San Francisco , CA 94117, 94110, 94107, 94103, 94133
February 10, 2014
Masonic Avenue Project has many major inaccuracies & a flawed environmental study
Save Masonic details objections to the Masonic Avenue bicycle project:
Dear Ms. Tse, Mr. Panmai and Ms. Carle:
The Preliminary Environmental Study dated December 16, 2013, filed by the SFMTA about the Masonic Avenue project has many major inaccuracies, including:
* In answer to the question “Will the project generate public controversy?” MTA checked the “no” box. (Page 3, question 2.) In fact, nearly 1,200 people have signed an online petition opposing the project. Others signed a printed version with identical wording as the online petition; they didn’t provide an e-mail address and therefore their names don’t appear online. Also, a neighborhood merchant, Ibrahim Ahwal, gathered over 150 signatures on a hard copy petition (different from the online petition) opposing the project. MTA is well aware of the online petition, has received numerous emails and letters opposing the project, and has a copy of the hard copy petition.
See http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-masonic-avenue. Please look at the comments on the petition.
* MTA claims the project doesn’t affect the number of through lanes on city streets. (Page 13, explanation on question 3.) In fact, the project would reduce the number of travel lanes during rush hour by eliminating the northbound tow-away lane that currently exists during morning rush-hour and by eliminating the southbound tow-away lane that currently exists during evening rush hour. Also, MTA claims that the bus bulbouts don't affect the alignment or number of through traffic lanes. In fact, the bus bulbouts would affect the alignment of through traffic lanes.
* In answer to the question "Will the project affect access to properties or roadways?", MTA has checked the "no" box. (Page 4, question 29.) In fact, access to all driveways on Masonic will be impacted. Also, the raised concrete cycle track would affect drainage. Moreover, currently residents on Masonic can park across their driveways; if the project is implemented, they no longer will be able to do so.
* In discussing bus bulbouts (page 15), MTA fails to mention that buses will be stopping in one of the two travel lanes, increasing congestion while the buses are stopped. This will also create danger, as motorists try to go around the buses into the one remaining lane that is moving.
* MTA minimizes the extent and impact of the parking loss. (Page 14, question 32.)
First, it's likely that more than 167 parking spaces are being eliminated because MTA counts 20 feet as a parking space, whereas the distance between some driveways is less than 20 feet but enough for a vehicle to park there.
Second, residents of Masonic will no longer be able to park across their driveways; this is not accounted for by MTA.
Third, in calculating net parking spaces eliminated, MTA adds back 20 parking spaces gained by converting parallel parking to angled or perpendicular, but the street in question is a couple of blocks from Masonic (and, significantly, beyond the radius in which MTA says it was required to notify people about the project. MTA wants it one way when it comes to notice, and another way when it comes to calculating parking capacity).
Fourth, MTA has eliminated more than 20 parking spaces in the streets near Masonic as part of various projects; if the additional 20 spaces gained from changing parallel to angled/perpendicular parking are included in the project impact, then the other spaces lost in the nearby streets should also be counted; this would result in a net loss of more than 167 parking spaces, even if the first two points in this paragraph aren't taken into account.
Fifth, the parking study cited by MTA in in its documents about this project is deficient and misleading.
Sixth, in its environmental documents for the bicycle plan and various components of it, MTA, wrongly, does not consider parking loss an environmental impact.
Seventh, in the answer to question 32 MTA states it is working with the district supervisor to identify additional parking spaces near the project area; to my knowledge, the district supervisor and MTA have been unable to find any such spaces. But MTA doesn't mention this.
* MTA doesn’t mention the negative impact on emergency response that would be caused by installing a raised concrete median for the length of the project.
* In several places MTA continues to repeat its misleading account of the process by which the Masonic project was developed, failing to mention that thousands of neighborhood residents who will be affected never received notice or an opportunity to participate in any meetings about the project. MTA also fails to mention that it has refused requests to hold even a nonbinding vote of neighborhood residents about the project; this request was made in order to test MTA's repeated assertions that the project has overwhelming community support.
See www.savemasonic.com (especially the FAQ) for a discussion of many aspects of the Masonic project that would have a negative environmental impact.
MTA has not seriously considered alternatives to the project that would have less of an environmental impact...
In sum, the Preliminary Environmental Study should be rejected because it is inaccurate and misleading, and because the Masonic project would have a negative environmental impact.
To learn more go to Save Masonic.com
Sign the petitition at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-masonic-avenue
November 15, 2013
Q1: $18 million. That seems like a lot of money, especially considering San Francisco’s fiscal problems.Why is the cycle track project so expensive?
A: Ask MTA. The project includes a raised concrete cycle track on Masonic from Geary to Fell, around 7/10 of a mile. That’s a lot of concrete. (At $18.2 million for 7/10 of a mile, the project cost is around $26 million per mile). And $18.2 million is the estimate in late 2012. The final price tag could well be higher. Back to top
Q2: Did MTA hire independent, third-party experts to analyze the project impacts?
A: No. The limited analysis that was performed, was done in-house by MTA. Back to top
Q3: Did MTA analyze the impact of the project on the streets near Masonic?
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Q4: Did MTA analyze the impact of the additional traffic that will be generated by the Target store at Masonic and Geary?
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Q5: What will be the impact of removing the dedicated right turn lane from Geary eastbound onto southbound Masonic?
A: Currently, vehicles going eastbound on Geary turn right onto southbound Masonic using a dedicated right turn lane before Masonic, thus avoiding having to go all the way to Masonic. The project will remove this lane, so both vehicles turning southbound and those proceeding straight on Geary will have to go all the way to Masonic. Congestion will increase, especially with the additional traffic from the Target store.
Q6: Did MTA analyze the impact of the 18 month construction period on the neighborhoods along Masonic?
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Q7: Did MTA analyze the cumulative impact of the project combined with the removal of parking on the South sides of Fell and Oak Streets?
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Q8: Did MTA notify holders of residential parking permits in the area about the project or about any meetings regarding the project?
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Q9: Does MTA have contact information for the holders of residential parking permits in the area?
A: Yes. MTA issues and administers the residential parking permits, so it has that information readily available. Back to top
Q10: Did MTA notify residents of the area on and around Masonic about the project on a timely, systematic and consistent basis, including meaningful detail about the reduction of travel lanes and removal of parking? Were these residents given fair notice far enough in advance of decisions?
A: No. MTA claims it did, but outreach was skewed toward supporters and likely supporters, not residents and businesses that will be affected. Thousands of residents who will be directly affected received no notice whatsoever. Of those who did receive notice, some didn't receive notice of all meetings, and many didn't receive notice in a timely manner. Also, no outreach was done to people who don't live in the area but commute on Masonic, except for supporters and likely supporters. Back to top
Q11: MTA claims the project has overwhelming community support. Would MTA agree to a non-binding vote by notifying all residents, in writing, within a specified area of Masonic about the project and giving them an opportunity to vote on whether or not they approve of it?
A: MTA has refused to hold even a nonbinding, advisory vote, with Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin stating: "Putting the project to a vote would not only confuse the community and others who worked to bring the project to this point, it would also imply that managing the public right-of-way should be an inherently political process." MTA's fear of testing its claim through direct democracy is understandable, because in 2004, after nearly a year of neighborhood pressure, the Department of Parking and Traffic (MTA's predecessor) agreed to hold a vote about the Page Street traffic circles, and residents opposed that project 77% to 23%. And more recently, MTA conducted an online survey about its plan to eliminate huge amounts of parking on Polk Street; although it skewed the survey design in favor of the plan, a majority of respondents opposed it. Yet MTA is continuing to push its plan to eliminate parking on Polk Street. Visit Save Polk Street
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Q12: Why will the project reduce the number of travel lanes on Masonic?
A: Currently, on certain blocks of Masonic there is no parking during morning commute hours (Northbound - the East side of the street) and evening commute hours (Southbound - the West side of the street), which results in an additional travel lane at those times.The project would install cycle tracks at the curb lanes, so the extra travel lane will be eliminated. Back to top
Q13: What will be the impact of the bus bulbouts?
A: When buses stop to load and unload passengers, the bus will remain in the rightmost of the two travel lanes (the lane adjacent to the cycle track), so only one travel lane will be moving.Congestion is likely to increase.Also, in order to access the bus stops, pedestrians will have to cross the cycle track.
Q14: How many street parking spaces will be lost?
A: MTA says around 167 street parking spaces will be lost. The actual number may be more because MTA counts 20 linear feet as a parking space, but some of the parking spaces along Masonic between driveways are less than 20 feet and may not be included in the count. Also, residents on Masonic will no longer be able to park across their driveways. Back to top
Q15: Are there any other MTA projects in the area that would affect street parking?
A: MTA has already removed all parking on the South side of Fell between Baker and Scott, and will also remove all parking on the South side of Oak between Baker and Scott. MTA has a plan to install parking meters on some of the streets near USF, and possibly on the perimeter blocks of the John Adams campus of City College. Back to top
Q16: I have a garage. How will the cycle track affect me?
A: It will increase congestion on Masonic, especially during rush hour, and increase traffic on nearby streets as drivers avoid the increased traffic on Masonic. Pollution will be increased, as traffic on the nearby streets is increased and as drivers circle further and longer in search of parking. Emergency response time will be slowed down. You will no longer be able to park across your driveway. Back to top
Also, Masonic and the surrounding areas will become a chaotic, congested mess during the 18 month construction period.
Even though you have a garage, it will be harder for friends visiting you to find parking. At night, the personal safety risk for your friends will be increased, as they will have to park further from your home and walk further to return to their cars.Because there’ll be so much less parking available in the area, it will be harder, and maybe ultimately more costly, for you to get deliveries, to do construction, painting and other work on your home, and to have visits from service providers. Back to top
Q17: I live on Masonic. How will I be affected?
A: Besides the impacts described above, it will be much more difficult for you to: load/unload people and packages; take a taxi; have paratransit service; have items delivered; have visitors; move in and out of your home; and have construction, maintenance, painting and other work done.
If you have a garage, it will be more difficult and dangerous to pull out of your driveway. Your ability to see cyclists will be limited. Also, cars pulling out of driveways on a busy street such as Masonic can only do so when motor vehicle traffic is stopped by a red light. Given that some cyclists don’t obey traffic signals, you could be pulling out of your driveway when you don’t expect any traffic, only to hit an unexpected cyclist. Because some cyclists don’t use lights, this will be even more dangerous at night.
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Q18: I have a disability. How will I be affected?
A: The major parking loss will especially hurt seniors and disabled people, who are limited in how far they can walk and how many streets they can cross. It will also make it more difficult for you to have home visits from caregivers, Meals on Wheels, physical, respiratory, occupational and other therapists, and repair services from wheelchair repair companies. And the increased personal safety risk at night for residents returning home and visitors returning to their cars after visiting friends will especially impact the most vulnerable - women, seniors and disabled people. Back to top
Q19: Could Masonic be improved without removing parking and without reducing travel lanes?
A: Yes. New trees could be planted, lighting and traffic signals could be improved, new bus shelters could be added, the street could be repaved, and safe, legally compliant curb ramps could be constructed. Back to top
Q20: Is there an alternative North-South bike route?
Q21: According to MTA’s own figures, a daily average of 32,000 motor vehicles used Masonic in 2010, and during 90 minutes of PM rush hour there were only 31 bicycles counted at Masonic/Golden Gate. It doesn’t seem fair to spend so much money and create so much hardship and congestion for so many residents, visitors, businesses, employees and commuters in order to benefit a small number of cyclists. Why is MTA doing this?
A: MTA hopes this project will attract many more cyclists on Masonic. This strategy of “if we build it, they will come” is based largely on general surveys about attitudes toward cycling conducted in Portland and other cities besides San Francisco. Regarding the impact on automobile drivers and passengers, consider the impact of MTA’s other projects and policies (for example, removal of street parking spaces throughout the city, reduction in travel lanes, parking meters on Sundays, hugely expensive fines for parking tickets, etc.) on people who use autos.
There is no minimum number of bicycles counted on a street for MTA to install a bicycle lane, per MTA email Aug. 2013 to Save Masonic. Back to top
Q22: What is MTA’s position on the impact of removing parking spaces?
A: The specific language from the San Francisco Planning Department quoted in the discussion below is from the Planning Department’s October 4, 2012 Certificate of Determination regarding exemption from Environmental Review for the Fell & Oak Streets Bikeways Project. However, this language is boilerplate and is basically the same as the language about parking in the Bicycle Plan Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Department is responsible for conducting environmental review or determining that a project is exempt from review; MTA has relied on and adopted the Planning Department’s position about removing parking spaces.
MTA and the Planning Department claim that loss of parking spaces is not an environmental impact under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act), merely a social effect. The Planning Department states that the “social inconvenience of parking deficits, such as having to hunt for scarce parking spaces, is not an environmental impact, but there may be secondary physical environmental impacts, such as increased traffic congestion at intersections, air quality impacts, safety impacts, or noise impacts caused by congestion.”But after acknowledging this possibility, they dismiss it in two conclusory paragraphs full of boilerplate. They claim: In the experience of San Francisco transportation planners, however, the absence of a ready supplyof parking spaces, combined with available alternatives to auto travel (e.g. transit service, taxis, bicycles or travel by foot) and a relatively dense pattern of urban development, induces many drivers to seek and find alternative parking facilities, shift to other modes of travel, or change their overall travel habits.”(Emphasis added.)
They go on to state: The transportation analysis accounts for potential secondary effects, such as cars circling looking for a parking space in areas of limited parking supply, by assuming that all drivers would attempt to find parking at or near the project site and then seek parking further away if convenient parking is available. Moreover, the secondary effect of drivers searching for parking is typically offset by a reduction in vehicle trips due to others who are aware of constrained parking conditions in a given area.” Because of this, the Planning Department concludes that any secondary environmental impacts resulting from parking shortage are minor. (The last sentence quoted is circular, and if it were really true, there would be little or no parking-related congestion anywhere because, as parking became scarcer, people would either change transportation modes or stay away from an area altogether, and the area would remain static. Imagine how bad this would be for residents and businesses in the area.)
No factual basis is stated for these conclusory assertions - no observations, no studies, no investigations, no surveys, no data, no measurements, no statistics, no analyses of the particular conditions in a particular neighborhood, no interviews, no testimony of residents, merchants or visitors – just the “experience of San Francisco transportation planners…” The time period on which their opinion is based, is unstated. The identity, professional qualifications, expertise, experience, and track record of these anonymous transportation planners are not revealed, nor is any factual, empirical basis whatsoever given for their opinion.
Moreover, the statement quoted is internally inconsistent: if drivers seek parking further away from a project area, then they would be driving further, therefore causing more congestion, more idling and more pollution.The question is: how much? But neither MTA nor the Planning Department has made a factually based attempt to answer it.
In October 2012, pursuant to the Sunshine Ordinance, the following was requested from MTA and the Planning Department:
“All documents regarding the factual statements, analyses and conclusions in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs of the section entitled “Parking” in the Exemption from Environmental Review for the SFMTA Fell & Oak Streets Bikeways Project.” [Note – The Parking section has six paragraphs; the first paragraph is an introduction describing the number of parking spaces lost in that project.]
MTA responded: “After reviewing our records, the SFMTA has determined that the agency does not have any records responsive to your request.”
The Planning Department responded: “There is nothing to provide since the “Parking” standard language does not reference any specific document, is not based on a specific study, and is grounded on the expertise of San Francisco transportation planners, as stated in the language.”
It’s revealing that the Planning Department response refers to the “‘Parking’ standard language” in the Certificate: they admit that their discussion is mere boilerplate. MTA and the Planning Department have no factual basis for their claim that parking impact would be minor.
MTA's claim that the effect of drivers searching for parking is typically offset by a reduction in vehicle trips due to others who are aware of constrained parking conditions in a given area is just plain untrue, especially in a residential area like the neighborhoods along Masonic. Most people who own cars are very unlikely to sell them even if forced into longer searches for street parking. Nor are they likely to readily switch to, or increase their use of, a flawed transit system, especially at night. And those who rent or own housing that includes off street parking are very unlikely to get rid of their cars. Back to top
Q23: What is the contact information for San Francisco officials, agencies and employees about this project?
A: E-mail addresses are below.
Mayor Ed Lee email@example.com
Board of Supervisors firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervisor London Breed (District 5) london.breed@sfgovorg
Supervisor Mark Farrell (District 2) email@example.com
Supervisor Eric Mar (District 1) firstname.lastname@example.org
MTA Board email@example.com
Ed Reiskin, MTA Director of Transportation firstname.lastname@example.org
Seleta Reynolds, Team Leader, MTA Livable Streets email@example.com
Mike Sallaberry, Masonic Project Lead firstname.lastname@example.org
James Shahamiri, Masonic Project email@example.com
Potential funding sources:
San Francisco County Transportation Authority www.sfcta.org
1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Maria Lombardo, Interim Executive Director, SFCTA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tilly Chang, Deputy Director of Planning, SFCTA, email@example.com
SFMTA Board Secretary
One South Van Ness Avenue, Seventh Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103-1267
415-701-4505 (voice); 415-701-4502 (fax)
Metropolitan Transportation Commission www.mtc.ca.gov
101 Eighth Street
Oakland, CA 94607
MTC chair, Amy Rein Worth, firstname.lastname@example.org
MTC Executive Director, Steve Heminger email@example.com
Q24: Did the Fire Department do any analyses or studies on the impact of firefighting and other emergency response?
A: No. Back to top
Q25: The project would construct a raised cycle track, above street level and below sidewalk level. Has this type of design ever been used in San Francisco or any comparable American city? Has MTA analyzed drainage and pavement issues at the intersections of the cycle track with the many dozens of driveways along Masonic?A: No and no. In response to inquiries about use of this design in other cities, the best that MTA could come up with is a cycle track on Road No. 3 in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Richmond is next to Vancouver. Here's the photo MTA provided.
September 9, 2013
No Parking on Masonic?
The Whole Neighborhood will be impacted!
1. MTA will remove ALL parking on Masonic from Fell to Geary
2. MTA will reduce the travel lanes during rush hour
3. MTA will install a median, which will impede fire trucks and other emergency
responders. This $18 million project will increase congestion, reduce safety,
increase pollution, and create a special hardship for residents, visitors and
businesses on Masonic and nearby streets.
We can stop this but only if your voice is heard!! Act now!! Sign the petition:
http://www.savemasonic.com FAQ, petition link, sample letter and contact info
ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SIGN AND COMMENT
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority is planning to remove all parking along Masonic Avenue from Fell Street to Geary Boulevard, reduce the travel lanes during rush hour so there will only be two lanes in each direction at all times (except the West (southbound) side of Masonic for the block between Hayes and Fell, which will be three lanes), install a concrete median strip with trees in the middle of the street, and install bike lanes at both curb lanes (concrete cycle tracks, above the roadway and below sidewalk level). There will be bus bulbouts, so when buses stop to load and unload passengers, only one travel lane will be moving. In order to access the bus stops, pedestrians will have to cross the cycle track. T he project will cost $20.8 million, according to a 2012 MTA grant funding application. The actual final cost is anyone's guess.
Motor vehicle traffic on Masonic was over 32,000 vehicles per day in 2010 (measured by MTA at Masonic at Fulton). Because many automobiles carry more than one person, more than 32,000 people ride on Masonic on a typical day. With the new Target store at Masonic and Geary slated to open, this volume will increase dramatically. In contrast, per SFMTA measurements, during the PM rush hour there were only 20 bikes per hour at Masonic/Golden Gate and only 32 per hour at Masonic/Fell. (And some of those at Masonic/Fell may have been proceeding along Fell, not Masonic.)
Masonic Avenue can be improved without creating these dangers, impacts and hardships, and without spending nearly $21 million. More trees can be planted along the sidewalk, lighting can be improved and bus shelters added. And rather than encouraging cyclists to bike along one of the busiest North-South streets in San Francisco, a better and safer North-South bike route can be created that includes the existing bike lanes along Baker, just a few blocks from Masonic. Click here for a description of an alternative bike route.
What can you do to help save Masonic? The MTA Board of Directors approved the cycle track project in September 2012. It will happen unless you get involved! It's imperative that you contact Mayor Ed Lee, the Board of Supervisors, Supervisors London Breed, Eric Mar and Mark Farrell, the MTA Board, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and potential funding sources, and ask them to stop this disaster in the making. It's also critical to attend meetings of the Board of Supervisors and the MTA Board.
Click here to learn more about how you can help, including a sample letter and a flyer.
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San Francisco , CA 94117, 94110, 94107, 94103, 94133