),

PRIVATE SHUTTLE BUSES: NEED EIR TO PLAN FUTURE

1. Negative environmental impacts on Muni, streets and neighborhoods

2. Violations of existing vehicle codes, traffic laws and street regulations

3. Transit Equality: Speed up commute times for tech workers and everyone.

Corporate bus delays Muni 24 Busat southbound Castro/ 25 Street. Dolores between 22/ 23 Streets.
No fee is paid at parking stalls.
Corporate bus obstructs narrow 2-way Vicksburg at Elizabeth Street. Corporate buses delay traffic at Muni bus stop—24th/ Church Streets.
1

Environmental Impact Report is needed.

Holistic commuter plan is needed—to speed up travel times for everyone.

As shown in the Budget & Legislative Analyst’s report to the Board of Supervisors, titled “Impact of Private Shuttles” (March 31, 2014), a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is needed for the private shuttle bus program—before it is made permanent.

· San Francisco must reinforce its Transit-‘First Policy, uncluttering Muni bus zones and congestion.

· In 2014, Muni’s on-time performance declined from 60% to 54%, as private shuttle buses increased.

· The SFMTA Board should rescind permission for shuttles to operate in public bus zones—in violation of the California Vehicle Code. Other violations include state/ local traffic laws, vehicle street restriction laws, air quality/ noise ordinances….

· The EIR should evaluate air quality impacts and degradation of street infrastructure.

· The EIR should evaluate impacts if hundreds of other companies start private shuttle service.

· The EIR should evaluate transit inequity—instead of well-heeled riders on luxury buses segregated from “low-class” Muni.

· The EIR should evaluate the impacts of private shuttle buses on property prices, rent costs, evictions and displacements of low to middle-income residents and businesses—per recent academic studies.

· The EIR should study transit integration—with public feeder lines to transit hubs, regional express bus lanes, free shuttle buses for both tech workers and the general public…..

Budget & Legislative Analyst Report: “Impact of Private Shuttles”

http://sfbos.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=48498

· “No comprehensive assessment has been completed by San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) or other City or other public agencies on the full impacts of private shuttles on City infrastructure costs, traffic and traffic delays, pedestrian and bicyclist safety or housing costs along the shuttles’ routes.”

· “The Department of Public Works and a Metropolitan Transportation Commission study both show that the large regional shuttle vehicles have significantly more impact on street repair costs than regular passenger vehicles, smaller shuttles such as vans and semi-trailer trucks.”

· “conflicts that occurred every hour in which either a Muni vehicle or a shuttle couldn’t access a bus zone because they were blocked by the other.”

· “shuttles blocking traffic by loading and unloading passengers from traffic lanes, or blocking traffic lanes by not pulling fully into a bus zone.”

· “Safety impacts on pedestrians, bicyclists and disabled passengers have not been comprehensively assessed…”

YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Five Years Later—Are [Google] Shuttle Buses Useful Or A Menace?

http://noevalleysf.blogspot.com/2014/09/five-years-later-are-shuttle-buses.html

Video shows impact of private shuttle buses on neighborhoods. Buses run before 6:30AM to 10:30AM and again from 4:30PM to after 10:30PM. There are 20+ buses per hour on different routes.

Hundreds of companies can start private shuttle routes.

In 2004, Google was the first company to start private shuttles, making 2 stops in San Francisco. Today, Google makes180 runs/ stops throughout the city—every day. Currently, a relatively small number of companies operate shuttle buses (Google, Yahoo, Genetech, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Electronic Arts, eBay, LinkedIn…)—but already there are 2,900 stop-events per day in San Francisco. Over time, hundreds of wealthy companies can start shuttle systems, creating gridlock and a two-tiered transit system—luxury buses for the rich and a hobbled Muni for everyone else.

2

Tour Buses (over 8 passengers) are currently prohibited from many neighborhood streets. And private shuttle buses are larger/ heavier than tour buses, impacting even narrower streets.

MAP: S.F. Restricted Traffic Streets

https://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/Restricted%20Traffic%20Streets3%201-13-14.pdf

· Many San Francisco neighborhoods already prohibit vehicles over 3 tons and buses/ vans with 8 or more passengers. Private shuttle buses are much larger vehicles with much greater weights (over 25 tons)—operating from early mornings to late nights.

· Ignoring weight restrictions and being extra heavy, commuter shuttles are tearing up roadbeds, scraping pavement on steep streets, denting parked cars, crashing into Muni ramps and driving up maintenance costs.

· Commuter shuttles use narrow streets, blocking traffic, making awkward turns, endangering opposing traffic lanes and putting pedestrians/ bicyclists at risk—with unnecessary high legal liability.

Muni’s on-time performance declined in 2014, after years of increases.

With hundreds of shuttle runs, public bus stops/ streets have been jammed, blocking Muni vehicles, Muni bus stops, Muni boarding and traffic. If hundreds of companies start private shuttles, the impacts on Muni will grow. Private shuttles are unsustainable.

Since 2000, transit modal shares have remained unchanged at 25%. Per capita ridership declined. Muni’s on-time performance has declined in 2014—from 60% to 54% (85% is set by law)—after years of increases.

Private shuttles routinely violate requirements of Pilot Plan.

Observers find little enforcement of the Pilot Plan. Violations include no bus identification tags, use of unauthorized bus stops, use of 3-ton restricted streets, violations of vehicle codes and traffic codes.

Field observations see worsening air pollution, noise and quality of life.

Commuter shuttles clog streets, exacerbating green house gas emissions. Environmental impacts include engine idling/ emissions, bus engine/ air conditioning noise, operations on steep hills, non-source point pollution from third axle tire skids, damage to pavement, violations of size/ weight restricted streets, delays to Muni by wide turns/ boarding at Muni bus stops and streets, illegal left turns from bus curbs, traffic congestion, public safety…

EIR is needed to study impacts on rising rents, displacements and evictions.

48 HILLS: Who pays for the damage tech companies has done to SF?

http://www.48hills.org/2015/09/22/who-pays-for-the-damage-tech-companies-and-landlords-have-done-to-sf/

I don’t think I’m the only one who has noticed a huge increase in the number of tech shuttles clogging the city’s streets. And a new study confirms that the number of shuttles is going up– and areas where there are shuttle stops have more evictions.

[MAP]: Between June 2014 and July 2015, the number of shuttle bus stop events in San Francisco increased by 46 percent, from 2,032 to 2.978. According to the SFMTA, there are now 203 shuttles in operation in San Francisco, traveling 118 routes.

[MAP]: Map showing that 69% of no-fault evictions between 2011 and 2013 happen within 4 blocks of tech bus stops in San Francisco. By the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.

Let’s put the tech shuttles in the context of a new report outlined in TechCrunch suggesting that one-third of the rent costs in San Francisco are due to venture capital.

Yes, we have (modest) fees for affordable housing and transportation. But everyone freely admits that they are inadequate to cover the full impacts.

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ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS: Regional express bus lanes can get all commuters to work faster—because even private shuttles are stalled in highway gridlock.

Corporate transportation expenditures can be combined with public transit funds to create feeder lines to transit hubs, a regional express bus system and free shuttle bus loops. Highway express lanes, for carpools/ commuter buses, would speed up travel times for tech workers and the general public—transit equity. Rapid buses can also feed BART and Caltrain Stations. The Bay Area Regional Express Bus Plan Study should be implemented—by combining corporate and public transportation funds.

Tech Partnerships: Commuter cloud-based software, apps and consolidated funds.

Public transit and tech commuter needs can be merged for mutual gains. Technology can significantly simplify transit-management—the objective being to speed up commute times for everyone. With enhanced management of carpools and express buses, the number of vehicles on the road can be reduced and travel times accelerated—for everyone.

Free Shuttle Bus Loops are the biggest transit trend in the U.S.

Free shuttle loops are the hottest transit trend in the United States—like in Baltimore, Dallas, Raleigh, Denver, Minneapolis, Bethesda, Aspen, Long Beach, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Scottsdale, Charlotte, Oakland, Emeryville, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, South San Francisco, PresidioGo, UCSF, Mission Bay…..

Mountain View: “Free shuttle to connect tech companies and downtown”

http://www.mv-voice.com/news/2014/12/10/free-shuttle-to-connect-tech-companies-and-downtown

The service will be a consolidation of five separate employer shuttle systems. “Through this consolidation, approximately 12,000 shuttle vehicle miles are saved per year,” said Denise Pinkston, chair of the board operating the system.

The biggest employers and office developers in the city are paying for the service, including Google and LinkedIn, thanks to a requirement placed on new office development by the Mountain View City Council.

We urge compliance with existing laws, rescinding use of public bus stops, prioritization of the Bay Area Regional Express Bus Plan Study and an EIR of the private shuttle bus program before it is made permanent—to foster a faster, regional commuter system.

SaveMuni = FRISC

Fast, Frequent, Reliable, Inexpensive, Safe, Clean and “Cool”.

SaveMuni is San Francisco’s only independent transportation think tank,

dedicated to improving the entire Muni transit system in every neighborhood quickly and inexpensively—with best practices from around the world, transit-preferential streets, bus rapid networks and high benefit-to-cost infrastructure projects.

Contact: Howard Wong AIA

wongaia

NorthBeachCLEAN

Everyday, everyone picks up 1 piece of paper.

If 20,000 residents pick up 1 piece of paper everyday, that’s 7.3 million pieces of paper per year. Together we can improve our quality of life—starting with the world’s cleanest city.

Almost any transit project is eligible to apply for Federal funds.

(Quick clarification – the Bay Area gets a lot of “formula” funds for transit.  How they are used are up to MTC and the transit agencies, but, in general, these are all spoken for – if they were transferred for other purposes, such as a major capital project, then that means a whole lot of over-the-hill buses would not be replaced at the ends of their useful life, a lot of rail lines will not be given required maintenance, etc.  In addition to the transit programs – of which 49 USC 5307 is by far the largest – there are also three highway “flexible” funds, with CMAQ and STP being the vast majority.  These can be used for transit, again, pretty much at the option of MTC, but, given the extreme underfunding of Bay Area road maintenance, unlikely to occur.  What we are probably talking about is the Federal discretionary capital grant program for transit, which is mainly 49 USC 5309 “new starts.”)

Since the Obama administration has pretty much changed the rules so that factors like ridership, etc., aren’t really part of the evaluation process any more, so, if the Bay Area made this a high priority, it would likely have a chance.  However, there is only so much money to go around nationally, and there is a limit to how much money any region is going to get, and there is an unlimited amount of other requests for this funding, so the real question is, how far up to the top of the list this will be.

The other interesting factor is that it is getting real questionable how much money for transit programs there is going to be.  With the Republicans controlling both houses, and the D’s not really into the program, there hasn’t been a new transportation authorization bill for quite a while, just short-term extensions and, right now, it is difficult to see how there will be a long-term extension any time soon.  Without that, not a whole lot of money for any new projects.  Not saying impossible, am saying makes it more difficult.

OK, let’s step back and take a wild turn.  Let’s say that the objective is to create a transit system that will carry the most people, get it done the quickest, and do it at the lowest cost to taxpayers.  Not really the way things are done, of course, particularly in the Bay Area, but, just as a thing to think about.  OK, going down that road, the way to go is to run long-haul commuter buses on an I-580 HOT lane from the Central Valley to the existing BART end station.  Such lines can be started within two years (the biggest time-taker is getting the buses delivered, now that the roadway is getting close to completion), there are just about no costs for the right-of-way, and this is the type of transit service that has the highest farebox recovery ratio – over 90% is not at all uncommon, although I’m not going to make that kind of prediction without a lot of study.

This would have also been the right way to go before BART went over the hill to the Tri-Valley.  Of course, it was never even considered as an option.

– TR, Transit specialist

This pretty much back up what many of us have been saying for some time. The SFMTA and other municipal transit authorities are not in the transportation business, they are in the construction business. They are also in the empire building business. The more the construct the bigger the public debt to the industry grows since the maintenance and operations costs escalate accordingly. This is why many people are saying NO MORE MONEY for the bottomless pit that claim, “if we build it they will come.”

To the desert valley where there is no water?