Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Metering neighborhoods to support an improvident MTA

Good rant about parking meters below that has already appeared as a comment to Streetsblog. For essential context, add the fact that San Francisco taxpayers---through the MTA and the SFCTA---are contributing $287,690,000 to the Central Subway project, even as the MTA threatens Muni service reductions and higher fares. And recall that Muni boss Ed Reiskin is an anti-car bike guy:

SF Park is an EPIC FAILURE! Jay Primus and the rest of the SFMTA are not listening to the residents!! SF Park came through my neighborhood in SOMA and replaced half of the Residential (Y) Zone parking with meters. The end result is that taxpaying city residents can no longer park their cars near their homes, apartments, and businesses. The city is effectively *RE-TAXING* residents through the use of these job-killing meters. The epic failure is that NO ONE IS PARKING AT THE METERS along the Caltrain line Near Townsend and 6th street. Residents on Bluxome Street now have to park our cars up to 4 blocks away from our homes or pay $2.00 an hour to park at the meters to bring in groceries or off load our children. Is it any wonder why families have given up on San Francisco? It is a huge inconvenience to the businesses and residents in my neighborhood and its made SOMA a less desirable place to rent, own real estate, or operate a business.

The residents see this as a money grab by the SFMTA who rammed these meters through without regard for the needs or input of our neighborhood. The city takes away street parking from hardworking residents so that the SFMTA can build websites and useless smartphone apps that require a $100 a month cell phone plan.  This is class warfare that favors the wealthiest  residents of the city and penalizes poorer, working class citizens who have less money and education.

SF Park states that they use "innovative technology and advanced pricing strategies." I say that residents should not have to own a smart phone or be digitally literate in order to park their cars. If you are elderly, disabled, or on a fixed income, you will be forced to take MUNI to get around the city. 

The SFMTA  used a $19.4 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration to add 6,000 metered parking spaces, bilk motorists, and expand city government. This de facto tax threatens to price residents out of their neighborhoods and decimate small businesses. More than 1 in 3 of San Francisco's nearly 27,000 city workers earned $100,000 or more last year. The revenue from these new meters will only benefit the pockets and pension plans of city employees. Residents in other parts of the city should fight this fascism and not allow these meters to be installed. The people who implemented this poorly run project should be ousted from their six figure, app-writing ivory towers and replaced with people who are willing to work with residents.

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Backlash against City Hall's anti-car, pro-bike policies

Last week's op-ed in the Bay Guardian by Morgan Fitzgibbons provoked a flurry of negative comments from its online readers. (The Guardian's Political Blog, by the way, is often worth a look to see what the city's lefties are up to.) It's not unusual to see such comments on SFGate when the Chronicle publishes something about the Bicycle Plan or Critical Mass, but it's interesting that negative comments about the influence of city cyclists are showing up even on the Guardian:

...I don't agree with Rob Anderson's views on bikes, but I certainly enjoy his beating these idiots at their own scheming legalese game. I ride a bike all over the city, I did a few miles before I sat[down to] read this ode to entitlement by Morgan. I see bikes as a valid way to get around, I don't see it as a white liberal entitlement to bike lanes and the removal of parking like Morgan. 

Morgan's ravings about community are just amazing too. A bunch of entitled carpet baggers feel that they are owed something because they showed up in SF, this is community now? Decontextualizing words is the new power color. The use of language by these people is amazing, "and something that we as a city need in order to continue functioning as a society." Yes, we should let man children tell us what we as a society need.

City Hall's anti-car "improvement" on Portola:

The city removed a turn lane from Portola onto Fowler---the outside turn lane which allowed residents of the neighborhood clear egress into their neighborhood without having to wait for cars turning into the adjacent Tower Market shopping complex (which is the market many residents of Twin Peaks, Glen Park, Midtown Terrace, St. Francis Wood, Forest Hills and Mt. Davidson shop at). 

They replaced it with a turn lane reserved for bikes. The consequence? At rush hour the backup of cars waiting to turn onto Fowler sometimes stretches back into the major intersection of O'Shaughnessy and Portola...So the answer is, yes---it is creating traffic jams. And since that bike turn lane has been installed I have not seen a single bicyclist using it. Such brilliance on the part of the bike fascists who've taken over the transportation planning department in this city.

Another commenter on Portola:

The bike lanes on Upper Market and Portola are genius! They removed an entire lane of traffic for bike lanes which an average of 75 people a day use---up hills with a 20-30 degree grade---meaning only the fittest of the fit can even attempt them. In this town the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the Bike Coalition is the squeakiest of them all.

Fitzgibbons claims to speak for the neighborhood around the Panhandle, where the city plans taking away 80-90 street parking spaces to make protected bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets between Baker and Scott. This reader is skeptical:

The bike mob would be crushed in an election, which is why they prefer to hijack city meetings by cramming them with activists, hoping that the average Joe won't notice. I cannot fathom why these people are so totally self-absorbed. What drives them to such excesses? I don't know but watching the kamikaze way they ride might furnish a clue.

Who are the cyclists? This reader thinks he knows:

It's like we've let these kids play unsupervised in the sandpit too long and now they think they own it, us and everything. Time to slap these privileged white guys down a little. There's a backlash brewing---people are starting to notice how this tiny minority of self-absorbed bikers have hijacked transportation policy and we are getting PISSED.

Another agrees:

Stats? Stand on Market St. and watch them go by. 95% are white and the rest are Asian. I rarely see blacks or Hispanics on bikes even though you'd think, being poorer, they'd use bikes more. No, cycling is for young, fit, healthy, white self-absorbed pompous asses. and as far as they care, the rest of us don't matter.

And another:

...while almost anyone can be a driver, a pedestrian or a bus user, only those who are fairly young, fit and fearless can ride a bike, and the old and the disabled cannot use them at all. So the bike lobby is a relatively small cross section who make a lot of noise but don't represent the majority. Bikers are overwhelmingly white, young and have a sense of entitlement.

When Fitzgibbons defended how his allies in City Hall changed the city's charter to make bikes part of the definition of "transit first," I was unimpressed. Since this is my blog, I get the last word:

Yes, I know you bike people and your enablers in City Hall changed the City Charter's definition of "transit first" to include bicycles, as if that somehow legitimizes scorning the transportation "modes" of everyone else.

There's no evidence that Oak and Fell Street are particularly dangerous for cyclists, though I wouldn't ride a bike there. But then I wouldn't ride a bike anywhere in the city, because it's inherently risky. The notion that City Hall is obligated to make you and your comrades "comfortable" riding a bike on those streets shows a remarkably inflated sense of entitlement.

80 parking spaces in that neighborhood is a very big deal, since street parking is scarce. I used to live on Grove Street and moved my roommate's car before the street cleaners when she was out of town. It was a difficult task, since, as I say, street parking is in very short supply there. Rich people always have a garage for parking, but many others don't.

Take away those parking spaces, and motorists who live in that neighborhood will end of circling even longer to find a place to park, which will indeed make traffic worse and cause more pollution.

Your Johnny-come-lately account of recent SF history is bogus. Mayor Newsom gave you folks everything you and the Bicycle Coalition asked for, but of course it was never enough.

I lived in SF 40 years ago, and it was already a great city then, and it still is. We don't need you and your generation's bike lanes to make this city great.

In a recent Guardian story, Supervisor Olague, by the way, didn't sound completely convinced about supporting this project. Now that she has to face District 5 voters in November---she never had to do that as a planning commissioner---it will be interesting to see which way she flops on this one.

The November election will also be a good opportunity for her to justify the awful development projects she supported as a commissioner: UC's rip-off of the old extension property on lower Haight Street, the Market/Octavia project, the Rincon Hill highrises, not to mention voting to implement the Bicycle Plan with no environmental review only to be rebuked by the Superior Court.

And you can be sure that she will have opposition on the ballot to provide District 5 voters an alternative to this project and the city's plan to screw up Masonic Avenue just in time for the opening of the new Target store at Geary and Masonic.

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