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Eyes on the Street: Guerrero Park Update

This bronze pony is a highlight of Guerrero Park. Photo: Streetsblog.

This bronze pony is a highlight of Guerrero Park. Photo: Streetsblog.

Back in 2009, Streetsblog informed readers about neighborhood efforts to calm traffic at San Jose Avenue at Guerrero and 28th Streets. There’s little that aligns more closely with the mission of Streetsblog than the creation of small inviting parks that can transform a dangerous traffic sewer into an enlivened public asset. And, thanks to the hard work of advocates, that’s exactly what’s happening–and with more permanent infrastructure in each phase of the project. From the “Pavement to Parks” website:

Vehicle speeding on Guerrero Street, and the area around the intersection with San Jose Avenue, prompted a series of improvements to the neighborhood to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. San Jose Avenue was closed at its intersection with Guerrero Street and is now a two-way “cue street,” providing local access to residents along the block.

The design of the resulting space was developed by Jane Martin of Shift Design Studio who provided services free of charge to the City. Raised planters, made of reclaimed logs from Golden Gate Park and featuring native and drought tolerant plants, are placed along the edge of the plaza facing Guerrero Street, creating a comfortable place for relaxation, contemplation, and more active uses.

It’s almost hard to imagine, but just a few years ago the intersection looked like this:

Just asphalt, paint, and speeding cars. Photo: Pavement to Parks.

Just asphalt, paint, and speeding cars. Photo: Pavement to Parks.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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New Transportation Funding Plan: A Hot Mess, With Some Active Transp $

Senator Jim Beall, new co-chair of the Transportation Infrastructure Conference Committee

Senator Jim Beall, co-chair of the Transportation Infrastructure Conference Committee, at a recent hearing

After several weeks of rumors, legislative leaders of the Special Session on Transportation and Infrastructure have released their proposal for a funding plan that shows how much compromise it can take to get an agreement.

The bill, S.B. X1-1, is co-authored by Senator Jim Beall (D-Campbell) and Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), the “two Jims” who head up their separate houses’ special session transportation committees. It contains the gas tax increases that Beall believes are necessary to continue funding transportation, and it applies some funding to the freight corridor improvements that Frazier has made his focus.

It also contains provisions that echo Republican demands for both more independence and more oversight of transportation departments, depending on the department.

Because it’s part of the Special Session, S.B. X1-1 is not subject to the normal legislative deadlines, so although the regular session officially ends on August 31, the bill can keep chugging along until the end of November. However, legislators’ attention will be on their re-election campaigns in the fall, and it’s not clear whether calling them back to a post-election session would be fruitful.

It’s also not clear what kind of support the proposal will find among the rest of the legislators. Because it requires a two-thirds majority to pass, it will need the votes of all the Democrats and at least some Republicans in both the Assembly and the Senate to move forward. Which may be why it’s a very large bill that covers a lot of ground.

Among its $7.4 billion in allocations, it includes an $80 million bump for the oversubscribed and underfunded Active Transportation Program (ATP). This is less than the $100 million proposed in an earlier version of the bill. But the bill also includes a separate allocation of “up to $70 million” for the ATP from “savings achieved through efficiencies implemented” at Caltrans.

What those “savings” and “efficiencies” are, how they are valued, and what would give Caltrans the incentive to make them and report them so they can be allocated to the ATP is unclear.

But if all that funding came through, it could effectively double the size of the ATP. Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Assembly Taxicab Bill AB 650 Is A Regulatory Race To the Bottom

Taxis xxx

Will A.B. 650 create a more level playing field for taxis? The city of L.A. doesn’t think so. Photo by Boris Dzhingarov via Wikimedia

It is no secret that taxis and ride-hail companies (Uber, Lyft) are in need of a more even playing field. California’s taxi industry is regulated tightly by local municipalities, generally cities. Ride-hail, also called TNCs (Transportation Network Companies), are regulated relatively laxly by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC). But proposed state legislation that would theoretically put the taxi industry on a more even footing is ruffling some feathers, especially in southern California, where the city of Los Angeles this week voted to formally oppose the legislation.

Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) is the author of A.B. 650, called the Taxicab Transportation Services Act. The bill is working its way through the legislative process, currently awaiting approval of the Senate Rules Committee, and expected to be voted on by the Senate soon. If approved by the Senate, the bill will then have to go to the Assembly where it would need to be approved before Wednesday.

A.B. 650 would remove local control of taxis, shifting responsibility to the PUC.

Theoretically the bill would apply to the entire taxi industry statewide, but there is a carve out so it does not apply to San Francisco. San Francisco’s taxis operate on a medallion system, which serves as a sort of retirement benefit, so upending that system could constitute a “taking.” City of L.A. taxis operate under a franchise system, which does not feature a similar retirement benefit for drivers.

One big issue in Los Angeles’ opposition to A.B. 650 is the city’s bottom line. The city currently charges a fee of $30 per month per taxicab, totaling $360 per year. Under A.B. 650, cities’ or counties’ taxi permit fees may not exceed $50 per year per taxicab. L.A. uses the current funding stream to enforce restrictions against taxi’s other competition: “bandit” or unlicensed cabs. Bandit cabs are not subject to consumer protections including approved fare structures and disabled access.

L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds is critical of A.B. 650 because the city would lose the ability of ensuring taxis serve Los Angeles’s transportation, labor, equity, and environmental goals. Reynolds stated,

Local control matters because of what’s coming next–our ability to regulate an increasingly autonomous fleet of rides for hire. For the present, we lose the ability to require lifeline services for people with disabilities, equitable service to every neighborhood in the city, and a green taxi fleet. For the future, we lose the ability to encourage ridesharing through pricing and to prohibit things like empty taxis circling the street. Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Portland Wants to Rethink Speed Limits By Factoring in Walkers and Bikers

Portland wants to change the speed limit on North Weilder Street from 35 to 25. Photo: Google Maps

Portland wants to change the speed limit on North Weidler Street from 35 to 25 mph. Photo: Google Maps

For cities trying to get a handle on traffic fatalities, dangerous motor vehicle speeds are an enormous problem. Once drivers exceed 20 mph, the chances that someone outside the vehicle will survive a collision plummet.

But even on city streets where many people walk and bike, streets with 35 or 40 mph traffic are common. Cities looking to reduce lethal vehicle speeds face a number of obstacles — including restrictions on how they can set speed limits.

State statutes usually limit how cities set speed limits. In Boston, for example, the City Councilhas voted numerous times to reduce the speed limit to 20 miles per hour, but state law won’t allow it.

Now Portland is taking on this problem. A pilot program expected to be approved by the Oregon Department of Transportation proposes a new way to evaluate what speeds are appropriate for urban areas.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Assembly Passes Bills to Extend Greenhouse Gas Targets to 2030

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella Valley), flanked by Governor Jerry Brown, addresses the press after two major climate change policy bills passed.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella Valley), flanked by Governor Jerry Brown, addresses the press after two major climate change policy bills passed.

Today, the California Assembly passed A.B. 197, the companion bill to the Senate’s greenhouse gas reduction target bill, S.B. 32, which it passed yesterday. A.B. 197 will now go the Governor Jerry Brown to sign into law, and he has said he is eager to do so. S.B. 32, which extends greenhouse gas reduction targets out until 2030, will go back to the Senate for a vote on Assembly amendments, perhaps as early as this afternoon before it too goes to the governor.

Proponents hail the passage of the bill as a historic moment, continuing and expanding California’s precedent-setting climate change efforts. Senator Fran Pavley’s S.B. 32 extends her original 2006 bill, A.B. 32, which called for California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The new bill sets new targets of 40 percent below those 1990 levels by 2030.

S.B. 32 leaves it up to the California Air Resources Board to adopt rules and regulations “in an open public process” to “achieve the maximum, technologically feasible, and cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”

The passage of S.B. 32, which did not look like a sure thing a year ago, was surely helped by being connected to its companion bill, A.B. 197 from Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). That bill gives the legislature oversight stronger oversight over the Air Resources Board, something that critics of A.B. 32 and its resulting rules about cap and trade have complained is needed.

Oversight is provided through the addition of two members of the legislature to the Board as well as by creating a Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies, to include at least three Senators and three Assemblymembers. The bill also requires the ARB to make its emissions data available to the public, and to report on each method and alternative methods it considers for reducing greenhouse gases.

Garcia, presenting his bill to the Assembly today, addressed charges that the two bills do not “go far enough.” But “doing nothing keeps us in the same position, with our hands tied behind our back, continuing to complain about ARB being out of control and losing our ability as a legislature to do anything about climate change,” he said. “I feel confident about the oversight this will bring.”

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA Shows Mockups of New Trains (SFGate)
  • Neighbors want More Parking for Mission District Development (MissionLocal)
  • “Intercept Poll” Shows Most People Approve of Mission Red Lanes (Curbed)
  • A Look at the Inner Mission (SFist)
  • Another Muni Operator Attacked (SFExam)
  • Possible Stabbing at Civic Center BART (EastBayTimes, KRON4)
  • More on Cab Collision on Market and Sutter (Hoodline)
  • Condos Planned for KRON site (Socketsite)
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bills Go to Governor’s Desk (KQED)
  • Sec Foxx Pushes Measure to Extend BART to Santa Clara (CBSLocal)
  • Orinda Senator will Vote Against BART Bond (SFChron)
  • Commentary: Marin Renters Need Protections (MarinIJ)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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Market Street Crash and the Sick Roulette that Comes With Bad Design

Robert Allevar, who works in the area, passed through this space shortly before a taxi crashed onto the sidewalk. Photo: Streetsblog.

Robert Allevar, who works in the area, passed through this space shortly before a taxi crashed onto the sidewalk. Photo: Streetsblog.

Motorists who drive through the intersections of Market, Sutter and Sansome Street don’t need to worry. Yesterday’s crash, involving a taxi cab that drove up onto the sidewalk and seriously injured two people, is already cleared up. Not much to see here, except for the remains of a street post and a kiosk that was too big to cart off yet. The SFPD is reporting, via an official statement, that the cab driver “…was having a medical issue when he hit the gas and drove up onto the sidewalk. The driver hit a public bathroom, a newsstand and then hit the [sidewalk] shoe shine stand where the two victims were working.”

The fear of safe streets advocates is that will be the end of it; there are three people in the hospital, but it will just be chalked up as another “accident” that couldn’t be prevented.

As the San Francisco Examiner reported it:

The crash occurred around 3:15 p.m. at Market and Sutter streets when the cab apparently drove up onto a crowded sidewalk, San Francisco police spokesperson Officer Grace Gatpandan said. The cab crashed into two people at the shoeshine stand. All three victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, according to hospital spokesman Brent Andrew. One of the patients, a 40-year-old man, is in critical condition, while the other two men, aged 59 and 66, are listed in fair condition, Andrew said.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Legislative Update: Climate Change, Cap and Trade, Fare Evasion

bikeatCapitollabel2GREENHOUSE GAS TARGETS

The Senate’s signature climate change bill, S.B. 32, cleared a hurdle this morning when it was approved by the Assembly on a vote of 42 to 29.  The bill sets targets for California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020, when the current Global Warming Solutions Act will expire.

S.B. 32 will go back to the Senate for another vote on amendments before it goes to Governor Jerry Brown to sign. Brown says he is looking forward to signing both S.B. 32 and its sister bill, A.B. 197, which is currently waiting for a vote in the Senate.

“Yesterday, big oil bought a full-page ad in the capital city’s newspaper of record to halt action on climate,” wrote Brown in a statement. “Today, the Assembly Speaker, most Democrats and one brave Republican passed S.B. 32, rejecting the brazen deception of the oil lobby and their Trump-inspired allies who deny science and fight every reasonable effort to curb global warming.”

Both S.B. 32 and A.B. 197 must be approved for either one to pass. While S.B. 32 sets targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, A.B. 197 creates more oversight and requirements for the Air Resources Board, the agency in charge of defining and regulating emission reduction methods. Attention is now shifting to the second bill as the legislative session winds down, and tense negotiations continue behind closed doors.

CAP AND TRADE

Also today, the Air Resources Board released the results of the most recent cap-and-trade auction. While the amount of money brought in was bad news for people who had hoped the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund would continue growing and supporting emission reduction programs, there were indications that the program is working as it should. More outside entities participated in the auction than have in the past, showing that there is some expectation that allowances will have resale value. Compliance with the cap on emissions remains high, as regulated entities continue to lower their emissions over time. Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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The Stress of Navigating Unwalkable Bus Stops With a Wheelchair

manchester.metrobus03

How is a person who uses a wheelchair supposed to access this bus stop? Photo: Urban Review STL

Pedestrian access to transit is important. A recent study by TransitCenter found that people who use transit most often tend to walk to the bus or train. But as our “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” contest highlighted, there are some very serious challenges on this front in American cities.

The problem of lousy walking access to transit is compounded for riders with disabilities. In a recent post, Steve Patterson at Network blog Urban Review STL offers a personal account of the obstacles he faces navigating the bus system in St. Louis using a power wheelchair:

Part of the implied contract when taking a bus to a destination is when you’re dropped off at your stop, you’ll be able to get to the corresponding stop in the opposite direction for the return trip. Seems simple enough, right? But in many parts of the St. Louis region being able to reach a bus stop in the opposite direction is impossible if you’re disabled. I don’t go looking for them, I run across them just going about my life.

Patterson recently took the bus down Manchester Avenue to a shopping center, only to find himself nearly stranded, trying to reach the stop shown in the above photo. Two and a half decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, these are the conditions for transit riders using wheelchairs in St. Louis:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Three Hurt When Cab Jumps Sidewalk (SFExam, SFBay, Hoodline)
  • Man Delays BART by Smashing Windows with Golf Club (SFGate)
  • More on BART Efforts to Fight Urine Smell in Elevators (BusinessInsider)
  • Muni Plans Cash Fare Increase (SFBay)
  • More on Muni’s New Trains (Curbed)
  • Still Waiting for the Bay Bridge Bike Path Eastern Span Completion (SFGate)
  • SF Negotiating with Car2Go in Bid to Reduce Parking Demand (SFExam)
  • AB32 Extension Passes Assembly (EastBayTimes, KQED, DailyJournal)
  • Is SF Asking Developers for Too Much Affordable Housing? (SFist)
  • American Cyclery Pushes Parklet At Frederick & Stanyan (Hoodline)
  • Fight to Save Tiburon Bus Route Continues (MarinIJ)
  • Bay Meadows Transit Oriented Housing Project Moves Forward (DailyJournal)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA