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Posts from the "David Campos" Category

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GG Bridge Toll Hikes Approved 15-2, Supes Campos and Breed Opposed

When the plan for much-needed toll hikes on the Golden Gate Bridge was approved Friday, the only opponents on the GG Bridge Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors were Supervisors David Campos and London Breed.

Supervisors David Campos and London Breed, the only members of the bridge board to vote against toll hikes. Photos: Board of Supervisors

All other 15 members who voted, including Marin County reps, apparently understood the need to fund rising infrastructure costs for the bridge by increasing tolls for the drivers who use it. In recent years, the board tolls have not risen as quickly as fares for Golden Gate Transit, which has also seen service cuts — a pattern that unfairly burdens bus riders and induces more car traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge district has also cut costs by eliminating toll takers and switching to all-electronic tolling, getting district employees to pay for a larger share of their benefits, and bringing in new revenue by charging for parking at the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal.

But that apparently wasn’t enough for Campos and Breed, who said they wouldn’t approve toll hikes until they were sure every possible cost-cutting measure had been taken, according to the SF Chronicle. ”We have to demonstrate that we have done everything we can before we vote to increase tolls,” Campos said. “It may be that toll increases are essential and necessary, but I don’t know that we’ve demonstrated that.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who also sits on the bridge board, pointed out that the hikes would only “go up at about the rate of inflation.”

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Cesar Chavez: A Traffic Sewer Transformed Into a Safer Street

As part of the newly-completed redesign of Cesar Chavez, there’s a new plaza at the corner of Mission and Capp Streets. Photos: Aaron Bialick

Western Cesar Chavez Street has been transformed after decades as a dangerous motor vehicle speedway that divided the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods. City officials cut the ribbon today on a redesign of the street, nearly nine years after residents began pushing for safety improvements.

Cesar Chavez was widened in the 1930s and 40s at the expense of safety and livability to serve as a thoroughfare from the 101 and 280 freeways to a planned Mission Freeway that was never built. As a result, it became a virtual no-man’s land for walking and biking, and crossing the street was a huge risk.

Fran Taylor speaking at the ribbon cutting today.

Fran Taylor speaking at the ribbon cutting today.

“Our neighborhoods were cut in two by this dangerous street that was in no way worthy of the man it was named after,” said Fran Taylor, who helped found CC Puede to push for a redesign of the street. “It’s taken a long time, and the efforts of many, but we finally have a Cesar Chavez Street to be proud of.”

With the redesign, the six traffic lanes on Cesar Chavez (known as Army Street until the nineties) were reduced to four. In place of those two lanes are unprotected bike lanes, bulb-outs with rain gardens, and a center median lined with palm trees. With fresh pavement and markings like continental crosswalks, the treatments have made the street calmer and more habitable for people.

The ribbon cutting was held on Si Se Puede! Plaza, which was created at the northeast corner of Cesar Chavez and Mission Street, where Capp Street ends. Drivers can still pass through at the end of Capp, but permeable, textured pavement raised to sidewalk level signals that they are guests.

“We finally have a street that’s going to protect families and reflects what we value, which is safety, first and foremost,” said D9 Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes Cesar Chavez. “It took longer than it should have.”

The project snowballed from a simple re-paving planned by Department of Public Works into a full redesign as residents pushed for safety improvements, and city agencies sought to coordinate those changes with the re-pave to save costs. Andres Power was the project manager for the Planning Department until 2012, when he became an aide for Supervisor Scott Wiener.

“On one hand, it’s unbelievable that it takes this long to get anything like this done. On the other hand, it’s such a transformative project, and I think the wait was well worth it,” said Power. “We wanted to do something that was not just a street project, that was about bringing the neighborhood together, and encouraging people to use the street outside of their cars.”

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Supes Narrowly Reject EIR Appeal Against Car-Free Condos at 1050 Valencia

The proposed parking-free, 12-unit condo and retail development at 1050 Valencia Street narrowly cleared a hurdle Tuesday after a 6-5 vote by the Board of Supervisors, which rejected an appeal that contended the project should be required to have a full environmental impact report.

A rendering of the 1050 Valencia project. Image: Stephen Antonaros via Curbed

The project, approved by the Planning Commission more than a year ago, has faced continued opposition for several years, organized by the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association and the neighboring Marsh Theater. LHNA contends that new residents will own cars despite the lack of dedicated parking — even though a growing body of research shows otherwise – and take up street parking spots. Meanwhile, the Marsh’s protests focus on potential noise and shadows.

The latest appeal protests the Planning Department’s determination that the project does not require a full EIR under the California Environmental Quality Act because it complies with the zoning of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, for which an area-wide EIR was already done. Five supervisors voted to uphold the appeal — David Campos, John Avalos, Malia Cohen, Eric Mar, and Jane Kim. It next goes to the Board of Appeals.

Stephen Williams and other LHNA reps argued that the project’s location on Valencia at Hill Street, between 21st and 22nd Streets, was not a “transit-rich” area where residents would be able to live without cars, though studies show that residents who move into units without dedicated parking are less likely to own cars, and about half of residential parking garages in the Mission aren’t used for car storage.

“What does ‘transit-rich’ mean? No one knows,” Williams said in response to Supervisor Scott Wiener, who pointed out that the location is within one block of Mission Street, which has some of the most frequent Muni service in the city, and less than half a mile from BART’s 16th and 24th Street stations. Valencia is also one of the most heavily-traveled streets for bicycle commuting, and the building will have indoor parking for 28 bikes.

“I don’t think anybody should consider that transit-rich,” Williams said.

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Potrero Ave. NIMBYs Lead Supes to Grapple With the Minimum Parking Myth

For NIMBYs fighting a residential building project in the northeast corner of the Mission on the basis of negative environmental impacts, you might think minimizing the number of new car parking spaces is a good thing. After all, the more parking that goes into a project, the more residents tend to own and drive cars.

480 Potrero. Image: Planning Department via Curbed SF

But at an October 9 hearing on an appeal filed by neighbors against the environmental impact report for a proposed 75-unit residential building at 480 Potrero Avenue (at Mariposa Street), the appellants apparently had Supervisors Malia Cohen and David Campos convinced that if developers failed to provide “enough” parking, new residents will buy cars anyway and just circle around for a spot.

According to Juan Jayo of the Mariposa-Utah Neighborhood Association, opponents don’t buy the arguments to the contrary. “The Planning Commission’s response to this simply seems to be … eventually, people would get tired of looking for parking and move to Muni and bicycles and walk, so there would be no impact,” Jayo said. That’s basically correct, though new car-free residents who knowingly move in to an apartment without a dedicated parking spot wouldn’t be circling for parking in the first place.

Cohen and Campos, whose districts are near the site, grilled Planning Department staff on its determination that not building parking would not cause a significant environmental impact under the guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act. Barely mentioned at the hearing, however, was the growing body of research showing that a guaranteed space to store a car is an incentive for residents to own one, and that any number of parking spots deemed necessary to meet some inevitable amount of parking demand is arbitrary. Meanwhile, parking spaces make housing more expensive and more difficult to build.

In other words, more parking facilitates more car use — not the other way around.

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Breed Defends Record on Safer Streets for Biking; Plus: Other Supes Respond

Supervisor London Breed has issued a statement explaining her Twitter comments yesterday on safer streets for bicycling which led her to delete her account. Breed had responded to an inquiry sent out by Twitter user Patrick Traughber to every city supervisor and a few other city officials, asking, “In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle to creating safer streets for bicycling in San Francisco?”

Supervisor London Breed on Bike to Work Day. Photo: SFBC/Flickr

In her initial answer, Breed cited “the bad behavior of some bicyclist,” which led several people to respond in protest. Breed tried to clarify that she’s “not blaming anyone,” and that she’s “been fighting to help make streets safer for all,” but then shut down her account minutes into the discussion. Breed has a record of making abrasive comments on Twitter, arguing with constituents and getting press attention for it.

In her written statement, Breed defended her record of standing up for street redesign projects like Masonic Avenue and Fell and Oak Streets in the face of anti-bike vitriol. Here’s what she had to say:

I suspended my account because I realized twitter can be extremely time consuming and it’s too hard to have nuanced policy discussions in 140 characters. I want to take some time to think about how I use this medium in the future.

With respect to the bike exchange, my record is clear! I have been a consistent and effective advocate for bike projects in our city. I got the Oak and Fell bike lanes implemented well ahead of schedule. I led the effort to fund the Masonic Blvd project which includes dedicated bike lanes, and I’ve voted for every bike project that’s come before the Transportation Authority, including the popular bike share program just implemented in our city.

My point was not that I think bicyclists’ behavior should be an impediment to new projects. My point was bicyclists’ behavior is the complaint I hear most often from those who oppose the projects. So as a practical matter, those behavioral concerns — whether you think they’re accurate or inaccurate, right or wrong — make it harder to get new projects moving, harder to win public and political support. But that absolutely has not, and will not, stop me from fighting to win that support.

I’ve faced a lot of fire, a LOT of fire, over the Masonic blvd project and I’ve stood strong in my support. That’s my record. So it does bother me to see Masonic supporters criticizing me over a twitter post. But it is my fault for being unclear about a complicated topic on an inappropriate medium. That is why I am taking a break from that medium.

Breed deserves a lot of credit for supporting those safety improvements. And judging by her statement, she doesn’t think that policymakers should decide whether San Franciscans get to have safer streets based on the perceived behavior of people who use a particular mode of transportation.

Traughber’s question on Twitter yielded responses from a few other supervisors and District Attorney George Gascón, offering a glimpse into those officials’ understanding of how to make streets safer (or just how willing they are to respond to tweets).

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Disability Advocate Cristina Rubke Confirmed to SFMTA Board of Directors

Renowned disability advocate and attorney Cristina Rubke was confirmed by the Board of Supervisors today as the newest member of the SFMTA Board of Directors.

Rubke was nominated by Mayor Ed Lee to replace outgoing member Bruce Oka. She was roundly praised by colleagues at a recent Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing for her willingness to collaborate and seek an in-depth understanding of various issues, as well as her experience serving on city committees.

Preceding today’s unanimous approval by the full board, Supervisor Scott Wiener said “listening to her experiences as a regular rider on the [Muni] system was very compelling.”

“I think she understands the importance of continuing to reform our transportation function in San Francisco and make it run better and serve everybody,” said Wiener.

Although Rubke “doesn’t necessarily have professional expertise in the area of transportation,” said Supervisor David Campos at the Rules Committee hearing, “the reality is that we want someone who has firsthand experience of what it means to be a rider of public transportation.”

Rubke, a SoMa resident, told the committee she’s ready to delve into the complex issues she would face on the board, including reducing the agency’s work order and overtime costs and improving pedestrian safety, while aiming to represent a range of underserved communities.

“As a person in a wheelchair, I am truly dependent on public transit, and welcome the chance to improve it,” said Rubke. ”Accessibility means more than just a wheelchair ramp, although that’s a good start. It means that my grandmother knows she can walk safely through our streets, understand how to buy a transit ticket, she can afford that ticket, and she can figure out how to take different modes of transportation safely.”

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Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos Set to Serve on MTC

Supervisor Scott Wiener. Photo: Dennis Hearne Photography

For the last 16 years, Jon Rubin has served as the Mayor’s appointee on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning and funding body, originally appointed by Frank Jordan in 1995. Last week, Rubin was forced to resign and turn over the seat to Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose four-year term begins May 1.

While it’s true the Mayor was looking to strike a compromise because the Board of Supervisors was deadlocked over its appointment between Wiener and Supervisor David Campos, as reported by the Chronicle, sources told Streetsblog that a behind-the-scenes effort has been underway for some time to get Rubin replaced. Some advocates and City Hall insiders who didn’t want to be identified said they were disappointed with Rubin’s record on the commission, and felt he hasn’t been aggressive enough on San Francisco’s behalf.

Rubin, the president and CEO of the Peninsula Coalition, did not respond to requests from Streetsblog for an interview.

In a letter [pdf] to the MTC dated April 13, Mayor Ed Lee said he was appointing Wiener for “his special familiarity with the problems and issues in the field of transportation.” Wiener currently sits on the plans and programs committee of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, and is a regular Muni rider. As we’ve written, he holds great promise on sustainable transportation issues, and hired transit advocate Gillian Gillett as one of his staffers.

Wiener told Streetsblog that he wants to make sure San Francisco “is getting the funding and priority we deserve for transit projects that don’t just benefit the city, but the entire region, whether it’s Transbay, or Caltrain, which we depend on.”

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Supes Muni Reform Measure Nixed as Chiu Strikes Deal with Mayor

IMG_1339.jpgPhoto: Myleen Hollero/Orange Photography
Fearing a potential defeat by voters on a crowded November ballot, and saying he wants to see faster reform at the SFMTA, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu announced a compromise with Mayor Gavin Newsom late Tuesday night before casting the swing vote against a Muni charter amendment he had originally co-sponsored with three of his colleagues.

"From my perspective, we need to move immediately with MTA reform. I do not want to wait until November," Chiu said, before yanking his name as a co-sponsor. "Given that we've been accused of an alleged power grab here, which I don't necessarily agree with, I do think it's important that we give voters many reasons to support all of the measures that we're placing on the ballot, particularly revenue measures."

The "reform framework" (PDF) announced by Chiu, which was followed just minutes later with a joint press release from the Mayor's Office, has four components. First, it orders the SFMTA to come up with a plan by December 1 for restoring the remaining 5 percent service cut that will still be in effect. Last month, the SFMTA Board voted to restore half of the 10 percent service cut it implemented in May on September 4th.

Chiu said a working group would be assembled to figure out the funding and hopes that voters favor the November revenue measures "so we can use a portion of that to assist with Muni service restoration."

The deal also calls for the establishment of a Transportation Governance Task Force to look at the "strengths and weaknesses" of the current SFMTA structure, including board appointments, in addition to more oversight of work orders and an enhanced SFMTA auditing system that would include the appointment of a new Director of Audit Compliance.

"I am pleased that we were able to come to a consensus about how we can work together now to improve Muni without having to wait until next year," Mayor Newsom said in a statement. "These reforms will let us immediately begin the hard work of fully restoring Muni service and improving transparency and accountability at the SFMTA."

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Campos Sets Sights on MTA Reform through Ballot Box, Audit

IMG_1446.jpgSupervisor David Campos at a recent gathering outside City Hall.
Supervisor David Campos will find himself front and center this month in a multiple-front struggle to answer an age-old conundrum: Why doesn’t Muni work better and how can we fix it?

Campos has inserted himself into the debate by leading the charge on a charter amendment to change how the MTA Board is appointed. He has also requested an audit of the MTA's management practices. Results should be ready in time to inform the supervisors' vote in May on the MTA's budget for the next two years.

On the unplanned side, Campos will be leading the confirmation process for two MTA Board members this month. He's the chair of the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, the first stop for Mayor Newsom's MTA Board nominations before they reach the full Board of Supervisors.

There's uncertainty on all three fronts at the moment. Details of the audit and the charter amendment measure are still being hammered out, and Mayor Newsom hasn't said whom he'll appoint to fill two MTA Board seats that will open on March 1.

After a press event for the Central Subway yesterday, the Mayor said he's still figuring out his appointments to many of the city's commissions, including the MTA. "I have about 45 appointments that we'll be making in the next few weeks," he said.

With any shot at broader reforms still half a year away, Campos said the Board of Supervisors will be making the most of its confirmation power over mayoral appointees to the MTA Board. "If we put a measure on the ballot, it wouldn't go on the ballot until November," he said. "In the meantime, we want to make sure that, within the current governing structure, Muni is in the best hands possible."

Like many of his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, Campos said the keyword for directors is independence.

"What I look for is someone who is truly independent of not just the Mayor but also the Board, and who's going to ask the right questions, who's going to be engaged, who understands what it's like to ride Muni, who is responsive to the needs of the ridership, who holds Muni accountable. That kind of independence, in my humble opinion, has not been demonstrated by some members of this MTA Board."

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Two MTA Board Appointments to Come at Pivotal Time for Muni

3489709659_ae7923e265_b.jpgFrom left: MTA Board Vice Chairman Rev. Dr. James McCray, Jr., Chairman Tom Nolan and Director Shirley Breyer Black. Photo: Michael Rhodes
On March 1, the terms of the MTA Board's two longest-serving directors will end, and a convergence of factors could make their reappointment or replacement more closely scrutinized than any in the agency's ten-year history. Adding to the uncertainty, one or both of the directors - Shirley Breyer Black and Rev. Dr. James McCray, Jr. - may actually be termed out of their seats, depending on how the City Attorney's office interprets the City Charter.

With the MTA facing massive budget shortfalls in the coming years on top of a mid-year budget crisis, a progressive majority controlling the Board of Supervisors, and a Mayor in his final two years in office, transit advocates and many supervisors are looking for appointees who will be independent-minded and engaged members of the MTA Board.

"In general, I think that the MTA commission has not been examining all options available to the MTA in the context of our budget crisis," said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. "I think it's fair to say a majority of the Board of Supervisors believes we need commissioners who are independent enough to consider all options on the table."

For her part, Black is happy to continue serving, but hasn't heard what the Mayor is planning. "No one has told me anything," she said last week.

That may in part be because the Mayor is waiting to hear from the City Attorney's office on whether Black and McCray are eligible to serve additional terms. Proposition E, which created the MTA in 1999, set director term limits at three, but it's not clear whether Black and McCray's first terms counted, since both were shorter than the regular four years. Black was a member of the original MTA Board, which had staggered term lengths. Her first term, beginning in March 2000, was only two years long. McCray's first term, which began in 2002, was barely a month long, since he filled in the end of another director's term.

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