Friday, April 25, 2014

Initiative opposing City Hall's anti-car policies

What is the “Restoring Transportation Balance in San Francisco” Initiative? 

The Initiative is a Declaration of Policy which calls upon the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board to restore balance to San Francisco’s transportation policies. This is the work of a group of passionate San Franciscans who want to ensure our streets are safe, well maintained, and efficient to use for everybody. 

So, among other goals, you’re looking to get rid of Sunday and holiday parking meters. Why? 

We’re a coalition of faith, business, neighborhood, community and politically-motivated individuals who are tired of being nickled and dimed by the SFMTA. We are renters, homeowners, motorists, bicyclists, transit and taxi riders, pedestrians, first responders, seniors and the disabled, and families with children. We realize that motorists contribute a disproportionate share of the funding to the SFMTA while receiving next to nothing in return. Our roads are deteriorating, and traffic lanes and parking are being removed. Sunday and holiday meters enforcement was implemented not to relieve traffic congestion and the lack of parking availability, but instead to put more money into the SFMTA coffers for unrelated projects. 

What else are you hoping to do with this initiative? 

Our aim is to restore balance to the City’s transit policy. All traffic laws should be equally enforced – to all users of our roads and sidewalks. Variable meter pricing should not be imposed on neighborhoods unilaterally. In short, motorists should not bear the brunt of the SFMTA’s unreasonable regulations and mandates. 

What does transportation balance mean to you? 

We achieve transportation balance when pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and transit riders all can share the roads safely and efficiently. When a parent with small children is able to drive to the store, park nearby, and get their shopping done with a minimum of hassle. When commuters are able to board a Muni train, street car, or bus and know it will get them to their destination on time. When pedestrians know if they follow the signals they will be safe crossing an intersection. When bicyclists are able to navigate our streets in a way that gets them to their destination quickly and safely. When disabled individuals don’t have to leave two hours before a doctor’s appointment because they cannot rely on Muni to get them there or are concerned there will not be a parking space close enough to the office. 

How many signatures do you need to qualify the initiative on the ballot? 

We need to collect 9,702 valid signatures by July 7 for this initiative to qualify for the November 4, 2014 elections. We anticipate surpassing that number. 

Who is in your coalition? 

Our coalition includes a broad spectrum of San Franciscans who use our streets and sidewalks, including leaders of neighborhood and district merchants associations; motorists; Muni and taxi riders; bicyclists; first responders; labor activists; advocates for seniors and the disabled, families with children, and members of the faith-based communities. 

Mayor Ed Lee and the SFMTA are looking at supporting similar proposals. Why is yours different? 

The Mayor and SFMTA are supporting a temporary repeal of Sunday meters in order to drum up support for an enormous bond measure and a tripling of the Vehicle License Fee. We want to provide options for safe and efficient transportation to everyone in the City, regardless of their age, income, or physical ability. We hope to repeal Sunday parking meters forever, not just as a gimmick to encourage motorists to support higher taxes and fees this November and in future elections. 

How much revenue will your proposal cost the City? 

Our proposal to remove Sunday meters enforcement has already been adopted by the SFMTA Board, and unless the Board reneges, our proposal will have no impact on the SFMTA’s budget. Aside from the removal of holiday meters enforcement (which would cost approximately $1,000,000), our proposal is completely revenue neutral. We want to make sure that any new fees imposed on the citizenry are actually necessary and used fairly. Other than that, we ask only that existing revenues be allocated in an equitable fashion so all users of our streets and sidewalks benefit. 

Who can I contact for further questions? 

Media Contact: Jason Clark,, Cell: 415-602-7654

Restoring Transportation Balance in San Francisco

With 79% of San Francisco households owning or leasing an automobile and nearly 50% of San Franciscans who work outside of their homes driving or carpooling to work, it is time for the Mayor, the Supervisors, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board to restore a balanced transportation policy for all San Franciscans.

Balanced transportation policies would better serve San Francisco motorists, pedestrians, first responders, taxi riders, Muni riders, and bicyclists, and address the unique needs of the disabled, seniors, and families with children.

The Board of Supervisors created a Transit First policy in 1973. In 1999, the SFMTA was created. Its unelected board was granted exclusive authority to dictate the City’s transportation policies. Since then, the Transit First policy has morphed into one that favors only public transportation and bicycles to the exclusion of any other mode of transportation. Nevertheless, a majority of San Franciscans want the automobile option for its convenience, personal safety, and freedom of movement.

The City has eliminated thousands of off-street and on-street parking spaces through new construction and the creation of new bike lanes. The City also removed the requirement that one parking space be created for each new residential unit constructed. To make matters worse, the SFMTA has not constructed a single new parking garage since the 1990s. These out-of-balance policies have contributed to a severe shortage of parking spaces in the City.

By eliminating traffic lanes, the City has increased travel times for motorists, Muni riders, and first responders alike. This has contributed to greater congestion on our streets, thereby increasing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The City has substantially increased parking garage fees, meter rates, parking ticket fines, and the costs of residential parking permits, while expanding the days and times when meters are enforced. Today, motorists pay a greater share of the SFMTA’s budget than do Muni riders.

Motorists’ share of funding the SFMTA will continue to rise if the vehicle license fee is tripled, as proposed; parking meters are expanded into residential neighborhoods; and the City follows through on its plans to introduce variable meter pricing to every neighborhood of San Francisco.

Text of Policy

It shall be the policy of the City and County of San Francisco that:

1. Parking meters should not operate on any City and County holiday listed on, on Sundays, or outside the hours of 9:00 am to 6:00 p.m. Commencing July 1, 2015, fees for parking garages, meters, parking tickets, and neighborhood parking permits should be frozen for five years, allowing the City to annually adjust thereafter only for Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases.

2. The introduction of parking meters or variable meter pricing into neighborhoods where they currently do not exist should be allowed only upon petition by the majority of the affected households and merchants.

3. A portion of any additional parking or motorists' fees and new bond monies earmarked for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) should go to the construction and operation of neighborhood parking garages.

4. Any proposed re-engineering of traffic flows in the City should aim to achieve safer, smoother-flowing streets.

5. Traffic laws should be enforced equally for everyone using San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks.

6. The seven-member SFMTA Board should include not only four regular riders of Muni, but a fair representation of all transportation stakeholders, including motorists. The SFMTA should create a Motorists’ Citizens Advisory Committee in addition to its other advisory committees.

7. The Board of Supervisors shall make every reasonable effort to implement the components of this policy through appropriate legislative and administrative acts, including but not limited to acts relating to enacting, repealing, reconciling, amending, and/or ameliorating the components of this policy with other existing laws, regulations, and policies of the City and County of San Francisco, as well as seeking, encouraging, lobbying for, and promoting appropriate changes in the laws, regulations, and policies of other jurisdictions that may conflict with implementation of the components of this policy.

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At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do I sign!

- Seymour Butts

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Glad to see people opposed to a motorist hating government are finally going to get a voice. The sfgate article about this group is a completely slanted editorial (as editorials are allowed to be), but it calls motorists as "car lovers" and often objectifies motorists by calling them just "cars". But they don't call bicyclists "bikes" - one of the many dehumanizing and belittling methods used (consciously or unconsciously) by those who hate all things auto. I'm not my car. I don't even love it. In fact, I don't drive but once a week, but I know I do *need* it sometimes.

Thus far the gov't has instituted the bike friendly policies and then measured their success by two metrics. 1) How much to bicyclists love it and 2) how much slower are the cars going. No, "how much longer are cars idling at intersections" or "how much do motorists hate it" or "what percentage of the population are motorists and what percentage are bicyclists".

Let's hope this resolution passes, and we can actually start to measure what we're doing in meaningful, comprehensive ways.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The city has no idea, for example, how many cyclists will use the separated bike lanes planned for Masonic Avenue. It's a faith-based traffic policy that hasn't worked in other jurisdictions.

Why does City Hall think it will work here? Because we're so special!

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

"The More Things Change Department"

In 1982 the Chronicle wrote about how the SF Supervisors were "climbing aboard the increasingly crowded bandwagon of public fury over parking tickets and high fines."

Went on to note that Carol Ruth Silver (who Dan White supposedly had a bullet for in his pocket as well as one for Willie Brown) proposed changing the parking fines to correspond to car size and value. "Wealthy people toss off tickets and the poor are subjected to hardship.'

At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Well-put, Rkeezy. Couldn't have said it better myself.

The MTA doesn't just celebrate when they succeed at slowing down motor traffic. They also crow about slowing bike traffic, an example being the gawdawful JFK bike lanes.

Of course it's likely that the main reason bike speeds are slower on JFK is that all the cyclists who are interested in getting from place to place in a time-efficient fashion quit riding on JFK and are consequently not included in the latest average-speed statistics. Bravo, MTA, for inventing a bike lane that actually discourages cycling.

What I like best about the Restoring Transportation Balance initiative is that it acknowledges the primary purpose of streets, sidewalks and transit: to enable people to get from one place to another.

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went on to note that Carol Ruth Silver (who Dan White supposedly had a bullet for in his pocket as well as one for Willie Brown) proposed changing the parking fines to correspond to car size and value. "Wealthy people toss off tickets and the poor are subjected to hardship.'

So you're siding with Dan White? Makes sense.

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see people opposed to a motorist hating government are finally going to get a voice.

Still needs to get the signatures....


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