Skip to content

Posts from the "John Avalos" Category

16 Comments

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."

Read more...
52 Comments

SF Concrete Commissioner: Stop Parking on the Sidewalk!

sidewalk_parking.jpgPhotos: San Francisco Department of Sidewalk Parking
Parking a car on the sidewalk is illegal and unsightly, as many San Franciscans know too well, but it also causes a hazard for those with visual impairments, as Lighthouse for the Blind illustrated when they began their campaign to eliminate the practice in the Sunset. And while a simple white line and the threat of consistent enforcement of the law by the MTA prompted drivers to park legally on 19th Avenue, the problem has not disappeared there or in any other district.  We've seen examples of the street-cleaning, sidewalk parking ballet throughout the city on sweeping days, though the burden of moving your neighbors' five cars while they're at work has diminished since DPW cut back on their runs (leaving our streets far dirtier in the process).

Now, an enterprising resident of the Excelsior, who wishes to remain anonymous, has created a website to publicize the abuse and advocate for comprehensive enforcement. The San Francisco Department of Sidewalk Parking website went live last week with numerous photos from the neighborhood, and while Commissioner Concrete admits that he doesn't occupy an office in City Hall and doesn't have the power to issue tickets, he advises you and all your friends to help populate the website and memorize the Department of Parking and Traffic's parking hotline: 415-553-1200.

Read our interview with the commish below the break.

Read more...
2 Comments

Streetfilms: Walk to School Day in San Francisco

A generation ago, nearly half of all U.S. kids walked or bicycled to school. Today, less than fifteen percent do, with the majority arriving at school in private automobiles. It’s no coincidence, then, that studies show more than a quarter of San Francisco’s children are overweight. But a new program hopes to change that trend, while reducing greenhouse gas pollution and increasing fun.

With the help of a $500,000 grant from the federal government, San Francisco has launched its own “Safe Routes to Schools” program, aimed at encouraging students and parents to walk or bike to school.

At Longfellow Elementary last Wednesday, October 7th, students joined parents on a “walking school bus.” Although the date was part of International Walk to School Day, organizers plan group walks to school every Wednesday—with the ultimate goal of walking to school every day.

5 Comments

Supervisors Give Golden Gate Park Meter Study the Go-Ahead

410050_25b2a8b15d_o.jpgCould parking meters ruin this view? Flickr photo: morganthemoth
In a vote that signaled both San Francisco's new direction on parking policy and the severity of current budget shortfalls, the Board of Supervisors yesterday approved an ordinance giving the MTA authority to study installing parking meters in the eastern portion of Golden Gate Park.

By a unanimous vote, the Board indicated its support for the ordinance, though the supervisors reasons differed. The vote only authorizes creating a parking plan for Golden Gate Park, not its implementation, which the MTA will need to seek later.

The Recreation and Park Department, the MTA, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, and Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos have expressed strong support for the measure in the past, since it will generate funds for the MTA and the Rec and Park Department, and is consistent with the city's Transit First policy.

After yesterday's vote, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he still has "major reservations" about installing meters in Golden Gate Park, including the meters' aesthetic impact on the park. Elsbernd also expressed concern about whether the meters would "create residual parking problems" in surrounding neighborhoods, such as the Inner Sunset, the Richmond, and Haight-Ashbury.

Read more...
3 Comments

SF Supes Committee Supports GG Park Metering and Streetscape Bond

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee showed unanimous support today for a pair of proposals that will both have major impacts on people walking, biking, using transit and driving in the city.

410050_25b2a8b15d_o.jpgDrivers often take advantage of Golden Gate Park's free on-street parking. Flickr photo: morganthemoth

The first is a measure to begin charging for on-street parking in the eastern half of Golden Gate Park, where many of the park's most popular attractions are located. The plan will turn over responsibility for on-street parking in Golden Gate Park from the Recreation and Park Department to the MTA, which will install meters and charge for some street parking in the park for the first time.

The Rec and Park department, the MTA, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, and Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos expressed support for the measure on public policy grounds, since charging for parking may lead to reduced driving and increased walking and biking in the park, and is consistent with the city's transit first policy.

Given the impact on transit riders of recent Muni fair hikes, Campos said drivers should "share the pain" of balancing the budget.

The meters will be a financial boon for the MTA and the park department, with the MTA collecting citation revenue and the park department collecting meter fare revenue. Once the meters are installed, as early as next April, they're projected to bring in $500,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30 and $1.4 million in the second year for the park department. The MTA will bring in a net profit of about $379,000 per year.

Read more...
13 Comments

Newsom Opposed to Sunday Parking Enforcement, Study or No

418129740_0f8f7155c5.jpgA free parking meter in San Francisco. Flickr phto: .dru
It's no surprise, but it's troubling. Mayor Gavin Newsom has confirmed to Streetsblog that he remains opposed to extending parking meter enforcement to Sundays, despite a promise by MTA Chief Nat Ford that it's being studied and remains on the table for consideration, along with evening metering to 10 p.m. -- revenue measures that would raise $9 million --  potentially offsetting fare hikes and service cuts, changes Ford still has the power to make (within five percent).

"I don't support Sunday parking. I don't think that was part of the budget and...I support the budget as passed.  I don't believe in it," Newsom, a former parking and traffic commissioner, said yesterday following a press conference to unveil a new Muni bus shelter. 

Newsom's fervent opposition comes despite a change of heart by several politicians and organizations, including some that have traditionally opposed increasing parking enforcement. As Supervisor John Avalos explained at a recent BOS meeting "times have changed" and "there’s a different feeling about moving forward on revenue from parking that didn’t exist before." Except, of course, from the politician with the most power over the MTA.

Even the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce likes the idea of Sunday metering: "We favored Sunday enforcement because that will turn over parking for merchants just like it does on Saturday," said Jim Lazarus, the chamber's senior vice president.

As we've written, other cities that have managed street space with market-rate pricing and curbside vacancy targets, and have invested additional revenues in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, have seen a rise in business, not a drop. There was further proof of that this week, with the release of a TA study noting that most shoppers in downtown San Francisco don't drive.

Read more...
7 Comments

Board of Supes Votes Again Not to Reject MTA Budget

david_chiu.jpgBOS Prez David Chiu, who voted not to reject: "It is time for us to move forward." Photo by Bryan Goebel.
The Board of Supervisors, for the second time this month, voted 6-5 this afternoon against a motion to reject the MTA's $778 million budget. BOS Prez David Chiu and Sophie Maxwell were among those not supporting a rejection. The vote came despite Supervisor John Avalos' announcement that he had a commitment from MTA Chair Tom Nolan to come up with a different budget if supervisors rejected it.

Transit advocates, frustrated over the decision, said they are planning to rally behind Avalos' proposed charter amendment to reform the MTA Board, which is appointed by the Mayor. They felt a rejection of the budget was the only way to force a better plan, which they say is unfairly balanced, with riders taking a bigger hit than drivers. 

But Chiu, who pointed out that he rides Muni more than any other supervisor and is the only member of the Board who doesn't own a car, said "we have come quite a ways" since the first MTA budget was proposed. He said the upcoming debate over the city budget is going to "make this debate look like child's play."

"In fact, as I've done the math, we've come about 30 million dollars from where the original budget was," said Chiu, who proposed the original rejection motion. "It is time for us to move forward."

Chiu's office said the $30 million he was referring to is a $15 million reduction in work orders, the $10.3 million worked out in a compromise, and $5 million in anticipated parking revenues, assuming the MTA moves forward with stronger parking enforcement. 

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, in an interview after the vote, said he believed it was still possible to get the MTA to make more concessions because "a strong message has been sent," but said he is going to back Avalos' charter amendment, which could appear before voters as soon as November, assuming there are six votes on the Board to place it on the ballot. The amendment would see three members of the MTA Board appointed by the Board of Supervisors, three by the Mayor and one elected.

Read more...
15 Comments

Muni Releases List of Service Enhancements As Supes Near Rejection Vote

1394717576_8cfde646c1.jpgService on the 14 Limited would be expanded from mid days to 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Flickr photo by Octoferret.
MTA Executive Director Nat Ford has released a list of proposed service enhancements on 14 lines that run parallel or near lines that are being eliminated or scaled back in this year's budget. The move comes following a "deal" worked out by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu that would put about $8.7 million back into the MTA budget for transit service enchancements, a compromise that some other supervisors say still falls short, and may lead to a vote to reject the spending plan tomorrow.

In a letter to the MTA Board of Directors Friday, Ford said his plan would tweak the schedules, creating better running times by investing "about 150 service hours per day to better match the scheduled running time with the actual time." He said the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) estimated the system needs about 230 hours of additional service per day to meet running times.

The lines slated for enhancements include the 9-San Bruno, 14-Mission (included the limited), 49-Van Ness/Mission, 4-Van Ness, 38-Geary Limited, 82X-Levi Plaza Express, 44-O'Shaughnessy, 5-Fulton, 10-Townsend, 48-Quintara, 39-Coit, the 1A-BX California Expresses and the J-Church. See the full list of here (PDF).

Ford made sure to include enhancements on a line in each supervisorial district.

The 14-Mission Limited would see some of the biggest enhancements. Currently, it only operates mid days and Saturdays, but service would be extended from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. to "help absorb customers who switch to Muni because of the BART Premium Pass. It will also represent additional capacity on Mission Street, which will help ameliorate the proposal to discontinue the 26-Valencia."

The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a special meeting at noon tomorrow to again consider rejecting the budget. It was unclear whether Chiu and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell would be voting to reject, but Maxwell appeared willing to consider supporting adding Sunday and evening parking enforcement back in, something Supervisor John Avalos proposed in a "Transit Justice Package."

12 Comments

Supes Delay Action on Motion to Reject MTA Budget

avalos_today.jpgSupervisor Avalos on parking enforcement: "The more I think about how we need to do what's best for the environment and what's best for riders my position has changed."
The Board of Supervisors will try again on an MTA budget, voting 7-4 this afternoon to delay a motion to reject it. Instead, they'll hold a special meeting Wednesday, May 27th, at noon.

The delay, requested by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, came after Supervisor Sophie Maxwell indicated a change of heart on parking. Maxwell, considered a swing vote on the rejection motion, had previously indicated she was against adding Sunday and evening parking enforcement, measures Supervisor John Avalos, some of his colleagues and transit advocates have demanded be put back in the budget to more equitably balance it between drivers and Muni riders.

“I too have come to a different feeling about parking. I mean, I was one who said I don’t know about Sundays and I don’t know about 10 [p.m.] but I am reconsidering and I think a lot of other people could too, so I think it’s something that should really be put on the table.”

Maxwell asked MTA Chief Nat Ford how soon an MTA study on parking would take. As part of a "compromise" reached with Board President David Chiu last week, Ford agreed to study increasing parking enforcement downtown from 6 to 8 p.m. Advocates, however, have proposed that Ford's original plan to enforce parking until 10 p.m. be added back in.

“My concern is that without pressure maybe the discussion won’t happen because the parking issues are something that we need to look at and I want to look at it sooner rather than later," said Maxwell.

Ford indicated that more parking measures will be studied and brought before the MTA Board, especially in light of the fact that the agency is now facing an additional $13 million gap, due to the recent rejection of an SEIU contract and more state budget impacts.

While not giving a specific time line, Ford responded: “It will be something that we’re looking at very quickly.”  He had earlier indicated additional parking measures would not be added without consultation with the MTA Board and the Mayor's office, which is opposed to adding more parking revenue in the budget.

Read more...
2 Comments

Supervisor Avalos, Advocates Call for More Equitable Muni Budget

avalos_transit_rally.jpgSupervisor John Avalos at Transit Justice rally. Photos by Bryan Goebel.

Supervisor John Avalos, leading the charge for a Muni budget that is more equitably balanced between drivers and transit riders, was joined Monday by a broad coalition of advocates, including groups representing seniors and youth, in a rally designed to pressure the MTA into restoring about $15 million in revenue measures carved out of the original plan. It preceded a march to the MTA where Avalos and advocates demanded and got a meeting with MTA Chief Nat Ford (hear the audio below) on the eve of a Board of Supervisors meeting to consider another rejection motion.

It remained uncertain, though, whether Avalos had the seven required votes to reject the MTA's budget, and advocates were urging citizens to put the heat on Board President David Chiu and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, considered a swing, by calling and emailing them.

Avalos spoke to a large crowd on the steps of City Hall, calling for a balanced Muni budget that doesn't fall on the backs of riders: "When it's budget season we don't come with our hat in our hand but our fists raised to win a better budget."

Also in attendance were Supervisors David Campos and Ross Mirkarimi, both of whom voted last week with Avalos on the Budget and Finance Committee to reject the MTA budget a second time, a move all three hoped would get the MTA to budge.

"In a city like ours that professes to be green, well, almost green, and professes to be aggressive in tackling global warming, this could be one of the most counter intuitive actions we could take in terms of trying to get people out of their cars and riding Muni," Mirkarimi said of the current MTA budget.

Campos said the "Transit Justice Package" proposed by Avalos represents an effort on the part of the progressive members of the Board to work with the MTA.

"I think that anyone who cares about making the city true to the principal of Transit First would jump at the opportunity of supporting something that simply gives 15 million dollars back to the system. That is not a radical proposal at all," said Campos. "It recognizes that we should not be balancing the MTA's budget on the backs of the poor."

Read more...

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.