Putting transit first

We are finally facing up to the reality that our declining transportation system hurts us all


By Stuart Cohen, Leah Shahum, Rob Boden, and Elizabeth Stampe

OPINION Every day, San Franciscans pay the price of an underfunded transportation system. We have all experienced painfully overcrowded bus rides ... or, worse yet, the bus that never shows up. Now, Muni is reducing service during Christmas week, as it is faced with a $7 million deficit this fiscal year.

Today, we are finally facing up to the reality that our declining transportation system hurts us all. It hurts our economy and it hurts people all along the economic spectrum. San Francisco is a world-class city in many ways, but we have a long way to go to have a world-class transportation system.

San Franciscans want better transit options: reliable, fast, comfortable buses, and safe and pleasant streets for walking and biking. San Franciscans support the city's official transit-first policy, but lacking political will, the city hasn't delivered on it.

By failing to make the tough decisions to fund our transit system, our leaders have put the burden on those who depend on affordable transportation options most. Transportation is one of the top expenses for people living in the Bay Area, after housing, and an exponentially greater burden for those with lower incomes.

Who will be hurt most by Muni's skeletal service this holiday week? Working families.

That is why our organizations are proud to have joined together recently to support a proposal to update the Transit-Impact Development Fee (TIDF), which would have ensured that major developments pay their fair share into the city's transit system. This would have included large nonprofits like Kaiser and the Exploratorium, when they build major new developments that generate thousands of new trips. The fee, probably about 1 percent of costs, would have paralleled the existing development fees for water, sewer, parks, and even art, that nonprofits already pay. It would not have included small nonprofits, and of course most nonprofits never build developments at all.

It would have helped visitors to large institutions have more dependable transit to get there, and helped the whole transportation system work better for everyone.

But it didn't pass, and last week's opinion piece ("The Muni vs. housing clash," 12/18/12) mischaracterized the issue, suggesting a trade-off between basic services and transportation. But good, reliable, safe transportation is a basic service. Just like housing and health care, it's something everyone should have access to, and something our city has declared a priority with its transit-first policy.

Unsafe streets are inequitable streets; low-income people and people of color are more likely to be hit by cars while walking. Underfunded transit is inequitable; low-income people have fewer options aside from walking or taking the bus, and the stakes are higher when the bus is late or doesn't arrive.

Funding transit is a core progressive value. Great public transit — and being able to get around the city under your own power, by walking and bicycling — are great equalizers in a city like ours.

We should be investing more and expecting more from our transit system. Our organizations are proud to be doing just that. It's time to help San Francisco finally live up to its transit-first policy — because that means putting people first.

Stuart Cohen works with TransForm, Leah Shahum with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Rob Boden with the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, and Elizabeth Stampe with Walk San Francisco.


No question, public transit must be improved. But ignoring the issue of cars, creates a myopic perspective of what people in San Francisco want. The issue is mobility.

Zombie parking meters are the creation of the devil. As they begin to march from their downtown and business corridor breeding grounds into the neighborhoods, there will be tension.

One can't complete the equation without looking at the underlying issue, mobility, the general ability to get in and around San Francisco.

As one who relies primarily on an electric bike and public transportation, I gotta tell you I took my beat-up truck to Christmas dinner across town because of the wind and rain.

Until The City brings all players to the table, to sort out the competing issues, acrimony will reign.

If it is really all about the money, then why don't property owners who have a curb-cut driveway or building entrance pay an annual fee? After all, they are depriving motorists of a place to park and actually depriving The City of a potential metered space.

This is not a tax, but a license fee that is not regressive as is a parcel tax. $10 a linear foot per year seems fair. The fee directly relates to taking valuable public space out of commission. "Off street parking" doesn't reduce the number of cars in SF. You better believe the property owner is either taking advantage of this perk herself, or making big bucks renting garage space to others through one or more curb cuts.

Can someone estimate the total linear footage of curb cuts in San Francisco? I'll bet more than enough to cover the seven million shortfall without sticking in a single zombie parking meter. No wonder Cool Hand Luke lopped of those zombie heads with that pipe cutter.

Posted by SFreptile on Dec. 26, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

We should be paying for them, rather than punishing them.

There's a town near Boston that bans parking on the street. That's the future.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 26, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

I can't find any mention of it in a quick Google search. I am particularly interested because I lived in Boston for about eight years.

Many towns ban overnight parking, but all on street parking?

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 26, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

Thinking more, I think it was Brookline, MA.

Still refutes the original point i.e. that garages decrease the availability of parking - the truth is the exact opposite.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 26, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

Maybe if he'd used a pipe cutter he wouldn't have gotten caught.

Anyhow, in my neighborhood during the 90's, many houses were lifted and had garages dug out.

Many ground floor in-law units also were being converted to make garage spaces.

I remembering how it seemed like a remarkably effective housing policy -- except for the fact that it was generating housing for SUVs.

Not infrequently, two curb cuts would go in at neighboring addresses eliminating *three* street spaces.

I asked a contractor friend if property owners were being charged appropriately for their appropriation of public spaces and was told they pay through the nose for a permit. I got the impression it was more than two thousand dollars, but maybe its still not enough. A private parking spot is not like a spot on the street because people can't share the private space the same way and so it is likely to not have the same utility of a public spot some of the time.

I can think of one particular building that was remodeled some years ago with two separate garages, but where the developer/owner was evidently compelled to make the two garages feed together on an angle into on single curb cut, thus preserving two spots which would have otherwise been lost.

I agree that street parking is not such a bad thing that we should have people rabidly trying to stamp it out. Now *that* is what I would call "tragedy of the commons."

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 26, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

parked in space where the kerb cut was. Typically a 2-4 vehicle garage will require a kerb cut equal to just one street parking place. So there's typically a net gain of parking.

Plus, and this is important, anyone in that building or a neighbor may also "block" the driveway by arrangement with the garage users, so that street parking remains, albeit not open to everyone.

In both cases, several cars that would otherwise park on the street are now removed, creating MORE street parking, not less. IOW, creating extra car parking spaces creates extra car parking spaces - who'd have thunk it?

There are also possibilities to park in the driveway, again by arrangement.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 27, 2012 @ 7:10 am

"Typically a 2-4 vehicle garage will require a kerb cut equal to just one street parking place." -- that's impertinent; the garages I spoke of seeing being put in -- the garages anybody who was around then saw being put in -- were often one car garages or built to fit two cars but in which most people use the extra space for storage.

As for blocking driveways, that always takes up street space wider than the curb cut. The width of new curb cut plus the sometimes two 13 foot long spaces on either side that are lost means that two public spaces have been taken. Of course by blandly referring to "arrangements" you mean to implicitly validate that taking, but the point I'm making is that there *is* often less parking overall because it is privatized and therefore not guaranteed to be at 100% utilization when the need is greatest.

Your last point -- more crap -- about parking in a driveway parking in the driveway is wrong too. That is a ticketable offense. Regularly people call to complain if their sidewalk access is impinged -- quite rightly, often -- and the ticket is not cheap. The other problem that can arise from parking in driveways is that you may essentially crowd people out from using short but perfectly legal spaces adjacent to the driveway because they don't want to risk causing damage to the unprotected side of your car when they park.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 27, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

bigger garages than that.

Obviously it depends on the size of the building and lot. A small single-family house may have just a one-car garage. For a 2-4 unit building, expect garage space for 2-4 cars. And of course larger blocks of flats may hold many vehicles.

Yet in each case, the curb cut may be merely the width of one average car.

Re parking across the curb cut, it generally takes only one space as there is typically a reb curb for a couple of feet either side of the cut. In practice, it works well.

Parking in the driveway is a different issue. If it totally blocks the sidewalk then you may have a point. But in most cases the driveway is long enough to allow pedestrians to pass and I've routinely seen traffic cops ignore cars parked on sidewalks, particularly during street cleaning.

So, summarizing, I have a 6-gar garage, plus a space in the driveway, plus a space on the curb cut - 8 spaces total, and the curb cut takes just one space. no way that is a loss of parking.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 8:00 am

(And that particularly goes to big "A" anonymous who spells "kerb" britishly.)

That you've seen big parking garages is truly awesome to hear of.

As for the typical arrangement of driveways, I'd only agree that curb area of some sort abuts them; sometimes short areas only usable by motorcycles, sometimes fire hydrants, but often curb areas of sufficient -- or nearly sufficient -- length to park cars.

The way it works for parking in driveways -- and I explained the other problem with it above -- is that if someone calls to complain that their use of the sidewalk has been impeded, then everybody on the block who is parked in a driveway gets a ticket. That is the exact way the law against parking in a driveway is enforced, your ignorance notwithstanding. (And room for pedestrians means room for wheelchairs too, naturally.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 8:15 am

I've watched traffic cops go by, even look at a vehicle parked on the sidewalk, and then move on. They assess whether there is a genuine obstruction - they don't just ticket it on a technicality. And that of course is how enforcement is supposed to work i.e. by using judgment, discretion and moderation.

Anyway, the central point remains - a garage at least replaces the lost space on the street, and often more than replaces it. There is nothing to be gained by seeking to suppress the construction of garages. In fact, that would simply make the street more crowded with cars, and more difficult for residents without garages to park.

SF's parking problem is critical in many neighborhoods. But the planning precept that requires one off-street parking space for each new unit stops the situation from getting even worse.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 8:34 am

I've already refuted all the points you attempt to make. Continually repeated the same nonsense seems to put you firmly in the troll category. It can't possibly be soley due to your inability to understand what I wrote, could it?

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 8:47 am

build a 6-car garage in my building, and that takes away a parking space on the street, that I have somehow REDUCED the total amount of parking available on that street! That's only true if you ignore the fact that there are now 6 less cars looking for a parking space on the street.

You've made some fairly bizarre points in your time here, but rarely one that is so obviously and self-evidently false.

If you were correct, we could solve SF's parking problem overnight by telling everyone not to park in their garage.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 9:21 am

but one side has to take a dive nonetheless.

Everyone else was able to discern the fact that what was being discussed was not "six-car garages," but small garages being added to existing houses.

That fact can be discerned by reading the comments above, but it won't keep Anonymous from posting more gibberish.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

another one. Net effect - zero. And the driveway and the curb cut can hold two more cars by arrangement with the garage owner.

Most garages I see have more than one garage space.

So you are wrong on both counts, as expected given your point is that adding parking subtracts parking.

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

A public space will always be at 100% utilization when the need is greatest -- higher if you count drivers double parked waiting for a space to open up. Not so a private space.

And my point was that sometimes *two* public spaces were eliminated to add a single off-street spot. That's what I call the "Tragedy of the commons."

You are clearly either "Anonymous" posting under a different alias, or else you are just another clone troll here to spew nonsense.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

And if I use a private space, I reduce demand for the public spaces.

Basic logic, dude.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

two public spots which were available for use 100% of the time, then you increased scarcity of parking substantially.

But don't let that keep you from blathering on about six-car garages.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

on the street. If you were correct here, then us parking our six cars on the street and elaving the garage empty would add to the available parking!

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

Oh wait... nevermind. Just looked it up.

Well alright then. Welcome to San Francisco my good man! Now tell me... across the pond in your country, if a bloke were to park his lorry on the kerb, and run into caff for a quick brekkie of bubble and squeak... maybe have a fag and use the loo afterwards... would that be legal or would he have to mind the bobbies? (Say for the sake of argument that it's a dual carriageway with a pavement alongside)

And if I were to make such a cock-up, how serious of an offence would that be? Would they throw me in the panda car and haul me off to the nick and I'd need to hire a barrister?

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 8:52 am

self-styled "progressives".

Why not mock some starving colored people in Africa while you're at it?

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 9:23 am

More of the long tradition of hating on the English the way that certain San Francisco's auto drivers hate on cyclists.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 9:36 am

And if there's a people more hated than Americans, it's the French.

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:00 am

You'd be speaking English!

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:16 am

Now pass the freedom fries.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:25 am

Who's mocking? Seeing as the gentleman was clearly not a local, I was merely trying to communicate with him in the manner of speaking to which he is accustomed. I thought I was being welcoming of foreigners, not xenophobic.

At least I was speaking to him in his own language, not like that fake jive people were using when responding to Tiny (who, in her article, didn't use any of that kind of speech herself).

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:14 am

Maybe next time she'll try not to frame every issue by race, especially when a bunch of kids just got shot.

As for the Engishman, looks like he was scared off. Maybe you weren't being xenophobic, but it did come across as patronizing.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:20 am

That'll teach 'em to outsource the trolling to other countries! Next time hire local.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:34 am

Just because every issue should not be framed by race does not mean that race is not influential over most every issue.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:37 am

race-based advocates would like - they see everything in race terms regardless.

So when a white guy kills some white children, and it is some whites getting the sympathy, race-zealots like Tiny can't stand it, and just have to make even that a race issue.

Tiny caught a lot of crap about that article, and rightly so. She needs to know when to back off e.g. during school massacres.

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:46 am

So long as 20-odd white kids killed in CT stops the show and ten times more kids of color are killed by drones with nothing but excusifying, then race remains an issue. If it were not an issue, you would be silent on it. But clearly raising race as an issue exposes the vulnerability of your positivist boosterism.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 10:58 am

Those kids were American.

Foreign kids die all the time all over the world, but you cannot reasonably expect Americans to care as much about them. Do you think voters in Iran, Syria or Libya care as much about our kids as their own?

Hopeless analogy.

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 11:07 am

All persons are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 11:36 am

you express by quoting from the Declaration of Independence. Of course, Jefferson was referring only to white male property owners. I'd like to think that humans have moved beyond the restrictions of 1776 to actually include "all persons", but the viewpoints expressed by "guest" show that some people are stuck in the 18th Century.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 11:48 am

"They" don't feel pain like "we" do.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

The so-called founding fathers had decidedly mixed feelings about slavery. Mention of Jefferson's slave ownership, I believe, must be informed by the fact that he inherited both his slaves and great debt; he could not free his slaves and selling them would have been a far more questionable act for someone of his sensibilities.

Take the language from the Declaration at face value as portending the future demise of slavery in the U.S. -- as also the grossly genocidal passages concerning the "Indians" foretold future events.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

I did not use the words of the founding fathers to convince you, I used those words to prove that those who believe those words have their heads up their asses when they prioritize mourning over young white children while ignoring the plight of young children of color whom the serial mass murderer in the White House obliterates regularly.

They hate Obama except when he kills poor kids of color.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

as every illegal finds out while he is sitting in a federal jail awaiting deportation.

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

The preamble to the Constitution is not legally binding in any event, however it is supposed to articulate our shared values. Or not.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

whether citizen or otherwise.

*That's the first ten amendments to the Constitution as we know it here in my country.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

illegals don't get the right to a jury trial when they are caught.

And of course foreigners can't vote, which catches another three of the amendments to the constitution.

Anyway, the original point is obvious - people care more about their own kind than they do about foreigners. Except reverse racists like Tiny.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

and obtuse. Miss the point much!?

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

I guess it went over your head.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

These employers are investing in training programs to get workers
up to speed, but only time and technology will tell.
The flame-haired star, 48, was yesterday off work after being told they are school nursing jobs wi fired.

And my eyes were green.

Posted by Virgil on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

Declaration of Independence have to do with Marcos' point about the equivalent atrocity of the murder of any child? Capital and small case Guest and Anonymous (I've given up keeping track) keep missing the point and fumble their ways (?) to more mudane topics like the voting rights of immigrants.

By the way, everybody is entitled to due process in criminal proceedings regardless of citizenship. That process might me abbreviated in deportation hearings, but it still exists. Of course, the NDAA, FISA, Patriot Act, etc. are shredding those rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Where are your citizen militias to prevent the overstepping of the government?

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

dead American children than dead (say) Iranian children.

I'm not saying that's fair or right or anything. I'm just saying it is obviously true.

Tiny hates any sympathy being expressed about a white victim because she sees everything thru a racial prism. Race activists like here are the new racists.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 3:32 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

anonymous here, so we are all "Anonymous" and "Guest".

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 6:03 pm





Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

you were trying to act like a dick and you succeeded

Posted by guest on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

Coming from you I'll take it as a compliment.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

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