Motorists fight back

Ballot measure seeks to prioritize cars and undermine SF's "transit-first" policy

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Believing that they're somehow discriminated against on the streets of San Francisco, a new political coalition of motorists, conservatives, and neighborhood NIMBYs last week [Mon/7] turned in nearly twice the signatures they need to qualify the "Restore Transportation Balance in San Francisco" initiative for the November ballot.

It's a direct attack on the city's voter-approved "transit-first" policies, which prioritize alternatives to the car, and efforts to reduce automobile-related pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It would prevent expanded parking meter enforcement unless requested by a neighborhood petition, freeze parking and permit rates for five years, require representation of motorists on the SFMTA board and create a Motorists Citizens Advisory Committee within the agency, set aside SFMTA funds for more parking lot construction, and call for stronger enforcement of traffic laws against cyclists.

"I think it's been building for a long, long, long time, but the real catalyst was the Sunday and holiday parking meters," political consultant David Looman — the 74-year-old Bernal Heights resident who is one of three official proponents of the measure — said of the motorist anger that led to the campaign. "That's the straw that broke the camel's back."

Yet he also said the meetings that led to the measure began in March, after Mayor Ed Lee had already called for a repeal on charging for parking meters on Sundays. The SFMTA voted to repeal Sunday meters in April, a month before the measure was certified to begin gathering signatures — an effort paid for by tech titan Sean Parker (founder of Napster and a top investor in Facebook) and the city's Republican Party, which kicked in $49,000 and $10,000 respectively.

But Looman fears the repeal of Sunday meters could be temporary and that a small minority of road users are dictating transportation policy in a way that unfairly discriminates against motorists.

"The bike lobby is running transportation policy in San Francisco," Looman said, even though motorists "are the overwhelming majority and we make this society run." He said the city needs to do more to facilitate driving "so the economy can continue to function, so people can continue to shop."

But given that drivers already dominate the space on public roadways, often enjoying free parking on the public streets for their private automobiles, transportation activists say it's hard to see motorists as some kind of mistreated population.

"Anyone looking at how street space is allocated in our city or at the fact that a mere 1 percent of transportation funding is focused on biking improvements knows that we have a long way to go toward creating real balance on our streets," San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum told us. "City leaders are making up for decades of lost time by rightfully investing in safe, affordable and healthy transportation options."

"The idea that anyone who walks or cycles or takes public transit in San Francisco would agree that these are privileged modes of transportation is rather absurd," Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City and an elected member of the BART board, told the Guardian.

He said this coalition is "co-opting the notion of balance to defend their privilege. They're saying the city should continue to privilege drivers."

But with a growing population using a system of roadways that is essentially finite, even such neoliberal groups as SPUR and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce have long promoted the idea that continued over reliance on automobiles would create a dysfunctional transportation system.

"This balance measure would be a terrible step backward for San Francisco, and it misunderstands what makes cities work," SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf told the Guardian.

Comments

the irony.

Does Steve Jones has any self awareness genes or is it all about this minute?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2014 @ 5:57 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 12:36 am

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Posted by find the address for a phone number on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 9:58 am

This new pro-motorist political group's claim of "restoring transportation balance" is simple P.R. B.S. What they're trying to make politically palatable is their belief in their privilege to drive their cars on SF's streets without any responsibility to other people who use the streets. I notice Looman in the article lacked sympathy for, say, pedestrians and bicyclists killed on SF's streets by his fellow motorists.

In fact, the mentality behind the pro-motorist group's policies remind me of those Christian fundamentalists who use religious belief to justify denying birth control access to women and delivering services to "icky" LGBTs.

Posted by Peter on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:08 am

There is a pathology around true belief. It's not the status quo car drivers though who represent true belief.

True belief requires a certain Utopian ideal. Wanting to be left alone with the status quo, as opposed to wanting everyone to conform to certain created ideals.

Peter needs to read up on thinking pathology. The Paranoid Style of American Politics / True Believer, is a explanation of the fringes not the status quo. Peter's revolutionary entitlement is a need to tell others how to live, like a right wing Christian. Perfecting society isn't a trait of the "leave me alone" types, it is a trait of the "let me tell you how to live" types.

Peter is a "let me tell you how to live" type. Peter, likely a success at studies classes, while a failure at understanding that his entitlement to tell you how to live is the same pathology as a right wing Jesus freak.

It's an odd conflation, "I want to be left alone to drive my car" with "I want to tell you what sort of birth control you can have."

As opposed to for Peter "I want to modify your transit behavior with more laws around what I deem correct" or "I want to tell you what sort of birth control you can have." Peter self appointed represents society with his entitlement to tell you how to live, along with Jesus types. While drivers want to be left alone.

There are pathologies in belief systems, the far right is little different from the far left in the want to tell you how to live.

It's odd when someone conflates being left alone to wanting to enforce dogma, while trying to enforce dogma... Peter wants to force people to act a certain way, even though he hates people who want to force people to act a certain way.

Posted by comarade X on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:46 pm

You drivers want to be "left alone" to kill people, plain and simple. You kill over 100,000 year in the USA alone and over 1M worldwide. And you want to be "left alone" to continue doing that.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

How many would then die of starvation?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

Who said I wanted to ban all vehicles.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 10:44 pm

with banning abortion because a segment of the population wants it?

Posted by comarade X on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

Why is it that the loss of privilege makes the people losing privilege irrationally frame that loss of privilege as somehow being 'oppression' or 'reverse-discrimination' or other people getting 'special treatment'?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:54 am

The entitlement of white liberal bike riders being infringed on by the population in general bugs the white liberals.

Posted by gust on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 7:30 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

@Guest - Driving a car is very much a privilege. Free use of the public way is one of our oldest rights, dating back to the Magna Carta (via the California Civil Code in our case). Operation of a motor vehicle on the public way has such an impact on all other uses of the public way that it requires licensing and an entire body of law, including a parallel justice system. That law does in fact define it as a privilege.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

vehicles to travel along it so it makes no sense to regard such use as a privilege. And, moreover, everyone has the right to get a license and drive - it's not something that could reasonably be revoked, nor discriminated against.

The real privilege is for those road users like bikes who can also use those roads but undergo no training, testing, licensing, registration and insurance, and of course pay nothing for that "privilege".

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

Wow. Driving is a privilege, not a right, as anyone under 15 can tell you

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

He is entitled to use the public sphere to satisfy his own desires. He is entitled to run you over, pollute your air and take your taxes dollars. That is his right and it is the very definition of privilege.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

complains about an entitlement to tax dollars.

Posted by comarade X on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

I am not a Progressive, just ask Greg.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

Looman is completely missing the fact that many people do all of their shopping by bike, foot, or transit. Just because he can't be bothered to do so, doesn't mean others don't. Multiple studies have shown that cyclists spend more than drivers, as the example of Valencia shows. Do they really think that it would be the vibrant commercial corridor that it is if it were just another traffic sewer? Slow down traffic, give people options to get there and you only increase your customer base and the desirability of a place. It's sad to see such tired, inaccurate arguments getting used time and time again.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 10:04 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 10:44 am

Yes people are taking refrigerators home daily. I mean when was the last time you went and got a fridge? I think for me it was like 1999. So yeah I see your point. Never know when you'll need a flat bed truck either...

Posted by Guest-Patrick on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:20 am
Posted by John Murphy on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:22 am

How do you get one home?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:38 am

How often do you buy a refrigerator?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:23 am

And there are other appliances and large items that I buy.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:37 am

Why strawman, how do I get that refrigerator home on any vehicle I've ever owned in my life: VW Bug, Chevy Nova, Ford Taurus Wagon, Mercury Sable Wagon, Toyota Venza...

Must we really restrict our consideration of the use of public space only to Ford F150 pickups? How many trips a year do you really make with a pickup?

Posted by roymeo on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:25 am

You can totally move large items in those

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:39 am

Why strawman, how do I get that refrigerator home on any vehicle I've ever owned in my life: VW Bug, Chevy Nova, Ford Taurus Wagon, Mercury Sable Wagon, Toyota Venza...

Must we really restrict our consideration of the use of public space only to Ford F150 pickups?

How many trips a year do you really make with a refrigerator in your vehicle?

Posted by roymeo on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:28 am

Why strawman, how do I get that refrigerator home on any vehicle I've ever owned in my life: VW Bug, Chevy Nova, Ford Taurus Wagon, Mercury Sable Wagon, Toyota Venza...

Must we really restrict our consideration of the use of public space only to Ford F150 pickups?

How many trips a year do you really make with a refrigerator in your vehicle?

Posted by roymeo on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:30 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:40 am

I rent SUVs to go camping in the Sierra and desert, easy peasey.

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You can't have kids, obviously

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Posted by finding people through phone numbers on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 10:02 am

It so happens that I'm planning to do exactly that. Let me see what renting an SUV instead of using my own would cost. Looking up the Orbitz grid for the days that I want it.... ... OUCH! Answer: more than my car insurance for the entire year. Prohibitively expensive.

And that's just for one trip. What if I want to do several of these in a given year?

What if I work out of town?

What if I do all my shopping at Berkeley Bowl because the quality of produce at Rainbow sucks and it's more expensive than Whole Paycheck?

What if I like to bike on trails in Marin County and renting a car to haul my bike there is inconvenient and expensive?

What if I have friends in Mountain View and Caltrain is a major hike from their house and it only comes once an hour anyway?

You get the picture...

Posted by Greg on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

Moving all over the place super fast is unlikely to continue to be easy and cheap as gasoline supplies deplete and the atmosphere fills up with CO^2. Some people will have to adjust their lifestyles to do things closer to where they are.

I get it.

Do you?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 12:49 am

Moving all over the place super fast is unlikely to continue to be easy and cheap as gasoline supplies deplete and the atmosphere fills up with CO^2. Some people will have to adjust their lifestyles to do things closer to where they are.

I get it.

Do you?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 12:49 am

That's been routinely proven wrong for 40 years now, and scaremongering has been debunked.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 2:39 am

"There is a general consensus between industry leaders and analysts that world oil production will peak between 2010 and 2030, with a significant chance that the peak will occur before 2020. Dates after 2030 are considered implausible."

We can't build enough power plants to supply all the electric vehicles that would be needed to replace gasoline powered ones and even if we somehow did, the only thing we could burn in them would be coal, which would accelerate global warming even more.

We need to build the transportation network for the next 20 years now, not when our backs are against the wall.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 11:16 am

for over 40 years now, and will continue to. There will be cars in 100 years time. You need a better line.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 11:35 am

If you base your life on the premise that a limited resource is inexhaustible, don't be shocked when that premise fails. I notice you failed to address global warming.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 19, 2014 @ 4:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2014 @ 10:39 am

I think you mean fracking not tracking. But the IAEA doesn't agree with you.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jul. 24, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

I'll agree to rent a car-share truck to transport a refridgerator [sic] home once or twice in my entire life, if you agree to bike or take transit to pick up a bag or two of groceries every other day for your entire life.

It's all about the right tool for the job.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:38 am

won't work for me. Sorry.

But you are free to. That's the great thing about America - choice. Problem with choice?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 11:59 am

It seems to me like the people who have a problem with choice are those advocating for cars to be the dominant mode of transport in our cities. Why can't we also have bikes and public transit and walking be a part of the choices for getting around? Advocates of those methods are just asking that they be made a little easier and more convenient. But the pro-car crowd seems to be saying that doing so would somehow make it impossible to drive around. Why do they hate freedom?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

You are perfectly free to do that. But for many of us, that won't work.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

Too much NPR or something.

Feelings and self appointed greatness is the driving factor for some people. I'm single and get all my groceries and whatnot on a bike, would never expect others to do same. I loathe driving and when I do it for work it annoys me, but if it is your thing good for you.

The need for the goofy left and right to make judgments based on what works for them and mother Gia is so odd.

Posted by comarade X on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

gotten to the point where there is an understandable backlash and the green mob can't stand it

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

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