Posts Tagged ‘Municipal Transportation Agency’

Dennis Herrera Throws Down: Files Legal Action to End Unlawful SFMTA MUNI “Sick-Out,” Compels Union to Arbitrate

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

The news of the day, this third day of our MUNI crisis:

“Herrera files legal action to end unlawful “sick-out” and compel union to arbitrate wage and benefits dispute

Charges filed before Public Employees Relations Board allege union is flouting contract and City Charter provisions that could bring an end to three-day-old work stoppage

SAN FRANCISCO (June 4, 2014)— On the third day of an unlawful employee “sick-out,” in which transit workers are calling in sick en masse after contract negotiations with the Municipal Transportation Agency reached an impasse, City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed unfair labor practice charges with California’s public labor relations body against Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, seeking to compel the union to end the sick-out and abide by the City Charter by allowing a neutral arbitration board to resolve its contract dispute with the MTA. The charges, filed at the Public Employees Relations Board, the state agency that administers collective bargaining statutes covering public employees, state that in the wake of the union’s rejection of the MTA’s contract offer, the Charter of San Francisco requires the union and the City to submit to the decision of a neutral three-member arbitration board. The complaint further alleges that the sick-out is illegal under both state law and the existing contract with the workers.

“This is an unfortunate attempt by the union to get around a law and contract provisions they don’t like,” Herrera said Tuesday. “The Charter is clear that an impasse such as this one is resolved with neutral arbitration. Let’s do what the law says, begin the arbitration process, and get San Francisco moving again as soon as humanly possible.”

The PERB can take as much as a year or more to issue rulings on allegations of unfair labor practices, but San Francisco officials are hopeful that the filing of the complaint can spur the union into doing the right thing. “Our transit operators have very difficult jobs and deserve fair and competitive wages in return,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “At the same time, we have an obligation to provide transit service for 700,000 riders a day and we are asking the union to follow provisions in the Charter and get everyone back to work.”

The existing contract between the union and the MTA forbids strikes and work stoppages such as the sick-out. The MTA announced Monday that it would not pay transit workers for sick time taken during the sick-out unless workers could document that they in fact met the criteria to claim sick leave.

Appendix A, section A8.409-4(a) of the San Francisco City Charter states that “disputes… which remain unresolved after good faith bargaining between the City and County of San Francisco, on behalf of its departments, boards and commissions, and a recognized employee organization representing classifications of employees covered under this part shall be submitted to a three-member Mediation/Arbitration Board (“the Board”) upon the declaration of an impasse either by the authorized representative of the City and County of San Francisco or by the authorized representative of the recognized employee organization involved in the dispute.”

How Would You Like to Make $14k per Month by Telling Lies on Behalf of MUNI? The SFMTA Needs a New Flack!

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

This job announcement is new, this job announcement is you.

(Yalies Need Not Apply)

Memorize these lyrics before your interview:

Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,And with blessings surrender thee o’erBy these festival rites, from the age that is past,To the age that is waiting before.O relic and type of our ancestors’ worthThat hast long kept their memory warm,First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.

All the deets:

9182 Manager VIII, Municipal Transportation Agency

Recruitment #PEX-9182-059028

Specialty: Director, Public Affairs and Communications
Department: Municipal Transportation Agency
Analyst: Clare Leung
Date Opened: 6/18/2012 1:00:00 PM
Filing Deadline: Continuous
Salary: $131,326.00 – $167,596.00/year
Job Type: Permanent Exempt
Employment Type: Full-Time
Go Back Apply View Benefits
INTRODUCTION

The following information describes the civil service classification for which applications are being solicited.
Make sure you read the entire announcement before completing the application form.

The purpose of this announcement is to fill 1 vacant position in this classification.

Under policy direction of the Director of Transportation, develops and implements strategic communications tactics for the agency that convey the SFMTA’s policy and program initiatives to the public and increases awareness of SFMTA’s services, projects and programs and its commitment to customer service; directs and manages all public affairs functions and activities of the SFMTA including internal and external communications, community relations/outreach, media relations, social media, website content and publications; and serves as SFMTA’s communications expert on various communications programs, trends, best practices, policies and emerging technologies.

Essential Functions:

Plans, organizes, and directs multi-media advertising/marketing campaigns, special events, public outreach programs, social media programs and initiatives;
Directs special research and evaluations of programs/projects to enhance the dissemination of information through viable conduits;
Develops and implements plans and strategies for current, short and long-range public information, public relations, and promotional/marketing programs and campaigns;
Identifies and creates outreach campaigns and initiatives to enhance SFMTA’s social community engagement and interaction;
Monitors and performs regular analysis of campaign performance results to make effective recommendations to optimize marketing strategies and goals;
Determines the needs and requirements for the website, including website content display and layout; directs and coordinates with internal information technology staff to implement and maintain the system;
Assesses and responds to community and stakeholder needs; identifies opportunities for improvement; directs and implements changes/solutions that solve business problems and develop business strategies;
Directs, develops and implements the unit’s work plan goals, priorities, objectives, policies, procedures, budget and work standards;
Directs and assigns projects and areas of responsibility; reviews and evaluates work methods and procedures;
Selects, trains, motivates and evaluates assigned personnel; coordinates staff development; works with employees to address performance issues, and implements discipline and/or termination procedures;
Cultivates and maintains an effective working relationship with all internal and external stakeholders including policymakers, community-based groups, governmental agencies and the media;
Represents SFMTA before elected officials and the public;
And performs related duties as required.
Minimum Qualifications:

Possession of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university;
At least ten (10) years of professional experience which must have included four (4) years of management experience in outreach, communications or public relations program; and
Possession of a valid driver license.
How To Apply:

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employment applications for this classification will be accepted through an on-line process only. A resume and cover letter describing how you meet the qualifications must be attached to the online application.

Applying Online:
* Visit http://www.jobaps.com/sf to begin the application process
* Choose “9182 Manager VIII, MTA (PEX-9182-059028)” from the list of job opportunities
* Click “Apply” located under the position salary information and acknowledge the information
* Click on “I am a New User” if you have not previously registered, or on “I have Registered Previously”
* Follow instructions given on the screen

To submit resume using the online application:
Select the “Resume” tab in the online application
Follow instructions given on screen
To submit cover letter using the online application:
Select the “Other” tab in the online application
Choose “Upload” as your method of submittal
Click on “Upload Attachment”
Follow instructions given on screen
If you are having trouble attaching your resume/cover letter to the online application, you may submit by fax to (415) 581-5120.

Upon successful submittal of the application online, the applicant will receive a notification on the screen, as well as in the applicant’s e-mail inbox, acknowledging the receipt of the application by the SFMTA – Merit Section. If you are having difficulty submitting your application online, please contact us at 415-701-5062 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Computers are available for the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) to file online applications in the lobby of the Department of Human Resources, 1 South Van Ness Avenue, 4th Floor, San Francisco and in the lobby of SFMTA Human Resources office, 1 South Van Ness Avenue, 6th Floor, San Francisco.

Applicants may be contacted by email about this announcement and, therefore, it is their responsibility to ensure that their registered email address is accurate and kept up-to-date. Also, applicants must ensure that email from CCSF is not blocked on their computer by a spam filter. To prevent blocking, applicants should set up their email to accept CCSF mail from the following addresses (@sfgov.org; and @sfmta.com).

Applicants will receive a confirmation email that their online application has been received in response to every announcement for which they file. Applicants should retain this confirmation email for their records. Failure to receive this email means that the online application was not submitted or received.

All work experience, education, training and other information substantiating how you meet the minimum qualifications must be included on your application by the filing deadline. Information submitted after the filing deadline will not be considered in determining whether you meet the minimum qualifications.

Verification:

Applicants may be required to submit verification of experience and education at a later date. Verification of experience, when requested, must be on the employer’s letterhead and must show the name of the applicant, job title(s), duties, dates of service, and must be signed by the employer. A copy of diploma or transcript must be submitted to verify qualifying education.

Selection Procedures:

Applications will be screened for relevant qualifying experience. Additional screening mechanisms may be implemented in order to determine candidates’ qualifications. Only those applicants who most closely meet the needs of the Agency will be invited to participate in the selection process.

Qualified applicants with disabilities requiring reasonable accommodation in the selection process must contact the SFMTA by phone at 415.701.5062 or 415.701.5043 (TTY); or in writing to: SFMTA Human Resources, Merit Section, 1 South Van Ness, 6th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103. For further information, please contact 415.701.5062.

OMG, MUNI Sucks Even More Than You Know: Central Subway – Hush-Hush Revenue Bond Vote Coming May 1

Monday, April 30th, 2012

If San Francisco could magically get the “Subway to Nowhere” Central Subway installed today for free it would still be a bad deal for San Francisco, mostly owing the very small amount benefits it would provide to a very small number of people and the very large hole it would put into MUNI”s annual budget.

But unless the Feds help out San Francisco by cancelling funding, politically connected players such as AECOM are all set to make a mint off of this project. Oh well.

Anyway, San Francisco officials are still trying to reassure the Feds about how great this horrible project is going, so, as of tomorrow, we’ll be on the hook for another $100,000,000, or so, to make up for the fact that California doesn’t want to chip in the money.

Check it out, from SaveMuni.com:

“On May 1, 2012, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Board will be asked to approve Central Subway revenue bonds, of undetermined amount, to plug a large hole that has developed in the Central Subway budget. This is a very risky course of action.

A shortfall of between $61.3 million and $140 million has now appeared in the project budget. In order to make up for this substantial loss of previously anticipated State of California funding, the MTA staff is asking its Board and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to approve a revenue bond sale of undetermined amount. On the agenda of the May 1, 2012 MTA Board meeting, the bond authorization is scheduled as Item 10.4 which is unaccountably included under the Board’s consent calendar rather than its regular calendar. In the Agenda packet, the staff attributes the need for the revenue bond sale to “uncertainty regarding HSR in California.” This statement is false and misleading, for the reasons set forth below.”

Here are the deets:

“SaveMuni.com
April 30, 2012

MTA’s Stealth Maneuver to Commit Additional City Funds to the Central Subway

On May 1, 2012, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Board will be asked to approve Central Subway revenue bonds, of undetermined amount, to plug a large hole that has developed in the Central Subway budget. This is a very risky course of action.

MTA Board Agenda, Tuesday, May 1, 2012: See Item 10.4.

Particulars

The cost of the MTA’s Central Subway project has ballooned from $647 million to the current estimate of $1.58 billion.i The original plan was for $983 million of this total to come from the federal government, $471 from the State of California and $124 million from San Francisco’s Prop K sales tax fund.

In attempting to sell the subway to the public, MTA has repeatedly called the public’s attention to its “success” in leveraging a mere $124 million City & County contribution into a $1.58 billion subway.ii However, a shortfall of between $61.3 million and $140 million has now appeared in the project budget.

In order to make up for this substantial loss of previously anticipated State of California funding, the MTA staff is asking its Board and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to approve a revenue bond sale of undetermined amount. On the agenda of the May 1, 2012 MTA Board meeting, the bond authorization is scheduled as Item 10.4 which is unaccountably included under the Board’s consent calendar rather than its regular calendar. In the Agenda packet, the staff attributes the need for the revenue bond sale to “uncertainty regarding HSR in California”. This statement is false and misleading, for the reasons set forth below.

The MTA is caught between a skittish Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) appropriately worried about the MTA’s financial ability to handle the Central Subway project and a huge shortfall in the non-federal share of the project budget. The MTA apparently believes the solution to this problem is to skim millions of dollars a year from already overburdened Muni revenues, in order to sell revenue bonds as necessary to make up for the loss in State capital—all in hopes that the action will reassure the feds and therefore put the hoped-for federal grant back on track.

The best that could be said of the MTA’s plan is that it is extremely risky. By far, the most important element of that risk is that the costs of servicing the revenue bonds, coupled with an indeterminate amount of project overrun (estimated by CGR Management Consultants to be as high as $422 million), could result in unacceptably high Muni fare increases and/or unacceptably damaging Muni service cuts.”

Ever more deets after the jump

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A Plea From San Franciscans to Congressional Republicans: Please Save Us From the Corrupt, Useless Central Subway

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I’ll tell you, I don’t exactly know how San Francisco managed to get (basically) free water and (basically) free electricity through flooding half of the good part of the Yosemite National Park area, but somehow, through bribery, corruption or whatnot, we got a sweetheart deal to take advantage of Hetch Hetchy in perpetuity.

Of course the right thing to do would be to start sharing the benefits of Hetch Hetchy with the rest of California, or at least pay market price for what we’re getting, or just tear down the damn dam altogether. Something like that.

But the single-party state of San Francisco doesn’t want to do anything like that. The single-party state of San Francisco wants to hold on to the Hetch Hetchy deal for as long as possible. Maybe some Republicans can help us find the right path…

Speaking of which, the federally-funded Central Subway [cough, BIG DIG II, cough – and you know, Boston’s Big Dig is different because it had a chance to actually benefit people] project is useless and horribly corrupt. It will burden San Francisco for decades, whether it gets used or not.

Why don’t we stop this thing [cough, BRIDGE TO NOWHERE, cough] right now? And Feds, why not just call it even? So we won’t pay you back the $200,000,000 but you all will end up saving big bucks.

It’ll be up to you, Congressional Republicans, to save us from wasting money on the Central Subway [cough, ROAD TO NOWHERE, cough – hey, I bet you didn’t know about that one!]

The Central Subway to Chinatown is the replacement for our long-dead Embarcadero Freeway to Chinatown. And somehow, calling the Central Subway the Subway to Nowhere is considered racist and hurtful, but calling the Embarcadero Freeway the Freeway to Nowhere, well, that’s good times. See?

Click to expand

Off we go:

“YOUR TURN!  RE-SCRUTINIZE THE CENTRAL SUBWAY BOONDOGGLE.

Everyone should re-scrutinize the Central Subway—in light of growing Muni deficits and cutbacks.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) hasn’t granted final approvals.  And Congress has a mandated 60-day review period.  Instead, let’s shift hundreds of millions of dollars into citywide Muni.

PETITION:  http://tinyurl.com/No-to-CentralSubway 

The Central Subway means more Muni service cuts and fare/ fee increases. 

The Central Subway Project has drained over $500 million of state and local funding from the citywide Muni system.  Facing a $19.6 million deficit in 2012 and $33.6 million in 2013, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) threatens more service cuts and fare/ fee increases—after cuts/ increases in 2009 and 2010.  SFMTA projects $1.6 billion in budget deficits and $25.4 billion of capital needs over the next twenty years.  While Muni infrastructure crumbles, Muni’s $1.9 billion in deferred maintenance is a ticking nuclear bomb.

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/transportation/2012/01/sfmta-identifies-24-billion-long-term-project-needs

Muni wouldn’t have budget deficits—if scarce dollars were used wisely.

The Central Subway Project has usurped over $500 million of state/ local funds from system-wide Muni needs—exacerbating system meltdowns and rider discontentment.  Service cuts, fare increases, parking/ meter rate hikes, painful traffic citations and frustrated Muni riders have subsidized the Central Subway Project.  No degree of service cuts and fare/fee increases will offset Muni’s mismanagement of assets and existing funds.

PROP K 2003 has higher, legally-mandated citywide Muni priorities.

http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/11/27/

Instead of the tiny 1.7 mile Central Subway, hundreds of miles of Transit Preferential Streets can be created with the Central Subway’s existing state/ local funds—benefiting all Muni riders, taxpayers and neighborhoods.

With its uniqueness, character, Mediterranean-scale, geographic beauty and topographic splendor, San Francisco’s northeast quadrant is a natural pedestrian realm.  The distance from Downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf is 1-½ miles.  Columbus Avenue is 1 mile long.  Washington Square is 1 mile from the Powell BART/Metro Station.  Chinatown is ½ mile from Market Street.  As seen in cities throughout the world, these are distances opportune for a pulsating street life.

From an urban planning perspective, robust pedestrian and surface transit assures wider economic vitality—with very efficient costs and more immediate jobs.

The Central Subway’s own reports depict an abysmal project.

http://tinyurl.com/CS-Charts  .

CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) cites pervasive Muni safety Issues. 

In the 3-6-12 SFMTA Board Agenda:  “Conference with Legal Counsel:  Existing Litigation—Investigation into the Operations, Practices and Conduct of the SFMTA Regarding Ongoing Public Safety Issues, California Public Utilities Commission, I. 11-02-017, Issued on 2/24/2011.”

CPUC PRESS RELEASE:

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/News_release/131263.htm :

“The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today began penalty considerations based on CPUC staff allegations of pervasive safety concerns regarding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA or Muni) light rail system. This action was taken after CPUC safety inspectors found numerous safety violations on Muni’s light rail system in San Francisco. In their report to the CPUC, the inspectors have alleged that SFMTA has been chronically unresponsive to alleged violations and other findings.”

PUBLIC SENTIMENT:

http://www.gjel.com/blog/san-francisco-muni-faulted-by-california-puc-for-safety-violations.html :

“If you’re a regular Muni rider, you know that delays are common on weekday commutes to and from work. You might not know, however, that San Francisco’s transportation agency has routinely fallen short on safety inspections for the past year and a half, according to a report released this week by the California Public Utilities Commission.”

DON’T LET LOBBYISTS OVERRIDE YOUR INTERESTS.

If the Central Subway were truly a sound transportation project, than politicians, public officials and lobbyists wouldn’t be needed to twist the arms of the public and decision-makers.  Instead, a multi-million dollar media campaign has pitched the Central Subway like snake oil and subprime derivatives, using Muni funds to lobby Muni’s own customers, governing bodies and officials.

CITIREPORT:  “Lobbyists Turn Millions into Billions”:

http://www.citireport.com/2012/02/lobbyists-turn-millions-into-billions/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Money+and+Politics+The+Year+That+Ended&utm_content=Money+and+Politics+The+Year+That+Ended+CID_99d18a4d35f8a81996ebeb6e950a1883&utm_source=Email+Newsletters&utm_term=Influence+Peddlers+Make+Millions+at+City+Hall

“Money Follows Controversy

The top ten clients who promised payments for lobbying surfaces some of the most controversial issues at City Hall.

California Pacific Medical Center promised the most in payments for lobbying, at $750,985. Aecom, which is leading the Central Subway and other projects, ranked second at $360,000. Third was Millennium Partners, also at $360,000.”

 NEW YORK TIMES:  “Out Of Office, but Not Out of Things to Say”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/us/willie-brown-remains-a-san-francisco-power-broker.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1330078166-8/XmgibML60WcphWNXyz4g

“His [former Mayor Willie Brown] law firm represents prominent clients, among them Aecom, an engineering firm involved in San Francisco’s central subway project, and the California Online Poker Association.”

EPOCH TIMES:  “San Francisco Mayoral Debate gives Glimpse of Chinatown Politics”:

http://epoch-archive.com/a1/en/us/sfo/2011/10-Oct/06/A3_20111006_NoCA-US.pdf

“CCDC [Chinatown Community Development Center} also gets a juicy subcontract related to the Central Subway project, including $30,000 a month to spend on ‘community outreach’.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL:  “The Billion-Dollar-A-Mile Subway Makes Perfect Sense”:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904583204576542691025904076.html?

NOTE:  Even while the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is evaluating the Central Subway project, the FTA Administrator defended the project in the Wall Street Journal—responding to an Editorial that blasted the Subway Boondoggle. The conflict of interest is worsened by transit data that shows the Central Subway decreasing transit service levels and travel times for tens of thousands of riders.

Instead of Muni service cutbacks, fare/ fee increases and crumbling infrastructure, imagine how the Central Subway’s hundreds of millions of dollars in existing state/ local funds could revitalize the citywide Muni System.  Political leaders do pay heed to well-reasoned arguments of their constituents.

Join with SaveMuni.com in lobbying Washington and Sacramento.

www.SaveMuni.com

And if the blue sky mining company won’t come to our rescue
And if the sugar refining company won’t save us
Who’s gonna save us?

Audi Avenue: Powell Street Promenade is a Big Fat Joke – A Series of Eight Parklets to Market Audi’s Cars

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

[During all of this Powell Street Promenade stuff, please remember:

“…the benches draw their inspiration from the aluminum chassis of the all-new A7, the Audi ASF® frame.”

There will be a test later.]

[Chronicle Urban Design Critic John King just weighed in. Uh, John, the original plan was supposed to relieve “pedestrian congestion,” as this recent design concept from Audi shows, but the current design won’t do that. And “parklet” is a pejorative in this case. And those “abstract oars” you see are “inspired by” a 2012 Audi. Thusly:

The hockey stick behind the rear wheel – see it? That’s where your oars came from.]

Get up to speed on the new Audi Avenue / Powell Street Promenade Project right here.

Let me tell you, the Powell Street Promenade in Union Square will look nothing like this:

Click to expand.

Instead, it will look like this, with aluminum grating and paddles and twisted things. See?

Are these tables? I think they’re tables:

We were promised no advertising, but you make the call:

“…like much of the promenade, the benches draw their inspiration from the aluminum chassis of the all-new A7, the Audi ASF® frame. While the twisting and sculpting of the metal is intended to reflect the dynamic styling of the luxury sedan…”

Is this why Audi owners make such bad drivers, generally, the boldness? (I’d call it hubris, frankly.) Anyway, let’s let Audi make the case:

“We believe that a boldly designed car, like the new Audi A7, deserves a boldly designed world. So today we’re breaking ground on an urban design initiative to re-imagine Powell Street in San Francisco.”

I’ll tell you, the last thing Audi drivers need is anything to do with boldness.

Oh, and Foursquare too: Audi Powell Street Promenade

This is the primary surface. Number one will pass right through, number two not so much:

Now, the original idea was to have a widened sidewalk but that would have caused issues with area hotels (like them suing the City and County for starters). So we’re going to get cutouts on both sides of both blocks. Thusly:

Here’s parklet eight of eight, near the Cable Car turnaround:

Now let’s thank Gaia that the aluminum hasn’t been arranged in interlocking rings to further advertise Audi and its million-dollar Audi Avenue. But there will be Audi’s name onsite and that’s too much, IMO. Oh well.

And I can’t think of any other carmaker that’s as closely associated with aluminum as Audi, so there’s that.

Was this marketing deal put out to bid, like maybe some other car companies might want to market their vehicles using the streets of San Francisco as well, right? Anyway, I don’t know.

Feel free to share your thoughts with SFGov – oh, whoops, comments be closed, just like the way they have it at BeyondChron, which is also financed with your taxpayer dollars.

All right, which particular Audi did the Powell Street Promenade draw its inspiration from? All together now, the A7! Get one today – starting price is merely $60K.

Hurray!

Lively SocketSite has some deets along with reaction from the commonweal.

SF Streetsblog

Progress on Powell 

[Earworm of the day: We’re going rock down to-oo/ Audi Avenue.]

[UPDATE: And a commenter from FineInternets.com frets over the metal theft issue. I wonder how much this aluminum would be worth melted down. See comments.]

Introducing Audi Avenue! (Nee Powell Street) Or, Should We Call It Powell Street, by Audi USA?

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Will Reisman has the deets about how Audi USA is spending seven figures to buy Powell Street, or something.

So now, Audi, adding to its reputation of selling its wares to the most extreme jackass drivers on the planet*, will also be known for having its own street in the 415.

Wouldn’t it be cool if they took down all the Powell street signs and replaced them with just the four rings of Audi’s logo? There’d be no text at all but everybody, tourists and citizens alike, would know exactly how to say the name of the street. Hurray!

It’ll look a little like this unfinished model – seems as if they forgot to add in the bodies of dead German tourists shot down on the street, but anyway:

Click to expand

Now of course “Audi of America”** is claiming credit for the entire idea, but actually, we had this thing going 1.5 years ago.

Check it:

It wasn’t a success.

Anyway, here’s Audi’s spiel. Apparently, this whole thing was their thang all along, even before they knew about it, somehow:

“The Audi Design Project: Progress on Powell Street was launched with the purpose of improving the pedestrian experience on Powell Street in a way that transforms it into a vibrant destination and alleviates the congestion. So, working with the city of San Francisco, we’re doing something that might normally be considered unfathomable for an automaker — removing cars from the road. That’s right, we’re eliminating the parking lanes on both sides of the street and, in their place, creating a new public space that sits on top of the pavement.”

Read along after the jump to see how extra wide sidewalks on two blocks of Union Square Are Going To Change Everything.

*Yes, even worse than BMW drivers. The problem is that Audi drivers think that they’re extra special, that’s the problem…

**Is that your new name, Audi? Guess you have bad memories of the old one, Audi USA? Remember that whole unintended acceleration (sudden acceleration) thing back in the 1980′s and 1990′s? On behalf of America’s idiot drivers, I’d like to apologize for that whole deal. You were right, we were putting our feet on the wrong pedals. Our bad :(

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Uh, Sorry City Officials, That Thing You Did on Powell Last Year Was Not a “Success.” But, Thanks Audi!

Monday, December 20th, 2010

[Sarcasm Mode = OFF. You know, Audis are kind of expensive for what they are, right?]

Remember that thing The Powers That Be did to Powell in Union Square last year?

It was all like this:

IMG_6403

Click to expand

Well, turns out that “city officials” consider that fail whale a smash success:

“City officials admitted that pilot, which was conducted on a rainy weekend using only barricades, was not really a good example of re-purposing the street but it turned out to be a success nonetheless.”

Uh, no it wasn’t.

Strike One.

And is this new deal with Audi an really an example of Pavement to Parks reclaiming:

“…unused public right of ways* and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public plazas and parks?

Uh, no it’s not. Pray tell, which part of Powell Street is an “unused” public right of way? And isn’t PtoP 100% run by the govmint? What, if anything does San Francisco government do “quickly and inexpensively?” Absolutely nothing, that’s what.

Strike Two.

And to top it off, Audi* USA gets to use this project for their advertising / marketing?

Strike Three.

Doing this to Powell is not necessarily a win-win, right? Srlsy, even if Audi ends up footing for a small part of the bill. What you’re involved with is scarcity and choice in resource allocation. What you’re involved with is something that might not work out. That would be something to acknowledge before printing up those signs telling people how appreciative they should be to you.

And Audi.

And will this improve business for the what’s-good-for-General-Motors-is-good-for-America Union Square Business Improvement District? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Only Time Will Tell.

See a report from last year below, and a fresh news release after the jump.

*Or rights of way, just saying, bro.

**Audi drivers, you have good reflexes and loads of “active safety” at your disposal, and yet, as a general rule, collectively, you’re worser-than-average drivers in the 415. Discuss.***

***It’s cause you all are in too much of a hurry, that’s why. You, Audi Driver, are not the Lord of Driving. Try to remember that.

“I don’t know, are the sidewalks of Powell so shopper-clogged that pedestrains appreciated the option of walking in the street for part of two blocks this past weekend?

Not that I could tell. The trouble with the execution of this New Idea is that peds needed to enter and exit the pedestrian “passing lane” twice each block. Oh well. At least this program provided room for the cops to cite drunken Santas loitering about the Gold Dust during SantaCon ’09 on Saturday, so I guess that’s something.

Here’s the concept, from a time when all men wore suits and hats and women wore dresses and skirts every day, and everybody was white, of course. Check out the babe magnet loiterers “walking” or pitching woo or whatever in the road.

Powell Street Is For Lovers and cable cars and police fencing, in this fantasy world:

powell

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The reality:

IMG_6398

See the potted palms? Did it improve your “pedestrian experience” or whatnot? If so, thank Walgreens.

And don’t forget to call up 311 to tell them how grateful you are:

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Anyway, we can tell that at least some peds made use of the extra space by clicking here.

And check out this premature, self-congratulatory video.

Here are the deets. The term “world class” is only used once, non-ironically. (Feel free to substitute “northbound and southbound” for “east and westbound.”)

UPDATE: Or, in the words of local designer Shawn Allen:

Half-assed temporary projects like this make me embarrassed to live in San Francisco. Seriously, why even bother?

Testify, brother.

UPDATE: The StreetsBlog SF is all over this. Let’s hear from Donna Ficarrotta, Managing Director of the Union Square Association:

Ficarrotta indicated that she had been to the site on Sunday during the rain and that she hadn’t seen many people using the space. ‘I think people didn’t know quite what to make of it. Between the weather and people being in a hurry, I don’t think people really understood what it was for.’”

“A longer-term trial could happen in the spring, said Ficarrotta, up to four weeks, but the details of that depended on feedback from the city and her membership. She was hopeful a longer trial would also attract more use.”

I think if people understood it, obviously they would use it.”

(Perhaps we should wait for a winter / Christmas / holiday / Sol Invictus shopping season when it doesn’t rain and the people aren’t in a hurry and maybe then we can try this again?)

But see how you can tell this woman doesn’t work for any of the numerous City agencies that spent time on this program?  She gave journalist Matthew Roth an Acknowledgement of Reality. How refreshing!

Are peds really so stoopid? Or maybe they’d prefer to walk on the actual sidewalk instead of stepping down into the street?

Anyway, the deets:

MAYOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES CITY PILOT PROJECT TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE DURING PEAK SHOPPING SEASON
Parking lane closures to provide extra walking space

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced that San Francisco is expanding the walkway for pedestrians in the Union Square area as part of a pilot project under the Better Market Street Program. The Powell Street Pedestrian Improvement Project is allowing more walking space and access along two blocks of Powell Street, Geary to Ellis Streets, to improve and enhance the public’s experience during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

“This pilot project will create a festive and unique experience for holiday shoppers and tourists visiting the Union Square area,” said Mayor Newsom. “We hope this pilot makes our city more welcoming for shoppers and drives more business to our union square merchants.”

Beginning Friday, December 11 at 2 pm, the east and westboundparking lanes on Powell between Geary and Ellis Streets will close to vehicles. The Powell Street Cable Car line will not be affected by this closure.

Emergency vehicles will have full access and vehicles may continue to use designated white zones. Signs will be posted to direct traffic and pedestrian access. Planters will be temporarily installed and holiday decorations donated by Walgreens will be placed along the walkway to enhance the pedestrian experience. Parking lanes will reopen to vehicles on Monday, December 14 at 9am.

The City will monitor and evaluate this closure over the course of the weekend and provide results of this pilot and future projects in the coming months. Feedback from local partners and merchants will also be collected during this process.

“Union Square is widely known as a world-class destination for its mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and hospitality accommodations. Our hope is that this project will further enhance the visitor experience by providing greater access to pedestrians on what is widely considered one of San Francisco’s most heavily traveled pedestrian corridors,” said Linda Mjellem, Executive Director of the Union Square Association.

This test project is part of the Better Market Street Program; which aims to revitalize Market Street and connect streets by undertaking a series of pilot projects. The results of this pilot and future projects and input from the community and stakeholders will be used to inform the final improvements and long-term design of Market Street.

“Over the next few months, these pilot projects will provide us with the knowledge and the opportunity to collect feedback from people that share this roadway. These coordinated initiatives will help us deliver tangible improvements that are aligned with our vision for a better, a safer, a smarter, and a more modern Market Street,” said Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works.

The Better Market Street Program is a collaborative initiative between the City and community partners, businesses, and non-profits including the Department of Public Works (DPW), Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Transportation Authority.

For more information and to learn how to get involved, visit the http://marketstreet.sfplanning.org or call 3-1-1.

No, we’re still not done.

(more…)

Look Forward to Bocce or Volleyball on Masonic Avenue, But There are Signs of Rebellion Against City Plans

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Uh oh, for the first time at one of these Masonic Avenue meetings in the Western Addition, I met people who are pissed at the whole process. And these are people who are nearby residents.

(Whenever the City gets around to doing outreach with the stakeholders who currently use Masonic, well, there could be some more opposition still.)

Get some of the deets of last night’s meeting over at The Square website (but keep in mind the dollar amounts mentioned there are off by three orders of magnitude).

A good 140 people or so at a local prep school (it’s like Hogwarts but more expensive and less magical) last night:

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Boulevard or Gateway or Something Else?

Medians no matter what:

Boulevard up top and Gateway below:

Gateway starting at Fell:

Amenities:

Plaza and Public Arts Space. You’re supposed to play bocce or volleyball on the lane that currently takes traffic from eastbound Geary to southbound Masonic.

But “improvements” are coming irregardless

Here are the next steps. On It Goes:

Restriping Divisidero: A Modest Proposal to Improve Upon the Recent Stimulus Project

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

So, we’re looking at at three lanes of Divisidero in the Western A, see?

The right lane is for parked cars. It’s too narrow. The middle lane is for buses and trucks and bikes and whatnot. It too, is too narrow. The upshot of this is a bunch of frustrated drivers who honk honk honk, just the way the driver of the car you can see did while changing lanes to pass cyclists.

Now, note the “tree lines” that hem in all the lanes. So, all that you can do at this point is shrinkify the fast lane, right? Wouldn’t that make sense?   

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Yep, it would.

How about moving these stripes a foot towards the middle of the street, for starters?

Here’s What the Horrible 5-Yard Wide Median on Cesar Chavez Will Look Like

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

If trees are so great and if a five-yard-wide median is such an improvement, why stop there? Why not have more trees in the middle of Cesar Chavez? Why not have a 30-foot-wide median instead? 

But no worry. The so-called “improvements” coming our way will “compliment” something or other. See?   

“These streetscape improvements and more will make Cesar Chavez a great and complete street— one that compliments the community.”

A thousand years since Alhazen worked out perspective, but our art students still haven’t gotten the word. Oh well, two vanishing points for the price of one:

Somebody will end up using this space for something, is all I know.

Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement Project
Project Information
The Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement Project is a multi- agency effort  initiative to re-envision Cesar Chavez Street from Hampshire to Guerrero Streets in the Mission District. Through the coordinated efforts of multiple city organizations and with input from community meetings, Cesar Chavez will be made into an enjoyable, safe, and visually attractive corridor for pedestrians, bikes, and transit options that unify our great city.
The inclusion of a widened and landscaped center median, and tree plantings along sidewalks will provide pleasing greenery to the area neighborhood. These efforts are known to calm traffic along busy corridors.  Street corner bulb-outs, shorter crossing distances at intersections, and the installation of  bike lanes will also make this a safer street environment for everyone. These streetscape improvements and more will make Cesar Chavez a great and complete street— one that compliments the community.

For more information, visit the community planning process web page.

Location
Cesar Chavez Street between Guerrero and Hampshire Streets

Schedule
Construction is scheduled to start in Winter 2011.

Cost/Funding
The project is funded through a combination of Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) federal grants with local matching funds totaling $4.3m.million

Project Team
DPW– Paving & Great Streets
Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)- Sewer Upgrade
Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA)

Contact
Kris Opbroek
Great Streets Program Manager
(415) 558-4045

Contractor
To Be Determined