COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair); Ruth Gravanis and Angelo King
Commission Secretary: Monica Fish
ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL. The Commission on the Environment’s Policy Committee meeting was called to order at 5:06 p.m. Present: Chair Wald and Commissioner Gravanis (Excused: Commissioner King).
2. ACTION: Adoption of Minutes of the February 12, 2007 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the February 12, 2007 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent: Commissioner King). (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the February 12, 2007 Policy Committee Regular Meeting..)
3. PUBLIC COMMENTS: Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.
There was no public comment at this time.
4. INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION and DISCUSSION: Urban Environmental Accord Action 15: Transportation. An informational presentation and discussion will be held on what the City can do to help implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute
trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years. (Explanatory Document: Public Hearing Notice)
SPONSORS: Director Jared Blumenfeld and Commissioner Johanna Wald
INVITED SPEAKERS: Municipal Transportation Agency, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Municipal Transportation Commission, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
Chair Wald announced that this discussion item was derived from the Urban Environmental Accords which the City promoted and was a signatory to two years ago. It was stated that every year for the last two years, the Commission has adopted three of the twenty-one action items to pursue as a government and community. This year three new accords were adopted for the year, in which Accord 15 was one. This item will involve participation by not only the Department of the Environment, but will require engagement from the entire City, its departments, and its residents. Today’s meeting is to brainstorm on what kind of actions can be taken to achieve goals.
Director Jared Blumenfeld introduced Mr. Faiz Khan, who runs the Department’s Transportation Demand Management programs and Ms. Lauren Seaby and Ms. Carmen Yeung, who work on this program with Mr. Khan. It was stated that the Department is working on how to influence people to take less single-occupancy vehicle trips and on clean fuels programs. Mr. Khan is working with all of the different agencies on this effort. Director Blumenfeld advised that a discussion would be held today on what the agencies are doing and what we can do together to achieve goals.
Mr. David Burch, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) discussed the City’s proactiveness in applying for BAAQMD’s grant funds to run City programs and their fruitful partnership. It was stated that reducing single occupancy commute trips by 10% in the next seven years would bring the City back to where it was 20-25 years ago. Mr. Burch stated that the goal is ambitious, hopefully achievable, and one that the Air District would support. The goal would help reduce pollutants that contribute to ozone, particulate matter, and greenhouse gases that are the primary cause of global warming. Mr. Burch explained that mobile vehicles on and off road are the primary source of tail pipe pollutants in the Bay Area and account for approximately 50% of the CO2 emissions in the Bay Area, and the percentage may increase. Transportation related emissions are a key for addressing traditional pollutants and global warming in the Bay Area.
BAAQMD has worked with the City through the years, providing funding through their Transportation Fund for Clean Air (TFCA) program for a variety of City-implemented programs, e.g. the guaranteed ride home program for commuters; adding bicycle lanes, bike racks and lockers throughout the City; and promoting alternative fuel, low emission vehicles in the City fleets, shuttle vehicle fleets, and Taxi fleets that operate in the City. The BAAQMD has funded many MUNI projects for cleaning up buses and bus signal prioritization. Mr. Burch indicated that the BAAQMD has been trying to reduce motor vehicle use in the Bay Area through their transportation control measures in the Clean Air Plan since 1992. Progress had been made, but reducing motor vehicle use is not an easy task.
Mr. Burch discussed the Air District’s adoption of a regional employer based trip reduction regulation that was adopted in 1992 that was implemented for about three years at major work sites around the region. The regulation set forth a requirement to survey their employees to determine commute modes and develop plans to reduce the number of vehicle trips. Headway had been made with the regulation, but in 1995 the State Legislature through SB 47, took the authority away from all Air Districts to require those types of programs/control measures.
Mr. Burch explained that reducing motor vehicle use would not only reduce air pollution, it would reduce water pollution, visual clutter on the streets, make safer streets for bikers and pedestrians, and potentially free up land that can be put to higher uses. It was explained that a car that is just sitting there not being driven on a warm day could be emitting evaporative emissions into the atmosphere.
Mr. Burch stated that census data had been reviewed on San Francisco residents’ mode to work from 1980 to 2000, and that there was a significant increase of people driving alone to work (from 34% to 41%) and transit had dropped by 8%. The numbers were slightly different for people who work in the City including people from other counties. According to the 2000 census, it is about even between people who take transit versus people who drive to work. If you consider carpools, actually half of the people who are going to work in San Francisco are getting there in motor vehicles as in 2000. Mr. Burch stated that if the City were to take on this task, that a mechanism be established for determining whether progress is made, how it would be monitored, what would be the base year, etc.
Mr. Burch offered ideas that included:
· Requiring all commercial and office buildings to provide safe and secure bicycle parking within the building;
· Levying a tax on employer paid or employer subsidized parking;
· Requesting the City to adopt a parking-cash out policy in the form of a local ordinance;
· Creating public policy to look at ways to encourage people to live without a car. Less clutter, more space, no evaporative emissions during the day;
· Expanding the car sharing program;
· Completing a bicycle lane network within the City.
It was explained that the state parking cash out law that was passed in 1991, AB2109, was narrowly drafted and required only a small percentage of work sites to be subject to this requirement. It was left to the implementation of the Air Resources Board and was never pursued aggressively. The City is looking at implementing a Commuter Benefits Ordinance which is a step in the same direction.
Mr. Burch reported that commute trips are a big part of the problem, but by no means the lion’s share and recommended thinking more broadly. On a weekday, commute trips account for 29% of the trips and 40% of the vehicle miles on a regional basis. If you factor that on a weekly basis, commute trips are about 20% of the total trips and 30% of the total miles driven. That leaves 70% or more of the miles driven that are not commute trips. It was recommended that a review be made of parking policy reform for both work and commute trips. The Municipal Transportation Commission (MTC) is doing a good parking study right now focused on transit oriented development.
Chair Wald inquired about the parking cash out program. Mr. Burch explained that if an employer is spending money out of pocket to lease a parking lot or a space to offer free or subsidized parking to an employee, they could offer the employee the same amount of money that it costs them to provide the parking space to use an alternate means of commuting. Mr. Burch stated that if the City wanted to have its own more comprehensive measure that the City Attorney should do a review, as it appears that state law doesn’t appear to preclude the City from having its own measure.
Commissioner Gravanis stated that she supports a car-free lifestyle and indicated that reducing commute trips is important, but is a subset of the major issue, which is the emphasis on potentially reducing per capita car ownership.
Director Blumenfeld inquired about car registration data per capita. Mr. Burch stated that he believes San Francisco is a leader in car free households in the Bay Area. Mr. Doug Kimsey stated that he believes that between1980 – 2000, that car ownership per capita has gone up as a result of more women entering the workforce and that since that time period, it has started to level off. It was indicated that about 30% of the households in the City are car free. Director Blumenfeld stated that car free households would be a good climate indicator when reviewing climate change.
Director Blumenfeld inquired about SB47 and asked if anything has been done since 1995 to reinstate the BAAQMD’s power to work on regional regulation. Mr. Burch stated that he has not heard of any legislators that are working on this issue at this time.
Mr. Peter Albert, Deputy Director of Planning, Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) reported that MTA is San Francisco’s all purpose transportation agency and is in a position to develop and promote bicycle paths, pedestrian networks, and transit oriented development. Mr. Albert reported that the biggest challenge is to work effectively in the planning stages with other City departments. It was stated that MTA is strengthening their relationship with key agencies such as the Transportation Authority, which is the programmer and funder of a big part of their transportation program and a partner on complex and challenging projects. At this time, MTA is receiving help from the Mayor’s Office and the Transportation Authority on certifying an environmental review for building a bike network.
Mr. Albert advised that the Planning Department is working on better neighborhood programs for different areas of the City, e.g. the South of Market and the Eastern Neighborhoods Plans and stressed the importance of MTA collaborating with the Planning Department early enough in the process to talk about transportation goals and objectives, a better pedestrian environment, and better bicycle planning. Other departments that MTA is working with included the Redevelopment Agency in their work on Mission Bay and Bayview Hunters Point to make it a more transit oriented neighborhood.
Mr. Albert reported that in addition to working with agencies that have land use, transportation and planning responsibilities, MTA works with agencies that have social, educational, and welfare responsibilities. MTA is working with the Department of Public Health on a shape up challenge, with the Youth Commission and the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families on walk to school initiatives and the MUNI school bus system service. It was stated that MTA is reviewing policies and guidelines to position San Francisco to access funding on a statewide basis to make Transit Oriented Development (TOD) a priority.
A discussion was held on current MTA projects that include:
· Central Subway, Third Street Light Railway line soon to open seven days a week.
· Bus Rapid Transit Review. An environmental review is being done on the Van Ness Avenue Corridor in the near future. Bus rapid transit would add automatic vending machines at stations so that passengers can purchase a ticket before they get on a bus and dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit.
· Traffic Calming: The Better Streets Program is a combination of the Planning Department and MTA’s planning efforts that integrate a pedestrian master plan with a streetscape master plan. Sidewalks are being looked at holistically, not just as a conveyor for pedestrians, but as urban space, urban design, landscaping, and everything that makes the sidewalk part of the public realm.
· MTA receives federal grants from the Federal Transportation Agency, which gives them the ability to be the lead on the Glen Park Better Neighborhoods Plan and the Balboa Park Better Neighborhoods Plan. MTA will look at the City’s Better Neighborhoods vision for both of those Bart station areas and match that with federal funding.
Commissioner Gravanis asked if there is a way the Commission on the Environment can promote legislation to assist MTA in their efforts. Mr. Albert recommended that the Department collaborate with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to develop a response to SB47. Mr. Albert stated that legislation may be required to influence CEQA guidelines to lean more towards transit oriented development that is comfortable for walking, biking and transit.
Chair Wald asked if the MTA projects had quantitative goals that relate to the goal being discussed today, e.g. does the MTA have a goal of trying as an agency to have x number more walkers, x number more bikers, and x number fewer cars. Mr. Albert stated that MTA is drafting their first Strategic Plan that has performance indicators which are report card measures to see if targets are being met. Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department’s overarching goal is a 20% reduction below 1990 baseline of CO2 by 2012. Mr. Albert was asked how MTA can make it harder for people to drive since it oversees MUNI and DPT and there is a transit first policy.
Mr. Albert stated that land use and transportation has to be interconnected. It was stated that the Planning Department’s Better Streets Program is reviewing designs of neighborhoods where people could walk to centers of activities versus drive. The Transportation Authority is pushing an innovation about congestion pricing that may be controversial for San Francisco. Congestion pricing may be that the parking pay structure may change and other methods utilized in order to establish a disincentive for people to bring the car into work.
Director Blumenfeld asked if MTA has ridership numbers and how success is judged. Mr. Albert explained that MUNI has automatic passenger counts on buses, but it is not available on the rail. They are putting actual people on the rail to do counts in order to develop a ridership database. Director Blumenfeld asked whether MUNI is doing any outreach in order to advertise its values to society. Mr. Albert stated that MUNI has advertised in the past and advised that their External Affairs representative can bring ingenuity to the advertising campaign. Mr. Albert discussed a current advertising campaign that includes advertising individual MUNI lines on shirts.
Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the timeframe for the Strategic Plan. Mr. Albert advised that the Strategic Plan would be submitted to the Board between now and June.
Mr. Andy Thornley, Program Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition stated that the Bicycle Coalition is a grassroots advocacy organization promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. The Bike Coalition is dedicated to the proposition that bicycling in San Francisco should be safe and delightful. Work is being done in regards to safety issues and discussions being held on how to get people out of cars, even for one trip a week. It was explained that the lack of dignity of riding a bicycle may be an issue that stops people and advised that the Bicycle Coalition is reviewing how to promote the dignity of riding a bike.
Mr. Thornley distributed a bike map of San Francisco explaining the City’s bike network that is maintained and enhanced by the Municipal Transportation Agency. It was stated that San Francisco is in the short list of four or five cities that are best for bicycling and was awarded the gold standard bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists in 2006. Only seven cities in the United Stated have that designation with the platinum award going to Davis.
Mr. Thornley advised of a Superior Court Judge’s order to not proceed with anything further on bicycle circulation on the street until a CEQA document has been completed on the City’s Master Plan for bicycling. The court order forbids the City from striping more bike lanes and installing those inverted U parking racks on the curb. The City’s Master Plan for bicycling adopted in June 2005 is on hold while an environmental review is being done.
The Master Plan’s number one goal is to achieve10% of all trips in the City by bicycle by 2010. Mr. Thornley discussed various figures from various sources on how many trips are being taken on bike, e.g. the 2000 Census shows about 1.9% of commute trips in San Francisco is by bicycle, other research shows 3%, a David Binder telephone survey of 400 phone calls shows 5%. Mr. Thornley recommended that the City invest in a trip diary project that does a thorough analysis for all types of trips and indicates lengths of travel, reasons for travel, and destination. Mr. David Burch, Metropolitan Transportation Commission advised that a 15,000 region wide travel survey is administered every ten years. It was stated that the latest survey was completed two years ago.
Mr. Thornley stated that The City has not allocated adequate resources to the bike network and bicycling as a system. A discussion was held on a Board of Supervisors Resolution declaring that CEQA’s requirement for measuring auto level of service, a long established metric on how certain streets support motor traffic and a determination of air quality problems, is not an adequate measurement for streetscape planning. It was stated that the Planning Commission would be discussing this matter at their April 26 meeting. Mr. Thornley stated that if the auto level of service was not a consideration, planning for non-motorized vehicles would be a lot easier.
Mr. Thornley recommended legislative changes to allow bicycle parking in commercial buildings. It was stated that there is pending federal legislation and a local initiative for a commuter tax incentive to offer employers a program that they could encourage their employees to take their bike to work by offering a cash reimbursement incentive. Other recommendations made were to constrict car parking in the City incrementally, to administer congestion pricing, and the idea of charging for the right to bring a car into the City. Mr. Thornley suggested that congestive pricing can support the MUNI system, support DPW’s paving of potholes, and support the Police that do traffic and public safety enforcement. It was stated that if people were to take two of their trips every week by bicycle, it would be a significant change and might be the 10% that this initiative is looking for.
Director Blumenfeld inquired about the number of people that own bicycles. Mr. Thornley advised that from past surveys, more than half of households have a bicycle. It was advised that May 17 will be Bike to Work Day and that the Bike Coalition offers a monthly adult bike education class to teach people to be more comfortable on bikes. Director Blumenfeld inquired about a Bike to School Day. Mr. Thornley stated that there is a Walk Bike Day, but not a Bike to School Day. Mr. Albert advised that he was told that some schools do not allow bikes to be brought into the campus because they do not want to incur the liability and they can’t safely contain the bikes. Mr. Thornley advised that the Bike Coalition partnered with the Department of Public Health, the lead agency, the MTA, the Police Department and the San Francisco Unified School District to make an application for a safe route to school grant that a decision will be made on this fall. It was stated that sending students to schools outside of their districts may make it harder to bike to school and spoke in favor of students attending neighborhood schools to avoid unnecessary trips.
Director Blumenfeld inquired about certification programs in schools (bike roadeo programs) where students receive a badge for learning to ride their bikes. Mr. Thornley stated that there is a bike roadeo program, a joint effort with the Municipal Transportation Authority and the Department of Public Health where kids are encouraged at various community events, fairs, or playgrounds, to ride their bike and an incentive such as a free helmet is given away. A discussion was held on the importance of intercepting the message to children at an early age that cars are mandatory if you want to be a citizen.
Mr. Doug Kimsey, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) stated that they are a regional transportation planning agency for the nine Bay Area counties. Functions include developing a long range transportation plan with specific projects. It was stated that all the state and federal funding that is allocated to transportation is derived from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The Municipal Transportation Agency and the Transportation Authority work closely with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to fund their various projects.
Mr. Kimsey discussed various operational and proposed programs that the Municipal Transportation Agency is working on to help reduce single occupancy vehicle trips and increase car pooling. Operational programs currently underway and that have been operating for several years include the 511 Ride Sharing Program. 511 was described as a travel and information system that can be accessed by phone or web service that provides all kinds of transportation information for transit, bicycling, car travel time, hosts a ride sharing program, and is constantly expanding its functions. The Ride Sharing program offers car matching services, a bike mapper program, employee outreach (working with a number of employers throughout the region to get them interested in TDM programs), provides general ride share services, and transit services through 511 or 511.org (the website service).
Mr. Kimsey described the tasks that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is coordinating with the City and County of San Francisco, e.g. helping to manage and coordinate a San Francisco van pool parking permit program through the Department of Parking and Traffic and coordinating a San Francisco employer focused event in May 2006 on ridesharing and TDM. A discussion was held about federal commute and tax related programs. Mr. Kimsey advised that on March 22, 511 would be a sponsor of the Transportation Fair and will display their ridesharing services as part of the event.
Mr. Kimsey advised that work would continue with the City on 511 Rideshare, e.g. a park and ride lot garage for vanpoolers who reside in San Francisco, further improvements to the coordination of employer outreach, and potential congestion pricing projects. It was explained that the bike mapper is currently available through the 511 program, which provides bicycle routing information—if you put in an origin and destination it will show you all the Class 1, 2 and 3 facilities available to make the trip. It was stated that work is being done with the Department of the Environment and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition through a grant that has been received from the Air District to enhance the current program to describe specific bike routing so it is similar to a mapquest service.
Mr. Kimsey reported on a longer term project that includes “hot lane networks,” a congestion pricing effort that would be applicable to the East Bay, the Peninsula and North Bay. The concept is to take the unused capacity in High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes (HOV) lanes and allowing single occupancy vehicles into the lanes for a charge. Carpools would continue to go free and others can choose to pay to use the carpool lanes during anytime of the day (most expensive during the earlier part of the day). It was stated that research in San Diego County shows that this charge encourages users to carpool as shown from the increased usage of carpool lanes from 20% to 60%. Mr. Kimsey advised that Phase 1 of the study has begun on expanding the HOV system and will be completed later this summer. Construction is scheduled in the next 3-5 years. In the Bay Area, there are two demo projects moving ahead in the next three years, I-680 over the Sunol Grade in Alameda County and US 101 and 85 in Santa Clara County. These projects will be incorporated into a regional network possibly run by the Bay Area Toll Authority, which is affiliated with MTC.
Other projects discussed included $200 million for a Regional Bicycle Plan and a $13 billion program to expand rail ferry and express bus service in the region (Regional Transit Expansion Program) which in San Francisco includes the Third Street Central Subway Project, rehabilitation of the Transbay Terminal, and extension of CALTRANS Service to Downtown San Francisco. It was stated that the MTC passed a Transit Oriented Development Policy in 2005 that requires project sponsors to plan for transit oriented development in the corridor of their projects and have certain concentrations of housing in the corridor to qualify for funding from MTC.
Mr. Kimsey advised that from a countywide and regional wide perspective, carpooling between1980-2000 declined from 16.3% to 12.9% and transit usage declined from 11.4% to 9.7%. It was stated that San Francisco tracked similar results with the trend going downward from 1980-2000--carpooling went down from 12.5% to 10% of all trips, and transit went down from 38.5% to 31.1%.
It was stated that MTC’s Regional Transportation Plan shows that even with all the improvements discussed, they are projecting that between 2000 and 2030 a .2% increase in car pool use and a 2.4% increase in transit use. Not a large increase is anticipated for the kinds of expenditures that are anticipated in the next 25 years to improve ride sharing through transit and carpooling. Mr. Kimsey stated that the goal of increasing carpooling to 10% is admirable, but hard to achieve. The long term goal would be to change people’s attitudes and making it easier for them to use transit, bike and walk. Over the long term, one of the key aspects is more transit oriented development.
Director Blumenfeld asked (1) what the results would be if funding were allocated to public transit instead of roads and (2) how to align the large climate goals with MTC’s regional goals. Mr. Kimsey recommended using the existing infrastructure on the roadside more efficiently through the hot lane proposal, through operational improvements, ramp metering, and getting cars more logical progression onto the state highways. In the Long Range Transportation Plan, 80% of funds are dedicated to maintenance, 4% for highway expansion, and 11% for transit expansion.
Public Comment: Mr. Howard Strassner, Sierra Club stated that a reduction in the availability of City parking and expansion of a C3O District would reduce single occupancy vehicle trips and driving into the City. It was stated that congestion is not the problem--it is the solution and recommended not building additional lanes.
Public Comment: Mr. Norman Rolfe, Transportation Chair of San Francisco Tomorrow, discussed parking requirements in the Market Octavia Transbay Plans. It was recommended that the EIR process be changed so that it looks at pedestrian and transit level of service, not automobile level of service when deciding whether a project is good or bad. Mr. Rolfe discussed projects that are counterproductive to reducing traffic congestion, e.g. Doyle Drive. It was stated that automobile and oil companies advertise thereby creating a culture that is oriented towards automobiles. Mr. Rolfe recommended transit oriented development so that people could walk to do neighborhood shopping and to access transit. Recommended that City decision makers read Death and Life of Great American Cities, the chapter on “Erosion of Cities and Attrition of Automobiles.”
Public Comment: Mr. Nicholas, Member of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, spoke in support of reducing single occupancy vehicle use and stated that biking is the most energy efficient way of moving around even more so than transportation and walking. Recommendations were given on methods to increase bike usage through safety measures, e.g. better pavements, more separate bike lanes. It was recommended that European transportation policies be researched in order to encourage people to utilize public transportation and spoke of the more positive aspects of public transportation in Paris versus the United States, e.g. better quality buses, more comfortable, no annoying messages.
6. PUBLIC COMMENTS: Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There was no public comment at this time.
7. ADJOURNMENT. The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:06 p.m.
The next Policy Committee meeting will be held on Monday, April 9, 2007 at 5:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.
** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (1) on the Policy Committee's website with each agenda as attachments, or (2) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or (4) via e-mail at [email protected].
Respectfully submitted by,
TEL: (415) 355-3709
FAX: (415) 554-6393
Approved: May 7, 2007