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City’s MUNI Bus Plans Discriminate Against and Harm Rincon Residents

Just a couple of notes about me since it appears folks may make gross assumptions without knowing me or my motives.  First, you should know that I primarily walk and take transit to get around the City as it is – having walked nearly 2,000 miles over the past 10 months alone according to my FitBit.   Second, this is about getting treated the same as any other neighborhood in San Francisco and trying to make sure City policy decisions do not inflict additional harm to me and my neighbors in Rincon/SoMa with decisions that increase air pollution-inflicted asthma, cardiovascular health problems, and cancer by encouraging folks to use their private autos.  These 300′-600′ tall residential towers in Rincon were built by telling folks it is a “Transit Oriented Development Neighborhood,” but the bus that could take us to the businesses we need to get to in Western SoMa was taken away in December 2009.  For those able to get around, we do walk … but we know that everyone gets old and less mobile with time.

The point of my statistics below is that if this small sampling of bus lines can run the additional 1/2 mile to one end of their routes with less financial resources paid in to the City’s general fund and for servicing fewer residents on either side of those streets, why does the 12-Folsom have to double-up with the 10-Townsend running up 2nd Street in the middle of its route instead of the 12-Folsom being run 4 blocks further east along Folsom and on the return trip from Spear along Harrison to the west?  Its especially galling on the weekends when the 100,000 or so office workers are nowhere around that the 10-Townsend and the 12-Folsom turn up 2nd Street together and ignore a neighborhood poised to be more densely populated than Chinatown or any other neighborhood west of Chicago.

Originally posted February 2, 2013:

I decided to stay in from the colder temps this afternoon and do some analysis of bus routes related to their 2010 block-by-block census populations and General Fund property tax payments in FY 2011-12. I thought you might be interested in what the data says … It is good to have facts when sending comments in about the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) – visit this weblink to learn how to send in comments: http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2970

The main point we all need to communicate is that the Transit Effectiveness Project has a blindspot to the Rincon neighborhood, and to fix that blind spot, they need to change the proposed route of the 11-Downtown Connector bus by extending it 4 more blocks east to Main Street (5 blocks if you count Essex/bridge ramp between 2nd and 1st) … and by the way, how about extending the 12-Folsom bus RIGHT NOW. The 12-Folsom ran through the Rincon neighborhood from The Embarcadero along Folsom and Harrison up until service cuts on December 5, 2009. Clearly, there was not a very recent analysis of what the Planning Department had entitled and what was built in Rincon when they killed the 12-Folsom’s journey through Rincon on that date. How do Rincon’s 4,000+ residents today and 20,000 residents tomorrow go to a grocery store? A park with grass? An affordable restaurant? A nightclub on 11th Street? We don’t use a regional bus at Transbay – today, we drive and add to the ill effects of private car use because there is no close by bus running to Western SoMa from Rincon.

I post this so that you can write data-informed comments on the TEP … but also because I think pointing it out and pressuring the politicians will be the only way that the SFMTA will budge. If they don’t budge, we die sooner than later because we ourselves add to air pollution because we have the cars and the money to afford driving the cars, in general, and even the City’s Health Code (Article 38) acknowledges the asthma and increased probabilities of cancer and cardiovascular disease from carbon and particulate matter released by diesel and regular fossil fuel burning vehicles.

Here are the facts:

First, we have 4,099 residents as of the 2010 Census on either side of Harrison Street between 2nd and The Embarcadero in Rincon (with another 500 coming soon to the new David Baker-designed 326 unit apartment building that’s ready to open at 333 Harrison next month).

Those Rincon residents paid $27.9 million in property taxes overall with $15.8 million going to the City’s General Fund in FY 2011-12.

Along that 1/2 mile of distance, there is no bus service that provides local service to western SoMa’s neighborhood serving businesses open on weekends and evenings (just SamTrans going to the airport and MUNI buses passing by on the way through downtown and to the west side of the city or Treasure Island).

First comparison: 30 Stockton bus from Divisadero to Buchanan Streets (0.5 miles) passes by 1,693 residents (-2,406 less than RIncon today) on either side of Chestnut Street who contributed $1.8 million to the general fund (-$14 million less than Rincon properties).

Second comparison: 2 Clement bus from 14th Avenue to 6th Avenue (0.5 miles) passes by 2,892 resident (-1,207 less than Rincon today) on either side of Clement Street who contributed $2.1 million to the general fund (-$13.7 million less than Rincon properties).

Third comparison: 35 Eureka bus from 17th Street down to 20th Street and then west to Diamond Street (0.5 miles) passes by 1,481 residents (-2,618 less than RIncon today) on either side of Castro (or 20th) who contributed $2.6 million to the general fund (-$13.2 million less than Rincon properties).

Fourth comparison: 56 Rutland from San Bruno and Blanken to Thomas Mellon Circle (0.6 miles) passes by 1,273 residents (-2,826 less than Rincon today) on either side of Blanken Street who contributed $0.4 million to the general fund (-$15.4 million less than Rincon properties).

Fifth comparison: 66 Quintara from Vicente up to Quintara along 30th Avenue (0.6 miles) passes by 1,710 residents (-2,389 less than Rincon today) on either side of 30th Avenue who contributed $1 million to the general fund (-$14.8 million less than Rincon properties).

Seems to me that in our air pollution hot zone where our lifespans are being shortened because of folks driving cars, there’s a good argument here to extend the 12 Folsom bus line today (and proposed 11-Downtown Connector in TEP) to Main STreet instead of having it turn up 2nd Street as currently happens. Without a bus conveniently located in RIncon, of course we’re going to hop in our cars, worsen the air pollution, add to the congestion, and collectively make the air quality more deadly for everyone.

Hope these statistics are helpful … happy to share my source files (2010 Census by block, as used by the Elections Department’s Redistricting Commission last year and the Assessor-Recorder’s May 18, 2012 assessed values data from DataSF.org).

Here are some references that point to the main harms the City is causing to Rincon residents’ cardiovascular and respiratory health when they approve planning projects that increase traffic congestion in the area and the SFMTA does not try to mitigate the need for local residents to use our cars by extending the 12-Folsom (or the 11-Downtown Connector later on) 4 more blocks to Main Street.

Pages-from-080934_Air_Quality_for_Urban_Infill_500px

Here are some relevant links:

http://www.sfdph.org/dph/files/EHSdocs/AirQuality/AQFAQ.pdf

http://www.sustainablesf.org/indicators/view/40

http://www.sfdph.org/dph/eh/Air/default.asp

http://www.sf-planning.org/ftp/files/legislative_changes/new_code_summaries/080934_Air_Quality_for_Urban_Infill.pdf

Thanks for taking time to ask that the TEP proposed 11-Downtown Connector bus route (and today’s 12-Folsom bus route) come 4 more blocks east to serve Rincon’s 4,000+ residents (with another 16,000 planned to move into buildings built over next 10 years in the neighborhood)!

2 Responses to City’s MUNI Bus Plans Discriminate Against and Harm Rincon Residents

  1. I am very confused by your article that is posted here. First off, are you complaining about western SOMA or eastern SOMA? I agree that the 12 should connect that last 5 blocks, however, all of the transits are messed up down there right now because of the temporary transbay terminal. I know this because my brothers business is on the corner of Folsom and Beale. I am almost positive that if you are a little more patient and let the Transbay terminal come back online, a LOT of muni routes will change (back) or just change to cover that corner. I do however take some issue with your statement… “How do Rincon’s 4,000+ residents today and 20,000 residents tomorrow go to a grocery store? A park with grass? An affordable restaurant? A nightclub on 11th Street?”…. Have you ever heard of WALKING?? I dont mean all the way down to 11th st, but you could EASILY walk up to the 14 on Mission, or walk all the way (heaven for bid) to second st. & take the 12 down to 11th. Rincon hill residents may make for a large portion of downtown’s population, however, they are also some of the most affluent if able to afford to live there, in the city. They are stacking them up on on top of another like flapjacks so of course there is going to be a dense population there. But let me remind you, this did not happen until VERY recently. It is having a high end population boom down there that has just started within the last decade or so. That is not very long to be somewhere and expect that the city municipal transit will completely up their routes to instantly provide for you. You will get transit after the transbay is finished. Until then, i recommend that you do what all of the other neighborhoods in SF do, WALK. If you are to refined to be seen walking on our city streets then, you can clearly afford to take a cab to your 11th streed destination. That is what everyone has done for decades. I dont get why you think you are better than having to mix and match and get a little exercise like the rest of the population of San Francisco. Plus, if you have a car, THEN DRIVE FOR GODSSAKE. Why do you have a car if you dont plan on driving it? You can afford to park for sure if you live in Rincon hill AND have a car!! Oh the poor rich. I am feeling so much empathy for your serious dilema!

    Try living in Bernal Heights after they cut the 67’s service into 1/6th its former self. Talk about needing to reinstate a MUNI line! Infact, i think they should combine the 12 and the 67 personally.

    Good luck with your transit woes!

  2. No, there’s nothing that is planned in the TEP to provide east-west bus service beyond 2nd Street to the waterfront – look at the proposed routes for the 10, 11, 12, and 27 for yourself here: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mtep/TEPRecommendationsbyRoute.htm

    Look at the bus lines offered north of Market Street compared to the dearth of buses running west-east in SoMa. The inequality is not just forcing folks to choose to drive – it is increasing negative externalities such as particulate matter in the air and carbon which kills people. Does San Francisco really want to be in the category of governments that make policy decisions, by adding to traffic congestion, that kills its residents? That’s what’s going on right now…

    What is in the plans is to run two bus lines up 2nd Street and ignore 20,000 residents east of 2nd Street. WHile I may walk 10 minutes to then get on a bus on Mission or 2nd and Harrison, not all 20,000 of my future neighbors will … and for each one that gets into their private car and then hops on the road, it creates for traffic congestion, more delays for ambulances, and worst of all, more pollution that shortens our lives by contributing to other peoples’ asthma, cardiovascular problems, or cancer. If the City is going to build a “Transit Oriented Development Neighborhood” against the Bay Bridge, it is very poor decision making to take away the 12-Folsom from that neighborhood and leave us with a Transbay that can take us to Alameda County but not Trader Joe’s on 9th Street in SoMa.

    I am certainly familiar with walking – its the reason I live in Rincon HIll. According to my little FitBit pedometer, I’ve walked 1,935 miles over the past 10 months … that’s pretty much 4x’s as much distance in the past 10 months as I’ve driven my car.

    I’m sorry you have a stereotypical notion that everyone in Rincon HIll is rich …. 110 supportive housing units are being finished up at Essex and Folsom for formerly homeless right now (doesn’t get much poorer than that), Transbay’s plans have 1,000+ affordable family housing rentals to be built, and several dwellings built before the big shiny high-rise towers came into the neighborhood have various Mayor’s Office of Housing affordability requirements built-in.