In this column, I want to encourage you to consider supporting the initiative Restoring Transportation Balance
, which is a Declaration of Policy calling for the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and the SFMTA Board to restore transportation balance, as opposed to their current “Transit and Bicycle Only” Policy.
The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, along with the West of Twin Peaks Central Council and various community organizations and leaders all across the City, are supporting this initiative, which should be enough motivation for our poll-watching politicians to take notice, lest they prefer a mandating Charter Amendment in 2015.
The origin of the initiative is centered on the fact that 79% of San Francisco households who own or lease a motor vehicle have been the target of bad transportation policy for the past 15 years, as determined by the radicals who have taken over the SFMTA Board and espouse a “car-less” San Francisco. These holier–than-thou know-it-alls have declared war on motorists by re-engineering our streets, removing traffic lanes, eliminating off street and on street parking, raising meter and garage rates and ticket fines in the naïve belief that motorists will “see the light” and stop driving (or sell their cars out of the County), and take MUNI, bike, or walk to every destination within the City.
Not only are motorists and their passengers under attack, but also the City’s War on Motorists has caused collateral damage, adversely affecting a broad cross section of San Franciscans, for example, first responders such as police, fire and medical services, whose response times have increased due to difficulty navigating the City’s re-engineered and narrowed streets. Seniors and disabled who depend upon automobile transportation are finding it increasingly difficult to get around the City and have lost hundreds of white and blue curbs and the ability to get curb to curb service because of bike lanes. Small businesses and merchants operating on a 1% to 3% profit margin are losing money because their customers can’t find nearby parking, and instead shop in Daly City or Tanforan. Families can’t drive their kids to school on a timely basis because of the City’s re-engineered streets, traffic calming obstacles, increased traffic congestion and slower commute times. Even members of the Faith Based Community have to look at their watches repeatedly rather than worship unimpeded for fear that their cars may be ticketed or towed.
A good example of this lopsided policy making, or should I say politically motivated policy making, is the fact that the SFMTA Board has approved a plan to remove all street parking on Polk Street from Market to California and install two bike lanes, and a tow-away zone from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on the east side of Polk between California and Broadway, so bicyclists can continue unimpeded to the unknown destinations to the north. Two years from now, bicyclists (who largely don’t patronize the stores on Polk Street in the first place but are passersby), will be able to peddle safely and quickly up and down Polk, against the backdrop of boarded up storefronts....
Oh, and just in case I forget, there is being proposed a $500,000,000 transportation general obligation bond measure, which is unlikely to provide any benefit to motorists.
Motorists already pay the majority of SF’s portion of the SFMTA Budget---23.82% versus 22.42% for riders, with 80% of the balance paid for by the Feds, State, and Regional Government through gas taxes. The people at City Hall can’t quite determine whether they want to continue to milk motorists for very nickel and dime that they can---or to draw and quarter them by making it impossible for them to drive in the City. In either account, the War on Motorists needs to come to a screeching halt.
The Restoring Transportation Balance Initiative proposes that it be City policy to:
1) Restore free street parking on all Sundays, Holidays, and between 6:00 p.m.and 9:00 a.m. daily.
2) Freeze meter and parking rates, tickets, and fines for five years (to make up for the 40% across the board increase the SFMTA Board imposed in 2009.
3) Not impose meters and the so-called “demand-responsive pricing” ($.25 to $6.00/hr.) in neighborhoods where they don’t currently exist except upon petition of the majority of households and merchants in the neighborhood.
4) Allocate a portion of new parking/vehicle fees and new bond monies to construct and operate new parking garages in our commercial districts.
5) Assure that any re-engineering of the City’s streets be based on providing greater safety and improving the flow of traffic.
6) Enforce all the traffic laws for everyone using our streets and sidewalks, and
7) Require that the Mayor appoint a broad spectrum of transportation stakeholders to the SFMTA Board, including motorists, rather than just Muni and bicyclist advocates, and create a Motorists Citizens Advisory Committee, where none exists currently.
Tony Hall served twice as Supervisor for District 7