Candidate for Board of Supervisors, District 1
1. Do you use a bicycle in the city? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often? Please indicate how you most commonly commute to work. (300 words or less)
Yes; once a week on average; recreation, errands; I commute mostly on a motorcycle, occasionally by bus, and while I have tried commuting by bicycle I have found that the distance leaves me too sweaty and I do not have shower facilities -- I commute the exact length of Geary, as I live on 47th Avenue and I work on Grant and Post. I am deeply interested in bicycles (I am presently building an alternative bicycle design of my own creation which I hope to be patent-able and interesting to the market) and I have a deep interest in electric-assist bicycles and am working to investigate the best design for purposes of encouraging bulk-purchase wholesale-price sales of electric bicycles to all San Franciscans (please know that this is a pre-existing part of my detailed platform, which is available in whole on my website).
2. In the next year, the City's Bicycle Plan should be re-instated after a 3-year delay in physical bike improvements on city property, which was caused by a lawsuit and a slow Environmental Review process. The silver lining to this frustrating situation is that a significant package of Bike Network improvements -- 50+ proposals for bike lanes and intersection improvements throughout the city -- will be fully analyzed and ready for legislation and implementation.
Will you support approval and implementation of this full package of projects, which will fill significant gaps in the Citywide Bike Network and which, in some cases may include removal of existing on-street parking or traffic lanes?
This question cannot be answered as the package is not known and cannot be known until the EIR process is complete, the public comment period is complete, and the plan is then vetted and finalized.
3. Specifically included in the package referenced above are proposals for adding bike lanes on the following streets, some of which may require removing traffic lanes and/or parking spaces, in order to make room. Will you support legislation to add bike lanes on these streets, all of which are part of the official Citywide Bike Network but lack specific safety accommodations for the growing number of bicycle commuters:
2nd St. [ ]: 5th St. [ ]: 17th St. [ ]: Masonic Ave. [ ]: Cesar Chavez Ave. [ ]: Bayshore Blvd. [ ]: Illinois St. [ ]: Portola Ave. [ ]:
Again, this question cannot be answered as the package is not known and cannot be known until the EIR process is complete, the public comment period is complete, and the plan is then vetted and finalized. Please know that increasing availability and promoting the use of bicycle lanes is a pre-existing part of my detailed platform, which is available in whole on my website: however, I will not take a position to pander to any group and of course this must also apply to the SFBC. Therefore, while I firmly believe I am likely to support the final package, I cannot in good faith blankly state at this time that I will do so without knowing the details of the package (I can only hope that you appreciate the candor and judiciousness of my response). I can nonetheless assure you that I will take significant active measures to promote bicycle use for work commuting and general use in the City. (Lastly, I will note that none of these concern District 1 per se.)
4. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was designed to help citizens and policy makers understand the environmental impact of development proposals by requiring environmental impact reports (EIRs) for projects with potentially significant environmental impacts. Currently, the SF Planning Department regards the convenient movement of private automobiles as an environmental concern, increasing the cost and delaying the implementation of dedicated transit lanes, bike lanes, and even sidewalk widening, even though these projects are clearly beneficial to the environment. Would you support changes at the local level to reform environmental review to facilitate transit-first projects?
I believe bicycles make up a very important component of transit in the City, but every element of transit must in fairness be considered. Moreover, I am especially keen to maintain as fair an EIR process as possible, knowing from my professional and neighborhood interest experience that EIRs are themselves already readily skew-able by the entity seeking to promote a specific ends, and therefore I would work to ensure that EIRs are treated with the most balanced possible means which is necessary for them to objectively perform their function.
5. Would you support a citywide goal to decrease the number of private motor vehicle trips in San Francisco, understanding that in addition to improving transit, bicycling, and walking, the goal would be met by also making motor vehicle trips and parking less convenient in some cases?
Making mass transit, bicycling, and walking reasonable alternatives to motor vehicles is one of my clear goals. However, please know that I would not seek to go out of my way to spite motor vehicles per se in order to achieve this goal: rather, I prefer to think that balancing all means of transit will effectively elevate alternatives.
6. Poor pavement quality is a major hazard and common complaint for bicyclists in San Francisco. Do you support more funding from the City's budget and/or a new bond measure, for street repaving, with a priority on bicycle & transit routes?
7. Model bicycle-friendly cities around the world (including American cities such as Portland, OR, New York City, and Chicago) follow the standard practice of using colored pavement to demarcate bike lanes. These colored bike lanes help delineate space for bicyclists, increase awareness of bike lanes among drivers, and discourage cars from double-parking in bike lanes. Would you support the use of colored pavement in bike lanes in San Francisco?
8. Would you support the implementation of "bicycle boulevards," traffic-calmed streets that function as bicycle priority routes, similar to street designs in use in Berkeley and Palo Alto, even if this means restricting continuous automobile access at some intersections (while still allowing auto access to all homes and places of business)?
do not believe this question applies to District 1, as its existing bicycle transit lanes (primarily Cabrillo and Lake running east-west, and Arguello running north-south) are already working very well and do not seem to require additional measures. Further, the bike routes (Clement, 8th, 15th, 23rd, 34th) perform very well and with simple additional striping could likely function as bicycle transit lanes. I have one specific proposal for District 1 bicycles: I believe the wide sidewalk along Point Lobos / Ocean Beach could be striped to allow bicycles to travel uphill (and uphill only), as the situation between bicycles and vehicles in the right lane coming around Sutro Heights Park (opposite the Cliff House) is perilous.
9. Do you support the creation of a bicycle/pedestrian/maintenance pathway on the Bay Bridge's West Span (understanding that such a path is already being built on the East Span)? And will you support local funding and advocacy for additional regional, state, and federal funding, to build the pathway?
I may endorse this proposal assuming that there is a major restructuring of the West Span: however, I have been unable to locate specific costs for such a proposal. Without such a pre-existing restructuring project, my response is no.
10. The popular car-free space in Golden Gate Park (which the SFBC helped expand from Sundays to Saturdays) and the new "Sunday Streets" initiative to pilot a 5-mile car-free space on city streets are both part of a worldwide trend to increase car-free space in urban areas to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and, more fundamentally, city life itself. As Supervisor, would you be willing to significantly increase car-free spaces in San Francisco?
I endorse the concept but I cannot provide blanket assurance without seeing a specific proposal: therefore, my response is a qualified yes.
11. If you are an incumbent running for office, did you vote for the Healthy Saturdays car-free legislation in Golden Gate Park last year?
Not an Incumbent
12. Market St. is the city's most well-used street for transit riders and bicyclists. Bike traffic has jumped 30% on Market St. in the past year alone, and now makes up a significant amount of usage during the commute hours (bikes often outnumber cars). The SFBC and many other community-based organizations believe that measures to prioritize transit riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the eastern part of Market St. by banning private auto traffic will improve MUNI performance, transform Market Street for the better, and encourage more San Franciscans to walk and bicycle to work. Various details remain to be worked out (we support allowing access for taxis, vehicles with disabled placards, and deliveries at certain hours).
Do you support measures to prioritize transit riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians on Market St. east of Van Ness Ave. by banning private auto traffic, as described above, as other American cities have done successfully?
At the first, I must respectfully disagree that your proposal bans private auto traffic, because the qualified concept has such exceptions that they might well swallow the rule. Nonetheless, I do appreciate and agree with the proposal if it can be made workable: I am still concerned that the various difficult traffic regulations, one-way streets, and odd intersection angles must all be revisited to assure that private autos can still navigate that area, and I would work to assist that process.
13. If the proposal above were not politically feasible at this time, would you support measures, within your first year in office, to significantly lessen auto traffic on Market St. (such as forced right-turns for private vehicles), based on the recommendations from a comprehensive Market St. Action Plan developed by the community and the Transportation Authority?
Here, the pragmatic must meet the road: I do not see how such a rule could reasonable be understood and enforced, and I do not want to create rules that are not amenable to understanding and enforcement. While intriguing, I believe the confusion such an unclear rule would create outweighs its half-measure effect.
14. Would you support a proposal to dedicate 1% of the City's transportation funding to bicycle facility improvements and safety projects?
As a rule, I am against the arbitrary dedication of funds when instead funds can be allotted on a case-by-case meritocracy. I believe my job as Supervisor would be to be the judge of case-by-case need for funds as weighed against other needs, and therefore I will try not to make any pledges for any issues that assure arbitrary percentage allocation.
15. Presently, traffic law enforcement in San Francisco is given a low priority, leaving vulnerable users (pedestrians and bicyclists) to fend for themselves and discouraging increased walking and bicycling. Would you direct the SF Police Department to more assertively enforce aggressive and dangerous driving within the City by placing traffic safety as a higher priority within the Department?
While I am not sure as to the source of your assertion that there has been an admission of such low priority, I firmly agree that law enforcement in each and every way should be accomplished: for a law to exist it must be enforced.
16. In recent years, childhood obesity has been identified as a significant health risk, particularly for America's children. One important component to improving the health of our children is encouraging walking and bicycling to school, activities which have dropped precipitously in the past 50 years as cars have come to dominate streets.
As a Supervisor, would you champion and fund a "Safe Routes To Schools" program, which has proven successful in other communities to encourage more kids to walk and bicycle by creating safer space on our streets, which may require the removal of parking and traffic lanes, and developing more supportive policies?
(Although I believe that for this to take effect, we must have renewed review of the School District's placement policies to emphasize placement in local schools in accordance with parental choice.)
17. Would you support legislation to require commercial buildings (with appropriate exemptions and alternatives) to allow bicycle access and secure parking/storage?
18. This year, the Board of Supervisors enacted the "Climate Change Goals and Action Plan" ordinance, which commits the City to greenhouse gas reduction targets of 20% below 1990 levels by 2012, with progressively larger targets in subsequent years. Given that roughly half of San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, and that the vast majority of those emissions come from private automobile use, what specific legislation or plans would you implement to reduce our green house gas emissions in the transportation sector? (300 words or less)
As noted in my detailed platform found on my website, I propose the following agenda items to directly address this issue:
1) Efficiently time traffic lights throughout the City.
2) Allow mopeds and motorcycles to park in front of fire hydrants at their own risk once.
3) Allow mopeds and motorcycles to park on sidewalks if not impeding flow.
4) Provide incentives for parking in after-hour business parking lots and driveways.
5) Increase issuance of tickets for any vehicle blocking the intersection box.
6) Increase issuance of tickets for blocking City streets (including Muni buses).
7) Promote taxi availability and use in the outlying Districts.
8) Make 500 more taxi medallions available and require medallion holders to use their medallions exclusively.
9) Encourage the construction and use of space-efficient parking garages throughout the City.
10) Fine entities that fail to fully return City streets to their original condition.
11) Increase fines and enforcement efforts against debris and pollution dumping.
12) Encourage police videotaping of traffic accident scenes rather than laborious manual measurements in order to speed the return to normal traffic flow.
13) Aid parking availability and revenue by requiring handicap parkers to pay meters, and greatly increase the mere $100 citation for illegal use of handicap placards.
14) Create wholesale-cost electric bike buyer program.
15) Encourage the creation and increased use of bike-lanes.
16) Encourage the use of electric bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles and small electric vehicles.
17) Encourage Project Better Place electric vehicle installation.
18) Encourage the construction of downtown high-rise apartments.
19) Encourage maintenance of existing neighborhood character through appropriate zoning limitations.
20) Sponsor a national organization of local governments to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.
21) Encourage all city employees to live in the city by providing appropriate tax incentives.
District 1-specific Questions
1. Would you support an expansion of the popular, new car-free space on Saturdays on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park (from Transverse Drive to 8th Avenue) to a longer stretch (from Transverse Drive to Kezar Drive, as it is on Sundays) to expand recreational opportunities for San Franciscans, while still allowing for transit and disabled access through the Park?
While I personally support this plan, I believe it is improper to oppose constituents who make their opinions perfectly clear: here, this proposal was twice voted down in proposition. Therefore, as a Supervisor I could not in good conscience support this plan because to do so would be to deny the clear will of the people. (As a public servant once said, "The people have spoken, damn it!")
2. Would you support efforts to reconfigure Masonic Avenue as a "complete street," serving pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and private motor vehicles, even if it means eliminating some curb parking and/or travel lanes?
3. Do you support traffic calming (including creating bicycle boulevards) on some streets in District 1, to slow car traffic and give priority to bicycle traffic?
I believe the bicycle transit lanes are functioning well and no such measures need to be taken. As noted previously, District 1's existing bicycle transit lanes (primarily Cabrillo and Lake running east-west, and Arguello running north-south) are already working very well and do not seem to require additional measures. Further, the bike routes (Clement, 8th, 15th, 23rd, 34th) perform very well and with simple additional striping could likely function as bicycle transit lanes. I have one specific proposal for District 1 bicycles: I believe the wide sidewalk along Point Lobos / Ocean Beach could be striped to allow bicycles to travel uphill (and uphill only), as the situation between bicycles and vehicles in the right lane coming around Sutro Heights Park (opposite the Cliff House) is perilous.
4. A study by the San Francisco Transportation Authority has found that a bus rapid transit system on Geary Blvd. would save riders up to 14 minutes per trip while increasing ridership by 25%. As Supervisor for District 1, would you support and lead this critical "Transit First" effort for San Francisco.
I am disappointed that you are effectively misrepresenting the BRT study findings. "Up to 14 minutes" mischaracterizes the true findings of the study, which is itself deeply flawed for both for having studied the worst conditions and for having extrapolated unreasonable assumptions. I am dead set against the BRT until more measured responses to 38 line congestion are applied due to its tremendous cost and the disruption it would cause. The following is the body of a letter I have circulated on this matter:
This letter is intended to provide the guidance of our Outer Richmond neighborhood group Coalition to Save Ocean Beach and Friends of Sutro Park regarding the critical issue of the proposed Geary BRT. While everyone agrees that the existing system should be improved, this does not necessarily require a BRT.
Geary BRT Citizen Action Committee's decision to proceed with the BRT was based upon a fundamentally flawed study presented by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Also, the SFCTA's options presented to the CAC failed to offer a practical simpler alternative. Indeed, the entirety of the SFCTA's motivation regarding Geary BRT must be viewed with some reserve because its 'raison d'etre' is to spend Prop K sales tax monies by putting BRTs into reality -- otherwise it cannot justify itself.
The SFCTA study was flawed because it merely documented a failed system and because it failed to meaningfully address the impacts to non-mass transit travelers, to the surrounding residential neighborhoods, and to the relevant commercial districts. As an example, the study carefully documented bottlenecks caused by ill-timed lights: obviously, BRT-based extrapolations taken from these studies are without meaning until the obvious first-step -- timing the lights -- is undertaken. Similar examples of study failures can be found regarding ill-timed and ill-synchronized buses and three-to-two and two-to-one lane bottlenecks that can be readily alleviated. With regard to the omission of meaningful impacts, the significance of these failures are manifest to anyone who travels the Geary corridor, lives in the Richmond, or shops or conducts commerce in the Richmond.
The SFCTA provided three Geary BRT proposals to the CAC: only far too late into the process and after considerable duress did it even deign to provide a non-BRT alternative, which was woefully under-examined. This is demonstrative of an inherently broken process, because such an alternative would have objectively been provided for necessary study and evaluation since inception. Lastly, the study process was flawed because each potential plan should have been developed based upon a cost, time for completion, disruption, and benefits analysis, and yet such a basic premise was ignored.
Based upon our considerable Geary experience and the comments we have received from others, we propose the following simple, quick, and inexpensive solutions be promptly undertaken, and any potential BRT study be based upon the results of the generated improvements:
1. Appropriately timed lights the length of Geary/O'Farrell, at all times of the day and night and for all days of the week;
2. More buses;
3. Buses running accurate schedules;
4. Stream-lined bus-stop intervals;
5. By mere re-striping, establish 2 lanes from Market to Van Ness;
6. By re-striping and minimal modification, establish 3 lanes from Van Ness to 33rd Avenue;
7. During morning and evening commute hours, by mere signage establish the outer-most lane to be solely for buses, motorcycles, and carpools of 4 or more;
8. During morning and evening commute hours, by mere signage establish no left turns off Geary where turn-lane cut-outs will not exist (ala Lombard);
9. Vigorously enforce double-parking laws (We strongly approve the use of cameras on buses to enforce this law, and the law must also apply to buses that fail to clear the lane when pulling over);
10. Concerted investigation of constructing a commercial off-street parking facility west of Park Presidio, so as to make up for the loss of parking spaces due to re-striping diagonal parking spaces as parallel (so as to allow for 3 lanes). We suggest that the Ross/Rite-Aid parking-above-the-store model should be promoted, and good locations for this model exist.
We believe the changes advocated have the following advantages over BRT:
1. Immediate results -- instead of taking years;
2. Cost only several million dollars -- instead of costing approximately $300,000,000;
3. Allows vehicles to travel in all lanes -- unlike BRT, which preclude vehicles from BRT lanes at all times;
4. Allows left hand turns off Geary -- unlike BRT, which prohibits them altogether;
5. Facilitates the flow of traffic the length of Geary for all vehicles -- instead of heavily penalizing non-bus travelers;
6. Keeps traffic on Geary -- instead of shunting traffic into residential neighborhoods, as will happen with BRT;
7. Allows healthy mature median trees to remain;
8. Allows all of the various bus-lines -- including the equally-important express buses -- to be retained.
9. Does not risk the expensive failures of other cities, where BRT lines have been put in place and then removed for being even more inefficient.
10. Readily accomplished -- instead of being wholly disruptive during BRT's lengthy construction.
We do not believe it is appropriate to respond to a broken system with an entirely different system without first undertaking modest efforts to fix what is broken. Only after inexpensive and nondisruptive remedies to the 38 bus-line are applied can meaningful studies and plans for a BRT be undertaken -- if indeed they are still necessary
Lastly, I will note that the TEP ("Transit Effectiveness Program") that is presently being vetted and will be put into placew over the coming years addresses several of the measures I have proposed and will likely result in amelioration in some of the 38 line's deficits. Until the TEP is completely effectuated and until further studies are then undertaken, I believe the EIR now being undertaken pursuant to the BRT is in fact fundamentally faulty and its results will have to be thrown out.
I can only hope that SFBC is composed of citizens whose interests are balanced such that they would not wish to throw away hundreds of millions of dollars and disrupt the lives of residents and small business owners without concern.
Thank you very much for your consideration of my candidacy.