Streetscast: An Interview with District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier


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 Muni
    around.  And I think that before we
    look at trying to fix any problems we might have, especially if we’re looking
    at it, you know, as the entire city, and trying to figure out which routes work
    for us, which one’s don’t, where we might be able to improve it, we have to
    have 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 to
    learn a lot about transportation in San Francisco, where people pick up their
    rides, where they drop them off.  I
    mean, we’re already seeing that information, which is really interesting, it
    tells us a lot about how San Franciscans live, and it tells us a lot how they
    commute.  And then it also is
    giving us a really good idea during the day, where people go, and how they get
    there, and I think it’s going to be really interesting, and I think it will be
    very effective."
  • On Paratransit: "Ninety percent of our Paratransit is taken care of through
    our taxi service.  And I think
    that’s says a lot quite frankly, you know, we really rely on the private sector
    to get people with disabilities around San Francisco, and I think that’s just
    reprehensible quite frankly.  I
    think that we need to be taking a bigger role in providing those services to
    people, and providing them honestly with dignity and with respect.  It’s really hard, as a person who uses
    a wheelchair, it can be really difficult to catch a bus. I know
    they try, but systems break down, those ramps are not very fun to go on, those
    little lifts, they can be pretty scary, and you know, it would really behoove I
    think some people in the MTA, and frankly some members of the Board of
    Supervisors to get in a wheelchair for a couple of days and go try San
    Francisco’s public transportation system, because it just doesn’t work as well
    as I think people would expect."
  • On the Bike Plan: "I support the Bicycle Plan.  I’m a little concerned [about a] strip on
    Broadway Street. I’ve been told by the MTA that’s been taken off, and I’ve
    recently been told that it’s been put back on, which is this strip from, I
    believe its Webster going down to Franklin, or something.  And my main concern there is that we
    have five schools on Broadway Street, we pick off and drop of hundreds of school
    children twice a day, so there are some safety concerns with that. But
    aside 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 it
    right now, I’m always open to options, I’m always open to hear what people
    might say, or ideas that they may have, but right now for my community it would
    be particularly taxed just by getting around San Francisco in a car, and I’m
    not sure that it would do what we need it to do."

  • One hardly knows where to begin. She supports the Bicycle Plan, except for the part on Broadway. That’s great, but the Broadway portion of the bicycle plan is the only part of the plan that falls within her district. In other words, she does not support the Bicycle Plan at all. The Broadway plan is actually a road diet which would reduce a four-lane superspeedway with a ridiculous school run to one travel lane in each direction with a median and bike lanes on both sides. I live in this area and the change would be a massive improvement, since the oversized Broadway encourages speeding and sign-running when the school rush isn’t there to jam up the works. It would also make it possible for local students to safely walk or bike to school. Alioto-Pier favors out-of-town private school chauffeurs over actual District 2 residents.

    Furthermore, Alioto-Pier was the only supervisor, save for convicted felon Ed Jew, to endorse the “Parking for Neighborhoods” Proposition H in 2007. Prop H would have blown apart the city’s planning code, destroyed the transit-first policy, and in every conceivable way would have ruined our streetscape. Alioto-Pier cemented her position among the enemies of urbanism by publicly backing Prop H.

    Lastly, Alioto-Pier does not live in San Francisco. Her “other home” in St. Helena is her main residence. This should be the central focus of future interviews.

  • Just listened to it again since I couldn’t absorb that much BS in one pass. Why can’t Alioto-Pier even bring herself to say “Transit First Policy”? I appreciate that that interviewer is just letting Alioto-Pier hang herself here, but there were numerous opportunities to drill down on some of these stupid statements. I am sick and tired of those who say that families and the elderly need to driver everywhere. It’s insulting to those of us who have children and not cars, which is a lot of San Franciscans! And elderly people DO NOT DRIVE! It has been shown over and over and over again that the elderly rely disproportionately on transit, NOT cars.

    Her perspective here is entirely through the windshield. She’s not defending the interests of the handicapped, she’s defending the right of wealthy disabled people like herself to be driven everywhere. Impoverished handicapped, which is most of them, do not want to drive to Golden Gate Park.

    I have no flippin’ idea what she’s talking about with the mid-block curb cuts.

    “As a life-long San Franciscan” BAHAHAHAHAHA complete BS-plated 24-karat BS. She ran for Congress in Humboldt County, for crying out loud. She deserves to be called out for lies of that magnitude.

  • jon

    I second what Jeffery said about families. The most committed urbanists of all are the ones who have kids yet decide to stay in the city, despite all of the hardships of traffic, public schools and expense. Two of those three obstacles can be overcome by going car-free and many of us do it every day. I’m frankly tired of families with kids being used as an excuse for continuing the status quo. If Alioto-Pier really cared about families and the elderly she’d do something about dangerous, high speed traffic in this town, particularly on Broadway.

  • I’d like to second all the other detractors above. Alioto-Pier just recently declined to be on the Golden Gate Bridge District Board because she “didn’t feel like it,” even though it is attached to her supervisorial district. She claims to be Ms. Environmentalist but her hypocrisy in every one of her votes at the Board is there for all to see. I’ve never been quite able to decide if she’s evil or just stupid, but in any case she’s a serious disgrace to “native San Franciscans” of all stripes.

    By the way, why do rich people think their children can’t walk or take a bus to and from school, but have to be picked up by an army of idling SUVs?

  • Fortunately, Supervisor Alioto-Pier speaks for herself.

    She is a rumored mayoral candidate in 2011.

    Three words before you laugh: Mayor Frank Jordan.


  • I’m so grateful that SB made an effort to interview A-P, and C. Chu for that matter as well. It’s very important to get those policy makers who obstruct progress on liveable streets issues on record, As Jeffrey W Baker said, let them hang themselves in their own words:

    “I think that there are couple of issue… first, when we say ‘transportation first city’ I think personally that there are some things that need to be ironed out, and what that really means.”

    It may surprise Madame Supervisor to learn that “transit first” isn’t merely a buzzword, it’s a clearly defined section of our City Charter:

    Section 8A.115
    The following principles shall constitute the City and County’s transit-first policy and shall be incorporated into the General Plan of the City and County. All officers, boards, commissions, and departments shall implement these principles in conducting the City and County’s affairs:

    1. To ensure quality of life and economic health in San Francisco, the primary objective of the transportation system must be the safe and efficient movement of people and goods.

    2. Public transit, including taxis and vanpools, is an economically and environmentally sound alternative to transportation by individual automobiles. Within San Francisco, travel by public transit, by bicycle and on foot must be an attractive alternative to travel by private automobile.

    3. Decisions regarding the use of limited public street and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit, and shall strive to reduce traffic and improve public health and safety.

    4. Transit priority improvements, such as designated transit lanes and streets and improved signalization, shall be made to expedite the movement of public transit vehicles (including taxis and vanpools) and to improve pedestrian safety.

    5. Pedestrian areas shall be enhanced wherever possible to improve the safety and comfort of pedestrians and to encourage travel by foot.

    6. Bicycling shall be promoted by encouraging safe streets for riding, convenient access to transit, bicycle lanes, and secure bicycle parking.

    7. Parking policies for areas well served by public transit shall be designed to encourage travel by public transit and alternative transportation.

    8. New transportation investment should be allocated to meet the demand for public transit generated by new public and private commercial and residential developments.

    9. The ability of the City and County to reduce traffic congestion depends on the adequacy of regional public transportation. The City and County shall promote the use of regional mass transit and the continued development of an integrated, reliable, regional public transportation system.

    10. The City and County shall encourage innovative solutions to meet public transportation needs wherever possible and where the provision of such service will not adversely affect the service provided by the Municipal Railway. (Added November 1999)

    We know what “transit first” really means, that Ms. Alioto-Pier doesn’t is telling

  • @Josh, Just because a policy maker goes on record against your position does not mean that they hang themselves politically. In San Francisco, those who would be pro-choice Republicans anywhere else cohabitate with the Democrats.

    Shame and guilt for progressive values are very poor political levers with conservatives.

    Running viable candidates against them who represent our values affirmatively gets the goods.

    There are no penalties for ignoring policies expressed in charter even if the charter mandates adherence to them. If you were to exercise your rights as Rob Anderson did to compel compliance with the charter, the judge will essentially tell you to go win a mayor’s race and get back to him.


  • Wow.

  • I don’t know where Supervisor Alioto-Pier gets her figures on Paratransit use, but for those of us who take the bus on a regular basis (apparently unlike her) it certainly comes as a surprise to find out that most people who use wheelchairs take Paratransit. I recommend that Supervisor Alioto-Pier spend some time on our city’s buses — she will probably see many people who use wheelchairs waiting at bus stops for buses that have space for them, as these days, perhaps most of the buses that I ride have people using wheelchairs on them. Certainly our public buses are absolutely vital to people who use wheelchairs, as well as the population at large.

  • @ Marcos

    I didn’t mean that A-P was hanging herself by voicing her opinion, but that she reveals her ignorance of existing policy.


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