Bike ballot bluff abandoned
The city's bike people still don't seem to get it, as the exchange in the Bay Guardian (below in italics) shows: The city is under an injunction issued by Judge Busch that prohibits it from implementing anything in the Bicycle Plan until it completes the environmental impact report on the whole Plan and everything in it. "Lawyers working with the SFBC worried that the ballot measure would need to be extremely specific in identifying all aspects of every project it proposed---right down to which parking spots might be lost and exactly where a bike rack would be placed---and that specificity would create lots of opportunities for the measure to be challenged later." This is simply wrong. If the projects in the ballot measure are also in the Bicycle Plan, the city can't implement them until the EIR is completed to Judge Busch's satisfaction, at which time he will lift the injunction.
"SFBC director Leah Shahum tells us the group had been working hard on the ballot measure, enjoying good political support and doing a poll that showed wide public support." I'm skeptical about the "poll that showed wide public support." What questions were asked, and what were the results? If the poll is so favorable to the SFBC's idea of putting the Bicycle Plan on the ballot, maybe Shahum will make it public and show that I'm wrong. Don't hold your breath.
Marc Salomon writes: "But to identify and pick the lower hanging fruit, or the most dangerous conditions, to address first in a ballot measure that obviates CEQA would only require a quick hearing and 4 supervisor signatures." If Salomon's "lower hanging fruit" are in the 527-page Bicycle Plan, they are of course covered by the injunction.
Bike ballot measure shelved
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has abandoned plans for a June ballot measure that would approve some bicycle projects and bypass the court injunction that is blocking all bike system improvements until 2009 at the earliest. SFBC director Leah Shahum tells us the group had been working hard on the ballot measure, enjoying good political support and doing a poll that showed wide public support. "But it started to look uglier and uglier from a legal perspective," she said. Lawyers working with the SFBC worried that the ballot measure would need to be extremely specific in identifying all aspects of every project it proposed---right down to which parking spots might be lost and exactly where a bike rack would be placed---and that specificity would create lots of opportunities for the measure to be challenged later. Ironically, the Muni-reform Prop. A that the SFBC helped win approval on also created other legal hurdles by transferring control over bike projects from the Board of Supervisors to the MTA. And with the SFBC needing to gather signatures in January, there just wasn't enough time to make the measure bullet-proof. But Shahum said the SFBC is still considering doing some kind of measure on the November ballot and pushing the city hard to expedite work on the Bike Plan as much as possible.
Posted by Steven T. Jones on December 20, 2007
The lack of strategic thinking here on the part of advocates is nothing short of appalling, and at the end of the day contributes to policy stasis and more cyclist injuries and deaths.
Doing something, anything between now and the time that the injunction is lifted rather than doing nothing and waiting is as much of a win as we can get. A ballot measure crafted to allow a handful of projects to move forward rather than the entire bike plan would simplify the process immensely. It is not like the City has ever been prepared to implement 20 bike projects at once. These projects take years to move through (I'd been involved in bike lane approval when I served on the Bicycle Advisory Committee earlier this decade and seen the snail's pace), and viewing this on the horizon of years, as staff do and apparently advocates haven't figured out how not to, there is no problem. Focusing on what we can realistically move through over the next eighteen months as an alternative to moving nothing needs to be the focus of current action.
Once the injunction is lifted, then we can get the higher hanging fruit. But to identify and pick the lower hanging fruit, or the most dangerous conditions, to address first in a ballot measure that obviates CEQA would only require a quick hearing and 4 supervisor signatures. Why anyone would go the signature gathering route demonstrates a lack of sense of economy in the allocation of scarce resources, not to mention a lack of a sense of urgency.
Alright, I am going to write it: at the end of the day, Leah Shahum is conflicted to the extent that her presence at both the MTA and SFBC is preventing forward motion on bike policy. My understanding is that as MTA director, she is prohibited from moving any bike issues in her official capacity as director, as it could be construed as benefiting her financially as it might augment SFBC membership (does the same apply to Rev. McCray who might see more parishioners at his church he made it easier to drive to his church, of course not). Further, as a director of the MTA, Shahum would be hard pressed to take a stand as SFBC director which might expose her agency to legal action. Supporting a massive raise and bonus for MTA CEO Ford without making a deal to fast track the EIR is inexcusable. Shahum needs to pick one: SFBC or MTA.
Between the MTA, Planning's office of Major Environmental Analysis (MEA), the people who bring you flimsy environmental analysis and SFBC, cyclists should brace ourselves for another two years of dangerous cycling conditions.
But really, who am I to take the high ground? I am a member of the SFBC for one reason and one reason alone: 10% off at Rainbow Grocery. The quickest way to add my weight to an ineffective organization is to offer me a discount at a community organic grocery. Of course, getting to Rainbow involves traversing some of the most deadly intersections in the City...
So who would be a more unconflicted choice for MTA Board..Don Fisher? I would think that someone with a lot of experience working with the MTA as well as a great broad knowledge of transportation issues would be an excellent choice to be on its board.
Posted by Manish December 22, 2007
Jeffrey W. Baker:
Yeah Manish, you're right. The choice for MTA board is between Leah Shahum and Adolph Hitler. There certainly aren't any qualified candidates who aren't Nazis or the SFBC director.
Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker December 22, 2007
Jeff..the point is that some people will never be satisfied with the choice of MTA Directors no matter who it is (not to mention that for some people the SFBC can never do any right other than offer Rainbow discounts).
Labels: Bicycle Coalition