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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quint St Bridge Decision Postponed until December

Last week, the SFCTA presented the same plan to the community that they've been bringing us for a year.  At that meeting, as at others, the TA has simply come before us to tell us what they recommend.  My suspicion is that at the Dec 5 Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, the CAC will find out that the community is not on-board with this plan, despite repeated meetings on the subject.  However, my suspicion is also that at the Dec 11 full TA Board meeting, that the staff recommendation will be to go ahead with the road closure plan regardless of community concerns, and that the board will approve it.

Gripe time... The TA staff have never seemed interested in closing the sale or telling community meetings why it could be a boon to our neighborhood to go with the road closure option.  Why should we want this?  What's in it for us as a community besides 'less stinky digesters' (don't get me wrong - that's huge!).  What design options have you already thought of or have already been installed in other projects that could make your one and only option more appealing to the community?  By losing 25% of the access with your proposed connector road, what options have been considered to help get that back or compensate the community for that loss?  
The connector road adds 600-ft per trip, which over the course of a year, adds up to about 57 miles.  Over that year, this connector road would add roughly 2 gallons of gas, costing each motorist about $10/year more.  For each trip, at a walking speed of 3.5 mph, this 600-ft adds 2 minutes to a pedestrian's travel time; at a biking speed of 10 mph, this adds 45 seconds to a cyclist's ride; and at a driving speed of 25 mph, this adds 18 seconds to a motorist's trip. 
One of the biggest failings of the night was in the presenter (sorry Colin) not seeming to realize that a commitment had been made by Supervisor Cohen and TA executives to do everything in their power, including writing it into the resolution, that the connector road be built prior to (if possible) the closure of Quint St. so that minimal access is lost.  I knew this factoid at the meeting, but it took twenty minutes for the TA staff to get around to saying it, and by then, the meeting was off the rails and people were pissed, so I'm not sure how many were only listening to their own histrionics at that point.

Look, I've been as big a complainer about this as anyone, but even I can see many good things coming out of closing Quint StIt's unfortunate that no one from the TA is presenting it to the community by explaining that there would be:
  • no more dumping on the northeast (PUC side) side of the bridge
  • an opportunity to beautify the southwest side of the bridge (which would be a berm) and install security, lighting, and landscaping features that the community would enjoy and that would deter dumping and graffiti
There are only two requirements I would demand in supporting this road closure.  First, that the connector road be built (or be on track to being built) prior to closing Quint St (which the TA and Cohen have committed to).  Secondly, that money received by the City from the PUC in vacating Quint between the bridge and Jerrold be used on fully-funding the connector road, security, lighting, beautification/landscaping around the western side of the berm, and improvements to traffic and access for pedestrians, bikes, and buses in the surrounding area.

My recommendations to their presenters and anyone who wants to come into our neighborhood to convince us of something they want to do...
  • make people believe that you are sympathetic to them and that you have been listening to their concerns!  If someone proposed closing a road in your neighborhood, what would you want them to say to you?  How much farther will people have to walk out of their way to now get around the area?  What are you doing to make it safe for them to do this? 
  • don’t be afraid to explain concepts that you’re using in coming to the decisions you have made.  You throw out planning terms like "30% design stage" without realizing the audience has no idea what you mean, and it ends up sounding like you’re showing off your superiority
  • make sure your shtick passes the smell test.  The audience you're talking to assumes you're hiding something, so to use an unconvincing and outdated argument for the station at Oakdale such as “this is what that community has said they want” doesn't cut it.  Option 2 has never been a valid option since the Jerrold/Quint bridge projects were split in 2009 and the TA made a station at Oakdale a requirement of any bridge replacement, and you need to explain why.
  • change your shtick entirely: in all the meetings so far, the overriding input you have heard has been that the community wants Quint St kept open.  Yet the TA continues to present the same figures, same designs, and same plans, without presenting any evidence to show us you've even tried to take what you've heard from the community into account.  I know this isn't the case, but you have to show what you've been doing, not just say you've been doing it.  Show people that you have looked at multiple options, show us what they looked like, how they were inadequate and why they were discounted.  To just say that you have three options is not entirely true - you've had many, it's just that these three are the last options that you're left with, but you have to show people why that is!
  • convince us why the community should want a station at Oakdale by saying something like,
"Boardings at the 22nd St Caltrain station have increased 136% since 2004, and 21% in the last year alone.  Last year, 1252 people boarded at 22nd St, and as the economy improves and gas prices continue to rise, this number is going to increase.  Projections are that, with no other changes to the system, xxxx people will be boarding at 22nd St. by 2020.  All the ridership studies done to date indicate that there will be a need for a second infill station in San Francisco in the next ten years so as to meet demand, and that Oakdale remains the ideal location.  So we need to be ready for it by building something now that will accommodate a station, and that's why we're stuck on Options 1 and 3."
Here are some questions that I have not heard answered at these community meetings that the TA might consider addressing:


- how did we get here (give some history beyond "the bridge was built in 1907 and is now cracked)?  Mention studies dating back to the 80's and why nothing has been done until now
- why were Jerrold/Quint bridge projects split apart?
- how did the berm idea come about in 2009 (what agencies pushed for it and why)?  


- what are the timelines for all projects in the area, and what things (like CEQA) sets those timelines?
- what does SFPUC's master plan look like?


- how does closing Quint St benefit the community and not just SFPUC?
- why did it take two years before the berm idea was brought to the community for input?


- what does 30% design stage mean, and what planning can be done before and what cannot?
- what other major planning concepts are you're using to achieve $, timeline, etc?


- why do we need to prepare for a station at Oakdale?
- why are the bridge design recommendations from 2004's study no longer valid?
- what community are you talking about that is saying they want a station at Oakdale - is this based on the 2004 input that the TA is trying to pass off as community desire when it's really theirs or is it based on recently collected data?
- many people believe that a station at Oakdale is not useful, so why is the Oakdale station something that the TA still requires?


- given where you are now, how much more ($) value engineering is possible on Option 3?
- what does Option 3 look like (materials, span, center post, etc) and why does it have to be one way and not another, cheaper way?  Show other designs and give valid reasons why they were rejected, not just that they cost too much.

Southeast Community Facility Commission
Thursday, November 8, 6 p.m.
Southeast Community Facility, Alex J. Pitcher Room
1800 Oakdale Avenue

Hunters Point Shipyard Citizens Advisory Committee
Monday, November 19, 6 p.m.
Southeast Community Facility, Alex J. Pitcher Room
1800 Oakdale Avenue

Transportation Authority Board Plans and Programs Committee
Tuesday, December 4, 10:30 a.m.
City Hall, Room 263

Authority Citizens Advisory Committee
Wednesday, December 5, 6 p.m.
1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor

Transportation Authority Board
Tuesday, December 11, 11 a.m.
City Hall, Room 250

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