Streetscast: An Interview with District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier
10:46 AM PDT on March 31, 2009
District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier represents the Presidio, Cow Hollow, Marina, Pacific Heights and part of the Richmond District. She was originally appointed to her seat by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004, and comes from a well-known political family. Her grandfather, Joe Alioto, was mayor from 1968-1976 and her aunt, Angela Alioto, was President of the Board of Supervisors and a candidate for mayor.
In an extensive interview in her City Hall office, Alioto-Pier said the number one transportation issue in her district centers around commuter traffic.
"As a result of being the district that has the
honor of being connected to the Golden Gate Bridge, we get a lot of traffic
that comes in off of the Golden Gate Bridge," said Alioto-Pier. "It makes for a lot of
congestion and a lot of different issues."
While she supports the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), and wants more people to ride Muni, she doesn't necessarily feel the City should be encouraging people to get rid of their cars.
"When we look at San Francisco as a transit first city we want the carrot approach more than the stick. We want people to use public transportation and I personally believe that the way we do that is by making it more accessible, by making it run better, not by telling people not to use their cars."
Alioto-Pier gets around mostly by car. She was left unable to walk after a skiing accident at the age of 13 and became a disability rights advocate very early in her life. She said she does occasionally ride a recumbent bike, but mostly around her other home in St. Helena.
Some highlights from the interview:
- On the TEP: "If done right, it can certainly turn Muniaround. And I think that before welook at trying to fix any problems we might have, especially if we’re lookingat it, you know, as the entire city, and trying to figure out which routes workfor us, which one’s don’t, where we might be able to improve it, we have tohave some kind of an effectiveness study. And so in those ways the TEP, I think it’s going to be great. I’m very hopeful that we’re going tolearn a lot about transportation in San Francisco, where people pick up theirrides, where they drop them off. Imean, we’re already seeing that information, which is really interesting, ittells us a lot about how San Franciscans live, and it tells us a lot how theycommute. And then it also isgiving us a really good idea during the day, where people go, and how they getthere, and I think it’s going to be really interesting, and I think it will bevery effective."
- On Paratransit: "Ninety percent of our Paratransit is taken care of throughour taxi service. And I thinkthat’s says a lot quite frankly, you know, we really rely on the private sectorto get people with disabilities around San Francisco, and I think that’s justreprehensible quite frankly. Ithink that we need to be taking a bigger role in providing those services topeople, and providing them honestly with dignity and with respect. It’s really hard, as a person who usesa wheelchair, it can be really difficult to catch a bus. I knowthey try, but systems break down, those ramps are not very fun to go on, thoselittle lifts, they can be pretty scary, and you know, it would really behoove Ithink some people in the MTA, and frankly some members of the Board ofSupervisors to get in a wheelchair for a couple of days and go try SanFrancisco’s public transportation system, because it just doesn’t work as wellas I think people would expect."
- On the Bike Plan: "I support the Bicycle Plan. I’m a little concerned [about a] strip onBroadway Street. I’ve been told by the MTA that’s been taken off, and I’verecently been told that it’s been put back on, which is this strip from, Ibelieve its Webster going down to Franklin, or something. And my main concern there is that wehave five schools on Broadway Street, we pick off and drop of hundreds of schoolchildren twice a day, so there are some safety concerns with that. Butaside from that, I am definitely in support of it."
- On congestion pricing: "I am not a fan of congestion pricing. You know, the way we’re looking at itright now, I’m always open to options, I’m always open to hear what peoplemight say, or ideas that they may have, but right now for my community it wouldbe particularly taxed just by getting around San Francisco in a car, and I’mnot sure that it would do what we need it to do."