Posts Tagged ‘trees’
Oh My, It’s ARBOR-GEDDON 2015 – The SFMTA Wants to Kill Hundreds of Healthy Street Trees to Slow Down Traffic on MasonicThursday, February 5th, 2015
See this giant, healthy tree at Geary and Masonic? The DPW just put a death notice on it:
Around its waist, with clear packing tape.
And this sidewalk grove is doomed as well, at the western edge of the intersection above the Geary Tunnel:
Here’s what the notices look like:
And here are the smaller, run-of-the-mill trees street to south:
Chop chop, 300+ (300x, in SFGov parlance) trees, all gone.
Let’s see here, is the SFMTA’s Grand Unified Plan for the 3000 feet of Masonic betwixt Geary and Fell going to:
SPEED UP MUNI BUSES? Nope. In fact, the Plan will slow down MUNI buses, like part of the Plan is already doing that already, at Ewing Terrace, for example. (The nearby City Target had some mad money so it gave a quarter million to the SFMTA to put in a new light at Ewing in order to gain support for The Plan from a woman who lives on The Terrace.) This plan will slow down MUNI. Simply. Yet somehow, it will “increase access” to transit, by giving people the right to sit longer at bus stops?
SPEED UP THE REST OF TRAFFIC ON MASONIC, THE GREAT CONNECTOR WHAT LINKS THE PARKSIDE, THE SUNSET, AND THE RICHMOND WITH THE REST OF SAN FRANCISCO, CONNECTING BUSH PINE WITH LINCOLN, FULTON, OAK, FELL, TURK, BALBOA, AND GEARY? Oh, Hell no. Masonic will turn into a congested parking lot during the morning and evening drives, ala Oak Street, ala Octavia Boulevard. Buses will no longer pull over into stops – they’ll simply stop and block the slow lane, leaving the solitary remaining lane, the “fast” lane, to temporarily serve as the only way for motorized traffic to travel on Masonic.
INCREASE “ACCESS” TO MUNI? We’ll see. The SFMTA is claiming that rebuilt bus stops will be the big benefit to MUNI riders.
INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PARKING SPACES IN THE AREA? Oh no. In fact, the Plan will remove 100-something 22-hour-a-day parking spaces from Masonic. (For some this is a feature and not a detriment.)
BENEFIT CYCLISTS? Perhaps. This, see below, is what people do these days, for the most part – they ride their bikes on the wide wide sidewalks, going uphill, for the most part, as I’ve been doing for a couple decades. SFGov is free to make this practice legal on Masonic, but it chooses not to. In fact, SFGov is sometimes reluctant to make piecemeal changes, for safety or whatever, because SFGov shuns so-called “chop-shop” projects – SFGov prefers giant pork-barrel projects paid for by, among others, people living in North Dakota. And then, if residents started to think that Masonic was then “fixed,” through small changes, that would lessen the pressure for a big pork barrel project using money from the Feds and Sacramento. Anywho, most of the coming changes to Masonic appear to favor bike riders, so yes, we’ll be getting separated lanes up and down Masonic. And then, we’ll have less of this:
We did lose a bike rider to a severely drunk driver a few years back on Masonic. Such an accident would be less likely to occur after the coming changes. [UPDATE: IMO, that is. If you want to say that accidents can happen anyway even after the changes, I’ll agree, but this particular accident involved two people consuming 14(!) drinks at Kokkari restaurant on Jackson and then using Masonic to get to the Avenues out west, and I’ll tell you, the future Masonic would have been easier for this driver to navigate. I mean he made it all the way from 200 Jackson to the 94117 without hitting anything but his brain didn’t have the processing power to deal with the cyclist being where the cyclist was.]
BENEFIT PEDESTRIANS? Perhaps. The hundreds of healthy trees that the SFMTA is going to chop down will get replaced, one supposes, with new trees, planted in an unnecessary, unnecessarily-wide new median, which effectively widens the street, right? Why are we going to get the big median? For aesthetics. For oxygen, cause, you know, trees produce oxygen – did you know that!? I’ll tell you, this truth just blew me away when I found out about it, when I five freaking years old. But the SFMTA had some lady come to one of the meetings to talk about all the extra oxygen molecules that we’d have floating around, OK fine. Of course, the SFMTA didn’t talk about any of the concomitant downsides of spending all these tens of millions of pork barrel dollars from Uncle Sucker, the SFMTA didn’t mention ARBOR-GEDDEN 2015. Anyway, if peds prefer having new trees in a median over older trees closer to them, well, sure, I suppose that peds will benefit. And speaking of severely drunk drivers, we did lose a ped to a drunk driver within recent memory – I don’t think the recent changes would have affected that crime though. And we lost an architect just north of Geary on Masonic owing to her jaywalking to get to Trader Joe’s #100, a few years back. owing to a poorly planned parking situation courtesy of our Planning Department. But the grand mal Plan for Masonic stops at Geary, so the SFMTA doesn’t appear to even to pretend to care about safety on Masonic north of Geary, not at this time.
Oh what’s that, you have questions? Fire away:
ISN’T IT TRUE THAT “THE COMMUNITY” SUPPORTS THE PLAN?
No, not necessarily. Any public meeting that the SFMTA might refer to was packed with activists/urbanists who don’t live in the neighborhood. So a tally from some meeting made up 70% of activist members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition isn’t an actual survey, right? If you want to say that a vote only made up of people who care enough to show up to all the meetings is what we should follow, then be my guest. But any SFMTA focus group meeting about which SFMTA plan attendees prefer doesn’t mean that The Plan is supported by the people who live, work and pass through Masonic, right?
WON’T ALL THE NEW CONGESTION, THE GREAT SLOWDOWN, INCREASE SAFETY?
We’ll see. We’ll see what the unexamined effects will be, like, where will traffic go instead of Masonic? Will that new traffic in other areas cause new accidents in other areas? We’ll see.
WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE PROPERTY OWNERS DIRECTLY ON MASONIC, DON’T MOST OF THEM SUPPORT THE PLAN?
I don’t know, maybe. A lot of them aren’t looking forward to all the construction, so there goes a lot of support right there. I mean, what if there was going to be a pork barrel project that was going to “beautify” the area just outside your property and the govmint was going to spend $50K per parcel in your nabe – would you like that? Maybe. And I’ll tell you, there’s a parochial school what costs $30K per year per student that’s in favor of the Plan. I say parochial because people at the school think that way, they think that the school is so so special that of course everybody should come to a crawl when they pass by. The school is the center of the universe, in their eyes, so people traveling by shouldn’t just rush through. The problem with this attitude is that, for the vast majority, GOLDEN GATE, TURK AND MASONIC, the Great Crossroads is not a destination in itself. So, ideally, we’d balance a whole bunch of factors and concerns, we’d actually consult with the people who actually use Masonic now. Those at this rich kids school, those small individuals with parochial attitudes, just don’t care.
BUT WON’T THE PLAN INCREASE PUBLIC SAFETY OVERALL AND HELP GET US TO VISION ZERO 2024?
We’ll see. But by then, it will be too late, and by then, the SFMTA will be more than happy to spend tens of millions of dollars to “tune up” the Big Project. And Vision Zero 2014-2024 is like two Soviet-style Five Year Plans strung together – nobody believes that transportation deaths in San Francisco will “whither away,” but everybody involved acts as if there’s a chance that this fantasy will come true. And you know, there are some countries that have had more success in reducing deaths than so-called Vision Zero countries, right? So what’s so special about that particular name? I don’t get it.
IS IT TRUE THAT SOME PEOPLE ON AND NEAR MASONIC STRONGLY OPPOSE THE PLAN?
Hell yes. People put homemade signs in their windows. It’s too late though – I can’t think of anything that would stop the SFMTA now.
BUT DIDN’T THE SFMTA SAY THAT THERE WAS NO OPPOSITION TO THE PLAN?
Yep. The SFMTA lied about that, when its employees filled out some necessary paperwork. I’ll tell you, there’s no way that the SFMTA isn’t going to spend any pork barrel money it can spend. That’s its purpose.
So that’s the update on Masonic.
I live very close by – we’ll have to wait and see if I personally benefit from all this spending. Somebody in the opposition one time asked me if I personally supported the project and I had to think about it. Perhaps it will benefit me, we’ll see. It seems selfish, to me, to dwell on the issue. In any event, the SFMTA gets excused for nothing. This project is a case study of how the SFMTA does what the SFMTA wants to do, which is to spend money and increase the size of … the SFMTA. If you want to get into how the SFMTA is all about safety, well, I disagree with that, but that would be something to debate. IMO, the SFMTA could “increase safety” without it getting any more money than it gets now.
Enjoy the coming SFMTA Mass Arborcide – it should be a spectacle.
The Reason Why the Late Winter Cherry Blossoms You’re Seeing in San Francisco ARE NOT Proof of Global WarmingThursday, January 29th, 2015
What’s that, when you were a mere pup cherry trees blossomed in March or April and now you’re seeing blooms in late January and the start of February?
Like here on Grove yesterday, and all over SF pretty soon:
But actually, the trees you’re seeing are actually flowering plums, which are known for their early blooms. So what you’re doing is comparing apples with oranges, or cherries with plums.
And actually, the plum blossoms are late this year, at least compared with recent history.
What’s that, plum and cherry are basically the same? NOPE. They’re in the same family, of course, but the flowering plums that you think are cherries are famous for early blooming.
What’s that, you just saw the blooms in Japantown, so you know you saw cherry trees? NOPE. J-town has a lot of new plum trees, for whatever reason.
What’s that, global warming IS happening? Well, no doubt, but that’s not the reason why you think the cherry trees of your youth are blooming three months earlier these days.
I’ll agree that these trees are closely related and that they look very similar.
(If you still don’t believe me, check the Urban Forest Map.)
Here’s a repost from 2009. I haven’t kept up on things, but I don’t think much has changed. It’ll take somebody to sue SFGov to have a chance to change this situation, the way things happened with the big cross atop Mt. Davidson.
“The Prayer Book Cross was erected in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in 1894 as a gift from the Church of England. Created by Ernest Coxhead, it stands on one of the higher points in Golden Gate Park. It is located between John F. Kennedy Drive and Park Presidio Drive, near Cross Over Drive. This 57 ft (17 m) sandstone cross commemorates the first use of the Book of Common Prayer in California by Sir Francis Drake’s chaplain on June 24, 1579.”
Didn’t the City have to sell off the similar Mount Davidson Cross (Yelp-rated) after a lawsuit back in the 1990s? Yes it did. So, do you think the Prayer Book Cross creates an “appearance of governmental endorsement of religion” as well, particularly considering that we’re living in a post-Everson world?
Do these trees help to make this cross kosher, cause fewer people see it? Potentially, yes. Click to expand:
In other words, does the City’s ownership and maintenance of Prayer Book Cross violate the No Preference Clause and the Ban on Aid to Religion Clause of the California Constitution and the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution?
Or maybe it’s all good, because the cross communicates “primarily non-religious messages” ala the shorter Mount Soledad Cross down in Fun Diego County? This is a close call.
Read all about the Mount Davidson case here, where the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit lays down the law. It’s pretty accessible.
You see it on the right here, as seen back in the day, during the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. Electric Tower at Night, with Search Light on Prayer Book Cross in Golden Gate Park:
But should it be on government land today?
“Presented to Golden Gate Park at the opening of the Midwinter Fair, January 1, A. D. 1894, as a memorial of the service held on the shore of Drake’s Bay about Saint John Baptist’s Day, June 24, Anno Domini 1579, by Francis Fletcher, priest of the Church of England, chaplain of Sir Francis Drake, chronicler of the service. Gift of George W. Childs, Esquire, of Philadelphia. First Christian service in the English tongue on our coast. First use of the Book of Common Prayer in our country. One of the first recorded missionary prayers on our continent. Soli Deo sit semper gloria.”
Ed Reiskin Refuses to Comply with the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Council, So Let’s Run a Trial on Masonic OurselvesWednesday, December 17th, 2014
Here’s the Citizens Advisory Council’s recommendation that Ed Reiskin, operator of America’s slowest and least efficient big-city transit system, has refused:
“Motion 140122.01 – The SFMTA CAC recommends that the peak hour restrictions be repealed on Masonic Avenue between Geary and Fell Streets, with the objective to measure traffic impacts on the 43 Masonic prior to the implementation of the Masonic Avenue street design project.”
Why did he do that? Well, because a “success” for him is the SFMTA spending the money it’s been given to spend. So why should he do anything to interfere with that when he’s in the red zone already?
Anywho, you can read what he has to say about a test-run after the jump.
In view of this dysfunction, let’s run a Masonic “streetscape” trial of our own, shall we?
Let’s start here, northbound, on the 3000 foot stretch of Masonic that will soon be changed:
See the bus? It’s stopped at a bus stop, let’s imagine. That means that Masonic will be down to one lane inbound, you know, temporarily, during the morning drive. How will this affect traffic, do you suppose? How many minutes will it add to your commute each way, each day? Mmmm…
Since we’re imagining, imagine a large median filled with trees on either side of the double yellow line. Now is that for safety or for aesthetics? The answer is that it’s for aesthetics. Compare that with the SFMTA’s disastrous, expensive, deadly 105-foot-wide Octavia “Boulevard” / I-80 on ramp. Yes, it’s has a vegetated median as well. So, is “safety” the SFMTA’s “number one goal?” No, not at all. Its real goal is expanding its payroll and spending ever more money. So of course if you pressure it to do things you want done, like planting trees in the middle of the street, which, of course, has nothing to do with safety, it will happily comply.
Will any commuters benefit from these soon-to-come “improvements?” No, not at all. These changes are going to slow the commute way down and that will impede people in cars and MUNI buses. Did the SFMTA do any “outreach” to / with commuters? Nope. It didn’t feel like it. The SFMTA prefers to host meetings packed with “urbanists” and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition employees and members. Do these people represent “the public?” No, not at all. Yet the SFMTA claims do have done public outreach.
How will these changes to Masonic, the Great Connector, affect the surrounding area? We’ll just have to wait and see. If, later on, you raise any issues with the SFMTA about the negative effects of all their changes, they’ll be all, well, expand our budget even more and we’ll redo the project again to fix this and that.
Of course, the way to run the trial run would be simply take away all the parking spaces for a day or so, right? So what you’d do is just simply shut down the slow lanes as a test. This alternative would satisfry (mmmm, Satisfries…. R.I.P) at least some of the objections that Ed Reiskin, operator of America’s slowest and least efficient big-city transit system, mentioned.
Would Ed Reiskin want to try this alternative trial? No, not at all. (See above.) Mr. R will be happy to ignore all the complaints only after the tens of millions of dollars have been spent.
Do I think that a bunch of people riding MUNI and driving cars every day, tens of thousands of people, are going say, wow, my commute has really slowed down after all these changes so I’m going to join the handful of souls on bicycles huffing and puffing up this big hill? Nope. Some might, of course, but it won’t be any kind of meaningful number.
And do I think it’s honest for SFMTA employees to tell higher authorities that’s there’s no public opposition to these changes? Nope. Oh well.
All right, that’s the thought experiment. It looks like this one’s going to go like a bunch of other SFMTA-created initiatives, you know, like the ideologically-driven traffic circles, the absurdly-wide Octavia “Boulevard,” the crazy re-striping of the east end of JFK Drive – they’ll just look at them all and then pat themselves on the back and hand each other awards for these “accomplishments,” these “successes.”
[UPDATE: Oh yeah, a couple people asked me if I approve of this project. And like, I live a block away, but it won’t really affect me, myself, I don’t think. Seems selfish to think now-hey-what-about-me, anyway. What ended up happening with Octavia is that they really biased the lights in favor of Octavia, so people have to wait to a long time to get across the whole 105 foot width. So maybe it’ll be a 90-second wait to get across Masonic when all is said and done? IDK, it’s hard to predict how much the SFMTA is going to mess things up with this arbor project, this tree planting diversion. So, what will the affects be? Will commuters abandon Masonic? How will they get around instead? IDK]
On It Goes…
Now, as promised, a note from Ed Reiskin, after the jump
The Dahlia Dell in Golden Gate Park had a lot more color back in September, but there are still some flowers there in mid-November. See?
The colors, man – groove on the colors:
And what’s right around the corner? The flowering plum tree blossoms of January
I suppose December is our worst month for flowers – I’ll look for some around town in a few weeks…
(There is unrest in the (urban) forest / There is trouble with the trees)
Well, read the news and turn the pages – a good part of San Francisco’s “urban forest” is toppling over this AM because of rain. Not due to wind, just a little rain.
Did former Mayor Gavin Newsom run for CA Governor on the number of trees “he” planted in SF? Yes he did. Is that a good thing? No, it’s not.
Could it be that local governments want to plant too many trees willy-nilly, the same way an alcoholic wants to drink too much?
A solution for that would be a conscious effort to stop planting trees. And also, getting rid of the policy of keeping trees in places where they don’t belong. This is a money issue, this is safety issue.
Oh, here are some facts:
- There is no urban forest. A forest, by definition, can’t be in an urban area. Oh, what’s that , you’re just being aspirational? Oh, you’re just “framing” the issue because you want more trees everywhere and you’ve been able to send the bill to Other People Later On? Oh, okay, well, keep on keeping on then.
- San Francisco doesn’t have any kind of “canopy.” Just look up – if you can see the sky or the fog, then there’s no canopy. Oh, what’s that , you’re just being aspirational? Oh, you’re just “framing” the issue because you want more trees everywhere and you’ve been able to send the bill to Other People Later On? Oh, okay, well, keep on keeping on then.
- San Francisco doesn’t have any kind of “cloud forest.” It can’t. We have trees and we have clouds but that’s not enough to have a cloud forest. Of course we have fog and a whole mess of trees from halfway around the world, you know, that don’t really belong here, but that’s not enough.
- Sutro Forest isn’t a “forest.” Do you want to call it a stand or a grove instead? That’d be nice. That’d be accurate too.
If the NIMBYs of Alamo Square Don’t Like the Bay to Breakers Party, Then What About This Monstrous Radiation Machine/Cell Phone Tower?Thursday, May 15th, 2014
Be afraid, NIMBYs.
Be very, very afraid.
And make sure to inventory every slight you experience this Sunday and then repeat all of them to everybody you know for the the following two weeks so that everybody can now how you, the poor millionaire homeowner, has suffered uniquely owing to this street party what existed long before you were even born.
And just look at it – it’s pointed right towards you! Arrrgh!
Click to expand
Enjoy your cellphone tower, Western Addition.