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Posts from the "Bevan Dufty" Category

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Better Streets Plan Provisions Stripped from Chiu Garage Legislation

IMG_3842.jpg Revised legislation could slow down Ellis Act evictions in Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill, but would not require garages to meet the design principles in the Better Streets Plan. Photo: Michael Rhodes

In a move to gain the support of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has stripped language from his proposed garage legislation that would have ensured all new garage additions to existing buildings in Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill conform with Better Streets Plan (BSP) guidelines.

The original legislation, which Chiu sponsored, would have required garage additions in sections of those neighborhoods to receive a conditional use authorization from the Planning Commission. Garages would be blocked if they had been built following no-fault evictions or didn't meet the design guidelines in the BSP.

At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Chiu announced that the BSP provision would be removed, and only buildings with four units or more would need to go through a full discretionary review process at Planning -- significantly lowering the bar for adding new garages compared to the original proposal.

Chiu said the revised legislation would return to the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee for a public hearing on Monday. The revised legislation, he said, "would really help to protect the core purpose of why we're moving this legislation," while dealing with the concerns raised by Dufty and others.

That's still an important victory for protecting housing, said Livable City's Tom Radulovich, but a setback in terms of ensuring better conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

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Supervisors Delay Final Vote on Garage Legislation for Another Week

IMG_3807.jpgSupervisor David Chiu has sponsored a measure to ban garages built following no-fault tenant evictions in parts of the Northeast corner of San Francisco. Photo: Michael Rhodes

For a second time in two weeks, the Board of Supervisors today delayed a final vote on legislation that would impose stricter rules on the construction of new garages in Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill. Unlike the first delay, however, the Board voted to make a small amendment to the measure today, passing the amended bill on first reading. It will be back next week for a final vote.

The amendment today fixed an initial error in the drafting of the legislation, said its sponsor, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. The portion of Broadway included in the measure would stretch from the Embarcadero to Mason Street, not all the way to Polk Street, as the initial legislation had it.

After initially approving the legislation on first reading by a 7-2 vote on February 9, the supervisors voted on February 23 to continue the measure until today. Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose vote would be crucial to override a potential veto from the Mayor, has asked for more time to talk to people on both sides of the debate before taking a final vote.

Garage addition companies, landlords and condo conversion supporters are reportedly pressuring Dufty to vote down the measure, while affordable housing, transit, pedestrian and bicycle advocates are rallying behind the garage legislation.

You can contact Supervisor Dufty about the legislation by emailing him at bevan.dufty@sfgov.org or by calling his office at 415-554-5184.
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Supervisors to Take Final Vote on Garage Legislation Tomorrow

2075480182_2c934ba9fe.jpgFlickr photo: ChazWags
The Board of Supervisors will vote tomorrow on legislation that would limit new garages in Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill.

After approving the legislation on first reading by a 7-2 vote on February 9, the supervisors voted on February 23 to continue the measure until tomorrow. Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose vote would be crucial to override a potential veto from the Mayor, has wavered in his position on the legislation, saying the measure moved through the legislative process too quickly for him and his constituents to give it a close enough look.

Garage addition companies, landlords and condo conversion supporters are reportedly pressuring Dufty to vote down the measure, while affordable housing, transit, pedestrian and bicycle advocates are rallying behind the garage legislation.

You can let Supervisor Dufty know your thoughts on the legislation by emailing him at bevan.dufty@sfgov.org or by calling his office at 415-554-5184.

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Dufty Still Deliberating as Garage Legislation Vote Looms

IMG_1213.jpgPreparing for a new garage addition. Photo: Michael Rhodes
Supervisor Bevan Dufty says he is still considering how he will vote tomorrow on legislation that would limit new garages in existing buildings in Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill and eliminate minimum parking requirements in those neighborhoods. Advocates are urging him to support the measure, but Dufty said he's still deliberating as he continues to receive waves of feedback from supporters and opponents of the plan.

The Board of Supervisors will take a second and final vote tomorrow on the legislation, which passed in a first reading by a 7-2 vote, including an aye from Dufty. Since the Mayor hasn't come out with a position on the legislation yet, proponents hope Dufty will vote in favor of the legislation again, giving it an eight-vote supermajority in case the Mayor vetoes it. (Supervisor John Avalos was absent from the first vote, but the measure's supporters are hopeful he will lend his support tomorrow.)

While he voted for the measure on February 9, Dufty said he did so at the time to give it further study before a final vote. He is reportedly being heavily lobbied by garage addition companies and other groups that oppose restrictions on condo-conversions (including the group Plan C, the Examiner reported.)

"I have not decided what I'm going to do, but I definitely plan to talk to David Chiu before mid-morning tomorrow and let him know what my thoughts are," Dufty told Streetsblog today. "I suspected that I was going to have some concerns, and I definitely have concerns."

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Advocates, Supervisors Push for Alternatives to Proposed Muni Service Cuts

97744120_e2290ca682.jpgWith the MTA proposing deep service cuts to Muni and $5 fares on historic streetcars, transit advocates are concerned about where the city's transit system is headed. Flickr photo: Thomas Hawk.
A proposal to drastically cut Muni service while raising some fares has angered and energized transit riders in advance of Tuesday's MTA Board meeting, and has left advocates and elected officials in search of alternative measures to fill the agency's $16.9 million budget gap. Proposals are starting to pour in from advocates as well as members of the Board of Supervisors, who currently have limited control over such service cuts.

One proposal would address that very issue. Supervisor David Campos told the Chronicle he hopes to put a measure on the November ballot that would give the Board of Supervisors control over three of the seats on the seven-member MTA Board, which is currently appointed entirely by the Mayor. The proposal is similar to one suggested by Supervisor John Avalos last year, which would have given the Board of Supervisors say over three MTA Board members, with the Mayor retaining control over three members. Voters would elect the seventh member.

Campos has not offered details of his plan yet, including whether the public might elect one member, but he said the proposed service cuts reflect deeper problems with the agency. "There appears to be a systematic problem with Muni and change has to begin at the top with the MTA Board," Campos told the Chronicle.

Susan King, a transit advocate who works at Livable City, said changing the way the MTA Board is chosen is part of the solution. While the current system was intended to "depoliticize" the MTA, said King, transportation shouldn't be removed from the political process. "Transportation should be a political issue. It affects the very core of people's ability to survive," she said. "The voters and the people who use the roads in San Francisco, who also vote, need to have a bigger voice."

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Mayor, MTA and Bike Activists Celebrate First New Bike Lane in Three Years

bicyclists_in_bike_box.jpgSFBC's Leah Shahum, the MTA's Oliver Gajda and SFBC Board Member Dan Nguyen-Tan in the freshly painted green bike box on Scott Street at Oak. Photo by Bryan Goebel.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, three members of the Board of Supervisors, MTA officials, SFBC staff and bicyclists -- standing in the glaring fall sun amidst the roar of cars on Oak Street -- celebrated the city's first new bike lane in three years today, and then grabbed the paint rolls and applied buckets of shiny green paint to the Scott Street bike box.

"The good news is we didn't wait until today to get started. The injunction was [partially] lifted last week and already the folks you see behind us have been hard at work," said Newsom. "They've been out there putting in some new bike lanes and we're going to be putting in bike racks every single day."

Newsom said that San Francisco is going to try a series of innovate treatments, such as the green bike box, taking cues from European cities that have become world-class bicycling cities. And like Valencia Street, he said, the MTA will begin changing the signal timing on some streets to better accommodate bicyclists.

"We're going to be trying some things that candidly we wished we were doing for the last three years that are things that are being done around the world, particularly in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, that are being proffered and exampled in places like Portland and other municipalities," Newsom said, adding that the plan is to add six new miles of bike lanes in six months and increase the city's existing 23 miles of sharrows by 326 percent.

Mayor_painting.jpgMTA Chief Nat Ford and Mayor Gavin Newsom paint the bike box green. Photo by Matthew Roth.
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SFPD Conducting First Citywide “Operation Safe Muni” Sting Today

IMG_0555.jpgIngleside Captain David Lazar briefs officers and the media on Operation Safe Muni today. Photo: Michael Rhodes
For years, spotting a police officer on Muni has been about as likely as winning the lottery, even though officers are required to ride transit vehicles twice per shift. As a result, fare evasion, tagging, eating, and other violations are rampant on the city's transit system, and crime on Muni hasn't declined in recent months even as it's gone down across the city. So, as the San Francisco Police Department sent dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers onto Muni en masse today, Ingleside Cpt. David Lazar said it shouldn't be hard to hit the jackpot when it comes to finding violators.

"I think it's going to come as a very big surprise to people who get away with eating or fare evasion on a daily basis," Lazar said during a lunchtime briefing at Tenderloin Station. Immediately after the briefing, officers set out on a citywide sting to find violators of all types. It's all part of Operation Safe Muni, a program Lazar started in the Ingleside District in September after several high-profile attacks on Muni, and reports of widespread fare evasion and theft.

After two Operation Safe Muni stings in Ingleside were deemed successful, SFPD decided to launch today's citywide sting and evaluate the results. "It's a zero tolerance approach to crime on Muni," said Lazar, who recently became captain of Ingleside Station and made news earlier this year when he ordered stings on drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.

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Muni’s Safety Chief Defends Agency at Supes Hearing

3787192907_fe41678b50_2_.jpgNew Muni Chief Safety Officer Jim Dougherty, left, at the scene of the August 3rd historic streetcar crash. Photo: Bryan Goebel
Muni's new chief safety officer went before a Board of Supervisors committee today to explain what's being done to prevent crashes like the two major rail collisions that have happened in the last month. Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who chaired the hearing, said the crash at Market and Noe Streets on August 3rd, in which an SUV was crushed between two historic F-line streetcars, "could easily have been a fatal accident."

It was the second time this month that Muni officials have been publicly grilled on safety issues. The hearing covered much of the same ground as the August 4th MTA board meeting, but it included testimony from the driver of the Nissan Pathfinder that was crushed by the historic streetcars and a man who said he was chatting with the F-line driver several minutes before the crash.

It felt like being "crushed in a trash compactor," said Chris Ward, the driver of the SUV. "My life was involved and the life of my partner."

Ward said he has supported the F-line since its inception, but is disturbed that "there may have been some negligence involved" on the part of the operator. "We need to make sure that cutbacks and adjustments are made in a way that doesn't imperil the safety of the city," said Ward.

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Employee Shuttles Finding Their Place in SF’s Complex Transit System

3090842843_59f9818875_o.jpgA Yahoo employee waits to board a corporate shuttle in the Civic Center. Flickr photo: commander_klaus
In New York, the standard icon of corporate prestige is a gleaming tower downtown bearing a company's name. Here in the Bay Area, one of the preferred symbols is a sprawling, parking lot-ringed "corporate campus" off US-101 (Google, Yahoo) or I-280 (Apple,) 30 miles or more from the region's densest city. Ironically, though these campuses were designed for convenience, many Silicon Valley employees prefer to reside in San Francisco. As a result, companies have discovered the recruiting value of something transportation planners have long touted: high-quality, car-free transportation.

This fall, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (TA) will release a Strategic Analysis Report outlining the impacts of these shuttles, which Supervisor Bevan Dufty has called "a whole other world of transportation" outside of Muni. Margaret Cortes, a senior transportation planner with the TA, said the companies have been very cooperative during the study, which she says will be ready in September.

In the past, news coverage of the shuttles has focused on their luxuriousness, their impact on real estate values, their contributions to gentrification, and their occasional noisiness. Less dissected has been their impact on livable streets issues and sustainability. Suburban corporate campuses may be inherently unsustainable, but are heavily-used shuttles at least mitigating the problem?

According to Google spokesperson Sunny Gettinger, Google's shuttle service has allowed at least some employees to live car-free. "We definitely have people who've gone car-free, or people who never bought a car," said Gettinger. "I know folks who leave their cars down here, if they have cars, and live in the city car-free more or less, and people who've moved here from other places and not gotten cars because of the shuttle."

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Streetfilms: SF Carves a Park from the Midst of Its Pavement

The entire family of San Francisco city agencies responsible for maintaining its streets made an unconventional decision to close a portion of a street to cars and convert the new space into a simple, yet elegant, public plaza.  The project combines all the important elements of plaza creation that have been successful in New York City and elsewhere: take space from cars, use simple treatments to convert the space into a pedestrian sanctuary, including movable furniture and leftover granite blocks from city salvage yards, and engage commercial interests around the plaza to help maintain and care for the new public realm.

Though some neighborhood constituents voiced skepticism that the plaza would be empty at best, or filled with miscreants and vagabonds at worst, the plaza's success is hard to dispute. In fact, so many people are using the new space and enjoying the tables and chairs, the businesses around the plaza have contemplated leaving the furniture out later than sunset, which was the initial closing time agreed upon between them and the Castro/Upper Market Community Betterment District. 

This film, shot and edited by Paul Jaffe and produced by Streetsblog SF editor Bryan Goebel, takes an in-depth look at the construction of the plaza with some of the agencies responsible for it, and includes some entertaining man-on-the-street interviews.