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 

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Dozens of U.S. Cities Have ‘Transit Deserts’ Where People Get Stranded

By Junfeng Jiao and Chris Bischak : smithsonian – excerpt (includes map)

Living in these zones makes it hard to access good jobs, health care and other services. 

Transportation deserts were present to varying degrees in all 52 cities in our study. In transit desert block groups, on average, about 43 percent of residents were transit dependent. But surprisingly, even in block groups that have enough transit service to meet demand, 38 percent of the population was transit dependent. This tells us that there is broad need for alternatives to individual car ownership.

Shrinking transit deserts does not necessarily require wholesale construction of new transit infrastructure. Some solutions can be implemented relatively cheaply and easily.

[NOTE:  In the article’s chart of 27 cities, San Francisco ranks worst.]

MAP (choose San Francisco):   http://www.transitdeserts.org/?xid=PS_smithsonian

….(more)

Peskin seeks to block dockless electric rental scooters in SF

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit and assess fines for dockless motorized rental scooters if they show up on San Francisco’s streets.

Last year, The City took steps to block the emergence of dockless rental bikes from being dumped on San Francisco streets without permits. Peskin on Tuesday said the most recent emerging technology is dockless motorized scooters, which are rented through smartphone apps. The devices are motorized push scooters resembling large Razor scooters…

Currently is no permit required for leaving unattended motorized scooters that are part of a rental program. The legislation would require motorized scooter rental companies to obtain a permit from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Without a permit, the scooters could be deemed a nuisance, and Public Works could confiscate them.

The legislation, which requires approval by the full Board of Supervisors to become law, would also allow the SFMTA to assess fines and the City Attorney to seek civil penalties against companies operating without a permit… (more)

Costs to upgrade Muni’s Sunset Tunnel soar — partly thanks to neighbors

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Work to strengthen and modernize Muni’s Sunset Tunnel will end up costing $4 million more than planned — due in part to neighbors’ complaints about noise and late-night work.

The Municipal Transportation Agency board voted Tuesday to approve the additional payment to contractor ProVen Management, for a total of $23.3 million, because of delays, mostly associated with neighbors’ appeal of a night work permit, and additional work requested by the agency…

Money to pay for the increased cost will be siphoned from a project to rebuild the turntable in the Cable Car Barn, part of an effort to rehabilitate the cable car system. Muni will delay that work until 2019 while it looks for new funding… (more)

Leave it to SFMTA to blame the neighbors. The will blame anyone rather than assume the blame themselves. How much longer will people put up with them?

Ask B. Sarah Jones at the November 20 SaveMuni Meeting

To all SaveMuni members, friends and associates:

At the next SaveMuni meeting (11/20/17, 5:30 p.m. Turk/Fillmore Police Station) we will have an excellent opportunity to learn more about the SFMTA, it’s objectives, its priorities, its structure and how it functions. Sara Jones, SFMTA’s new Planning Director will be at the meeting to explain the program, answer questions and exchange ideas with us.

This is your chance to find out how MTA plans to cope with San Francisco’s worsening transportation condition. Come and invite your friends!

SAN FRANCISCO CAN BE ONE OF THE MOST LIVABLE CITIES IN THE WORLD

By Howard Wong, AIA SaveMuni

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Australia’s Melbourne has similarities with San Francisco’s urban genetics—art, culture, diversity, innovation, quirkiness, scale, character, history…. But Melbourne has been ranked #1 as the world’s most livable city for six years in a row—while San Francisco’s ranking has dropped.  No American city ranks in the top tier of livable cities.  But San Francisco has a spectacular beauty and geographic uniqueness that should surpass any waterfront city in the world.  Learning from Melbourne, I was struck by the around-the-clock vitality—networks of pedestrian alleyways, bars, cafés, coffee houses, small businesses, historic arcades, public art, parks and tram transit.  Melbourne seems to have a democratic distribution of benefits to all its citizens—a fine-grained urban grittiness that charms and entices.  Such democratic quality of life issues should be discussed—like at the D3DC forum below.

ECONOMIST:  The World’s Most Livable Cities  http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/08/daily-chart-14
Liveability is declining in a fifth of cities surveyed. The index, measured out of 100, considers 30 factors related to safety, health care, educational resources, infrastructure and the environment to calculate scores for 140 cities. Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries. Melbourne tops the list for the sixth year in a row (see chart, right), and six of the top ten cities are in Australia or Canada. Some American cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago have also dropped down the rankings after spikes in civil unrest.

THE ABC:  Melbourne ranked world’s most liveable city for sixth consecutive year by EIU http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-18/melbourne-ranked-worlds-most-liveable-city-for-sixth-year/7761642  The EIU [Economist Intelligence Unit] index scores 140 of the world’s major cities in healthcare, education, stability, culture, environment and infrastructure.  Melbourne scored 97.5 out of 100, one basis point more than Austria’s Vienna.  Canada’s Vancouver and Toronto ranked third and fourth respectively. Adelaide was rated equal fifth most livable city, tied with Calgary, Canada.

Polk Streetscape Construction Update

Only the SFMTA and the DPW would use a construction photograph as a greeting. They must think we appreciate the appearance of the mud and orange cones as much as they do. Guess what, to us ROAD CONSTRUCTION SUCKS! No one except you thinks they look attractive, so quite sending us these hideous photos of broken streets in your cheerful greetings. You are looking a head to spending more of our tax dollars disrupting our lives. We are NOT! How tacky can you get.

29463164-24ff-4fa9-9a8a-d1854bdc42d5.jpg
Water work on North Point Street, January 11, 2017 – San Francisco Public Works

9b48ec82-e298-4bfd-85f6-f6ff3bfb7911.jpgJanuary 13, 2017
Greetings Polk Street Community Member and Happy New Year!
View the latest construction information for the Polk Streetscape Project. Project Activity Summary – Crews have resumed work in segment 5 on North Point Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Larkin Street performing water main replacement work.

Week of January 16, 2017
Crews will continue water main replacement work on North Point Street from Van Ness Avenue to Larkin Street. Work will resume Tuesday January 17, 2017.

Week of January 23, 2017
Crews will continue water main replacement work on North Point Street from Van Ness Avenue to Larkin Street.

Anticipated construction schedule for Segment 5:
Water work: 01/02/17 – 03/27/17
Concrete Flatwork: 01/09/17 – 02/01/17
Final Grind & Pave: 03/31/17 – 04/03/17

Anticipated construction schedule for Segment 4:
Sewer work: 11/2016 – 04/2017
– Bay to Greenwich
– Filbert to Union
Water work: 01/2017 – 04/2017
– North Point to Bay (16″ Main)
– North Point to Chestnut & Chestnut from Van Ness to Polk (8″ Main)
– Lombard to Filbert (8″ Main)
Concrete Flatwork: 04/2017 – 09/2017
Electrical work: 04/2017 – 05/2017
Final Grind & Pave: 09/2017 – 10/2017

Looking Ahead: Construction for the Polk Streetscape Project is anticipated to be completed in six segments over a 24 month period. Construction in segments 5 & 4 are currently underway, with segments 3, 6, 2 and 1 pending. Work for the Polk Traffic Signal Upgrade Project (Contract No. 2568J) is anticipated to begin January 2017 and will occur at nine intersections from Union to Post streets in segments 4, 3 and 2. We will be working closely to coordinate construction activity in these segments.

Polk Streetscape Project – Things to Know… (more)

SF voters approve better transit, reject tax to pay for it

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

San Francisco voters voted overwhelmingly to approve $150 million for improved transit and homeless services Tuesday night — while rejecting by a similar margin a sales tax increase that would provide the funds.

Election night results in San Francisco show Proposition K, a three-quarter sales tax increase that would have taken effect in April of next year, failing with 67 percent of voters against the increase.

The 0.75 percent sales tax increase — to 9.25 percent — would have provided funds for Proposition J that would create the Homeless Housing and Services Fund and the Transportation Improvement Fund… (more)

“San Francisco’s current sales tax is at 8.75 percent, but will decrease to 8.5 percent after Dec. 31, 2016.”

Voters need to look forward to lower taxes in this volatile, unpredictable economy with high rents and evictions looming. They are watching SFMTA roll out one ridiculous future project after another non-stop while they are being squeezed out of the city.

In spite of all the back-slapping at City Hall the public does not appreciate the constant “improvements” being slapped down on the streets at our expenses, and no amount of PR and advertising dollars will convince us to spend another dime on systems we will never live to see.

Supe. Peskin predicts death of the sales tax

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the last one before next week’s election, Supervisor Aaron Peskin predicted the defeat of a sales tax assumed in Mayor Ed Lee’s city budget, offering some last-minute election drama.

Peskin was the only supervisor who voted against the budget earlier this year, citing objections to balancing the budget by assuming revenues The City had yet to receive. He also voted against placing the sales tax, Proposition K, on the ballot in the first place.

In 2017, San Francisco’s sales tax would decrease from the current rate of 8.75 percent to 8.5 percent, but if Prop. K passes it would increase by .75 percent, to a total of 9.25 percent.

With 25 local measures, supporters of multiple measures have talked about the challenge of reaching voters and getting them to vote down ballot.

“Many of those items are conflicting with one another,” Peskin said during Tuesday’s board meeting. “I want to say as the only member of this body who voted against the budget on the theory that it was being predicated on a tax that would have to pass next week, which is polling terribly, we’ve got to get this right the next time we go to the ballot.”…

Propositions D, H, L and M would, respectively, strip the mayor’s board appointment power, create the position of a public advocate, allow the board to appoint some members of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Commission instead of just the mayor, and create a housing commission, which would oversee the Mayor’s Office of Housing(more)

San Francisco Public Press writes:

Proposition D – “Proposition D Drains Mayor’s Power in Filling Supervisor Seats, Other Major Vacancies” – By Zachary Clark

Proposition H – Creating a ‘Public Advocate’ Watchdog

Proposition L – Giving Supervisors More Say Over Transit

Proposition MThis Charter amendment would make two major city agencies accountable to a new, third body, called the Housing and Development Commission.

Final Ruling On SCIG Railyard Requires New Environmental Impact Report Before Project Continues

By Jason Ruiz :ibpost – excerpt

Citing flaws in how the environmental impact report was conducted, a Contra Costa Superior Court Judge handed down a final ruling on the proposed BNSF Railway’s Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) project, stating that the Port and City of Los Angeles must complete “a more robust and accurate analysis” of possible environmental impacts before proceeding.

The announcement comes after over three years of contentious litigation and protests from communities that stood to be impacted by the rail-yard, especially those in West Long Beach. A number of groups, including the City of Long Beach, Long Beach Unified School District and the South Coast Air Quality Management District were among the original petitioners that filed suit after LA and its port adopted the EIR in 2013.

Judge Barry P. Goode, who in March handed down a similar ruling regarding the deficiencies in the methods used by Los Angeles, again rejected the findings of the EIR. The final ruling mandates that the project approval be vacated and any project activities suspended until it’s brought into compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), leaving the Port and BNSF with several options, including carrying out a new EIR or potentially scrapping the project altogether. They have 60 days to appeal the decision… (more)