California Supreme Court Reinforces CEQA’s Definition of a Project

By Jeffrey Chine, Spencer Kallick, E. Bo Peterson, Heather Riley
Allen Matkins :
jdsupra – excerpt

In Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego, the California Supreme Court considered the definition of a “project” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Court held that a lead agency needs to consider reasonably foreseeable direct and indirect potential physical impacts on the environment at the outset of the CEQA process and rejected the efforts of the City of San Diego (City) to delay the environmental analysis of a zoning ordinance to a later date. As a consequence of the ruling, lead agencies may be forced to analyze the potential indirect impacts of activities, like zoning code changes, previously thought to be outside the reach of CEQA.

This case is important because the determination of what activities constitute a “project” is the first step in the CEQA evaluation process. If a proposed activity is found not to be a “project,” a lead agency may proceed without further CEQA review. The result of this case may well be that public agencies take a more conservative view and determine many more activities constitute a project, thus subjecting such activities to further CEQA review…(more)

A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

By Sarah Holder : citylab – excerpt

Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

A woman with a cane stood facing the corner of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. She was blind, and trying to make her way out through an exit. But the gate wasn’t where she thought it would be.

Warren Logan, an Oakland-based transit policymaker, approached her and asked if she needed help. She told him that she was headed to the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impairedcenter. After years of traveling into and out of San Francisco, she’d gotten the commute there down to a science. Hop onto the fifth car. Get out at Civic Center station. Turn left. Take an escalator up. Walk three feet to the left, and through the gate. But this time, she’d followed the path, and gotten stuck in a corner… (more)

Imagine that? A public servant listening to the public instead of preaching to them. Instead of hiring 55 PR personnel to SELL the latest SFMTA program, the staff should attend Dale Carnegie classes or some other customer service training program. Someone needs to learn that “the customer is always right” and a happy satisfied customer is a repeat customer.

This story illustrates how individual a problem can be and how many people do not fit the mold our transit service personnel are trying to fit us into. There are many physical limitations that are abundant in our population, poor or less than perfect eyesight is one of them. Color blindness is rather common and does not fit the criteria of the people who are designing our streets.

There is a comfort in routine that is not honored by a constantly changing transit system. If there is anything the SFMTA could do to alleviate the need for constant change, such as keeping bus stop where they are, for the blind and others who are less capable, and for the non-impaired who appreciate consistency, they might get a faster growing ridership. The constant backslapping and press releases are annoying and useless tools that have lost all credibility with the public.

When Cities Turn to Uber, Instead of Buses and Trains

By Alexander Sammon : prospect – excerpt

Some money-losing transit districts shift to ridesharing—but the cost for that may prove even greater.

It’s long been understood that ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft may pose a threat to public transit. Despite those companies’ claim that they’re complementary to buses and trains, research has shown repeatedly that ridesharing does indeed siphon riders from municipal transportation. One such study from the University of Kentucky illustrates this dynamic starkly: For every year after ride-hailing companies enter an urban market, rail ridership falls by 1.3 percent, and bus ridership by 1.7 percent. Thirty-one of 35 major metropolitan areas in the United States lost public-transit passengers in 2017.

Now, with many regional transit systems reeling and with Uber under the gun to increase revenues, the relationship between the transit systems and the apps is taking on new forms. Ridesharing apps are no longer just competing with public transit for customers, but assuming some operations of public-transit systems outright. With public-transit authorities losing revenue and looking to save money, a number are offloading some of their work to the apps. Uber has struck some 20 deals with public-transit providers in cities in the United States, Australia, and Canada; Lyft has secured 50 transit deals of its own… (more)

Businesses Irked Over Transit-Only Lanes in SF’s Richmond District

By Ali Wolf : nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video)

Some businesses in San Francisco’s Richmond district are voicing serious concerns over the so-called “red carpet” transit bus lanes slated to go in front of their businesses.

Co-owners of a Shell gas station on Geary Boulevard recently got the federal government to step in.

The red transit-only lanes already are painted on Mission Street, and while the SFMTA says the lanes have reduced Muni accidents, some business owners are not happy.

“I’ve seen what it’s done in the Mission, and it’s a job killer, simple as that,” said David Heller, owner of the Beauty Network…

“There are protocols to go through with this experiment, and the protocols are you have to take data and compare that data to the exact same circumstances,” Urban said. “The SFMTA was trying to skirt the protocols, and my brother and I basically contacted the federal highway administration.”

The SFMTA acknowledged there was a misunderstanding(more)

A misunderstanding that has led to a lot of businesses going under on Mission Street and a huge headache for people who are being forced out of their homes due to increased rents that follow the transit corridor projects. The real time savings is in bus stop removal and they know it. How can they test for red lane efficiencies when they combine them with bus stop removal. They test for each element separately to determine the effects of each process.