Grassroots Activism Edges Transit Reform onto Ballot Dave Snyder, SFBC Executive Director

The SF Board of Supervisors announced its intention to place on the November ballot a charter amendment to reform Muni that looks just like the measure the SFBC supported in April. Though no fewer than seven Supervisors lined up to take credit for the initiative, the real credit belongs with the grassroots activists in a dozen organizations that endorsed it early and began work collecting signatures.

The measure is a boon for sustainable transportation in San Francisco. It creates a new agency called the Municipal Transportation Agency that would combine the Commissions of the Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) and Muni. Our complaint last summer that control of the streets and the buses that run on those streets should not be vested in two separate agencies was heard. "Parking and Traffic" will give way to "Transportation," and that's progress. The measure also strengthens the transit first policy, for the first time including bikes. "Decisions regarding the use of limited public streets and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit," the measure says. "Safe and convenient bicycle access is also an important component of SF's transportation system. Bicycling should be promoted by encouraging safe streets for riding, convenient access to transit, and secure bicycle parking."

San Francisco Planning & Urban Research (SPUR) wrote the first draft years ago, then spent over a year consulting every conceivable stakeholder. Their work, along with Rescue Muni's, paid off in early endorsements by a wide range of interest groups, including the SFBC. It was the broad support these groups brought to the effort that forced the publicity-dependent politicians to call it their own. Once the measure is adopted and implemented, we can expect a much more balanced transportation system than today. Congratulations, grassroots!