Submit Your Questions for the Streetsblog Interview with Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee told the Bay Citizen this week that Muni will apparently not be a priority for his administration. That’s troubling news but I can’t imagine Lee really feels that way. With 700,000 daily boardings, Muni affects that lives of so many San Franciscans but is over capacity, struggling to find new revenue and suffering reliability issues, among other problems.

Photo: Luke Thomas, ##http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/##Fog City Journal##

Here’s what Zusha Elinson reported:

When new San Francisco mayor Ed Lee outlined his priorities Tuesday, Muni was not among them.

At a Bay Citizen editorial meeting, Lee essentially said that Muni — plagued by lateness and budget woes — is doing fine.

“I think Muni has been on its way to improvement for a period of time,” said Lee. “It’s still got hiccups, but when you look at the on-time performance it’s still, over a period time — and maybe not the last quarter uptick, if you will — it’s still on it’s way to improvement.”

Contrast that with what the Mayor told KCBS’ Barbara Taylor just a few days into his administration: “We’re way behind on modern transportation and it’s embarrassing.”

I’ll get to ask Lee to clarify his comments when Streetsblog conducts a one-on-one interview with him Tuesday. What would you ask the Mayor? Submit your questions below and I’ll pick the best ones and put them to the Mayor.

  • Mr. Mayor,

    Would you consider committing to riding MUNI in the city at least for half your trips in lieu of or in addition to driving around in the electric car you keep talking about purchasing?

    – J

  • JME

    Mr. Mayor,

    Would you consider committing to riding MUNI in the city at least for half your trips in lieu of or in addition to driving around in the electric car you keep talking about purchasing?

    – J

  • Elihu Hernandez

    Mayor Lee, With so many non-profits competing with funds, how do you plan on working with the Budget and Finance committee to help off set cost?

    Take a medical analogy if you will:
    Compare “band-aid programs”, to “sutcher programs” A band-aid just covers up the wound while a sutcher permanently seals a wound. Many programs,that San Francisco funds, do you considered “band-aid” programs? How do you differentiate between the two? Will you continue to allow these types of programs to continue to run and be a drain on the budget?

    Elihu Hernandez

  • Matt Garcia

    Mr. Mayor,

    How are you going to continue work around pedestrian safety with the Pedestrian Action Planned developed by your predecessor, Mayor Newsom, SFMTA, Walk SF and the Department of Public Health?

    -Matt Garcia

  • Rick

    My guess is that he knows he will only have a year in the job, and figures that Muni’s problems are too structural and far-reaching to be adequately addressed in so short a time.

    But I’d ask him this: “Do you believe that the City should better integrate it’s balanced set of transportation resources (foot, bike, car, bus, streetcar, train, boat and air) with those of the rest of the Bay Area?

  • EL

    1) Since the SFMTA has already started charging its employees for parking to encourage transit use, do you plan to issue a directive as Mayor requiring all other City departments to do the same?

    2) Given your experience at DPW and the City’s budget deficit, does the City have sufficient resources to adequately continue/maintain the green plantings championed by your predecessor, or to carry forward the landscaping elements of the Better Streets Plan? As an example, Octavia is starting to look pretty overgrown and DPW, on average, trims trees every 7 years.

    3) Will you estabish a $30K “spending cap” on City vehicles assigned for administrative duty to prevent future exhorbitant purchases (e.g. – $60K Chevy Tahoe Hybrid or electric vehicle that will never recoup the high initial vehicle cost with fuel savings)?

  • RiderBob

    Why is it that when revenues decline, the City’s solution is to raise taxes and fees? Any other business would go about cutting costs, but cost-cutting just doesn’t seem to enter into the decision-makers’ lexicon. Why isn’t MUNI cutting salaries and benefits? Salaries and benefits make up 70% of MUNI’s cost, but are never cut. Other private businesses have to make such cuts to survive; why doesn’t MUNI?

  • Justin

    @RiderBob

    MUNI isn’t a business, its a public service. MUNI and highways/auto infrastructure are both funded by tax revenues. Have you seen any calls to cut service on the 101 or 280? They are duplicate roads in a lot of ways, why not just shut one down? If the government is a corporation, and Caltrains road division is a business, looks like some tough calls are going to have to be made, right?

  • Justin

    @RiderBob

    One more thing, Are you not satisfied with Prop G? The socially liberal but fiscally conservative (which is really a misnomer, but we’ll use the term for now) voted by a 2/3 margin to hack into the pay and bargaining power of MUNI’s public employees.

    When the economy gets bad is the solution really that we all should be working more hours for less pay? Who does this serve? This is the world you (and many others on this blog) are advocating for when you blame workers. Its time for the livable streets movement to become much less fixated on single issues while avoiding the larger political picture about what makes a good society.

  • Mayor Lee,

    How do you commute from home to work and back? If Muni is not one of them, why not? Do you at least try to take public transportation whenever possible? How is public transportation in whichever neighborhood you live in?

  • James Figone

    1. Would you follow the lead of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and end all free parking for all city officials including the Mayor and BOS?

    2. If SFMTA wanted to consolidate bus stops, would you provide the political support to make this easy, low-cost service improvement possible?

    3. Would you be in favor of a 20mph city-wide speed limit?

  • Alex

    Mayor Pak, if you want to prioritize the America’s Cup ahead of public transit in general, will you be pushing for F/E-line extensions or other improvements to cope with the crowds that the race is expected to attract?

  • I would go one step farther than EL and ask why don’t we dismantle the city fleet completely? Police, fire, parking enforcement, and departments like DPT and water can keep their specialized vehicles that are used all day every day, but city office workers should take Muni, car sharing services or bike to their appointments around the city.

    @Justin I’m wondering why there aren’t more livable streets advocates pushing for state and federal highways to be converted to tollways so that the costs are allocated to the users instead of to taxpayers who may rarely use them because they take transit, bike or walk for most trips, and indeed also to the working poor many of whom can’t afford to drive regularly on the highways they are forced to pay for?

  • Mayor Pak on Muni. Don’t say it’s never happened.

    I have a huge list of questions, but why bother, he’s towing the company line. I’ll try to think tonight about a question he might actually answer.

  • ClenchedJawCyclist

    Mayor Lee,

    Will you budget some general fund monies to street repaving to keep us at our fair PCI index of 63? There is no more stimulus money. Muni performance, cycling safety and our economy are degraded by the sorry state of our roads.

  • Nick

    Do you believe there is an unspoken feeling among city officials that public transit is a problem for the masses; and that those who can afford their way out of it by using private vehicles are better off?

    (Similar to how everyone pays lip service to public schools yet those who have the means would never send their kids to one).

  • Sue

    Mayor Lee, given that the state government has proven to be an unreliable source of funding for Muni in recent years, what kinds of local taxes would you support with your political muscle as mayor? A downtown transit assessment tax? A citywide transit assessment tax? A ‘big’ vehicle license fee (Senator Leno has reintroduced his measure, and with a Democratic governor, it could actually be signed this time)?

    And do you support proposals to charge commercial offstreet parking stall fees at places like Rainbow, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Safeway?

    Or perhaps something that I have not mentioned?

  • Nick’s remark about public schools is bogus. Both of my kids attend excellent public schools in SF, though we can afford to send them to private schools. We are far from alone in this.

  • Nick

    Peter, my apologies if I offended you. I’ve going off my personal experience from 10 years ago when I was a student in their system. Maybe things have changed drastically since then?

    I would also like to ask Mayor Lee, is there anything you would like to accomplish concerning transit in the next 10 months? Anything at all? Better bike lanes? More parklets? Cleaner busses? More traffic circles? More red zones at pedestrian crosswalks (ie sightlines)? Bicycle ROW along high traveled bike routes? Bigger sharrows? Repainting existing and faded bike lanes? More bike boxes? More sidewalk gardens? You know, ANYTHING at all?

  • No offense taken, I was just pushing back against the disinformation. Nothing’s changed drastically, there were and still are good schools in SF as well as bad ones. In the course of enrolling my kids, I visited plenty of schools, and I know there are good ones besides those my children attend.

  • Alex

    Mayor Pak, what are you going to do about violence on MUNI?

    http://missionlocal.org/2011/02/teens-say-violence-on-the-14-mission-is-pretty-normal/

  • SFMTA already has data about the most dangerous streets for pedestrians in many parts of the City. Northbound 6th Street is hands down the most dangerous street, thanks to cars coming in from 280 I assume,and desperately needs some zebra stripes, mid-block crosswalks, and a lower speed limit 25mph like n Geary Blvd. … Or lower).

    So I am surprised that Planning is spending time And (grant?) money asking folks where they walk (see http://walk first.sfplanning.org). Shouldn’t we be using existing pedestrian death and injury data to make improvements to pedestrian safety now instead of writing more reports?

    Also, do you support 15MPH speed limits within 500 feet of our schools (like Bessie Carmichael on 7th)?

    Thanks!

  • Living along the SoMa waterfront in Rincon Hill, we are under siege by cars. The America’s Cup notice of preparation of an environmental impact report mentions crowd estimates of 250,000 to 500,000 during the weekends of July through September 2013. How do we make sure those attendees do not all drive into the City and instead park on the outskirts and get shuttle in somehow? How about a Sunday Streets-like closure to cars of Northbound traffic along The Embarcadero so that there is more room for the anticipated numbers of attendees to walk along the waterfront?

  • What is your committment to new public spaces like the Castro/17th Plaza and the various parklets we have seen on Divis, 24th, 22nd.

  • moka

    Mr Mayor,

    Can you please outline why you have the America’s Cup in your list of top 5 priorities but not Muni? In particular, you say that the AC will bring “prestige and economic potential for the city”. Would an improved Muni not bring even more prestige and economic potential for the city in the long run?

  • Pauly

    Peter

    The problem with SF schools is not so much that there aren’t some good schools, but rather that parents aren’t necessarily given their choice of which schools their kids attend.

    AKA bussing except nobody calls it that any more.

    So if you win the lottery then yeah, it’s great. If not, not.

    Mayoral question: “On which trasportation issue would you most like to be retrospectively judged, upon leaving office?”

  • “So if you win the lottery then yeah, it’s great. If not, not.”

    True, if you’re a passive, can-not-do sort of person who gives up after the first set back. Otherwise, you apply for the main lottery PLUS charter schools (and Lowell and SOTA if appropriate). If round one doesn’t work out, you come back for round two, and after that, get on wait lists. (“Play the game hard.”) Repeat next year if it didn’t work out. Once in, the sibling rule makes subsequent enrollments a snap.

    It also helps to do your homework and not pin all your hopes on one popular school that’s way over-subscribed. But yeah, all of that is a lot of trouble. Easier to just feel sorry for yourself!

  • Alex

    Have I mentioned I want to know what Mayor Pak will do about crime on MUNI?

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/blogs/law-and-disorder/2011/02/teenager-beats-police-officer-muni-bus

  • Nick

    What neighborhood do you live in?

    This is important from a transit perspective because it may be the only card advocates have left to play if the Mayor ignores transit issues citywide as a whole.

    If he lives in the Sunset, you could ask him why the L-Taraval was missing in action for 40 minutes yesterday during the peak AM commute. was he late for work too? Oh, he drove down Oak Street. Did you see many cyclists along the way to work? Wouldn’t a cycletrack on oak and Fell benefit these citizens of yours? Would you like to bike to work with us one day so we can show you the real routes?

  • SteveS

    @Nick unfortunately for this approach, Mayor Lee lives in Glen Park and could make his ~4 mile commute to city hall in six minutes on BART with 94% on-time performance. No wonder he thinks transit is not a problem in the city!

    Maybe we can convince him to try the J once and a while to experience the same trip spread over half an hour and 74% on-time.

  • Nick

    Ah, Glen Park is the epitome of non-confrontational politics. The suburbs of the Mission. That’s why people move there.

    Mayor Lee probably hears more about coyotes in Glen Canyon than wolves in SUV’s.

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