Streetscast: An Interview with District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier


District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier represents the Presidio, Cow Hollow, Marina, Pacific Heights and part of the Richmond District. She was originally appointed to her seat by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004, and comes from a well-known political family. Her grandfather, Joe Alioto, was mayor from 1968-1976 and her aunt, Angela Alioto, was President of the Board of Supervisors and a candidate for mayor.

In an extensive interview in her City Hall office, Alioto-Pier said the number one transportation issue in her district centers around commuter traffic.

"As a result of being the district that has the honor of being connected to the Golden Gate Bridge, we get a lot of traffic that comes in off of the Golden Gate Bridge," said Alioto-Pier. "It makes for a lot of congestion and a lot of different issues."

While she supports the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), and wants more people to ride Muni, she doesn't necessarily feel the City should be encouraging people to get rid of their cars.

"When we look at San Francisco as a transit first city we want the carrot approach more than the stick. We want people to use public transportation and I personally believe that the way we do that is by making it more accessible, by making it run better, not by telling people not to use their cars." 

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Alioto-Pier gets around mostly by car. She was left unable to walk after a skiing accident at the age of 13 and became a disability rights advocate very early in her life. She said she does occasionally ride a recumbent bike, but mostly around her other home in St. Helena.

Some highlights from the interview:

  • On the TEP:  "If done right, it can certainly turn Muni around.  And I think that before we look at trying to fix any problems we might have, especially if we’re looking at it, you know, as the entire city, and trying to figure out which routes work for us, which one’s don’t, where we might be able to improve it, we have to have some kind of an effectiveness study.  And so in those ways the TEP, I think it’s going to be great.  I’m very hopeful that we’re going to learn a lot about transportation in San Francisco, where people pick up their rides, where they drop them off.  I mean, we’re already seeing that information, which is really interesting, it tells us a lot about how San Franciscans live, and it tells us a lot how they commute.  And then it also is giving us a really good idea during the day, where people go, and how they get there, and I think it’s going to be really interesting, and I think it will be very effective."
  • On Paratransit: "Ninety percent of our Paratransit is taken care of through our taxi service.  And I think that’s says a lot quite frankly, you know, we really rely on the private sector to get people with disabilities around San Francisco, and I think that’s just reprehensible quite frankly.  I think that we need to be taking a bigger role in providing those services to people, and providing them honestly with dignity and with respect.  It’s really hard, as a person who uses a wheelchair, it can be really difficult to catch a bus. I know they try, but systems break down, those ramps are not very fun to go on, those little lifts, they can be pretty scary, and you know, it would really behoove I think some people in the MTA, and frankly some members of the Board of Supervisors to get in a wheelchair for a couple of days and go try San Francisco’s public transportation system, because it just doesn’t work as well as I think people would expect."
  • On the Bike Plan: "I support the Bicycle Plan.  I’m a little concerned [about a] strip on Broadway Street. I’ve been told by the MTA that’s been taken off, and I’ve recently been told that it’s been put back on, which is this strip from, I believe its Webster going down to Franklin, or something.  And my main concern there is that we have five schools on Broadway Street, we pick off and drop of hundreds of school children twice a day, so there are some safety concerns with that. But aside from that, I am definitely in support of it."  
  • On congestion pricing: "I am not a fan of congestion pricing.  You know, the way we’re looking at it right now, I’m always open to options, I’m always open to hear what people might say, or ideas that they may have, but right now for my community it would be particularly taxed just by getting around San Francisco in a car, and I’m not sure that it would do what we need it to do."