Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) – No on Regional Measure 3

In an economically dynamic region like the Bay Area the ability to get around is paramount.  Yet in recent years the movement of people and goods in this region has been slowing down.  The highway backups have been getting worse and the hours of delay longer.  Urban traffic congestion has been getting ever more constrictive.

In the past 25 years there have been many opportunities to deal effectively with regional gridlock.  These opportunities have been largely ignored.  Instead, billions of dollars of scarce transportation resources have been lavished on backward-looking highway expansions and ill-conceived parochial and pet projects, mostly of small consequence.

For the following reasons BATWG rejects RM3 as being just more of the same.

  • RM3 contains no unifying plan for addressing the region’s main transportation problems; namely, the excessive freeway backups and urban traffic constraints, and the poorly integrated and otherwise defective regional network of public transit lines.
  • Instead of a well thought out regional plan for returning a healthier balance to Bay Area transportation, RM3 is comprised of a slapped-together $4.45 billion dollar hodgepodge of 35 disjointed individual projects.   A handful of these are worthwhile; however the package as a whole falls far short.  In fact RM3 promises to bring nothing but more backups and more congestion.
  • Another problem is caused by the common practice of MTC, the large transportation agencies and local jurisdictions of diverting funds from voter-approved projects to other uses. BATWG’s efforts notwithstanding, the Sponsors of RM3 have steadfastly refused to guarantee that the money raised will be spent on the projects listed in the Voter’s Handbook.
  • And finally, there’s the matter of RM3’s constitutionality.  In order to qualify RM3 for a 50% “do pass” vote, it was necessary for the sponsors of the Measure to define the $3 + in additional bridge tolls to be imposed by RM3 as “fees”.  However under the California Constitution fees are clearly intended to produce benefits for the fee payers.  Since most of the voters who would be receiving the $billions in new highway and transit projects if RM3 passes would notbe fee payers, RM3 comes nowhere close to meeting that standard.  RM3 is therefore about new taxes, not new fees.  And tax measures require a 7% vote, not a 50% vote.  This puts RM3 in direct violation of the California Constitution.

For these reasons BATWG believes that this deceptive, unfair and illegal measure should be voted down.  By refusing to go along with “just more of the same”, the voters would be sending a message demanding something better; namely a straightforward regional plan that addresses and deals with the Region’s most pressing transportation problems.

Download the doc. (RM3 Opposition May 1718)

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Update on the Rail Alignment and Benefits (RAB) Study

Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Herbst Theater Green Room, 401 Van Ness Street
Language & Accessibility: The Herbst Theater is ADA accessible. For language and additional accessibility accommodations, please contact candace.soohoo@sfgov.org or 415-575-9157 at least 72 hours in advance.

Please join us as we summarize the findings from the Rail Alignment and Benefits (RAB) study, including a preliminary preferred alignment for Caltrain and High Speed Rail: the Pennsylvania Avenue DTX + Extended Tunnel. Community members are invited to provide input on the alignment, adjacent land use opportunities, and next steps.

Please RSVP Here  This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are not mandatory, but helpful to ensure we have enough materials.

In other news…
You may have seen the recent San Francisco Chronical article “New, simpler rail plan for SF’s downtown rail extension” (April 23). While mostly accurate, the article was incorrect in stating that the Study materials have been made public. The study materials have been released to our partner City agencies for their comments and review through a series of technical committee meetings in April and May, but will not be made available to the broader public until just prior to the May 29 meeting.

Got 6 minutes and 40 seconds?
Watch the RAB Pecha Kucha presentation given at SPUR or see the slides here.

The Rail Alignment and Benefits (RAB) Study is analyzing the best ways to bring Caltrain and High Speed Rail to the Salesforce Transit Center while connecting San Francisco’s fastest-growing neighborhoods on the east side of the City. For more information visit our website.

Update on the Rail Alignment and Benefits (RAB) Study, formerly the Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study

Bay Area transit agencies among several to receive billions in state funds

By: Daniel Montes :ktvu – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – The California State Transportation Agency on Thursday announced it would give out more than $2.6 billion to 28 transit agencies statewide, including the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, Caltrain and BART, as well as several other Bay Area agencies.

The grant funding is part of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capacity Program and will go toward expanding rail capacity and reducing congestion, according to CalSTA officials.

In addition to the $2.6 billion, which will be used for the 2018/2019 fiscal year to the 2022/2023 fiscal year, CalSTA will also provide additional funds for some critical projects between the 2023/2024 fiscal year and the 2027/2028 fiscal year, totaling more than $4.3 billion, CalSTA officials said…

“When the legislature stepped up and passed Senate Bill 1 and extended Cap and Trade last year, these are exactly the kinds of public transportation projects I wanted to see fund,” Wiener said, referring to the Road and Repair Accountability Act of 2017… (more)

Can California sustain the inflationary spiral our state legislature is setting us up for? This is not free money. This appears to be the road repair money we were promised would come out of SB1. How much road repair have we seen? All the shiny new buses need better roads too.

Now the MTC wants us to cough up more money into their coffers by passing one of the most inflationary bills every imagined, Regional Measure Three.

Not only would RM3, as it is known, add at least $3 to the bridge tolls on all the state bridges in the 9-county region, if it passes it will trigger immediate costs of living increases as the cost of shipping everything, including food, goes up. In addition to guaranteed inflation, the voters will see the following impacts:

  • Automatic increases based on inflation that the bill is certain to trigger.
  • The bridge tolls will be used to pay down the considerable bond debt the tax payers have already agreed to.
  • Voters will give up their right to control future bridge toll increases.

FOR THESE AND MANY OTHER REASONS, WE SUGGEST YOU OPPOSE RM3.
And Consider voting to Repeal SB 1. This state imposed bill has already had a negative impact on many lives and businesses in the state as diesel gas prices are already soaring. A bill to repeal the gas tax and return the right to decide future increase will probably be on the November 2018 ballot.

New, simpler plan for SF’s downtown rail extension

By Michael Cabanatuan and J.K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

Cautious optimism for San Francisco’s East Side communities – there is a less disruptive, cheaper alternative plan for the downtown rail extension

San Francisco’s latest vision for South of Market preserves Interstate 280, gets rid of the Caltrain rail yard, and has the commuter rail line’s downtown extension bypass Mission Bay, instead dipping underground a mile before its current station at Fourth and King streets.

A study to be released Monday, after 3½ years of work, significantly revises an idea raised by then-Mayor Ed Lee in 2013 to improve transit connectivity and create a new neighborhood…(more)

The last thing we need is to destroy another neighborhood to create a new one.

 

 

Open letter to SFCTA and SaveMuni Executive Committee.

Although San Francisco has spent billions of dollars on public transit, the high number and locations of Transit Deserts explain public dissatisfaction—particularly for lower-income people in outlying and southern neighborhoods. Inefficient cost/ benefit infrastructure projects, like the short 1.7 mile/ $1.6 billion Central Subway, have taken local funds from the rest of the Muni system—cutting routes and service disproportionately in isolated communities. Not to mention collateral damage to neighborhood businesses and peoples’ livelihoods. Or annual high operating and maintenance costs that cut bus hours. Going forward, we need to give priority to and accelerate cost-effective projects that improve San Francisco’s public transit system as a whole.

Regards,

Howard Wong, AIA, SaveMuni 

How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

: usa.streetsblog – excerpt

That trend has cooled slightly since then, but Seattle continues to see increased overall transit ridership, bucking the national trend of decline. In 2016, Seattle saw transit ridership increase by 4.1 percent—only Houston and Milwaukee saw even half that increase in the same year.

The bus driver: When buses get priority, riders prioritize the bus.  Third Avenue is one of a few transit malls in the United States that restrict private automobile use.

As great as it would be to maximize the bus’s reign on the roads everywhere, that’s not always possible. Scott Kubly, the director of Seattle’s Department of Transportation, says making the system better mostly means spotting small fixes. “We don’t just focus on the big corridor projects,” Kubly says. “We are focused on making the small, surgical improvements that add up to something big.”(more)

San Francisco needs leadership that begins and ends by focusing on customer service. Forcing all modes to share the road is not helping anyone. Giving private corporate interests priorities is not serving the public.

Power players map strategy to get Bay Area bridge toll hike passed in June

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

THERE IS AN OPPOSITION TO RM3!
The media is just ignoring it. Not all community leaders support RM3. Find out why: RM3 Handout

Big names and big money are banding together to sell voters in June on a $3 toll increase on state-run Bay Area bridges to pay for a laundry list of road, rail and ferry projects throughout the region — some sexy and some not so much.

While there has been no organized opposition, one vocal opponent is Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

“The projects they are talking about are all over the place and are based more on political relationships than on transportation engineering,” DeSaulnier said.

State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, is also opposed, largely because the measure allows for automatic toll increases in the future based on inflation.

“And they can do it without any vote of the people or the Legislature,” Baker said…

OPPOSITION TO RM3 is growing as more people find out about this draconian tax, that is not a tax. How well has the gas tax worked so far? How many streets and bridges have been repaired?

Passage of this bill is an open-ended invitation to (WHO EXACTLY?) to raise the rates based on inflation. Inflation is built into these rates, which, along with the gas tax, unless it is repealed, will assure inflation. Every truckload of products crossing state bridges in the Bay Area will add to the cost of living, including the cost of food. Food and gas costs have already gone up.

WE MUST STOP RM3! JOIN THE OPPOSITION!

Regional tax elections rules do not match other ballot initiatives. There are no paid ballot arguments allowed. Only one argument per county is allowed.

These special rules only apply to regional ballot issues. This is a good reason to oppose them. More reasons are here: RM3 Handout

BART closures cause congestion

Getting home should be considered mundane and common but for some BART riders, it will soon become dangerous and difficult.

In a few months, the Civic Center BART station will permanently close entrances at Grove, Hyde and Market Streets and the entrance outside Hotel Whitcomb will be permanently closed.

This decision is to make way for a new power substation that is needed to ensure there’s enough electricity when the plan for 2025 runs 25 percent more trains beneath downtown and the Transbay Tube.

“Things will become much more noticeable during peak time such as the 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. transit times,” said Thomas Edwards, utility worker for BART… (more)

It isn’t April Fools yet. What is gong on here? Is this true? Will BART stop at Civic Center? Which exits will remain open? How will this effect the Muni underground?

RELATED:

BART Plans To Close Some Civic Center Station Entrances

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

…it’s a necessity to grow the BART system using measure RR funds to put in a new power substation at Civic Center…(more)

This is what our regional tax funds get us. Less service so they are GROW BART. Good reason to oppose any more regional bills such as this year’s RM3 that will increase $3 bridge tolls at the same time they are cutting back on BART service.

PLAN-IT LOS ANGELES

A collection of important articles and original commentaries on planning issues in the greater Los Angeles area

Updated analysis of Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827 Real Estate Deregulation Bill

Platkin on Planning: Los Angeles is heading toward a perfect storm of gentrification, well camouflaged behind spurious claims of boosting transit ridership and addressing LA’s housing crisis through planning, zoning, and environmental deregulation.

This perfect storm is propelled by huge tail winds from the State Legislature in Sacramento, with big city Democrats fronting for the real estate interests that fund and mentor them. San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are their current favorites, but many more are lining up at the trough.

To begin, there is a treasure trove of successful programs that they could turn to if they truly wanted to increase transit ridership and address the climate and housing crises, but they are totally mute on these options. As for their cheerleaders, their silence is also deafening since the following public programs are at odds with their mantra to magically solve LA’s many urban ills: “build more market housing.”

Increasing transit ridership through the following is not on their to-do list:..

My conclusion about SB 827, by itself, and in combination with the supplemental land use ordinances I reviewed above, is that it is one of the most destructive pieces of planning legislation I have encountered in over three decades of professional work in the city planning profession.  Like all miracle cures, it won’t work.  It might make some landowners and landlords rich, but its fatal flaws will destroy many neighborhoods, without increasing transit ridership or reducing the cost of housing…

Dick Platkin is a former Los Angeles city planner who reports on local city planning controversies for CityWatchLA…(more)

Please read and comment at the source if you can.