December 20, 2010
NIMPS (Not In My Parking Spaces) Protest Proposed Parklets
"In October, the Department of Public Works accepted 42 applications for parklets outside businesses and residences. To garner approval, the applications must be approved along with permits for sidewalk seating, according to DPW spokeswoman Christine Falvey.
Once approved, the business is responsible for the costs of construction of the temporary space, including insurance.
Approval, however, can be stymied by a complaint during a 10-day period after a notice is posted as required. The first such hearing was on Wednesday morning after a handful of neighbors sent in complaints about Ritual Coffee Roasters at 1026 Valencia St. and Farm:Table at 754 Post St."
∙ Soon To Be Sitting Pretty In A Series Of New Plazas And Parklets [SocketSite]
∙ San Francisco parklets spur open-space debate [SFExaminer]
First Published: December 20, 2010 1:30 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
SCREAM! Every street in the city lined with car parking as if that makes any sense. (how large are their SUVs?)
Parklets are the beginning of a reconsideration of streets, which will result in altogether removal of lanes of traffic and room to share the American must-have SUV with -- bicycles.(and coffee drinkers).
Posted by: invented at December 20, 2010 2:34 PM
The Examiner article suggests that there is growing debate over these parklets, but the only example given is one in which it seems that the vast majority of letters sent were in favor of the parklet. There is no evidence of any rising tide of opposition, at least none reported in the article.
Posted by: Wonkster at December 20, 2010 2:45 PM
A city of 7X7 should not depend on cars to get its business done. I still have a car because public transport sucks in SF. One subway line? Maybe 2 in the future?
Thank goodness I have a bicycle. I do 80% of my trips with it.
Posted by: lol at December 20, 2010 2:45 PM
According to the Chron today, "Ritual Coffee Roasters is no stranger to contentious permit debates. In early 2009, Hassi was an outspoken critic of fashion chain American Apparel opening a store on Valencia Street. In September, Hassi criticized a permit that would have allowed the owner of Blue Bottle Coffee to operate in Dolores Park, telling local online news site Mission Local that there was not enough public outreach". Why is the owner a Nimby but wants this in front of their place?
Posted by: NIMBY owner at December 20, 2010 2:46 PM
So private entities are allowed to take control of public assets?
Posted by: Toady at December 20, 2010 3:17 PM
would the owner of Ritual coffee would be allowed to tell you to move if you sat there and didnt buy a coffee (or better yet sat there to drink your cup of Blue Bottle?).
seems like they couldn't since they dont 'own' the space.
Posted by: jose at December 20, 2010 3:22 PM
Let's be clear people. This is public taxpayer money to build and fund a parklet used for the benefit of a private business.
Why not make Ritual pay the full cost of the parklet, and maintaining it?
Seems fair to me.
Posted by: noearch at December 20, 2010 3:23 PM
Toady: Kelo v. City of New London
Posted by: EH at December 20, 2010 3:26 PM
pretty sure they would be required to maintain it since, like sidewalks, its the fronting property owners responsibility to maintain.
But the question is do they 'control' it.
Posted by: jose at December 20, 2010 3:27 PM
"So private entities are allowed to take control of public assets?"
You mean private automobiles? SUVs?
Posted by: Embarcadero at December 20, 2010 3:31 PM
actually, it's not exactly kelo territory, it's just the city repurposing its own stuff, which it does for private benefit all the live long day.
Posted by: EH at December 20, 2010 3:32 PM
from the article:
"Once approved, the business is responsible for the costs of construction of the temporary space, including insurance."
Posted by: jose at December 20, 2010 3:32 PM
the businesses also must allow anybody to use the space. They can't legally prevent people from using it without being a customer.
Posted by: lyqwyd at December 20, 2010 3:37 PM
I want to see them actually pay the full costs of designing, building and maintaining the parklet.
Posted by: noearch at December 20, 2010 4:04 PM
"Let's be clear people. This is public taxpayer money to build and fund a parklet used for the benefit of a private business."
Yes, and in fact we've already seen the Blue Bottle parklet that was paid for and designed by the Blue Bottle owner. Corruption at its best.
Posted by: sfrenegade at December 20, 2010 4:12 PM
^sorry that should be "paid for BY THE CITY and designed by the Blue Bottle owner."
Posted by: sfrenegade at December 20, 2010 4:23 PM
"SCREAM! Every street in the city lined with car parking as if that makes any sense. (how large are their SUVs?)"
No offense, invented, some of your posts are good, but your fabricated jihad against SUVs gets a bit tiring even to people who are likely to support your radical agenda. I've lived in plenty of other cities, and SF has far fewer than its share of large SUVs. I realize that people who like to propagandize also like to use symbols to underscore their point, but you deserve to be called out for this falsehood and for being way too 1995 in your complaints.
Posted by: sfrenegade at December 20, 2010 4:27 PM
I am all for adding parklets, including this one, however it concerns me that this is currently a metered parking spot, and thus the city will lose income from it. Perhaps there should be some kind of annual permit fee for these parklets. The business seems to be getting a lot of benefit for very little investment.
Posted by: G at December 20, 2010 5:21 PM
1995? This was a budding issue then. It is a full blown one today. SUVs and bikes don't go well with each other. Cyclists are vulnerable because they are less visible as well as less protected but can make up for it with a bit higher viewpoint. You can see the traffic over the car ahead of you and that gives you some extra safety. With SUVs this advantage is gone. Not only cars do not see you well behind an SUV, but you can't see yourself.
Anyways, the city has to choose. More cars or more bikes. The chronicle has an article where people call for a health-oriented view of cars in the city:
sfrenegade, calling it propaganda, jihad, radical agenda is totally a$$-backwards. Where are the victims? Has there ever been a driver killed by the impact of a cyclist or a pedestrian on his hood? Nope. Victims are on one side only. Time to rethink the city. If less cars is better for the majority of SF-ers, then let's have less cars.
Posted by: lol at December 20, 2010 5:32 PM
What the article failed to mention was the turnaround in protesters at the farm:table parklet hearing. By the end of the hearing, they withdrew all of the their complaints and actually apologized for being such a PITA. So :p to you Mr. Examiner.
Posted by: scurvy at December 20, 2010 6:25 PM
I was just in NYC where they have done some really surprising street scape reduction especially on the lower west side. I like it since when in NY I walk and cab and subway around.
But I asked around and the locals said that it makes the snowplowing a total disaster because there isn't room for the snow piles anymore.
Maybe in NY they need to pass sit-lie for snow piles.
Posted by: stucco-sux at December 20, 2010 6:37 PM
I'm with G on this one. Pretty good economics for Ritual on a cost per square foot basis compared to commercial rent on Valencia street.
Another revenue losing idea passed by the city of SF, especially when you consider the overhead required to run this program and the lost parking ticket revenue.
Posted by: X at December 20, 2010 7:29 PM
Bringing up the SUV hater comment is tired, boring and irrelevant to this subject. A vehicle is a vehicle. Deal with it. Get used to it. Cars are not going away.
But the issue of a basically "free" retail space for a private business is troublesome and misguided.
One more reason why The City is going broke, and yet the streets are still dirty and our homeless and drug population continues to take over our sidewalks.
Posted by: noearch at December 20, 2010 8:29 PM
Am I the only one that thinks that providing more space to a pedestrian is a good move?
It seems like everyone is complaining, that a private business is leasing space from the city to provide the public with more outdoor seating—which the city is grossly low on—and paying to install, service and promote it.
We need more space for people who use their feet. End of story.
Posted by: Rob at December 20, 2010 9:18 PM
Bikers -- aren't they cute?
It's fun to see such youngins have a utopian and self-centered view of the world. It's always easier to change everyone else except themselves.
(patting them on the head)
Posted by: LOLing at lol at December 20, 2010 10:19 PM
LOLing, when your medication wears off, you might wake up to find that the world has changed. This city - and most others that you might visit in the little time you might have left on this earth - are not going to become more car friendly.
It takes a certain amount of maturity to realize that the world has changed, I hope that if you can stay off the meds long enough, you'll understand what has happened. Also, you might realize that there are new places for you to stop and rest in between your senile rants.
SFRenegade, we don't need others to understand or agree. Your support is greatly appreciated and welcome, but entirely unnecessary. The parklets are largely uncontroversial, except here, it seems.
Not that it matters, but I hear Fresno is awfully car friendly.
Posted by: Embarcadero at December 20, 2010 10:34 PM
I don't have a problem with the parklets, but the SUV bashing is getting old... I find that it is funny that the most of the same people that bash SUVs since they are "big and dangerous to bikes" support more buses that are even bigger and more dangerous to bikes...
P.S. I spend a lot of time on a bike, but I've never been hit by a SUV (I have been hit by a Toyota Corolla, a Chevy Camaro, a Chrysler Minivan and a big USPS delivery truck)...
Posted by: FormerAptBroker at December 20, 2010 10:39 PM
This city is filling itself with more educated, successful and dynamic people. Many of them ride bikes. The city better adapt to this or else it's going to lose them.
Cyclists also often own cars. But I am sure a lot less would do so if this city started to get its acts together.
Car ownership in NY and Paris is pretty low. Density is a factor, but public transportation is sufficient to live on a daily basis.
Whereas SF has the public transit of a middle-sized Mexican city.
About buses, the good thing about them is that one can carry 50 people. Plus Muni drivers (mostly) know how to drive and look FIRST before changing lane. SUVs are often driven by overworked types who confuse speed and efficiency.
Not that cyclists are much better. Today I was passing a slow guy pretty fast down Market. He turned his head before changing lanes and pulled right in front of me. He heard a mouthful. Young guy, probably thinks nothing can happen to him... Darwin will tell us soon if he will pass his suicidal cyclist genes.
Posted by: lol at December 20, 2010 11:03 PM
Seriously? these so called educated, successful and dynamic people are the same hipsters I see hanging out on Valencia St with their glazed eyes and pouty faces, where nothing is really important and nothing really matters?
Except getting into insane lines at Ritual for an overpriced coffee.
Or the young dudes with flat asses wearing their overpriced skinny jeans so low you can see their butt crack when they ride their fixies?
And the same ones who are renters with 5 roommates in a cramped apartment on Guerrero all staring at their laptops or texting endlessly on their Iphones?
Ok. just checking. Just wanted to make sure they're the same educated, dynamic and successful ones you were talking about.
Posted by: noearch at December 21, 2010 12:17 AM
noearch - you need to get out of that foul neighborhood you live in a bit more. I read your post and thought to myself how happy I was to live far, far away from the Mission.
Your description of cyclists may be unintentionally autobiographical: sounds like someone feels a bit insecure in the morning waiting in line for his overpriced coffee.
How are these unhappy hipsters you describe any different than the SUV driving yuppies who double park every morning all over North Beach and Nob Hill (where I live) ? Answer: both groups may be annoying, but only one operates vehicles that have the effect of backing up traffic, slowing public transit and fouling the air.
All things being equal, city policy should favor the "dudes with fat asses" who ride fixies over the cranky, insecure middle-aged yuppie motorist.
Posted by: Embarcadero at December 21, 2010 4:21 AM
Did I mention hipsters? There's more to the Mission than that crowd. Fortunately. Plus, a lot of the ones I see in the place you mentioned are a bit too fat to be the skinny cyclists we all envision.
Skinny jeans fit to almost no one. The worst is girls with regular woman shapes. Please, please do not wear these, this is burning my eyes.
I don't know about your characterization of SUV drivers. Many are regular people trying to live a normal life: 2 cars, 2 dogs, 2.1 kids. Doing this in SF is extremely costly which means long hours and a lot of pressure. They didn't get the memos 1 - that they'd have a much better life in the 'burbs and 2 - that one inch of space you gain in the city is stolen from someone else (hence the angry stares from some cyclists).
Posted by: lol at December 21, 2010 7:15 AM
On the subject of *this* post (vs. SUVs/bicycles):
- the parklets are temporary. So if the sky falls on this, they can be removed.
- the business sponsoring it has to maintain it. Seems fair to me. You'd be surprised to find a lot of business' don't want these parklets because they don't want to clean them daily, watch for vandals, insure them, etc.
- yes, the business gets some benefits as it's right outside their door. They also lose the parking spots that were there. They also can't ask folks sipping coffee from other vendors there to leave. All in all, doesn't seem a huge win or huge loss.
- I'm betting the city already did some calculation on loss of parking $ vs. gain of street-scape (which may mean more folks walk / spend $ on nearby shops / etc).
In the end, if there isn't much of a change in $ loss to the city, I'm a fan. They look nice. They invite more people to walk around and enjoy the street.
Posted by: DanRH at December 21, 2010 8:46 AM
The homeless and drug dealers are not going anywhere. Deal with it.
Drivers should be fined if they drive SUVs by themselves. In fact, SUVs and pick up trucks should have an added 50¢ per gallon gas tax every time they fill up and 10% car registration fee added to their licenses. I have a tiny VW GTI that I drive around occasionally, and I make 80- 90% of my commutes on a bike, and less than 1% on MUNI. When I am on my bike, I am freeing up traffic congestion on the streets and in public parking spaces. And when I drive, I am a responsible driver with a decently fuel efficient car that fits into small spaces and doesn't hog up 2 or more spots that smaller cars could fit in. If everyone in the city owned a small car the size of a MINI we could double, maybe triple the amount of street parking in this city.
Now I will wait for the next commenter to tell me that they have a right and need to drive a school bus to go to the grocery store.
Posted by: @noearch at December 21, 2010 10:36 AM
Hey people! those of you who know my postings well also know that I love throwing in a bit of sarcasm and snark with my comments.
This is part entertainment and blog theater as well.
Love the reference to the "tiny" GTI..makes me feel good. That means my bmw is not that big too.
Posted by: noearch at December 21, 2010 10:59 AM
I have a truck and an SUV and I have a right to drive them thank you very much. I Might trade the SUV in for a minivan, maybe something bigger.
It is nice you get around in your little car, but I take it you don't have a construction company or say coach a youth soccer team. Becuase if you start doing either of these you may find that the small car doesn't fit your needs anymore.
Posted by: sparky-b at December 21, 2010 11:57 AM
SO how are the Europeans and every other civilization in the world able to do everything you just mentioned with automobiles 1/3 the size? I don't think I ever saw an SUV the whole 4 months I was in Europe- and if I did it was probably an America tourist in a rental car.
Using a truck for construction and hauling purposes is legitimate, using it to go to 7-11 to buy a twinkie and a slim jim is not, that is my complaint. You do have the right to pay the gasoline premium, which is just getting more and more expensive, so good luck to you on that. Eventually you will come around to our side.
Posted by: @sparky-b at December 21, 2010 12:09 PM
For toting kids and groceries around in Europe the answer is better public transit and closer proximity to more mom and pop stores, more smaller trips to the store, etc. Lots of things are built at or near the train and subway line over there as well.
Anyway, I'm not on the other side from you. I'm just saying that fact someone has an SUV or pickup doesn't make them wasteful. They work for what they are built for. I agree you should drive them to the store for a twinkie.
Posted by: sparky-b at December 21, 2010 12:28 PM
Wait Wait sparky-b! You have me wrong. I love SUV's. just don't have one now, but we are selling our two vehicles sometime this year to get a hybrid suv. They are great for long road trips to the desert area and hauling our camping equipment.
My comment about my "small bmw" was in reference to another comment about his "tiny gti". a car is a car. Trucks are cool too. they work for some people, and it should be their choice to own one or not.
When certain groups of people start telling all of us which cars we "should" drive, or even own a car at all, they have crossed the line about personal choice.
Posted by: noearch at December 21, 2010 1:09 PM
noearch that poster called himself/herself "@noearch" in the post I was writing about, I didn't mean to address you. I think you and I agree an SUV or truck or Econoline are the correct tool for the job on some occasions. Those occasions are not getting twinkies (that should only be done on rollerblades), or getting slimjims )that should be done in Healies).
Posted by: sparky-b at December 21, 2010 2:12 PM
When certain groups of people dictate that curb cuts driveways and garage doors "should" be installed in the neighborhood, then they have crossed the line about their personal choice. There is no more of a selfish political faction in California than automobile drivers, yet they want you to believe that they are a repressed minority. Hell, they are given at least 20% of the surface area of SF alone for their automobiles, all the rest of us are just asking for a crumb, yet we are being outrageous. Right.
Posted by: @noearch 1:09pm at December 21, 2010 2:13 PM
"When certain groups of people start telling all of us which cars we "should" drive, or even own a car at all, they have crossed the line about personal choice."
I respectfully disagree. When I speak up about wanting disincentives for private automobile use and incentives to use public transit, I'm weighing in on an important public policy debate that happens to be central to the future of our city, state and country.
I'm quite comfortable opposing new parking, supporting efforts to improve the city for cyclists or pedestrians or otherwise creating a less car-friendly, more people-friendly city. I'd like to see SF impose Singapore-style tolls on all main streets for vehicles, eliminate all free parking and vastly improve public transit. I'm not worried that you may feel your personal choice to own and operate private automobiles on public streets is impinged. In fact, I think you should get used to feeling the pinch.
Posted by: embarcadero at December 21, 2010 2:19 PM
Personal choice or not, those bloody SUVs blocks my view and affects my overall safety when I am cycling. Where's my personal choice there?
Posted by: lol at December 21, 2010 2:38 PM
I would have imagined—somehow, not sure why— that this blog would be able to conduct sensible debate and discussion on some of the opportunities the city has before them.
It sounds as though, the crotchety older people can only reference their hatred for over priced coffee and dirty hipsters... whereas the few that have logically engaged the post, are for the Parklets.
Unfortunately this dichotomy and behavior is quite similar in everyday life (and in city planning meetings, apparently ) unfortunately all the bitching isn't making the place we all live, any better.
Posted by: Rob at December 21, 2010 2:39 PM
Thanks rob for that wonderful insight.
I like my curb cut, and my driveway and my garage and my house that I worked very hard to buy. No apologies there, ever.
My property taxes, in part, help pay for the parklets and streetcleaning and other public services.
I suspect most Californians will keep owning and using cars for many decades to come. I mean how else would they get to their second home at Tahoe or Palm Springs?
Posted by: noearch at December 21, 2010 3:54 PM
We should thank those with low mileage cars, more than 70% of the cost per gallon is for taxes that pay for roads, repairs and even ridiculous things like bike lanes.
There are some exceptions to this, however the average "I ride my bike everywhere" person in this city is not exactly a high earner/tax payer.
Posted by: Jimmy C at December 21, 2010 4:09 PM
Jimmy C, would you care to cite your source on that assertion that the enthusiastic, everyday cyclist is "not exactly a high earner/tax payer"? In the absence of any actual data, this really just comes across as mud slinging.
As for the idea that 70% of gasoline is tax, please note that it is still not enough to cover the costs of freeways, highway and every county road and city street in the state.
As an enthusiastic, everyday cyclist who pays top tier federal tax along with high five-figure CA income tax, I have to say that I resent shelling out tax money for automobile infrastructure that is inefficient and dirty and not for my use.
Please remember that it is I who is subsidizing the infrastructure that you use. Until every road is a toll road, you owe me.
Posted by: Embarcadero at December 21, 2010 4:27 PM
I'm a big proponent of putting the external costs on the parties that enjoy a net benefit rather than society at large where the activity at issue is detrimental to society -- causes pollution, illness, noise, etc. I'm all for NOx taxes for power plants and factories, for example. And it is true that the road and freeway system is hugely subsidized by taxpayers. However, that same road and freeway system provides enormous benefits economically and in efficiency. It would be pretty hard to make the case that the costs inflicted on society by providing all these roads outweigh the benefits. Those calling for an end to their share of the costs have to be willing to give up their share of the benefits to be consistent. And what would we ride our bikes on without all these roads?
High gas taxes to encourage efficient cars/trucks? I'm all for them. An end to taxpayer-funded roads? That would be disastrous, and would take a huge hit out of that high income on which you (and I) pay taxes.
Posted by: A.T. at December 21, 2010 4:57 PM
Right on Jimmy c: I agree.
Posted by: noearch at December 21, 2010 5:34 PM
Some of the highest earners in the city rely on MUNI and ride their bikes from Pacific Heights to the financial district. You can continue to drive, but you are forever going to be frustrated and angry, because this city is not built for cars, and it's not going to change in the future (it's just going to get worse).
Posted by: @Jimmy C 4:09 PM at December 21, 2010 6:24 PM
"And what would we ride our bikes on without all these roads?"
Railroads. Please note that it's currently difficult to take bikes on BART or Caltrain, and one must pay extra to take them on Amtrak. There is simply no need for freeways, which can and should be replaced by infrastructure that makes better use of taxpayer cash.
I'd be delighted to re-invest infrastructure money into railroads, ferries and other more efficient forms of transit. Automobiles should play a relatively minor role in transportation. I'm opposed to spending a single dime of taxpayer money on the construction of a new freeway or parking lot until our transit infrastructure is as good as that of a mid-sized Mexican city.
I'm asking that we use public policy to send sensible signals to deter people from using private automobiles. At minimum: all freeways should be toll roads and gas taxes should rise to levels sufficient to reduce general fund allocations to freeways to near zero. There should be no free parking on any street in San Francisco or any city of any size. And transit first policies would mean just that - no compromises allowing extra parking spots or the reduction of spaces for shared vehicles.
This is current policy in so many parts of the world today, I don't understand why it's so difficult for SFers to see that it will inevitably make its way here. We can do this the easy way or the hard way, and it appears that many RE enthusiasts prefer the hard way.
Posted by: embarcadero at December 21, 2010 6:25 PM
6 figs and riding every day. All riders at my job are also pretty well off. Now I see a LOT of lower wage workers with old trucks/cars that come from the burbs to clean up/fix up the city.
Saying a cyclist is doing it because of his social class is a "flyovers" way of thinking.
They don't get it and never will. In the mean time, the flyovers are trying to figure how their lives can work with their 50 miles commutes in a 15MPG truck at $4+/gallon to go earn $25/hour. It is not sustainable.
Posted by: lol at December 21, 2010 6:45 PM
If there should be "no free parking on any public streets" then I want to all cyclists start paying a daily toll fee for riding down Valencia or Market or any other public street.
Right now cyclists don't pay anything for all the new bike lanes and associated costs.
Cyclists should also be required by law to carry bike insurance, and their bikes should be legally registered, just like cars are.
Fair is fair.
Posted by: noearch at December 21, 2010 7:22 PM
noearch - you forgot to call for pedestrian insurance as well. Because, you know, walkers can knock people over too.
It will be interesting to hear whether anyone comes up with a significant complaint against the proposed parklets. Loss of parking spaces is an odd complaint. Its validity rests on whether car storage or public park space is a better use of that tiny parcel. I'd prefer the latter.
I'm glad that the city is taking a cautious and reversible approach to parklets. I hope this experiment works out but if it doesn't then there's not much cost.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at December 21, 2010 9:46 PM
"If there should be "no free parking on any public streets" then I want to all cyclists start paying a daily toll fee for riding down Valencia or Market or any other public street.
Right now cyclists don't pay anything for all the new bike lanes and associated costs."
I'm unsure what the equivalence here might be. Do cyclists occupy public space like motorists do? Do they cause the harm - or potential harm - that justifies the requirement that they carry insurance? How many people were killed by cyclists last year? In the last ten years?
I'm not against registering bicycles. I'm not against insurance. It just seems that noearch is creating a silly equivalence.
And I'm not sure what noearch means when he says that cyclists "don't pay anything for all the new bike lanes and associated costs." Do I not pay income tax? Sales tax? Property tax? Why should I suddenly be required to pay more when I use less?
Posted by: embarcadero at December 21, 2010 10:18 PM
The taxes I pay every April 15 go to maintaining roads and highways, which is more than my fair share as a bicyclist, thanks.
Posted by: @noearch at December 21, 2010 10:46 PM
Yes, cyclists pay for taxes that subsidize driving. If fair is fair, charge road users for the wear/tear/usage using a formula that would account miles/footprint/weight.
If we stopped subsidizing driving we'd see how much our addiction actually costs per day, per mile, per person. This is a pretty costly habit.
Posted by: lol at December 21, 2010 11:08 PM
If we stopped subsidizing driving, we'd see our economy nosedive. And good luck getting that ambulance or fire engine to your house on Muni or the ferry.
We need comprehensive, functioning public roads and highways. But I agree that there are many modes of transportation that are superior to cars and trucks in many (not all) circumstances. I'm all for higher gas taxes to discourage casual driving and poor MPG and spending the tax revenue on more mass transit.
Posted by: A.T. at December 22, 2010 7:10 AM
A.T. - I don't think that any rational supporter of alternative transportation suggests such a radical absolutist approach of suddenly halting subsidies and requiring emergency services to take public transit. That's just a scare tactic.
Instead what would work far better is to phase out the subsidies over a period of time. Give people a chance to divest from their automotive investment as their cars naturally age and become obsolete while transit and other transpo options get better.
And of course the idea of a fire brigade waiting at a bus stop with their axes, ladders, and buckets of water is just a little bit ridiculous. That's like something out of a Kurt Vonnegut story. It will never come to pass. But consider that less congested streets will allow quicker emergency vehicle response times.
You're concerned about the economy taking a nosedive. That won't happen so long as the changes are gradual and well thought out. On the other hand I'm concerned that the economy will slam into a brick wall at 65MPH which is the course we're on today. Better to apply our ABS brakes and come to a controlled stop than have the post-petroleum economy hand us a sudden surprise.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at December 22, 2010 8:30 AM
Money is coming from our collective pockets already.
Something better than a gas tax has to be invented that would redistribute the load to the users who are 90% or the population anyway. But as more people go electric or hybrid, this might create a gap between haves (new vehicles) and have-nots (old beater guzzlers).
My point is that if some people see that the total cost for their transportation usage adds up to 20 or 30% of their paycheck, they might adjust their behavior a bit. Or use a more cost-efficient way of transport.
A more sensible use of transport would extend the lifespan of our infrastructure. London is saving millions in road repairs thanks to their Congestion Charge. If would even improve traffic flow for emergency services!
Posted by: lol at December 22, 2010 8:41 AM
MoD and lol, I think we're largely in agreement. I was simply responding with an absurd example to the notion, which I consider to be the extreme fringe, that taxpayer-funded roads and highways are a bad idea. You can't cut off road usage from the bottom quartile, or more, of the population who could not afford the proposed usage fees.
Consider this one -- how about forcing the developers who build way out in the exurbs (or anywhere, for that matter) to fund the transportation systems needed by the residents? Even I think it's a bad idea for taxpayers to pick up that tab. That would encourage more efficient residential/commercial planning.
Posted by: A.T. at December 22, 2010 8:55 AM
Why compare American's use of SUV's or other large vehicles to that of other countries? In Japan rarely will you see an SUV, but there's also a whole host of cultural issues surrounding that fact:
daily, instead of weekly, grocery trips
stores clustered around transit instead of in freeway-centric malls
kids handle their own commute to school/events
high gasoline cost
highways are all toll-ways
and -- significantly -- you cannot legally register a car in major cities without proof that you possess appropriate private (off-street) parking
Imagine what a difference that last one would make if implemented in SF. Change the auto registration process to include a sizable annual "parking offset" fee for those without off-street parking and you encourage the transit-first initiative, reduce the viability of illegal in-laws (because they usually don't include parking), and offset the loss of parking revenue from other initiatives (like parklets). I know it's not quite that simple, but there are ways to balance the desire for auto use with the desire for a greener, more pedestrian-friendly urban environment.
Posted by: Average Joe at December 22, 2010 9:11 AM
A lot of very good points.
Grocery shopping: when you see the time it takes to Trader Joe's to expand in this city, there's no question SF will always lack in local and/or affordable groceries.
Japan has its own context. It's a very dense country therefore there is a strong disincentive to owning a large car. SF has a very different context. Most of America can accommodate SUVs. Even SF's suburbs.
To reduce the use of cars, toll ways would be worsening congestion (as long as public transportation is ridiculously insufficient), even with Fastrack. A Congestion Charge based on cameras seems a very doable system though there will be a lot of pain at the beginning and we will need to build a lot of free or cheap parking at the entrance to the city.
Talking about Parklets, I tried the one next to Bernie's on 24th the other week-end. It's pretty popular. I think very few are against. Most people who go on 24th go there for the stores and sidewalks. All drivers are pedestrians too...
Posted by: lol at December 22, 2010 10:04 AM
Here is some unsubstantiated nonsense:
"London is saving millions in road repairs thanks to their Congestion Charge."
London has learned the bitter lesson, and is cutting the congestion charge to half the area it covered in recent years.
Many anti-car projects are simply ways to reserve the roads, paid for by all the people, to those who are rich.
Like many so-called left wing ideas, it is really a way for the average person to be inconvenienced for the benefit of the wealthy. There is a quip that the extreme left and extreme right meet on the other side.
Who will suffer if the only cars registered are those with offstreet parking? The ordinary Joe whose house does not have a garage and who cannot afford to rent one.
Posted by: Conifer at December 22, 2010 11:19 AM
Why should SF accommodate ordinary Joe's lifestyle? Sounds like you want to subsidize his lifestyle at the detriment to everybody else.
SF is not a city for ordinary Joe. O.J. has endless ordinary choice in this country if he chooses to stay ordinary.
Posted by: @Conifer at December 22, 2010 11:27 AM
You're discrediting the idea with a political bias. The new mayor is a Tory whose life purpose is undoing what the Labour mayor did before.
Progressives advance by compromise and thorough thinking. Hence the "Progress" part of their moniker. Anti-progressives (or whatever the other side is calling itself right now, Tea Party, NeoCon, Party-Of-No) just know one speed: reverse.
Posted by: lol at December 22, 2010 11:31 AM
Right, let's keep all the ordinary people out of our paradise.
The only ones who should be encouraged to live here are those who are willing to subject themselves to the wisdom of the Comrades.
And of course the rich who have no problem paying whatever the Comrades require so they can be left alone.
Urban happiness guaranteed by those who know best!
Posted by: Conifer at December 22, 2010 11:37 AM
The Labour mayor was known as Red Ken for a reason. He was not the choice of the mainstream Labour Party and was not the choice of Blair who was then Prime Minister.
The current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is a Tory but on the American scale would be a Newsom or a Jerry Brown age 72.
They are undoing the Congestion Charge because it failed.
"Progressive" is a misnomer. It is generally assumed by people who do not want to be called Liberal because that word has taken on a leftist connotation. "Progressives" are interested only in the "progress" of their own agenda, which generally means controlling other people's lives.
It also has a number of quasi-religious peculiarities, such as opposition to nuclear power, even though that is a safe and cheap method nowadays, used in France for most of its electricity.
"Progressives" are not interested in compromise, which is why they are so angry at Obama. They certainly are interested in thinking, but only as long as you think their way.
"Progressives" especially those in SF politics are to traditional Roosevelt and Stevenson Democrats what the tea party is to the Republicans.
Posted by: Conifer at December 22, 2010 12:06 PM
Limits are everywhere in this world. I agree there are many rules in SF that do not make sense or are outright against the majority's interest. Like homelessness mitigation or intervention into the RE market. These pin the middle class against the less well-off.
It seems like SF is mostly governed from the extremes. Philanthropists/lobbyists on one side, and social activists on the other. But the people have spoken last November. The Daly/Peskin era is coming to an end. I hope the city will work more for the majority instead of the permanent appeasement of the crazies like today.
Posted by: lol at December 22, 2010 12:12 PM
"It will be interesting to hear whether anyone comes up with a significant complaint against the proposed parklets."
As they are manifested in SF, there is a problem. As I mentioned, the Blue Bottle parklet that currently exists is entirely a product of corruption as I've mentioned in prior threads.
Posted by: sfrenegade at December 22, 2010 1:45 PM
If you want to live in paradise, you have to pay your fair share to do so. Why should the rest of us subsidize your convenience to drive and park wherever you like? Pay your own fair, I pay far more than mine.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at December 22, 2010 7:12 PM
Actually I think I pay more than you do NVjim.
Posted by: noearch at December 22, 2010 8:20 PM
Give people a chance to divest from their automotive investment as their cars naturally age and become obsolete while transit and other transpo options get better.
MoD, Did you see that Daimler AG is getting into the automobile as a service model (aka. car sharing) with pilot programs in Germany and Austin, Texas? They're taking it to the next level, with per minute metering and no fixed drop off points. Sorry folks, they're only offering Smart cars right now.
Posted by: EBGuy at December 23, 2010 12:17 PM
Using France in your example is laughable. France has a social system that progressives wouldn't even dream of and that the Republicans have nightmares of.
If they have 80% of their power from nuclear, this is thanks to STRONG GOVERNMENT that did what it had to do for the "common good" without asking its own constituents!
About Obama and compromise. Republicans never try to compromise when they are in power (get me one example of meaningful compromise from GWB), but are begging for it when they are not. Unfortunately we have a president who listens too much. He keeps reaching out to the right but doesn't get that he's wasting his time and political capital. Whatever appeasement he gives to the crazies, he will not get any votes or compromise from the radicalized right, but he is sure losing many from the left.
Posted by: lol at December 23, 2010 12:38 PM
Ahhh yes, Noe Valley- the overwhelming stench of New Money.
Posted by: @noearch 8:20 at December 23, 2010 2:10 PM
Here is what Paris thinks of SUVs:
To any Parisian who drives an SUV, Baupin's advice is: "Sell it and buy a vehicle that's compatible with city life.
"I'm sorry, but having a sport utility vehicle in a city makes no sense," Baupin told RTL radio.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at December 23, 2010 9:17 PM
EBGuy - I hadn't heard of that program though Daimler certainly has the competence to understand whether the whole vertical enterprise will be profitable. Like other car share programs it can reduce the need for parking. Congestion is unaffected though.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at December 23, 2010 10:19 PM
I can't wait until somebody points out that these parklets don't have disabled access. (Which does mean they aren't "more pedestrian area" as far as I'm concerned.) The ones I've seen have a tendency to cause sidewalk crowding, in fact. (Nor are they putting them in places that currently lack parks and greenery. Probably because a "parklet" on 6th St might as well be a urinal.)
If this place gets a parklet, can they fill it up with bike racks and move those pedestrian-unfriendly U-bends out of my way? That would be nice.
As for the bike mafia: you do realize your precious bikes won't work for the disabled, right? Or do I have to stick my cane in your spokes the next time you cut me off illegally on the sidewalk and see how you do on crutches?
I've lived in this city for around 15 years now, occasionally driving, walking and limping and now in a wheelchair. I've been hit by a car once as a pedestrian (I was unhurt and visibility was bad, I don't blame the driver much) and never had a moving vehicle accident. It probably helps that I pay attention to my surroundings.
I've been hit by bicyclists *4* times, usually on sidewalks (where they shouldn't even be). Every time the cyclist was at fault. Most of the time I got cussed at and that was it - only once did the biker stop to make sure I was okay.
The bike mafia are doing themselves a lot of harm, driving away people who should be on the same side - pedestrians.
Posted by: wheelchairgirl at December 27, 2010 2:52 AM