An appeal of the Oak/Fell bike lane project
Mark BrennanSan Francisco CA 94117
Howard ChabnerSan Francisco, CA 94117
Ted LoewenbergSan Francisco, CA 94117
Angela Calvillo, ClerkSan Francisco Board of Supervisors
Room 244, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Bill Wycko, Environmental Review OfficerSan Francisco Planning Department
1650 Mission St., 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
DATE: November 2, 2012
NOTICE OF APPEAL TO THE SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, REQUEST FOR STAY and REVERSAL OF IMPLEMENTATION, and REQUEST FOR REVIEW
This is a Notice of Appeal of the October 16, 2012 actions of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (“MTA”) Board of Directors approving the Oak and Fell Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Improvements project (the “Oak-Fell Project” or “the Project”). The approval of the Project was an abuse of discretion and a failure to proceed as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) (Pub. Res. Code §§21000 et seq.). This is also an appeal of the San Francisco Planning Department’s October 4, 2012 Categorical Exemption of the Oak-Fell Project.
The Project is also a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 USC Section 12101 et seq (“ADA”) and California disability rights laws, including California Civil Code Sections 54 et seq. (The ADA and California disability rights laws are sometimes referred to collectively herein as the “Disability Rights Laws.”)
This is also a Request for Review of the October 16, 2012 MTA Board actions pursuant to the San Francisco Charter §8A.102 (b)(7)(i).
Appellants request an immediate STAY of implementation of the Project and every part of it, pending final determination on this Appeal and Request for Review, and pending full compliance with CEQA and other applicable laws. Also, because MTA has already begun implementing the Project before the time to appeal the actions described in this Appeal and Request for Review has ended, appellants also demand REVERSAL of all implementation of the Project and restoration of pre-Project conditions on all affected streets and sidewalks.
Copies of the MTA Board’s October 16, 2012 Resolution #12-129 and the Planning Department’s October 4, 2012 Categorical Exemption (Exemption from Environmental Review for the SFMTA Fell & Oak Streets Bikeways Project--Case No.E011.0836E) are attached.
Grounds for this Appeal lie within, but are not limited to, CEQA, the Disability Rights Laws, and other applicable statutes, regulations, and ordinances that may apply, including the following.
1.The categorical exemptions invoked under 14 Cal. Code Regs. (the “Guidelines”) Sections 15301(c) and 15304(h) do not apply to the Project, since the Project: (1) has the potential to degrade the quality of the environment; (2) has possible effects that are cumulatively considerable; and (3) will cause substantial adverse effects on human beings, either directly or indirectly. (Pub.Res.Code Section 21083(b).) Therefore the Project cannot be classified as “categorically exempt.” There is evidence supporting a fair argument that the Project could cause direct, secondary, and cumulative impacts on parking, traffic, transit, loading, air quality, public safety, and emergency services. Among other things, the Project will cause substantial adverse effects on people who need to park near where they live or work.
2. The claimed mitigations do not effectively mitigate the Project’s impacts, and, in any event, cannot be used to claim a categorical exemption.
3. The Oak-Fell Project is part of a larger project, the San Francisco Bicycle Plan (the “Bicycle Plan”). If it applies at all, a categorical exemption must apply to the whole Bicycle Plan project, not just the Oak-Fell segment. The Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) on the Bicycle Plan did not specifically analyze the Oak-Fell Project.
4. The Oak-Fell Project has not received specific environmental review as part of the larger Bicycle Plan or at any other time.
5. The Project does not qualify for an exemption under Guidelines Section15301(c), which consists of the “operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, involving negligible or no expansion of use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency’s determination,” (emphasis added) and (c) “Existing highways and streets, sidewalks, gutters, bicycle and pedestrian trails and similar facilities…”
The existing conditions are parking lanes, not Class I or Class II bicycle lanes. A parking lane, as defined in the California Streets & Highways Code Section 5871(c), is “a paved area adjacent to the curb which is used exclusively for on-street parking. It does not include any portion of the street used for through traffic or as a bicycle lane.” (Emphasis added) The “facility” does not meet this basic definition, since it would completely remove the parking lane and change its use to a separated bicycle lane for exclusive use of bicyclists. (S&H Code Section 890.4(a).) These definitions are mutually exclusive and involve a complete change of use. The Project, therefore, does not fall within the existing facilities exemption under Guidelines Section 15301.
The Project does not consist of mere maintenance or minor alteration, but makes major changes by, among other things: (a) entirely removing the existing parking lanes on City streets; (b) removing around 100 existing parking spaces on Oak and Fell; (c) constructing concrete and other solid structures in the streets next to moving traffic (raised, landscaped traffic islands); (d) impeding visibility and access to driveways; (e) eliminating, reducing or making dangerous and more difficult streetside, emergency, and loading access to residences and businesses on Oak and Fell; (f) constructing numerous concrete bulbouts that impede traffic by making right turns difficult; (g) adjusting traffic signals to reduce traffic speed on a major East-West traffic corridor in San Francisco; (h) eliminating one traffic lane on Oak Street during morning commute hours; and (i) constructing bicycle lanes where they do not now exist.
6. For the same reasons, the Project does not qualify for an exemption under Guidelines Section 15304(h), which consists of “minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation which do not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees, except for forestry and agricultural purposes,” and “creation of bicycle lanes on existing rights-of-way.” (Emphasis added.) There is no existing right-of-way in the parking lanes on Oak Street and Fell Street for bicycle lanes, since the right-of-way in parking lanes is exclusively for vehicles. (See S&H Code Section 5871(c).) Nor is the Project a “minor” alteration in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation. Rather it is a major alteration and change of use from a parking lane for exclusive use of parking vehicles to a bicycle lane for exclusive use of riding bicycles.
7. The Project is an exception to any categorical exemption, because substantial evidence supports a fair argument that the Project will have significant impacts on parking, traffic, transit, loading, noise, air quality, public safety, emergency services, and human impacts on two major East-West traffic routes carrying a combined more than 60,000 vehicles per day. (And since many vehicles carry more than one person, the number of drivers and passengers affected will be more than 60,000 per day.) (Guidelines Section 15300.2; and see Pub. Res. Code Section 21083(b).)
8. Impacts on humans require a mandatory finding of significance, including impeding access to streetside parking, affecting disabled people, seniors, children, families, workers, and emergency, maintenance, construction and delivery services. Loading impacts also affect commercial and passenger loading. The Project will also affect public safety by impairing visibility from driveways.Bulbouts also impair visibility and delay traffic by making right turns more difficult. Asserted mitigations do not mitigate the Project’s impacts and cause more impacts that require analysis.
9. Cumulative impacts on parking, traffic, air quality, noise, public safety, and emergency services also exclude the Project from any categorical exemption.
10. The Disability Rights Laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in, among other things, programs of local government, use of streets and sidewalks, and transportation. California Civil Code Section 54(a) provides that “Individuals with disabilities or medical conditions have the same right as the general public to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways…public facilities, and other public places.” Title II of the ADA requires local governments to provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services and activities. Sidewalks, streets and parking are programs provided by ADA Title II entities, and therefore are subject to ADA requirements.
Although the loss of parking would be a hardship for the large numbers of people who live, visit and work in the neighborhood, it would disproportionately impact people with major mobility disabilities, such as wheelchair users and slow walkers. Many people with mobility disabilities rely heavily on private vehicles. Disabled people park in regular street parking spaces far more often than in designated accessible street parking spaces (blue zones). Many people who use wheelchairs or scooters rely on accessible minivans and vans that have ramps or lifts on the passenger side. In effect, all street parking spaces (except perpendicular and angled spaces, those on the driver’s side of a one-way street, and, sometimes, those with sidewalk obstructions such as garbage cans or trees in the exact location of the ramp or lift) are accessible spaces.
The Project would remove all street parking on the South side of Oak, which means that all of the disabled accessible parking spaces would be eliminated for those three blocks. The parking spaces on the North side of Oak would remain, but it would be extremely dangerous for disabled people to use them because the ramp or lift would be deployed into the moving lane. The project includes mitigating the parking loss on Oak and Fell by converting parking spaces on some of the side streets, which are currently parallel parking, into perpendicular or angled parking spaces. This also would eliminate spaces that are currently usable by disabled people, thereby adding to the parking loss on Oak instead of mitigating it. Not only wheelchair and scooter users, but people who walk slowly and with difficulty would also be harmed by the loss of parking spaces on Oak and by the elimination of parallel parking on the side streets.
The Project would also make it more difficult, dangerous and stressful for disabled people, including wheelchair/scooter users and people who have difficulty walking, to be picked up and dropped off in this area, whether by private vehicle, taxi, paratransit or shuttle service.
These effects violate the Disability Rights Laws.
REQUEST FOR STAY and REVERSAL OF IMPLEMENTATION
This is also a Request for an immediate stay of implementation of the Project and any part of it pending final determination on this Appeal and Request for Review, and pending full compliance with CEQA and other applicable laws. Also, because MTA has already begun implementing the Project before the time to appeal the actions described in this Appeal and Request for Review has ended, appellants also demand REVERSAL of all implementation of the Project and restoration of pre-Project conditions on all affected streets and sidewalks.
REQUEST FOR REVIEW PURSUANT TO SAN FRANCISCO CHARTER SECTION 8A.102(b)(7)(i).
This is also a REQUEST FOR REVIEW pursuant to the San Francisco Charter Section 8A.102(b)(7)(i) of the MTA Board’s Resolution #12-129 of October 16, 2012, approving the Oak-Fell Project. This Request for Review incorporates all of the grounds stated in the foregoing Appeal, and additionally requests Review by the Board of Supervisors of the City’s substantive violations of CEQA, the Disability Rights Laws, and other statutes, regulations, and ordinances.
The Board’s action was an abuse of discretion and a failure to proceed under CEQA, since it will cause significant impacts on the environment, including impacts on parking, loading, traffic, transit, and emergency services. The Project also affects accessibility and safety of people with disabilities, and is therefore contrary to the Disability Rights Laws.
The Project also creates public safety hazards by impairing the safety and visibility of drivers accessing driveways. The bulbouts also adversely affect visibility and safety by impairing visibility of oncoming traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians. Bulbouts also worsen congestion and delays.
1. Set aside all approvals of the Oak-Fell Project, and the October 4, 2012 Categorical Exemption.
2. Declare that any future proposal to implement the same project must be preceded by an environmental impact report fully analyzing all impacts and proposing effective mitigations for each of the Project’s possible impacts on parking, traffic, transit, noise, air quality, emergency services, public safety, and human impacts. Cumulative impacts must be analyzed taking into account all past, present, and reasonably foreseeable projects that will also affect traffic, transit, parking, noise, air quality, and public safety on Oak and Fell Streets and the entire area. Spillover and secondary impacts from removal of streetside parking must also be analyzed, along with any impacts caused by mitigations, including traffic congestion caused by signal timing. The analysis must include real-time on-ground traffic counts during AM and PM peak periods taken at a variety of representative days of the week and times of the year.
3. The EIR must propose effective mitigations that eliminate each of the Project’s impacts, including consideration of avoiding each impact altogether by not implementing the Project.
4. The City must implement effective mitigation before Project implementation.
5. The City must propose a plan to effectively comply with the Disability Rights Laws, provide an opportunity for meaningful input and comment on such plan, and incorporate such plan in a revised Project.
6. Further consideration of the Project must be stayed until City has complied with CEQA, the Disability Rights Laws and other applicable statutes and regulations.
7. Such other remedies as may be appropriate.
Appellants will submit more detailed comment and/or briefing in support of this Appeal, Request for Stay and Reversal of Implementation, and Request for Review at or before a hearing by the Board of Supervisors.
With this appeal, appellants do not waive the right to present any and all issues and other public comment in further proceedings on the Project.
Please notify the undersigned of the date of the hearing, all actions on this Appeal, Request for Stay and Reversal of Implementation, and Request for Review, and all actions regarding the Project. Please schedule the hearing not earlier than 30 days from the date of this document.
DATE: November 2, 2012