Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Questions for District 5 candidates

Photo by Luke Thomas for Fog City Journal

1. Do you support City Hall's plan to remove all the street parking on Masonic Avenue between Fell Street and Geary Blvd. to make bike lanes? As it is now, the city uses the parking spaces on both sides of Masonic to make an extra traffic lane to handle all the traffic during morning and afternoon commute hours. This project will make that permanently impossible, which will surely make traffic worse for the more than 44,000 people who now use Masonic every day, including 12,000 daily passengers on the #43 Muni line. Please explain why you think this is a good idea.

2. Do you support removing more than 100 street parking spaces on the Panhandle to make bike lanes? Since parking for people who must park on the street is already scarce in that neighborhood, why is this a good idea? Page Street and Hayes Street are already alternatives for people who aren't comfortable riding their bikes on Fell and Oak Streets.

3. Do you support Congestion Pricing? Why or why not?

4. Do you support allowing UC to privatize the old Extension property on lower Haight St. for a housing development of 1,000 new residents to fatten its real estate portfolio? UC lied about why it was cashing in on property that it has had tax-free from the city for 50 years because of its education "mission." That property has been zoned for "public use" for more than 150 years and is a state and national landmark. UC couldn't have proceeded with the project without a zoning change, which the city granted with no debate. Please explain why allowing UC to privatize that property---damaging several of the buildings to make 450 housing units for 1,000 new residents---is good for the city.

5. Do you think allowing 20-, 30-, and 40-story residential highrises at Market and Van Ness as per the Market/Octavia Plan is good planning? The M/O Plan encourages 10,000 new residents in a part of town that is already struggling to deal with the 45,000 cars a day on Octavia Blvd. traveling to and from the freeway from Fell and Oak Streets. The Plan provides no additional money for our Muni system to deal with all those new residents. Please explain why or why not this is good planning.

6. Has Octavia Blvd., which now carries 45,000 vehicles a day through the middle of the Hayes Valley neighborhood, been good for that neighborhood?

7. Is allowing 19,000 people to live on Treasure Island good planning and "Smart Growth"?

8. Have you ever participated in Critical Mass? Why or why not?

9. Do you think Ross Mirkarimi should be reinstated as sheriff? Why or why not?

10. Do you think Care Not Cash, supportive housing, Homeward Bound, and Project Homeless Connect have helped ease the city's homeless problem? Please discuss these programs and what they are designed to achieve.

11. Care Not Cash was passed in 2002 over the opposition of city progressives, and Gavin Newsom was then elected mayor over progressive Matt Gonzalez primarily because of the homeless issue. Please explain what the progressive policy on homelessness is now.

12. Some progressives think graffiti/tagging vandalism is an art genre and that City Hall shouldn't be concerned about it. Do you agree or disagree?

13. Like all the candidates for mayor last year, do you support whatever the Bicycle Coalition wants to do to our streets? Why or why not?

14. Back in 2005, Andy Thornley, then with the Bicycle Coalition, said that the city's bike movement had "to take space from cars" to succeed. Do you agree? Leah Shahum, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition, has said that her goal is to slow down city traffic so that six-year-olds can safely ride their bikes on city streets. Do you agree with that goal?

15. The city is spending $123 million on the Central Subway, even though the Grand Jury and other critics have said that it's a poorly designed system that won't help our transit system. Do you support the Central Subway project?

16. All of the candidates told the Bicycle Coalition that they agreed with the goal of making 20% of all trips in the city by bicycle by 2020. According to the city's own numbers, cycling has increased from 2.1% in 2000 to 3.5% in 2010, a gain of .14% a year. Please explain how the city can possibly achieve 20% by 2020.

17. The city now has a development policy based on the Transit Corridors theory, that more dense development---also called "smart growth"---along our main traffic corridors, including residential highrises, is where the city should develop new housing, even though one of the original creators of the theory says they are misapplying his theory to fragile city neighborhoods. Do you agree? Why or why not?

18. The city is basing its Bicycle Plan and other anti-car policies on the "mode shift" theory, that, after taking away more than 50 traffic lanes and more than 2,000 parking spaces to make bike lanes, there will be a lot more people giving up motor vehicles and taking up cycling. They admit in their court briefs that they have no evidence to support this theory. Do you think that's good traffic policy?

19. One of the big problems with our Muni system is being on time. The EIR on the Bicycle Plan told us that the Bicycle Plan will delay a number of Muni lines. Do you think implementing the Bicycle Plan is good traffic policy in our "transit first" city?

20. Speaking of "transit first," the City Charter defines that term to include bicycling. Do you think that makes any sense?

21. The city tried to rush the Bicycle Plan through the process without doing any environmental review in clear violation of the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Judge Busch agreed with those of us who filed a complaint that the city must conduct an environmental review of the 500-page Plan. In retrospect do you think the city should have done that review before it made the Plan part of the General Plan and began implementing it on the streets of the city?

22. Do you think allowing developers to add 5,000 new housing units to the 1,500 already at Parkmerced in a part of town struggling with a lot of traffic is good planning?

23. Do you think MTA's policy of covering bus windows with advertisements, obscuring passengers' view of our beautiful, supposedly "transit first" city, is acceptable public policy?

24. Do you support the MTA's predatory policy on parking, expanding parking meters in the neighborhoods and enforcing parking meters on Sundays? Is this policy about extracting more money from motorists or helping neighborhoods "manage" their parking?

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