Watch BART Board Candidates Nick Josefowitz and James Fang Debate

The race is on for the BART Board of Directors seat representing District 8, which wraps around northern, western, and southern San Francisco. Twenty-four year incumbent James Fang faces a challenge in the November election from Nick Josefowitz, and the two debated for the first time at last week’s meeting of the Sunset Heights Association of Responsible People. The video of the debate above was provided by the Josefowitz campaign.

BART District 8 is shown in orange on the left. Image: BART
BART District 8 is shown in orange on the left. Image: BART

Josefowitz, a solar power tech entrepreneur and a London-raised newcomer to SF, could be a serious contender to defeat Fang, the BART Board’s longest-running member and the only elected Republican in SF.

Josefowitz’s attacks against Fang include the fact that he is a Republican, and his record on keeping BART escalators and elevators clean and running (or not). Josefowitz has also pointed to Fang’s role in the poorly managed labor negotiations last year that culminated with a strike. Fang defended his record: the BART extension to SFO, a doubling of BART’s ridership, and consistent budget surpluses since he joined the board in 1990.

Fang, a Sunset District native, is the president of the magazine Asian Week and former owner of the SF Examiner. He continues to push his vision for “BART to the beach,” an extension through the Richmond District under either Geary Boulevard or Fulton Street (see the 22:00 mark).

Josefowitz’s platform includes a push to develop BART station parking lots into housing (5:30 and 10:00). Fang insists that BART does have such plans at all stations except Orinda and Walnut Creek (7:20), but that many residents don’t want the development.

Check out the video to see Fang and Josefowitz discuss other topics, like crackdowns on people sitting in stations (8:30) and BART workers’ right to strike (12:00).

Fang has been endorsed by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents BART workers, whom Fang supported during last year’s strike. He also has been endorsed by Mayor Ed Lee, former Mayor Gavin Newsom, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Supervisor London Breed, BART Director John McPartland, and a roster of other veteran SF officials and community leaders. The SF Democratic County Central Committee voted “no endorsement” on the race (the DCCC can’t endorse Republicans), but Fang listed DCCC as an endorser.

Josefowitz’s endorsements include Supervisors Scott Wiener, Eric Mar, David Chiu, Katy Tang, and Mark Farrell, Livable City director and BART District 9 (eastern SF) representative Tom Radulovich, the SF Bicycle Coalition, former Mayor Art Agnos, the Sierra Club, and the SF Chronicle.

You can read more coverage of the race in the SF Bay Guardian, the SF Examiner, and BeyondChron. The election for BART District 8 seat will take place on November 4.

  • Gezellig

    Thanks for the writeup. I live in District 8, so this is helpful info.

    If regressive status-quo enablers such as Lee and Breed are for someone (and the SFBC is against) I think the decision for me at least is pretty clear on that one.

  • SFnative74

    BART under Geary makes a lot of sense. Imagine it connecting to the Transbay Center and the SOMA, getting people there in 10 or 15 minutes instead of 45 min. But how long has this idea of BART to the beach been discussed with no action?

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Is this the only real race? Seems like the other races are between the incumbents and random chumps.

  • gneiss
  • Really?

    Wait a minute…if we have representative for our area why isn’t there almost no section of BART going through it….

  • murphstahoe

    Every time Fang has a challenger. Then he supports extensions to Berryessa and Livermore instead

  • NoeValleyJim

    It was shut down by the voters in the 60s.

  • 94103er

    What’s with these districts? Great, good to know the Farallon Islands are covered. What about San Mateo & Santa Clara counties?!?

  • Justin

    That’s probably because in Santa Clara and most of San Mateo County there’s no BART service yet

  • Jeffrey Baker

    The districts are simply equal-population areas of the counties in BART.

  • Andy Chow

    But have to be drawn so that SF gets three representatives. Zakhary Mallett is the 3rd rep in SF. His district includes the City of Richmond, Emeryville, and West Oakland.

    San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are not in the BART district. Their transit agencies (SamTrans and VTA) essentially have an arrangement with BART to fund the construction (and VTA instead is building the BART line on its own) and purchase the service.

    To expand the district, there are issues such as equity that needs to be resolved. Some people in the current BART district would say that the new counties need to contribute more money because taxpayers in the current district has already paid for the core infrastructure for BART. SamTrans already paid a “buy-in” fee for the SFO line, and for VTA, they have an arrangement where it will have to pay a premium on top of the operating cost (which VTA seems to ignore) to upgrade the infrastructure on the older part of the system.

    If the BART district were to cover the other two counties, because of the high combined populations there, it would make the East Bay and SF under-represented. The new district would probably have a very different priorities which makes it poplitically very unlikely.

    The other issue is whether the tax be raised in the new counties just for BART or that there should be some reapportionment of the existing taxes. In the East Bay, because of the separation of roles between BART and bus agencies such as AC Transit, there are complicated arrangements of splitting the tax money. There are no such issues in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, because they each have a single agency funding everything, including Caltrain. Also, should be expanded district include Caltrain, which it does have a regional role? And as BART is getting itself running alternate technologies (which it should’ve been like what other metro areas have done), having it to operate Caltrain seems logical.

  • Justin

    Didn’t know that this debate was being held until I read this article I still probably couldn’t go because I was busy. Hope they have another one, though I doubt it, hopefully in a more spacious area that can attract more people

  • murphstahoe

    Fang talks about how he was instrumental in the SFO extension.

    11 years later, if you try to take Caltrain to BART to SFO, you have to switch from Caltrain to BART at Millbrae, take it to San Bruno, switch to another train, that will then take you to SFO – despite there being a direct track from Millbrae to SFO.

    That switch is because the ridership of the Millbrae to SFO track is not high enough to justify running the trains (which were operational when the extension opened). There is no reason to believe that this will change. That’s a pretty expensive ornament.

    The garages at the 4 stations on the extension have operated well under capacity since opening. Those garages now serve in large part as cheap airport parking – which BART honestly underprices at $6 per day compared to $13 at Anza (you have to buy a BART ticket while Anza takes you on a shuttle, but at Anza I tip the valets and drivers close to what a BART ticket would be). Basically it’s very convenient to drive to BART and very inconvenient to take Caltrain to BART. That’s backwards.

    Summary – this huge project was poorly planned and scoped. If James Fang wants to take credit for this project, then the blame lands on him.

  • SFrider2014

    Here’s my biggest concern — the current director said he’s happy with roughly 90% uptime of elevators and escalators at downtown BART stations. So, if you work there, and therefore use the stations at least 10 times per week, that means at least once per week average you cannot get to work properly. This is outrageous. The goal should be 99%+; also you need to count the amount of downtime. If it’s broken, it should be fixed immediately. I’ve seen them down for weeks at a time, as I work downtown.

  • mateo

    The purpose of the SFO BART station is to connect SFO to San Francisco. It is very convenient to take BART from the city of San Francisco (or Oakland, Berkeley, Daily City, etc) to SFO. The purpose of the Malbrae BART station is to connect Malbrae and the Milbrae Caltrain station to San Francisco. It is very convenient to go from downtown SF to Silicon Valley transferring at Milbrae. BART was not designed to get people from the Caltrain to SFO. They built the Milbrae and SFO lines to connect to San Bruno, not to connect to each other.

  • murphstahoe

    It is very convenient to go from downtown SF to Silicon Valley transferring at Milbrae.

    Unfortunately it’s more convenient to just stay on Caltrain

  • murphstahoe

    They built the Milbrae and SFO lines to connect to San Bruno, not to connect to each other.

    Then why is there an unused track between Millbrae and SFO?

  • mateo

    Almost all of the track from Milbrae to SFO is the same track used to connect Milbrae to San Bruno or the track used to connect SFO to San Bruno.
    Even the tiny bit of track that isn’t used in those routes is still used every evening after 8PM and all day Saturday and Sunday when they run trains directly from SFO to Milbrae.

    In regard to your other comment, staying on Caltrain is only convenient if you happen to be going somewhere near the 2nd and King Station or the 22nd Street Station. There are 4 BART stations that are much closer to downtown SF than the Caltrain stations, and there are 40 other BART stations located throughout SF and the East Bay that aren’t near Caltrain stations, so it makes sense to transfer at Milbrae to get there.

  • kdeff

    Caltrain has 2 stops in SF, one in the middle of nowhere and the other 6 blocks from downtown. Whereas BART stops at 4 locations on Market and in 2 dense commuter neighborhoods.

    Silicon Valley needs to understand that SF doesn’t cater to it; if anything Silicon Valley caters to SF. Thats how it has always been, and if tech companies continue to migrate north to the City there will never be a need to change.

    Public transit will always cater to dense urban core over the suburbs.

  • kdeff

    The challenger has no idea about housing politics in SF. He sounds like he hasn’t even researched the issue. He really doesnt sound like he has any idea about what has been going on in SF in the last decade.

    Bart to the beach…Fully support the idea, but when will there be some progress on it…

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