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  1.  

    RichLL

    Maybe so but it makes sense to focus on the things we can change rather than the things we cannot change. It’s not possible to do anything about the price of commercial rents or property values – they are simply the result of supply and demand, with the added factor of the city making things worse with their zoning polices and development restrictions and costs.

    But the revenue shortfall that you identified as resulting from the Stockton Street closure can and should be reversed when the Central Subway construction is complete. The extra vehicular traffic and the people using the new Subway should restore the fortunes of the long-suffering local merchants. We owe them at least some freedom and relief from even more government meddling.

  2.  

    RichLL

    That may be true but it does not follow that they do not benefit from cars and vehicles. They may have relatives or friends who pick them up, or they may use cabs, shuttles or Uber.

    Anyway, rather than make assumptions and guesses about what they prefer, why doesn’t SFMTA poll the people who live there and find out for certain?

  3.  

    RichLL

    What are you talking about, roymeo? This is the original quote:

    “So if the local residents really want a pedestrian mall, I would have thought that Grant Street would be a better choice. Do we know what the local residents actually want?”

    I don’t think I could have been much clearer.

  4.  

    Fultonian

    Rose Pak seems to think that the closure of Stockton Street was responsible for the decline in Chinatown businesses. “We have 54 empty store fronts,” she said in Matier’s recent interview about Lower Stockton ( http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/08/08/rose-pak-threatens-city-hall-blockade-over-stockton-street-proposal/ ). However, another recent story links the troubles of Chinatown small businesses to rising rents, not a decline in sales. ( http://www.ktvu.com/news/185083706-story ) A look at SF sales tax receipts show revenue from Chinatown businesses has held steady since 2011, while Union Square sales tax receipts are down over $1M a year since 2011. (Central Subway construction started in late 2011). Seems to me that Chinatown is projecting their valid concerns about struggling businesses on the Lower Stockton closure, when in fact it has much more to do with the pressure from the latest economic boom. I don’t blame Chinatown for their reaction to a genuine and serious problem, but their fear and anger is misdirected onto an easy target – the street closure – rather than the more insidious and difficult to tackle problem of rising citywide rents amid a booming real estate market. Let’s not let the shortsightedness of a few people jeopardize what could be a great new asset to the City.

  5.  

    Karen Lynn Allen

    Eighty-one percent of households in Chinatown do not have a vehicle. Four-fifths of Chinatown residents would benefit immensely from pedestrian/transit only streets throughout all of Chinatown and Union Square. It is only the wealthy merchants of Chinatown–who don’t live there but drive in from other neighborhoods or the suburbs–who would be inconvenienced.

    This is a public health issue. It’s proven being sedentary is second only to smoking for the harm it does the human body. Just as we no longer prioritize smokers over those who would like to breathe clean air, we should no longer prioritize drivers over those who wish to walk to maintain basic health. Cities all over Europe have pedestrianized miles of shopping streets and districts. Pedestrianized streets have improved business to the point merchants clamor to be located on them. In the densest part of our city, driver convenience should be absolutely last priority. It would be nice if San Francisco could lead on this issue rather than be dragged to the party late, kicking and screaming, because of a handful of wealthy car drivers who want to keep their street privileges intact.

  6.  

    Mark

    re: Caltrain electrification

    Nearly a billion dollars and Caltrain still won’t reach downtown SF in the next 20 years.

    Nearly a hundred billion later and HSR still misses the mark. After all is said and done traveling from SF to Sacto will remain the same by train…MUNI to the Embarcadero, bus to Emeryville and Amtrak to Sacto. I-80 is a mess now and will only worsen with no viable rail option to lure people out of their cars and off the roads.

  7.  

    Mark

    Yeah, that’s such a delightful block of Powell to traverse with panhandlers and other street trash.

    Ped malls are just so 1980.

  8.  

    roymeo

    I thought you said “I said residents rather than merchants.”?

  9.  

    thielges

    Could the cause of the sinking be due to the integrity of the landfill? There’s a lot of unstable material down there including scuttled wooden sailing ships.

  10.  

    Rogue Cyclist

    With high ridership on the 30/45/8 lines, this would definitely benefit residents who rely on Muni.

  11.  

    murphstahoe

    Chinatown has the lowest car ownership levels in SF, and it’s not close

  12.  

    RichLL

    I said residents rather than merchants. I can see why the Union Square merchants aren’t so concerned about vehicular access because, deliveries aside, I imagine that most visitors do not drive to the door of, say, Macy’s. Either they park at the Stockton/Sutter or 4th/5th/Mission parking garages or they don’t arrive by car at all.

    Of course, Union Square doesn’t have a lot of residents anyway, but ChinaTown does and would be the most affected, so I understand Ms. Pak’s concerns. And evidently ChinaTown merchants oppose this closure as well as the residents.

    So if there were a voter initiative in this immediate area, this proposal would fail.

    But the over-riding factor is surely the Stockton Tunnel, which is why I think either Powell or Grant are better choices and, indeed, Powell is already partly car-free.

  13.  

    gneiss

    Well, yes – the Union Square Business Improvement District has been pushing this, which is a local group of merchants in the Union Square area. For someone who is always pushing for local control of street improvements, and that “locals know better” particularly merchants, I am surprised that you are opposed to this. Currently, this group is headed by Karin Flood, a 5th generation SF native whose family still partially owns the Flood building.http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2012/08/17/karin-flood-heads-union-square.html

  14.  

    gneiss

    Sounds like you don’t get downtown much. That stretch of Stockton has been closed for several years now for construction of the central subway with marginal effects on car traffic.

    On only needs to walk on Powell between Market and Ellis to see how the pedestrian space with transit would work. How is that block any different than what is currently being proposed?

  15.  

    RichLL

    The obvious problem is that the Stockton Street tunnel which is a major north-south vehicular route in an area where the alternatives are hilly and slow.

    So if the local residents really want a pedestrian mall, I would have thought that Grant Street would be a better choice. Do we know what the local residents actually want?

  16.  

    Alicia

    Oh, really. Destroy a neighborhood in what way, exactly?

  17.  

    Fultonian

    Rose Pak seems to think that the closure of Stockton Street was responsible for the decline in Chinatown businesses. “We have 54 empty store fronts,” she said in a recent interview about Lower Stockton ( http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/08/08/rose-pak-threatens-city-hall-blockade-over-stockton-street-proposal/ ). However, another recent story links the troubles of Chinatown small businesses to rising rents, not a decline in sales. ( http://www.ktvu.com/news/185083706-story ) A look at SF sales tax receipts show revenue from Chinatown businesses has held steady since 2011, while Union Square sales tax receipts are down over $1M a year since 2011. (Central Subway construction started in late 2011). Seems to me that Chinatown is projecting their valid concerns about struggling businesses on the Lower Stockton closure, when in fact it has much more to do with the pressure from the latest economic boom. I don’t blame Chinatown for their reaction to a genuine and serious problem, but their fear and anger is misdirected onto an easy target – the street closure – rather than the more insidious and difficult to tackle problem of rising citywide rents amid a booming real estate market. Let’s not let the shortsightedness of a few people jeopardize what could be a great new asset to the City.

  18.  

    MrEricSir

    Forget Stockton Street, the entire Union Square area needs this makeover. The sidewalks are dangerously narrow as is.

    Same for Chinatown.

  19.  

    JustJake

    Hilarious. In any case, a permanent change is so much different than a ” day in the park” outlier experience.

  20.  

    Henry

    Now would be a great time to get off that computer screen and repetitive complaint high-horse, and join one of the many groups dedicated to agitating the mayor to get improvements on the ground. If this is important to you, you will find time for it.

  21.  

    dat

  22.  

    JustJake

    This proposed ped mall would “save” a street… and destroy a neighborhood. SFMTA… smh.

  23.  

    p_chazz

    The first rule in tort law is “sue everybody” especially those with deep pockets.

  24.  

    M-SF

    Chinatown also came out against tearing down the Embarcadero Freeway back in the day.

  25.  

    DragonflyBeach

    She’s from NYC?
    Oh so she knows what its like to have actual subway service in a city, rather than just one corridor. Alright, if she’s not pushing for more suburban expansion, I good with it. I trust Tom.

  26.  

    gneiss

    I don’t know where you get the idea that I suggested that the rebuild of 480 was up to Chinatown leaders – Here’s what I wrote, “After all, if it had only been up to Chinatown leaders, we would have a rebuilt Embarcadero Freeway instead of the great civic space that exists there now.

    Nor am I suggesting that people shouldn’t have input. However, when we design sidewalks and curb cuts for ADA compliance we don’t ask people if it’s okay to do that. We just design them that way by default. Why aren’t we being doing the same for designs that are proven to be safe? Why does every pedestrian space and bike lane have to be fought over? We know they are safer than what is there currently, so why doesn’t it just get built?

    If I’m biased, it’s in favor of safety over danger. Roads designed to encourage slower motorist speeds and roadways that prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists over motorists are safer for everyone.

  27.  

    SF Guest

    “if it had only been up to Chinatown leaders, we would have a rebuilt Embarcadero Freeway”

    Not surprised by your bias, but would your outlook of Chinatown leaders be any different if they agreed with your view? And factually you are incorrect that the decision was up to Chinatown leaders. The majority voters which represent the entire City of SF voted to approve repairing 480.

    Your reference to Chinatown leaders is no different from suggesting Masonic or Taraval residents should have no input to street designs and is what it is — politically incorrect.

  28.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    Interesting and worrying how the Chronicle is running with the sinking tower story. Considering that the Chronicle and the tower’s developers are both part of the same political machine, it comes across to me like they are trying to whip the public into blaming the Transbay JPA so that these condo owners can rob it. They even lead with a big photo of the beleaguered billionaires looking forlornly out the window at the Transbay site.

    Problem is the tower had already sank a foot before anyone turned over a shoveful of dirt at that site, so the hypothesis is bullshit. That won’t keep these developers from trying to get paid out of the public’s money though.

  29.  

    Justin

    Does the mayor’s plan include constructing PROTECTED bike lanes in addition to all of the other safety improvements for people who walk and bike for transportation, and getting that done in a timely manner??? Because if not, it’s just more broken promises and more of the same BS coming out of this guy. This mayor has been such a failure on this issue, and I don’t see him improving anytime soon. I’ll believe it when I see it!

  30.  

    neutrino78x

    Why don’t we simply upgrade the existing railroad that goes through there, then? Let me guess…it’s like we said a lot in the Navy: that would make too much sense. lol.

    Really the HSR should be an elevated monorail built down the median of I-5. It’s mostly flat and already owned by the state. We could go down the median of 101 briefly to connect it to San Jose and Oakland before going back to I-5, or simply build connections along the existing highways that connect I-5 to those two cities.

    Again, that would make too much sense.

    I’m a moderate liberal, but I voted no on the HSR.

  31.  

    RichLL

    Nominations close on August 12, so they’d better be quick.

  32.  

    Tom Downs

    At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how much it will cost for someone to travel by High Speed train instead of airplane or car. Unless there is serious government subsidy for operations, why would anyone pay double the price of a plane ticket to arrive much later? There has to be thinking about after construction realities before just dumping money into this. Build the sections that can be made financially sound first. Real high speed lines between SF and San Jose even to Gilroy. Where populations are already concentrated you can argue their will be greater ridership.

    And when people start comparing California to Europe or Japan, don’t forget the population densities are very different. Even in small towns like Dijon, France many people do not own cars because the city is walkable. So a trip to Paris is a train ride. California developed with the car in mind. Unless we are going to redevelop cities into concentrated cores, it is unlikely that rail will ever make much business sense.

    I know I refuse to take Amtrak from SD to LA because the cost is astronomical compared to a car ride. And then there is the terrible station locations and lack of light rail connections to places I need to go once I am there. So why train it to LA only to rent a car?

    Rail has to grow locally so that connecting to a high speed line makes sense.

  33.  

    RichLL

    I agree that these candidates should indicate where they stand on labour issues and contracts, But I don’t agree that the mandate is to avoid a strike. And indeed if, as you suggest, the intent to capitulate was put out there, then the unions would be much more aggressive.

    The top priority is to get the best possible deal for the taxpayers, voters and riders. If that means standing up to the unions even if it means a strike, then so be it.

    I think management might have prevailed last time but for a tragic accident. This time management needs to stand firm, and Feldstein is not the person for that battle.

  34.  

    thielges

    Yes, circumventing the gates. I see this happen all the time at the grade level pedestrian crossings of Caltrain stations. Passengers understandably do not want to miss their train and go around the gates before they reset to the up position. But an express could be approaching from the other direction.

    One minor positive to this morning’s tragedy is that Caltrain staff got the train moving again fairly quickly. It was stalled on the bridge over 280 only for about 40 minutes. Usually a fatality results in a minimum two hour delay. The proximity to the downtown SJ station could have been a factor that allowed staff to get on the scene quicker than normal. Caltrain staff were very professional and kept passengers informed.

  35.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    RIP.

    Killed by a train at a gated grade crossing. Not hard to imagine what happened.

  36.  

    thielges

    The author claims to have originated the “Share the Road” signage program, one of the most ambiguous messages ever launched as any bicyclist taking the lane who’s been harassed, honked at, buzzed, and then heard “Share the road &^$%*(#!” shouted from the car can attest.

    Why not just a simple, direct, “Bicycles allowed full use of lane” instead?

  37.  

    murphstahoe

    Word – saw that.

  38.  

    murphstahoe

    If we are lucky, someone with some transit bonafides, preferably not a government flak, will enter the race.

  39.  

    Prinzrob

    Re the MarinIJ article, I was on board for the first part until the author devolves into the standard vehicular cyclist “cycletracks and paths are inherently unsafe” diatribe. looks like we’ve got a long way to go on all sides of these issues.

  40.  

    p_chazz

    A three fer!

  41.  

    p_chazz

    Definitely not voting for Feldstein. Guess I’ll suck it up and vote for Bevan Dufty, although he is decidedly underwhelming, but Petrelis is a joke.

  42.  

    murphstahoe

    “There is the continuing belief that without prioritizing access for cars and trucks, commerce would grind to a halt”

    That’s part of it, but in my travels I’ve found it’s more about the person who is complaining worrying about their own personal parking. If every single customer was arriving on bike or on foot, but they drive to their business themselves, they will prioritize their own parking spot over their customers safety.

  43.  

    murphstahoe

    Once someone dies at every intersection in SF, and the city responds to each one in turn, we’ll have safer roads.

    Alternatively we could simply approach the problems before they result in a collision.

  44.  

    thielges

    Caltrain strikes and kills bicyclist in San Jose, just south of main train station: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_30210701/san-jose-person-hit-by-caltrain

  45.  

    Rascal_Face

    I’m ready to be optimistic that these actions will result in real changes for our city. Let’s all keep the political pressure up to follow through on these promises and knock down the inevitable resistance to change.

  46.  

    gneiss

    These statements from the Mayor certainly are encouraging. However, the biggest hurdle the city faces when it comes to implementing designs that slow down traffic and create welcoming infrastructure for people walking and biking are not design or process related, but political. The opposition by Rose Pak http://www.sfexaminer.com/rose-paks-opposition-slam-brakes-car-free-stockton-street-project/ to creating a pedestrianized space on Stockton Street, or the opposition from leaders in the Mission Community over bus lanes are symptomatic of a significant disdain that many in the SF merchant community have for any infrastructure that does not support private motorized vehicles. After all, if it had only been up to Chinatown, we would have a rebuilt Embarcadero Freeway instead of the great civic space that exists there now. There is the continuing belief that without good access for cars and trucks, commerce would grind to a halt, despite all the studies and data which show otherwise.

    The mayor must successfully outline not just “Vison Zero”, but a vision of how streets that are better designed for people walking and biking won’t harm businesses. Otherwise, we will continue to have watered down designs that prioritize parking and motorist convenience and a broken process where it takes 18 years to implement three blocks of protected bike lanes.

  47.  

    RichLL

    Lisa Feldman quote (03/28/2009):

    “Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not a transportation planner. At the points where transportation planning shares borders with engineering, I tend to zone out and start doodling in the margins”

    At least we now know what Lisa will be doing in board meetings when the subject turns to anything technical, complex, detailed, financial or operational.

    She will doodle.

    When the going gets tough, the tough doodle.

    Lisa Feldman quote (08/12/2004):

    When outgoing D5 supervisor Matt Gonzalez endorsed Ross Mirkarimi instead of fellow Green Feldstein, she quickly played a race card by calling them “good ole boys”.

    At the same time she claimed the Board needed a “strong black woman” and dismissed the three female supervisors at the time (Sophie Maxwell (black), Fiona Ma (Asian) and Michela Aliota-Pier(white)) as “weak”

    She finished as the third highest Green Party candidate in the election.

    Final Feldman faux pas. She tried to get Planning Commissioner Michael Antonini fired from the SF Planning Commission by claiming he was a “racist”. Her reason? He opposed the Mission moratorium – a plan that the voters later rejected by a large margin because they understood that it didn’t help lower income non-white residents.

    Feldman left the Commission many years ago and that remains the highest public office she has ever held. Antonini still serves as a senior, experienced member of the Commission.

    Irony, thy name is Lisa.

  48.  

    RichLL

    I agree that Dufty isn’t the most dynamic change-maker in local politics. But the first order of business is surely to do no harm. And Dufty will do less harm than Feldstein who clearly sees this role as more of a platform for her social engineering agenda than an issue of transport competence.

    It’s really a game of “would you rather” given that Petrelis is the perennial joke candidate and nobody else is running.

  49.  

    mx

    Michael Petrelis did get 4 entire votes in his D11 write-in campaign, coming in behind “invalid write-in votes.” Is it possible that he could do even worse when his name is actually on the ballot?

  50.  

    als

    How about put a cop writting traffic tickets in the bad spots – tomorrow, not 3 or 6 or 9 months. Traffic (of all kinds) gets real calm when red and blue lights are flashing.