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    Thanks, Aaaron, for the fantastic article. San Francisco elections are determined by turn-out as much or more than by proportional opinion, so please, please people I encourage you to vote today if you do nothing else than fill out “No” for the absurdly twisted proposition L. This thing needs to not simply go down, but go down hard, the harder the better. Every vote counts. This is the best chance we’ll ever have to make a statement supporting Transit First.


    Andy Chow

    The problem is that the politicians do not want to deal with reality regarding its ability to fund the project. It has been that way since 2000. They don’t want to admit that they can’t afford it until the time the economy crashes which brought down sales tax revenue and required cut to bus service. When they ask voters to approve more funding, they make sure they do everything they can to obscure the truth, so the end result is voters approving more taxes and still cannot completely fund it.

    The previous general manager Pete Cipolla was fired because he told then mayor Ron Gonzales that the project cannot to done (the Bush Admin was tight about the New Starts process and Gonzales was against the idea of phasing). The 2008 tax was sold on the premise that it is the only tax needed for the project to Santa Clara, but again a year after they settled on going to Berryessa, which has been planning for several years since Chuck Reed took office and Michael Burns at the helm of VTA.

    This time the VTA’s new GM is asking all of us to confront reality. It is about time because BART has been a distraction to improve transit throughout the county. This project has been tooted as the Next Big Thing for the last 15 years and we cannot have the rational discussion about other priorities and alternatives. I think the best strategy going forward is to make decision after the Berryessa portion is open. I am not sure whether BART will ever perform like the Next Big Thing, but I think we can agree to let the commuters decide whether or not it is the Next Big Thing.



    Saying that housing development in SF will be discouraged because of laws that haven’t even been proposed is FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). You haven’t demonstrated that Prop G will discourage development, only that it will slow the process of flipping properties.


    Jamison Wieser

    …would have the major side benefit of speeding up the N by reducing the number of trains at the Church and Duboce portal.

    The big constraint on the Market Street subway isn’t the Duboce Portals – there are problems anywhere Muni Metro intersects with street traffic – it’s the total number of trains being squeezed through the most congested station. For both Muni and BART that’s Embarcadero Station.

    My pitch has been to turn the J-Church into a low-floor, modern streetcar line running along the surface of Market Street, sharing trackway with the F-line. Outside of the Market Street Subway the J-Church doesn’t have a single high-platform stop that would need to be lowered (but some ramps could be removed) requiring not much more than an outbound turn at Market & Church and probably some modifications to use the track loop around the Hotel Vitale or build an alternative turnback.

    This would open up subway capacity for more frequent service on other lines.


    Jamison Wieser

    The idea isn’t to exit back into the center of 19th, but cross entirely under it. What the feasibility study recommended starting like you said: entering a tunnel right after the junction with the K at St. Francis Circle.

    Instead of coming back up in the center of 19th, it would continue the entire way under 19th where it would continue underground through Stonestown (the property owner has been supporting the project financially and will be giving over some land), SF State (which has access to a lot of grants for transit access to education to fund their section), and through Parkmerced before exiting to the surface and crossing back over Junipero Serra on a pedestrian/bike/transit bridge.

    What I think you might be referring to is the feasibility study’s further recommendation to look at starting that tunnel prior to St. Francis Circle so both the K and M would cross under with K coming back up in the median of Junipero Serra.

    And even though there are other corridors that probably are more critical, one of the things driving this project is that the developer of Parkmerced will pay for the subway through their development (they don’t want these big trains ruining their nicely planned neighborhood either) and along with Stonestown have been helping fund the project.

    (I’m attaching a map I drew of the feasibility study’s recommended route and potential station locations to explore further. Ocean Avenue seems to me like it could easily be overtaken by under-grounding St. Francis Circle with a nice pedestrian/bike path that block to Ocean Avenue)



    Just went to ride the 10-Townsend. NextBus says 41 minutes (and it’s not even in the new late-night period yet). 38 minutes for the 12-Folsom/Pacific, which runs on the same route part of the way. “Muni Forward” indeed.



    I agree that subways have not have not been popular on SB SF, but I think that may be the particular subway plans being discussed.

    If I recall correctly, the best performing alternative in the document has a subway stretch between Francis Circle after the junction with the K, which runs underground from there to the existing right of way in the middle of 19th. That’s not the segment the city is seriously considering.

    If I had my druthers for subways for Muni I would first put the J underground between Market and 22nd at Church (or bring it above ground in Dolores Park if you are pinching pennies). That would have the major side benefit of speeding up the N by reducing the number of trains at the Church and Duboce portal.

    Second highest priority Muni subway would be a tunnel for the N from church to Duboce Park, or even dig out the Buena vista tunnel and keep it underground from Market to Clayton.

    But these are just fantasies not backed up by billions of tax payer dollars with no need for accountability like the Central Subway and now the 19th Subway.



    John Haley should have been fired long ago for presiding over the most incompetent operations office of a transit agency in the world.


    Jamison Wieser

    Here is a direct link to the 19th Avenue feasibility study from March which gives a lot more background on that bike meeting (along maps and renderings to help picture what a 19th Avenue Subway will look like)



    I know subways aren’t popular on this site, but I honestly think this is the way to go. As much as I love public transit, huge buses and trains are a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists, not to mention loud, and putting them underground, at least for some primary routes in each part of the city, is ideal. We will still have some surface public transit, but I think having an extensive underground subway like NYC, London, Paris, etc is key to making a city truly livable and as car-free as possible.


    Jamison Wieser

    I don’t see ‘shadow governments’ so much as overlapping authorities and agencies each looking out for themselves and their constituents creating so many competing demands that it stifles progress.

    You see the potential for SF to be transit rich though. We do have a higher density that most the bay area, and even our lower-density neighborhoods are still near major transit centers with relatively little investment needed to connect them. At least compared to the sprawl throughout the rest of the Bay Area.


    That Guy

    Everyone should pay attention when on roadways, regardless of mode of transport. Contrary to this campaign, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. See Cal. Vehicle code section 21950 (b):

    21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

    (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.


    Jamison Wieser

    Moving Alum Rock into a future phase doesn’t mean it can’t still sit on the map looking pretty. CC: Livermore.



    Buses – too slow in this corridor.
    BART – does not go south, is too slow going north due to circuitous routing.


    Jamison Wieser

    I didn’t mean to imply that Alum Rock should be pulled this late. I’m with you 100% on why it makes sense to both pull Santa Clara and keep Alum Rock.

    The next time though, when there’s a subway project with an intermediate surface stop that could potentially be dropped or deferred, which is what’s been happening anyway, why not phase the project around that risk in the first place? Build the subway extension or key stops in phase 1, and that intermediary stations in phase 2 hand-in-hand with the transit villages and urban renewal projects.

    There’d be some short term wins in reducing traffic, increasing ridership and economic development around the stations as they open, but that should also help in generating more demand and tax revenue to cover the planned – phase 2 – infill stations right? And shouldn’t a phase 1 run a little faster if it only has to include minimal planning for the phase 2 projects. It would definitely mean less broken promises.


    Andy Chow

    There’s also plenty of transit capacity with buses and BART which is within comfortable walking and biking distance.



    It is reasonable to evaluate plans based on current conditions. For example, the plan for the Santa Clara station was made when Caltrain ridership was well under half of what it is today, San Jose’s major plans for and when it seemed most logical to add an airport connection from that station, before High Speed Rail’s plans to stop at Diridon, and before San Jose’s major land use plans for the Diridon Station area. The Santa Clara station may not make sense based on changes since the initial proposal.

    But it doesn’t make sense to make these changes with minimal community input, without disclosing the assumptions behind the changes, and without board approval of major policy changes.



    No. Because without having that Alum Rock station sitting there on the pretty picture, the ballot measure would not pass. Of course, the ballot measure can’t actually fund what is promised. So we need to hoodwink the voters because contractors need jobs and Carl Guardino needs a pat on his back.


    Jamison Wieser

    The GG Xpress article describes how moving the M-Ocean View into a subway will open up space for bike lanes, but here is a rendering from the feasibility study showing the difference it makes without the Muni in the center median.



    I really like your examples and hope they can happen. That’s the upside. But I must also say that I’m skeptical of some of the actions of the developing regional “shadow governments”. For example Plan Bay Area tells us how many people we have to accommodate and how we must do that. It incentivizes high density development in transit rich areas. It says virtually all of SF is transit rich and eligible for priority development status. I don’t believe we’re transit rich yet and I don’t think our infrastructure can accommodate the density being pushed.


    Jamison Wieser

    It seems so contradictory to me how much time and effort goes into planning these projects only to have them radically shift after a decade.

    For a while it was super-important to not break the San Jose extension up into two phases. Then at some point it started making more sense to go ahead with the Berryessa extension.

    Because a situation like this will come up again, I wonder if it would have been a better to approach Alum Rock as an infill station from the beginning?



    Study a little history, BART would go to Marin and the south Bay except both areas stopped it, only a money issue in that they refused to pay for BART as the means to stop it. Rumor is the communities did not want people from the city who could not afford cars to be able to get to there. This was basically due to racism and economic segregation. Fixing these issues is hard but not the fault or solvable by the SFMTA.


    Jamison Wieser

    The population specifically voted with Prop A…

    A side note to support further is that there was a pro-car measure on the ballot that year which went down as well.


    Jamison Wieser

    That bigger vision for the region requires visionaries outside San Francisco. There are agencies and authorities – and the SFMTA is one of them – working on bigger picture issues, it just isn’t always visible.

    Maybe a way to look at things is the SFMTA as the tactical end of getting things implemented here in the City.

    An example: BART has already started thinking about a second transbay tube and there well could be lines under Van Ness and/or Geary, but in order to be really rapid there would need to be limited stops. SFMTA would still need to maintain complimenting Muni service filling the gaps like it does today.


    Jamison Wieser

    …improves their quality of life because they spend less time on long bus rides going to and from work, school and home.

    That’s only going to scale to a certain point because traffic congestion is going to increase as more single occupancy cars are being put on the road. Even where San Francisco isn’t that dense, it’s tightly packed with limited road capacity that’s going to make problem a lot more pronounced.

    Improving transit service can accomplish the same goals, where it’s feasible at least. A lot of the south bay isn’t dense enough to support high-capacity transit along dedicated rights of way with very frequent, very rapid service. Anything that encourages more car use is going to have a negative impact on other drivers and Muni riders only exaggerating the problem further.


    Richard Gardner

    “I don’t fear having more people living here in 4-6 story buildings in parts of town where there is transit or the density and walkability to support new transit.”
    Then we agree; I guess you chose not to focus on the re-iterations where I said I am not against “concomitant” growth. That plan, above our comments; has nothing to do with making sure that the points on which both you and I agree, are guaranteed.

    And in reference to: “I’d love for there to be enough demand for transit”
    You just nailed it on the head without realizing it; you’ve pointed out the reality vs. the “hopes” and “desires” that are being “advertised” if you are in support of the North Shoreline plan, if it goes forward unaltered. How many millions of units have been brokered over the last 30-40 years on the argument that “these projects will bring increases in service in mass transit to support them”, and yet, that has not been the case because Caltrain, and VTA are not beholding to developers’ marketing catch-phrases that lure people into supporting them.

    Again… I AM NOT AGAINST developing further housing strategies to accommodate “concomitant” growth (primarily due to Google), but we cannot “accommodate” growth every single instance a developer wants to make buttloads of money.

    And again, I am not the kind of person to just be a nay-sayer without proposing solutions…, and this is the few points and times that “WE” the people, get to have a say in the process. Building more units makes sense, especially upwards vertically when its built around transit hubs; I know this because I have lived in the East Bay for good chunks of my years and love BART/AC Transit there. But building an s-ton of housing with limited egress/ingress where there is already an s-ton of overloads of traffic every day, not just weekdays because that area IS multi-use. If it were originally zoned for housing growth, which we are talking about now, then they have to show how they are going to address the increase in car traffic because there simply is not enough good transit options in that area compared to building in the Castro/Downtown/Old Town areas.

    It’s just common sense. We, in the North Whisman/WagonWheel area have already said, it would be a MUCH better choice to build in our area (see, I am not against growth EVEN in my OWN neighborhood) because our area is already zoned for such growth, and has accessibility to VTA, and short walk/bikes to Caltrain. Will I dislike the uptick in traffic, sure, but I will weigh that against the increase in services that may come (increased Police patrolling which right now is a bit lacking, upgrades to the shopping area at Whisman/Middlefield, etc…).


    Jamison Wieser

    If only 53% of Muni riders identify as low income, how do you think the other low income people get around? A lot of them drive cars…

    Just because a lot of people with a low-income currently own cars doesn’t automatically mean that is their desired mode of transportation. Car ownership is expensive, but for those without access to dependable transit, it’s a mandatory expense.

    Don’t you ever seen the dollars tick up as you fill your gas tank thinking what else that money could be spent on?


    Jamison Wieser

    How many small children do you see on the bus?

    Many years ago during a Geary busway meeting, the head of a merchants association was similarly dismissive of Muni and asked the audience rhetorically if we’d ever seen someone riding Muni with groceries. His erroneous belief was Muni was used by commuters, but shopping required a car.

    I think it would be very educational and eye opening for folks like you to actually ride Muni and see how widely ridership varies.



    Regarding BART Phase 2, the uproar has been about cutting the Alum Rock station, which is the centerpiece of a popular “urban village” plan for East San Jose that community members have worked on for over a decade.



    “You’re basically arguing for FUD. There will always be uncertainty in
    the future– it’s a real stretch to say that developers will be cowed by
    unknown future regulations.”

    I certainly hope you’re not trying to argue that just because there is always some risk associated with investment that it’s therefor impossible for investment to be discouraged due to elevating that risk.

    If that’s not the argument you’re making then perhaps you should clarify how adding to the risk of residential construction in SF is somehow exceptional to the rather obvious relationship of risk to investment level or alternately show how the particular added risk of wackadoodle regulation and measures are too insignificant to affect investment in SF residential construction.


    Jym Dyer

    The SFBC is not a lobbyist group with bags of cash for buying off politicians. It does, however, have more members than any other bike advocacy organization on the planet, which suggests something along the lines of public support.

    What is the source for your “tens of thousands” figure?


    Jym Dyer

    SFMTA = Muni + DPT. Wanting “Muni to stay and SFMTA to go” means no DPT, or a DPT that operates with no regard to transit needs. I remember when we had that, and it didn’t work very well.



    I wouldn’t say we’ve completely eliminated mobility. Of course it’s hard to move in with your partner, but that’s a decision made voluntarily by the parties involved, not forced upon them by some “market forces.” In your scenario, the couple could move into one of the apartments they already rent. In my real-life scenario it was not possible to do this because we both had roommates. We ended up compromising and finding a studio apartment that we could afford (and we signed a market-rate lease which, at the time, was outrageously expensive, and is now $1000 less than market-rate only three years later). I wasn’t pleased at all to be paying so much for such a small place, but it was my decision to move, not my landlord’s.

    Our current system is far from ideal, but the regulations that exist to keep people from being displaced against their will are, on balance, doing good– and certainly not making housing less available, as conservative think-tanks like to suggest.

    But again, that’s rent control, not Prop G, which regulates the crazy housing OWNERSHIP bubble, not the rental bubble.


    Jym Dyer

    Ebola is distributed by the bicycle fairy. (For some reason, the bicycle fairy doesn’t get capital letters the way Bike Lobby Special Interests do.)


    Jym Dyer

    I didn’t get the “Too Bad” flyer but I did get the “Nothing, Nada, Zilch” flyer. Its misinformational premise is that the SFMTA is doing nothing (nada, zilch) for regional transit needs, which is the MTC’s job, and doing nothing (nada, zilch) to build roads, which is the DPW’s job. Same fearmongering, though.


    Jym Dyer

    Anyone who says peak oil is “mooted” doesn’t understand what peak oil means. The peak oil scenario is that we have exhausted easy-to-get oil and are turning to more difficult means of extraction, which is precisely what is happening here.


    Jym Dyer

    Since Prop L is advisory, its only material purpose is to amplify whatever is shouted by its campaign. So I would definitely judge it on the basis of the Yes On L campaign.

    I don’t agree that Aaron’s argument is bogus, despite the ambiguous “car light” phrase. The point is valid, that not all households with cars adhere to the pattern that Yes On L insists that they do.


    Jym Dyer

    Yes, this is the point: having a car doesn’t mean supporting Prop L. It’s true that “car light” is ambiguous, but I’m not sure what term or phrase would work better.


    Jym Dyer

    Rob Francis? That explains why @SFParkRipOff lost his marbles over “Lighten up, Francis” (a trope from the movie Stripes), and threatened to expose people’s supposedly anti-car remarks, providing examples from Cheryl Brinkman and Andy Thornley. This dishonest use of Brinkman’s words is exactly that.


    Jym Dyer

    • I like how Bike Lobby Special Interests merits all-caps. I don’t think they’ve caught on to the All-Powerful part, though.



    OK, I get that you want to “make money.” Or, as I would put it, suck the wealth out of the pockets of the people who live here. When you belittle the harmful effect that displacement has on the people who make up this city, you display an attitude of callousness that is fundamentally at odds with a healthy society.

    You ask why it’s in the public interest for San Franciscans to be able to stay in their homes. It’s because you can’t raise children in this city if no teachers can afford to live here. A healthy city is more than just a “global leader in the knowledge, social media and sharing economies.” If the majority of the population expects to move away after a few years, they become disengaged from the political process, they stop trying to build real communities here, and the city suffers. Why should it be in the public interest to push them out?

    It’s clear to me from your comments here that nothing will change your mind. When you see renters, you see adversaries– I see my neighbors, San Franciscans.



    Well, it’s a direct reduction in supply due to greedy landlords. If you
    don’t want to be a landlord, you don’t hafta own an apartment building.
    Those people are hoarding housing.

    Government is supposed to design policy based on how human’s act, not on how we think they should act. The policies in place create distortions like this which benefit nobody.

    You become a decent example. You are living in a small studio apartment in your hometown. Now you’re basically trapped in that apartment. Let’s say you are a single woman in a rent controlled studio you can’t leave because you can’t afford anymore rent, and you meet a single guy in the same situation, and you want to move in together, start a family. In a world where you are both paying market rents, you could combine forces and move into a 2 BR, and probably come out ahead. But a 2BR now costs 40% more than the 2 rent controlled studios combined. That’s a bad result. We’ve completely eliminated mobility.

    It would be more appropriate to let rents should float with the market, and use an assessment on *all* the “greedy” landlords to provide a needs based rent subsidy. That way the subsidy goes to who needs it, not just those able to stay in place, and the subsidy comes from everyone. This said, it’s a change that would be near impossible to make.



    You’re basically arguing for FUD. There will always be uncertainty in the future– it’s a real stretch to say that developers will be cowed by unknown future regulations.

    “Here’s a way that Prop G actively discourages development: I buy a 2 unit building. I add a unit, or sevaral units. I sell in less than 5 years. Before prop G that would possibly be profitable and would at least be worth trying for some people. After prop G it would be a massive loss, and nobody would even attempt it.”

    The scenario that you’re describing (flipping a property after a short time) is exactly what G is intended to regulate. It’s not as though someone can only build that 3rd unit if they are going to sell right away. Hold onto the property for five years and you can get all the money. The current real estate market is displacing thousands of San Franciscans because it’s only function is to inflate real estate values. I don’t want to buy my house after ten people have passed it around with a markup at every point. That’s a bubble.



    “It is estimated that there are somewhere between 10 – 30 thousand vacant units in this city due to landlords that don’t want to deal with rent control. That is a direct reduction in supply due to rent control.”

    Well, it’s a direct reduction in supply due to greedy landlords. If you don’t want to be a landlord, you don’t hafta own an apartment building. Those people are hoarding housing.



    Abe, I get that you don’t want to be “displaced”. Or, as I would put it, possibly have to move to Oakland or some cheaper part of the Bay Area. Of course you don’t – nobody likes to do anything against their will, and change is scary for many.

    But that wasn’t the question I asked. I asked why it should be in the public interest to pass laws that give someone like you with a month-to-month lease a lifetime estate at a discounted rent?

    Put more bluntly, why and how are we – the voters and taxpayers of this city – benefiting by you living in your home forever over someone who is perhaps more suited to the city’s evolving role as a global leader in the knowledge, social media and sharing economies?

    Can you justify such a policy in terms that aren’t just about your personal convenience, preference and intransigence? What’s in it for us whether you stay or go, such that we would care either way?



    A stretch? We’ve already seen several laws passed recently that directly impact the ability to make money in development.

    Here’s a way that Prop G actively discourages development: I buy a 2 unit building. I add a unit, or sevaral units. I sell in less than 5 years. Before prop G that would possibly be profitable and would at least be worth trying for some people. After prop G it would be a massive loss, and nobody would even attempt it.

    Prop G obviously does nothing to promote development, and I’ve shown how it discourages it.



    Flubert, I get what you are saying, and don’t really disagree. I think it’s just a matter of degree. The Ellis act was a reaction to rent control. Prop G is a reaction to a small subset of the use of the Ellis act, so to me it’s only marginally related to rent control, especially given that there are so few ellis act evictions, and that it won’t actually affect rent control regardless of whether it passes or not. But I do get your point. Prop G wouldn’t even exist if not for rent control in the first place.



    “rent control doesn’t prevent anybody from adding housing to the city.”

    That statement is both false and misleading. You should really investigate the economic studies of rent control.

    It’s false because rent control absolutely discourages rental unit development. The vast majority of developers now build condos in SF instead of rental units. This is due to the fact that building rentals is risky. Even if they are not controlled now, who knows what will happen at the next election? It’s much safer to just build condos.

    It’s misleading because not building new units is not the only way to reduce supply. It is estimated that there are somewhere between 10 – 30 thousand vacant units in this city due to landlords that don’t want to deal with rent control. That is a direct reduction in supply due to rent control.



    “Rent control raises the market rate by restricting supply.”

    Nope, rent control doesn’t prevent anybody from adding housing to the city. Are you suggesting that without rent control there would suddenly be thousands of newly emptied apartments because the people who live there would be forced out? That’s thousands of lives thrown into chaos– not just a line item.

    Even if that happened, I doubt very much that rents would come down; there are many orders of magnitude more people who would still want to live here– even if it’s only until they run out of money. The demand overwhelms supply. So no, rent control does not raise market-rate rents. Those will always be exactly as much money as people are willing to pay.

    Furthermore, it’s silly to say that a person who rents an apartment is restricting the supply of apartments. An apartment that sits empty is more of a waste than an apartment that is rented.


    “It subsidized a small subset of people at the expense of a certain subset of property owners.”

    Rent control ain’t a subsidy. Not making as much profit as one wants is not the same as an expense– it’s just less profit.


    “It only benefits those who desire to stay in the same apartment permanently.”

    The whole point is to protect people who want to stay in their homes. If someone /wants/ to move they don’t need that protection.

    Rent control is necessary in a city that cannot possibly build enough housing for all of the people who want to live there. Being a landlord is not the same as selling t-shirts– people’s lives are at stake. If somebody finds tenant protections in San Francisco too onerous, they are free to sell the property to someone else. If they’ve owned the property for five years or longer (or fit any of the many criteria which exempt them from Prop G), Prop G wouldn’t affect them at all.

    A tenant living in their home, paying the rent that was agreed upon when the lease was signed (plus any increase allowed under current law) is NOT extorting the landlord. In fact, they are supporting the landlord by covering property taxes, building maintenance, etc. on a building which the landlord can sell for a large amount of money.



    “The entire premise of rent control is that if you here now, you are somehow more worthy than someone else who isn’t here yet, and maybe never will be here because all the rental homes are hoarded by the Abe’s of this world.”

    Hoarded?! Living in a small studio apartment in my hometown is hoarding? If anybody is hoarding housing it’s the people who own the ~40% of new housing units who don’t even live there.

    And that’s not the premise of rent control. Rent control is intended to protect people from being displaced for profit. There’s nothing wrong with staying in one’s home– and believe me, my landlord still makes a profit on my rent (even with rent control they have raised it $100/mo over the three years I’ve lived here).


    “without rent control, no owner would ever Ellis evict and then flip.”

    No, they wouldn’t have to– but the people who live in those apartments would be displaced all the same.