Caltrans Powers

Caltrans has a great deal of power over arterial streets that designated California State Routes.

This has been a trade-off between cities and the state for well over a century.  For the cities, the “good news” is that the State is responsible for the road, including paying for maintenance and upgrades – and this can be the most expensive street to maintain in the City, longest, widest, most intersections, and most traffic, which means most wear-and-tear.  Also, if someone doesn’t like the way the road is working for them, for most things, the city can pass the blame.

The bad news for the city is that it has very little control over the road.  If Caltrans is slow in making repairs, the city can’t do a whole lot other than try to get Caltrans to do what the city wants.  If the city wants to make almost any changes of any kind, it has to go through Caltrans to get anything done.  Sometimes, particularly if there are budget issues with Caltrans – which is every year, just a question of how deep, — then it can take a while to get things done.

A big part of the Caltrans influence game is working with the elected Sacto reps; in many cases, these will be from the city and are often former city electeds, and all electeds understand the importance of taking care of the local electeds in their district.

Of course, some Sacto electeds have more power, including power over Caltrans, than others.

Tom Rubin

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$315M in toll money locked up until court settles dispute over increase

By Elaine Goodman : padailypost – excerpt

About $315 million in tolls collected on Bay Area bridges is tied up in litigation, and it’s unclear whether the money will ever be available for transportation projects in the region.

The toll money is being held in escrow until the California Supreme Court issues a decision in a case that challenges Regional Measure 3, a series of three $1 toll increases that voters approved in June 2018. The first toll increase took effect in January 2019.

And despite the uncertainty surrounding the measure, the Bay Area Toll Authority is moving ahead with the second $1 toll increase on Jan. 1.

The regular toll for two-axle cars and trucks, as well as motorcycles, will increase to $7, up from the current $6 toll. The toll is collected on the Dumbarton, San Mateo-Hayward, San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez and Richmond-San Rafael bridges.

The third toll increase is slated for January 2025…(more)

Fresh forecast trims SFMTA budget deficits by more than $500 million

By Jerrold Chinn : sfbayca – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is not facing a financial crisis, or at least not yet, according to a report from the city Controller’s Office that shows the agency is projecting a better than expected budget forecast compared to the one projected by transit officials.

SFMTA officials earlier in the year had projected budget deficits over the next five fiscal years totaling $646 million. Now, the updated budget forecast shows some projected deficits will no longer exist and will shrink in future projections. The report, released last week, is now projecting the budget deficit to total $123 million over the next five fiscal years…(more)

No, Muni isn’t broke: New report challenges mayor’s austerity planning

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Controller’s Office says the system faces no serious deficits, contradicting what Breed and Muni leaders have said when they opposed restoring service or cutting fares.

For most of the past year, as Muni advocates and Sups. Dean Preston and Connie Chan have called for restoration of COVID-suspended lines and fare relief, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has insisted that it can’t do much of anything to improve service.

Restoring lines or reducing fares would create a “fiscal cliff,” SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin said repeatedly. He cited figures showing that Muni would run a massive deficit in just a year or two, and that the result would be huge layoffs and service cuts.

Mayor London Breed vetoed a fully-funded Free Muni pilot project for the same reason.

Turns out that was completely wrong…(more)

Can you say tax and spend? All the city seems to care about is having an excuse to raise taxes. How can they push a new bond measure to pay for more Capital expansions if Muni isn’t broke?

Lawsuit Filed

Legal Complaint filed today

The public just got a big boost on opening the Great Highway and other major streets leading into the Golden Gate Park.

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Lawsuit says: Time to “Hit Reset” on illegal street closures in SF

Today, after weeks and months of hard work by our core group and our Attorney we have filed a lawsuit against Phil Ginsburg and the SFRPD for harm done to plaintiffs and the public for the closures of Great Highway, JFK, and MLK.

A press release has been sent to the media and a press conference was held today at 4:30 PM. Several plaintiffs, including the Open the Great Highway Alliance, present a cross-section of individuals who have been harmed by these closures. The lawsuit asks for a preliminary injunction, which would return closed streets to their pre-Covid status during the litigation of this suit. We will keep you informed of any news about this.

DONATIONS STILL NEEDED

For more information, read the press release here: http://www.openthegreathighway.com/publicpressrelease

DONATE NOW!Forward this email to as many friends, family, and neighbors – together, we can take back our streets!

J-Church to return to downtown subway service

by Matthew S. Bajko : ebay – excerpt

J-Church trains will return to downtown subway service next winter after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board rejected the staff’s preferred recommendation that the line continue to end at the Church Street and Duboce Avenue intersection.

Last December, SFMTA altered the route when it revived train car service along the J-Church through Noe Valley and the Castro neighborhoods. The transit agency had mothballed the subway line for much of 2020 due to the COVID pandemic…

Due to their objections, in particular from members of the Restore The J Workgroup that formed in the summer, the SFMTA board voted 6-0 to return downtown subway service to the J-Church at its December 7 meeting after a lengthy discussion about the plans. The route should return to its full service as soon as February but will be reduced in frequency to every 15 minutes in order to accommodate the line extension…(more)

Good news or fake news? Does this mean the street traffic will again be able to cross Market Street? Could this help the situation for the Safeway, other merchants and their customers who have been forced into taking long detours for months?




Re-Open JFK Drive in GG Park

Letter to the Editor : westsideobserver – excerpt

Thank you for the investigative excellence of the Westside Observer over the decades.

Since 1967 JFK Drive has been closed to cars on Sundays and holidays 6 am – 5 pm.
In April of 2007 a negotiated Compromise Agreement went into effect that added closing JFK Drive on Saturdays from Tea Garden Drive to the Transverse, beginning in April through September. It has been in effect since then. JFK was never closed at night.

It allowed for everyone to have access all of the amenities along JFK Drive. There are protected bike lanes in both directions, wide elevated sidewalks for joggers and pedestrians in both directions, and parking for cars in both directions.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 shut down Mayor Breed, via an email, ordered JFK Drive closed 24/7, with the promise that it would be reopened when the City reopened. The City has reopened but JFK remains closed to cars.

Closing JFK Drive 24/7 is totally inhumane to those of us who need a car to get to our destinations. We can no longer access all the many gardens along the drive and are completely excluded from enjoying any of the winter night activities in Golden Gate Park, such as the much-celebrated Entwined Lights installation and the light show inside the Conservatory of Flowers that we used to enjoy, parked on JFK Drive at night.

If the excuse for closing it was for children to learn to ride bicycles, why is it closed at night? Do people teach their children to ride bicycles in the dark?

It is unfathomable, cruel, and outrageous that the needs of the elderly and the disabled and the multi-generational families from outlying neighborhoods are being dismissed. We are human beings and should be treated equally as the able-bodied are treated. JFK Drive should be reopened immediately, and the Compromise Agreement from 2007 should be permanently restored.

We hope that people who agree will let the Mayor and Board of Supervisors know…(more)

Taxi drivers protest, demand relief from SF’s failed permit program

By Garrett Leahy : 48hills – excerpt

Drivers decimated by Uber and Lyft say SF cheated them out of millions, and they want action, now.

San Francisco taxi drivers held a caravan protest Tuesday, going past City SF MTA’s Van Ness headquarters, demanding debt relief for those owing thousands in medallion loan debt, saying they have been cheated by the city after being encouraged to purchase medallions shortly before Uber and Lyft out-competed the taxi industry with the city’s blessing, with former Mayor Ed Lee even declaring July 13 as “Lyft Day” in 2013.

“It’s the first protest asking for anything, any debt relief, no more delays,” said Matt Sutter, a taxi driver and holder of medallion number 771…

One proposal that has the support both of medallion holders and the SFMTA is to lower the price of the medallions, although the amount they should be lowered to is contested—drivers want a price between $50-$75k, while the MTA has pushed for lowering it to $125,000…

And the Board of Supervisors appear to support renegotiation of medallion prices, having passed a resolution last week urging the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, the sole authorized lender for medallion loans, to enter negotiations to lower medallion prices, which cannot be done without collaboration between both them and the MTA.

Yet the Credit Union has stood firm refusing to enter negotiations to lower prices, as they say that the SFMTA should declare the medallion sales program a failure and reimburse the bank for all outstanding medallion loans, and that by not doing so and continuing to operate a sales program which has not sold a medallion in half a decade it is acting in bad faith. The Credit Union even took the MTA to court over this issue, and lost, but it is widely believed among drivers that the Credit Union will file an appeal.…(more)

GM’s Cruise disputes San Francisco concerns on stops, says ‘double parking’ legal

By Paresh Dave : reuters – excpert

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 6 (Reuters) – General Motors Co’s (GM.N) self-driving technology unit Cruise on Monday pushed back on claims from San Francisco authorities that its robotaxis are illegally double-parking, saying they have the right to block traffic for quick stops.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) last week challenged Cruise’s application for a permit to deploy robotaxis in San Francisco on the grounds that it was illegally “double parking” during testing, creating safety and traffic concerns. The agency called for denying the permit until Cruise’s technology could demonstrate greater competency.

The California Public Utilities Commission has ultimate say over whether Cruise gets the permit to begin charging the public for rides.…(more)

Those high-tech scooters on the streets are hurting pedestrians

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

In October, Nicole Bohn, director of the Mayor’s Office on Disability was struck and injured by someone who, according to Sup. Aaron Peskin, was illegally riding a scooter permitted under San Francisco’s Powered Scooter Share Program.

Bohn is not the only one. Since the city, in 2017, in the thralls of Mayor Ed Lee’s passion to approve anything tech-related, gave companies like Scoot and Lyft the right to put bikes and now powered scooters anywhere they want on the streets, pedestrians have been an afterthought…(more)