San Francisco needs to radically rethink its transportation system to avoid gridlock
Here's one small additional idea for raising seed money: In the wake of the Google bus controversy, the SFCTA, SFMTA, SF Planning Department, and City Attorney's Office should assemble a crack team of California Environmental Quality Act experts and send them (on Caltrain and bike share!) down to comment on every large-scale suburban office project proposed in Silicon Valley. For example, Mountain View, where Google has its campus, is effectively displacing part of its transportation and housing responsibility to San Francisco.
As part of the CEQA mitigation for these suburban office projects, San Francisco ought to be demanding that Google/ Mountain View contribute to paying for the Transbay Terminal and electrifying Caltrain (a separate fund would be directed to affordable housing as mitigation for displacement). This is a similar line of reasoning to the May 1 lawsuit against the Google bus pilot, but it draws in those responsible for the poor planning in suburban sprawl. Regardless, the city ought to take a look at a CEQA mitigation angle for addressing the impacts these suburban decisions are having on the city.
PRAYING FOR ENLIGHTENMENT
One last point about transit finance: I sure hope Mayor Ed Lee, his political advisors, and all those religious ministers who complained about paying for metered parking on Sundays (see "Politics over policy," April 22) have a plan to advocate for the November ballot proposals to help finance Muni.
They sold out sustainable transit advocates, their biggest ally on the November ballot initiatives, and have offered no rational explanation for their strategy, just an emotional hunch that somehow some people can't cope with Sunday metering, and that making it free again will convince them to support increased public transit funding.
I imagine there is a well-thought-out campaign strategy, whereby every Sunday between now and November, the mayor is visiting all the churches in the city, and cajoling the ministers to use their pulpits to enthusiastically preach the merits of increasing the vehicle license fee (as well as approving a related general obligation bond).
After all, the VLF is a progressive tax — the more expensive your car, the more you pay. The older and cheaper your car, the less you pay. And bringing in $73 million annually would contribute to making God's green earth cleaner, and help transport God's children safely to work and on their errands. Praise the Lord and free parking on Sunday! Amen.
Street Fight is a monthly column by Jason Henderson, a geography professor at SF State and the author of Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco.