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Posts from the "Gavin Newsom" Category

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CA Guv Hopeful: Let’s Not Extend Parking Meter Hours in a Recession

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has snagged some high-profile support for his nascent California gubernatorial bid, but he may have some trouble with the transit-riding, congestion-weary constituency. My colleagues Matthew Roth and Bryan Goebel have the story over at Streetsblog San Fran:

gavin_newsom_thumbs_up.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Photo: Gawker
Mayor Gavin Newsom has been quietly pressuring MTA Chief Nat Ford to delay or prevent proposals to extend parking meter hours on weeknights and Sundays, despite a looming mid-year MTA budget deficit and studies that show it's good policy, Streetsblog has learned. ...

"The Mayor thinks it's the wrong time to make these moves," said Nathan Ballard, Newsom's communications director. "Right now, with the economy where it is, the burden on ordinary people for city services is already stretched to the max, and so he hasn't seen anything that convinces him otherwise. He's open to arguments, but he's still where he was."

The "we can't change policy in a bad economy" argument is familiar to Capitol Hill transportation watchers, who saw the Obama administration use the recession to rule out a gas tax hike or per-mile vehicle fee earlier this year.

But in Newsom's case, as Matt and Bryan point out, San Francisco is lagging behind its fellow major cities when it comes to charging for parking. In Los Angeles, where voters will soon be looking at Newsom's credentials, meters remain on until 2 a.m. New York City keeps meters on until midnight, and Washington D.C.'s stay on until 10 p.m.

And with the city transit authority facing possible fare hikes or service cuts in the wake of a budget deficit, it's tough to see how not extending parking meter hours doesn't hit non-car-owning voters where it hurts.

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San Francisco Mayor to NYC: “Eat Your Heart Out.”

transbay-transit-center-rendering-small1.jpgA rendering of the Transbay Transit Center with a 5.4 acre park on its roof.
At a groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco yesterday, Mayor Gavin Newsom asserted the project will be "so much more extraordinary than Grand Central Station."

Pointing to the renderings on a projection screen behind him, with a 5.4 acre park atop the terminal, 2600 units of housing (with a pledge of 35% affordable homes), the construction of the tallest building in the West, and a terminal expected to serve 100,000 daily riders, Mayor Newsom added: "Eat your heart out, New York City."

If the city manages to find the $2 billion necessary to complete the project, San Francisco's transit hub would be finished in 2014, 101 years after Cornelius Vanderbilt opened the doors to New York's Grand Central Terminal.

The Transbay Transit Center, a public-private partnership headed by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA), will replace the existing Transbay Terminal with a multi-modal transportation hub that would serve nine transportation systems in the same complex, including the potential California High Speed Rail route through San Francisco.  

Mayor Newsom and several other speakers stressed the economic significance of a large-scale construction project as the overall economy sours and the city makes budget cuts.  

Nathaniel Ford, Sr., Chairman of the TJPA and head of MUNI, argued that "without projects like this, we will not be able to provide mobility for the growing population of California, and bring together the fractured public transportation system in San Francisco."  

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SF Responds to Bike Injunction With 1,353 Page Enviro Review

Bike_Rider___Market_St.jpg
San Francisco's Market Street.

Two-and-a-half years after a judge issued an injunction preventing the city from adding any new bicycle infrastructure to its streets, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco Planning Department have released a 1353-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. 

At a cost of more than $1 million, the city has attempted to demonstrate in excruciating detail what would seem to be obvious: better bicycle amenities contribute to increased cycling and an improved environment.

Despite the significant time and money required to produce the tome, Mayor Gavin Newsom struck an optimistic note, citing the proposed addition of 34 miles of bicycle lanes to San Francisco streets — a 75 percent increase over the existing 45 miles of lanes. 

“We’ve accomplished a great deal together, but much work remains to be done to improve the safety and convenience of bicycling,” said Newsom. “I will continue to push for a better bicycling environment as part of my deep commitment to improving the health of our environment, our residents and our city.”

A public hearing on the DEIR has been scheduled for January 8. The deadline for comments is January 13. 

While Rob Anderson, the plaintiff in the lawsuit that sparked the injunction, will surely continue his befuddlingly successful crusade (a couple of choice jeremiads from his blog: cyclists as a special interest wielding inordinate political power, and biking as a frivolous mode of transportation akin to skateboarding), the city assumes the DEIR will be sufficient to lift the injunction. 

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San Fran Mayor Sets Ambitious Transportation Targets

newsom.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (pictured right) emphasized quality of life issues in his annual State of the City address last week. Most significant, Newsom put forward an ambitious transportation agenda and laid out specific targets for increasing bicycling and reducing automobile use:

We will continue our long term planning to create a citywide bicycle network, uniting the current patchwork of bike lanes into a unified, comprehensive system. It is also time to take steps to reach our goal of making 10% of all commute trips in the City bicycle trips within the next 3 and a half years.

While making MUNI faster and bike riding safer we aim to get people out of their cars and get them healthier so we must commit to reducing emissions from our public transportation fleet. With new hybrid buses coming on line, we can now say by this time next year, we will have the greenest public transportation fleet in the nation.

I think we can all agree that the more people who get out of their cars and use alternative transit the better this city is going to be for everyone.

Can I vote for this guy next Tuesday?

I suppose not. But at least we have Councilmember Gale Brewer. Working with Transportation Alternatives Brewer has put forward a piece of legislation called Introduction 199, "The Traffic Relief Bill" (PDF file), that would compel DOT to set specific modal targets like Newsom's 10 percent bicycling goal. In other words, rather than measuring the health and functionality of New York City's surface streets by "Level of Service," and other meaningless (and sometimes even destructive) yardsticks, the City would say, "We aim to shift X percent of daily trips out of cars and on to buses, bikes and foot." Then DOT would measure its success based on these far more meaningful goals.

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Streetfilms: Park(ing) Day San Francisco

parking_sf.jpg
Park(ing) Day San Francisco

A Clarence Eckerson Streetfilm
Running time: 6:51 - 22.05 MB, QuickTime

New York City Streets Renaissance Filmmaker Clarence Eckerson happened to be in San Francisco on Thursday during International Park(ing) Day. Organized by an art collective called Rebar Group, the idea behind Park(ing) is to reclaim curbside automobile parking spaces by temporarily transforming them into grassy parkland complete with benches, tables, chairs, trees, sandy beaches, and eclectic art installations. One park(ing) spot even offered a self-serve lemonade stand.

In San Francisco over two dozen parking spots were "liberated" including Mayor Gavin Newsome's space in front of City Hall. A number of other cities around the U.S. also participated in Park(ing) day, including New York City where a curbside space on 8th Avenue near 30th Street was, for a few hours, used for something other than automobile storage.

If you have links to Park(ing) events in other cities, please send them along.