What Now Mayor Brown
by Dave Snyder, Executive Director, SFBC

With your postponement of our proposed "Transportation Choices Summit" until after the November election, I am losing hope that you will develop a comprehensive transportation policy. This summit would have developed and promoted an optimistic popular transportation vision, but instead you seem content simply to try to appease opposing constituencies.

Your current policy is expressed perfectly by Stuart Sunshine, your head of the DPT. He speaks of balancing conflicting demands of car drivers, transit riders, and bicyclists, policy doomed to fail. You can't simultaneously increase parking, reduce congestion, improve Muni, and add more bike lanes.

Sunshine admits he'll approve parking garages in neighborhoods that demand them and oppose parking garages in neighborhoods that don't. Let's assume that for one constituency, you make a re-election campaign promise to build one parking garage a year for the next twelve years. The increase in traffic congestion will make Muni even less efficient and the streets more dangerous for bicyclists, conditions that will force more people to drive.

The new parking garages will quickly fill to capacity, prompting more complaints about the lack of sufficient parking. More cars, fewer transportation choices, same parking problem. Just look at the brand new parking lot at General Hospital. $20 million taxpayer dollars and 800 spaces later, the residents still complain about the lack of parking!

Why not improve the alternatives to driving so fewer people will drive, freeing up spaces for the rest of the drivers. You get to please bicyclists, Muni riders, and car drivers.

Our proposed "Transportation Choices Summit" would have brought together urban transporation experts able to craft and articulate a positive vision for transportation in San Francisco. At the end of the summit, you could have announced a new future, with more bike lanes and 20,000 parking spaces freed by the reduced demand. You could have announced that your policies would save the tax payers money, by not building more parking garages, and improve transportation, by putting the savings into Muni. You could have shown some leadership on the issue that ranks near the top of most residents' concerns. Instead, you ducked, which is not your typical style when you want something. It rather worries us.