Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dealing with a predatory MTA

Thanks for supporting Stop SFMTA. This message is for the many people who want to know what to do about parking tickets and other legal issues with the SFMTA and their restrictive parking policies that result in many questionable tickets.

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Stop MTA's Masonic Avenue project!

Stop the SFMTA from taking away ALL parking along Masonic Avenue.167 parking spaces will be eliminated!

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Association (SFMTA) Board voted in September to eliminate all parking on Masonic to allow for bike lanes on both sides. The community outreach they did was nothing more than a pro-forma exercise with as few as 50 people deciding the fate of the entire neighborhood. If you are only finding out about this issue by reading this flyer, this should be proof of the lack of outreach performed by the city.

We need to send a loud and clear message to the Board of Directors that we do not want this project to move forward. We need to stop this plan and pursue alternates that will make improvements but not eliminate all parking along the street. Please refer to this link for some alternate plans that are much less intrusive to the neighborhood.
Let the SFMTA Board know you live in the neighborhood and will be negatively impacted by this decision and were not asked to participate in the deliberation process. Demand they stop the plan to eliminate the removal of all parking and come up with a plan that will have less impact on those who live in the area. An alternate bike route to Masonic from the panhandle can be taken: Baker/Turk/Anza Vista, with a left onto O’Farrell. SFMTA can make that block of O’Farrell a two way street. None of these streets are high traffic routes.

Call and email Mike Sallaberry, the Project lead for SF Livable Streets, and let him know you want this project stopped and re-opened for proper community input: 
(415)701-4563 and

Also cc the entire Board of Directors  for the SFMTA:

Both district Supervisors:

London Breed:

And please cc me, Vince, at

This project has already been approved by the SFMTA board and so we need to act quickly and gather as much support as possible and to put it in writing. We need to demonstrate that the majority of neighborhood residents are not in favor of this plan going forward.

I’ve lived in NOPA for over 18 years and own a car and two bikes. I approve of the city creating bike lanes but not at the expense of bringing hardship to the residents and businesses in the area. The “Fix Masonic” proposal is a very one-sided plan of action, and not considerate of the impact on all who live in the neighborhood.
Please refer to a FaceBook page I created to update all on this project and other SFMTA related issues.


Tearing down the 280 ramps: Another dumb idea from Mayor Lee

That Mayor Lee isn't the sharpest blade in the drawer is clear by now, especially after his ill-advised attempted takedown of Sheriff Mirkarimi and his tone-deaf stop-and-frisk proposal. But his latest brain-storm may be his dumbest:

Mayor Ed Lee is floating the idea of tearing down the stub end of Interstate 280 in San Francisco in hopes of creating a new neighborhood and speeding up the arrival of high-speed rail service downtown. The idea, laid out by the mayor's chief transit planner, Gillian Gillett, in a memo to the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission, would be to knock down I-280 before 16th Street---eliminating the ramps both at Sixth and Brannan streets and at Fourth and King streets. 

It would be replaced by a street-level boulevard akin to those built after the Embarcadero and Central freeways were knocked down. The plan also calls for clearing out the adjacent rail yard to make way for a high-speed rail line. "The mayor is a big proponent of high-speed rail," said Lee's spokeswoman, Christine Falvey. "And the mayor is interested in looking at that concept if it can bring high-speed rail to San Francisco faster, better and cheaper." She added, "It could be a big boon to the city if we develop a neighborhood in the process."

Like others who try to defend the Octavia Blvd. fiasco---more than 45,000 cars a day coming through the heart of Hayes Valley!--- Lee tries to conflate taking down the Embarcadero freeway with taking down the Central Freeway. The difference between the two is huge: there was already a wide traffic boulevard on the Embarcadero, which, unlike Hayes Valley, isn't in the middle of a densely populated residential neighborhood. 

The part of the Hayes Valley neighborhood fronting on Octavia Blvd. is now essentially a commercial wasteland, with few businesses and no foot traffic on what is a lot like a freeway, since Octavia Blvd.'s main function is to funnel traffic to and from the freeway ramp on Market Street to Fell and Oak Streets, a function that the Central Freeway used to perform.

Mayor Lee flunked the high-speed rail IQ test back in 2011, when he joined four other mayors in a mindless tub-thumping for that poorly conceived pork barrel project. A typical bit of idiocy in that op-ed that reads like it was written by the High-Speed Rail Authority:

Our high-speed rail system is expected to make money and attract private investment similar to systems in Europe and Asia. Twenty-two different funds have shown investment interest in financing part of the system's capital costs. Demonstrating our commitment by beginning major construction and finalizing all the approvals will minimize investor risk and net the best terms for the taxpayers.

Funny, but almost two years later there's still no private investment in California's high-speed rail project. Back in 2008, those investors told the CHSR Authority this: "Several firms stressed that they would participate only after a strong commitment from State, federal, and local funding sources." There is still no such commitment. The feds are unlikely to provide any more than the $3 billion they've already committed. 

California doesn't have that kind of money---$68 to $100 billion, depending on how the pricetag is calculated---and of course local governments don't either. Governor Brown dreams about using the state's cap-and-trade income for high-speed rail, but that's of dubious legality and, in any event, it's not clear there will be enough income from that new program to build the system.

But the biggest falsehood is that high-speed rail systems around the world make money. The opposite is the reality, since they are built with taxpayers' money and then continue to be subsidized after they are built. Prop. 1A specifically prohibits the California high-speed rail system from being subsidized after it's built. That's how it was sold to the state's voters in 2008.

The pricetag, the route, the estimated ridership, the ticket prices, the jobs created---every important issue about this project---have all been changed since voters passed Prop. 1A in 2008. The litigation against the project may force supporters of this project---including the governor---to put it back on the ballot for voters to approve. Since public opinion has turned against the project in the last two years, voters would then be able to finally kill this boondoggle.

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