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Constant Cranky Curmudgeon

You have been informed.

Also see: Letters, SaveSFMuni, CCC Archives — Mar, Apr 2013


April 20, 2014: Two Bites: Muni Service Cuts and Gentrification, April 2014

To: "David.Chiu" <>, "Scott.Wiener" <>, julie <>, Julie Christensen <>, CW Nevius <>, matierandross <>

Probably already got this ... but I like to rub it in! CCC

Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2014 6:54 AM

Protect Chinatown & North Beach & Muni!

Muni cuts, subways, land values and gentrification. Chinatown, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill and the Waterfront are Mediterranean-like villages. But their affordability, beauty, character and diversity are vulnerable to economic forces. In the Wall Street Journal: "Housing costs near rail stops increased after light rail service started." (SEE BELOW)

As Muni cuts surface transit, developers push for costly subways. The Central Subway takes $595 million of state/ local matching funds from the Muni system—cutting service. With cost overruns, more service will be cut. (SEE BELOW)

Two Bites

April 10, 2014: Fix the MTA!

To: "David.Chiu" <>, "Mark.Farrell" <>, "Scott.Wiener" <>, CW Nevius <>, matierandross <>

FYI from CCC.

From: ENUF
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:46 AM
Subject: Fix the MTA

Stop SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) petition.

Fix the MTA!

The day you have been waiting for has finally come. There are at least three known efforts to get a ballot initiative that would substantially change MTA's authorities. As we move toward our November ballot measure please help us now to make sure your issues are considered. There is a lot of work to do. First we need to convince the city authorities that we are serious and that there are a lot of pissed off voters who are ready to act on our anger at the polls.

We have a new petition going. We need signatures and comments to start the process.

If you haven't already done so, please sign the Fix the MTA petition and send it to your friends and neighbors so we can get a lot of comments to the supervisors before we meet with them to work out the details of a Charter Amendment. We also need help with specific tasks and we will be getting back to you as soon as we line up some projects. Letters are needed if you have time to write. THANKS for all your help. You have been great to work with. We managed to accomplish a lot, but we are just getting started. November will be an important election season. We need to support the candidates that support our goals.

Fix the MTA!

Fix the MTA petition

Please continue to add to these signatures as well: Stop SFMTA petition

And send your letters to the editors.

June 6: Deck chairs

To: SF Supervisors Scott Wiener, London Breed

A letter to the editor in this AM Examiner aptly describes your recommendation to reconfigure the seating on Muni vehicles.

A phrase that captures a pointless effort in the face of an impending disaster is "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

"To do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem."

"A situation when someone tries to futily reform the way things are done in a failing system."

Muni is a disaster and all you suggest is to rearrange the deck chairs.

You can do better than this.

You have been informed.

May 29: Get smart about Muni funding

To: Supervisor Scott Wiener


Read your comments in the City Insider this AM re "For years, we've failed to properly fund Muni ...". Au contaire, mon ami, it's not lack of funding but piss-poor judgment and lousy management plus a ridiculous contract that pays the surly drivers, what, second highest salary in the nation, and that routinely allows 'no shows' for work. You obviously have not been reading the emails from Howard Wong and me that point out very clearly that the Central Subway is going to be like an expensive yacht: "a big hole that you pour money into." You or your staff need to re-read those emails and check and for the real skinny, not the BS spewed by Muni's John Fungi and Ed Reiskin. The tunnel extension/Pagoda Big Dig alone will likely take as much as $100 million from Muni O&M funds — you think service sucks now, you ain't seen nothin' yet. And as for the Central Subway itself — when completed it will drain even more O&M funds — Reiskin's projected $512 million annual shortfall could likely be doubled. Raising parking fees and fines and putting in more meters ain't gonna hack it — people still have to drive and park (mainly because of slow, unreliable Muni service) — SF may be transit first, but NOT transit only. Cutting service is obviously not a desirable alternative — it's bad enough already. And if SFMTA thinks they can push another bond thru - good luck with that — people are not going to fall for it - for all the reasons highlighted in the article. It's not the money — it's a lack of oversight. Have you attended an SFMTA board meeting? They are clueless. BOS needs to step up to the plate.

May 28: "I know nothing!"

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

By 2018 the projected SF Budget shortfall is $487.2 million, which will be nearly doubled by the 2018 projected Central Subway shortfall of $422 million. Budget time ladies, a reminder, Supervisors and Mr.Mayor, of the Central Subway budget problems and how removing the Pagoda Big Dig can help.

 Ostriches with heads in sand

You have been informed.

May 24: SFMTA is clueless

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

Small Business Owners met with the Small Business Commission on April 22 who heard their complaints. The Commissioners were open to their concerns relating to the need for more parking for small businesses.

Commissioners' comments at the hearing:

  • Lack of notice, outreach, and communication during the whole planning process is a major source of problems.
  • Would like to see a representative from the Small Business community on the MTA board.
  • They encourage the merchants associations to continue what they are doing in demanding consideration from the MTA.
  • Due Process important.
  • There appears to have been no real time studies or consideration for business operations in the areas that they are eliminating and limiting parking.

Effects of smaller projects on larger areas need to be taken into consideration during construction and after.

  • A pave it and paint it plan would solve many problems. It would allow for faster, cheaper and easier changes as the traffic patterns shift and needs change. (i.e. the 17th street burp)
  • Most of the issues between traffic and cycles could be solved by paving the streets and fixing the dangerous potholes and other obstacles that cause erratic lane changes for all vehicles. Smoother streets and easily read signs would help the safe flow of traffic and the costs would be a lot lower.
  • Parking removal and lack of parking seems to be the major problem for everyone.
  • We need to re-visit the policies that are driving these programs.
  • We must change the attitude that we are not building any more parking.
  • We have got to change this attitude. We need parking as well as bike lanes. We are the tax payers.
  • We must realistically provide for the visitors and commuters who cannot take public transit into the city.
  • Mayor’s task force wants to do twice as much as it can afford. Why not do less at half the costs?
  • Blind loyalty to ideology, at the expense of the whole community is not the answer.
  • People are already avoiding certain neighborhoods due to parking difficulties.
  • Where did the anti-parking attitude come from?
  • There was discussion about a May 6 hearing with Ed Reiskin and the MTA, but nothing appears to have come of it yet.

SFMTA Board Meeting:

 Ostriches with heads in sand

You have been informed.

May 24: Major Central Subway contractor has cost overrun history

"Subway contractor [Tutor Perini] has a history of big cost overruns" Will Reisman, May 23 SF Examiner

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor say: “What, me worry?”

 Ostriches with heads in sand

You have been informed.

May 22: Are you in this picture?

Re: Central Subway

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

Are you in this picture?

You have been informed.

 Ostriches with heads in sand

May 22: Ghost subway?

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

Is this the future of the Central Subway aka Billion Dollar Boondoggle? Abandoned and Forgotten? One of the city’s biggest embarrassments? Or a bizarre San Francisco tourist attraction?

You have been informed.

 Abandoned Cincinnati subway station More at Urban Ghost Media

May 22: Mayor and BOS allowing Muni to run amok?

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

Has SFMTA/Muni usurped the legislative powers of the Board of Supervisors? Has it taken away the executive powers of the Mayor? It would certainly seem so given that SFMTA/Muni has been allowed to run amok with little oversight from either of the two San Francisco governing bodies. Truthfully, the judicial branch hasn't been much help either.

Muni is the poster child for inefficiency, mismanagement, poor judgment, spin doctoring, obfuscation, disruption of peoples' lives, and spending taxpayers' money like a drunken sailor (with apologies to the US Navy!).

  • Required to meet on-time schedules: fudge the numbers.
  • Need more revenue: raise fares, cut service, put in more parking meters, raise parking fees and fines, and in general penalize motorists who cannot rely on sporadic, unreliable Muni service.
  • Encourage bicycle riding: but refuse to enforce reasonable limits on hooligan bike riders who continually run stop signs, plow through red lights and kill people!
  • Continue to promote the Central Subway: a fatally flawed concept - initially political payback to Chinatown power brokers - but now a bonanza for property owners, developers and other carpetbaggers.
  • The Project Management Oversight Contractor has been requesting justification for the reduction in schedule contingency and/or a Recovery schedule from the Central Subway Project since October 2012: SFMTA/Muni continues to ignore it.
  • More at:

It has become exceedingly obvious that no one in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the City and County of San Francisco is paying attention to this out of control (and soon out of money and time) project. As an oversight body, the SFMTA board is an uninformed joke.

Will somebody – anybody – who we elected to serve the citizens of this city start asking some serious questions and demand real answers - not the spin that has become so startlingly blatant?

You have been informed.

Constant Cranky Curmudgeon

May 22: Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul: Muni low on money, time

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

It has become terrifyingly obvious that the the Chinatown Subway and its costly and completely unnecessary incursion into North Beach is quickly running out of time and money. See PMOC April 13,2013 at and When the remaining few contingency funds are spent – and they will be – once again the taxpayers and general public will suffer.

Borrowing from Peter (Muni O&M funds and reserve) to pay Paul (Central Subway cost overruns) will result in even more delayed maintenance; reduced service; increased fares; and imposition of more parking meters, increased parking fees and fines on the public. This is unacceptable. Someone in charge (is there anyone??) needs to start asking some serious questions about this runaway train.

For a complete and current critique of this fatally flawed billion dollar boondoggle go to

You have been informed. Constant Cranky Curmudgeon

May 20: Will Rogers words of advice

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (November 4, 1879 - August 15, 1935) was a Cherokee-American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer and actor. He was the father of U.S. Congressman and WWII Veteran Will Rogers, Jr. Apropos to the Chinatown Subway aka Billion Dollar Boondoggle, Will said:

“When You Find Yourself in a Hole, Stop Digging”

You have been informed!

May 20: SF Weekly: Central Subway in deep time/money trouble

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

Joe Eskenazi, May 20 SF Weekly blog

You have been informed!

May 20: Central Subway in deep time/money trouble

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

A report shows that the Central Subway (CS) project has fallen below federal minimums both as to time and money. This report is by the Project Management Oversight Contractor (PMOC) hired by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for an independent third party oversight of the project. The Central Subway PMOC is James Sampson of STV Inc. of NY, NY. The report, dated 5/15/13, was delivered to the FTA.

Highlights of the report:

  • The feds (FTA) require 10 months of time contingency at this point in the project but the CS is down to 4.7 months.
  • The feds require $160 million of project cost contingency at this point but with the award of the four-station contract to Tutor Perini CS is now down to $65 million in contingency.
  • Contrary to Project Manager John Funghi's claims that installing the secant piles at the Pagoda will be a no brainer, a "tried and true method" that is being employed without problems at the areas under construction - they are having serious problems at Union Square.
  • John Funghi and SFMTA/Muni are way overdue on a federally requested report as to how they are going to deal with the shortfalls in funding and time contingencies - a report that was requested by the PMOC last October and it still hasn't been rec'd to date.
  • The feds want SFMTA to find a way to deal with what they characterize as "serious deficiencies" in financial and time contingencies.

The solution:

  • Cancel the North Beach madness and deal with the Tunnel Boring Machines in Chinatown.
  • That would save $80 million by Muni's own calculations: $70 million for the tunneling according to Mr. Funghi and $10.6 million per the contractor's estimate - and probably $100 million or more in actuality.
  • That would save months of construction time (3 months by Muni's own statement re Option # 2 - burying TBM heads in Chinatown).

You have been informed!

May 20: Let North Beach be and save $ 70 million

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

The northern tunnels or Pagoda Option extension of the Central Subway into North Beach will turn North Beach into a noisy, dusty, unhealthy corporation yard for the Central Subway for two to six years or more. It will be in the heart of the neighborhood across from Washington Square Park, one of the prettiest parks in the city. It will cost $70 million in federal project funds, and more than $9 million in local bus and transit O&M funds. The Central Subway will work just as well without this useless extension. Finally, when the project is completed there will be no North Beach subway station. This is asking a lot of a neighborhood, to endure years of construction for no foreseeable benefit. Removing the northern tunnels or Pagoda Option from the Central Subway project would save $70 million plus more than $9 million in much-needed Muni bus funds, and let North Beach enjoy its peaceful village.

The northern tunnels or Pagoda Option problem boils down to money:

  • The $70 million of federal money spent digging the two tunnels into North Beach is not "free money," and not a gift.
  • The Central Subway is projected to have at least a $400 million overrun by the time it's finished. This money will not come from federal funds, but from local funds, for example Muni bus operation and repair, expanded parking meter placements, taxi fees, additional city taxes, etc. The simple fact is SFMTA/Muni can't afford the $70 million tunnels in the face of such a huge overrun, and the damage this will do to the Muni system overall.
  • Muni Transportation Director Ed Reiskin in a recent Examiner op-ed said, "If we continue underfunding the transportation network, it will only fall further into disrepair."

The solution: cut the northern tunnels from the Central Subway project. The subway from Caltrain to Chinatown will work just as well without them, the project will be a much-needed $70 million richer, and that's $70 million less taken from the already weakened Muni bus and train system.

You have been informed!

May 16: Mock Funeral - Friday, May 17 - 3 PM -Great photo op!

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

To "celebrate" the Mayor's Small Business Week a mock funeral is planned for the impending demise of North Beach small businesses as a result of the Pagoda Big Dig. This unnecessary and expensive extraction will result in:

  • months of digging, truck traffic, air and noise pollution just for the demolition of building and excavation for the retrieval shaft.
  • there are likely to be toxic wastes (lead) unearthed from the shaft.
  • there may be subsidence of foundations of surrounding buildings.
  • there are underground streams flowing from Russian and Telegraph Hills under the Pagoda and under Washington Square Park (WSP) as well. The tunnels will be bored under Columbus next to WSP. It is within the realm of possibility that all this underground disruption could result in a sinkhole (holes) in the park and elsewhere.
  • after the tunneling and shaft are completed there are plans to use the shaft and tunnels to transport construction materials for the Chinatown subway station – resulting in years of more truck traffic, air and noise pollution.
  • children using the playground (s), Chinese doing their exercises, other park users will be exposed to dust (possibly toxic) and noise on a daily basis. WSP will no longer be a pleasant neighborhood backyard.
  • fatal financial impact on North Beach small businesses.

North Beach Small Business Mock Funeral

Friday, May 17, 3 p.m.

Start: Outdoor parking lot at the corner of 721 Filbert St. (garage) and Columbus Ave.

The coffin will be draped with the message below. The cortege will go along the south and west sides of Washington Square.

Mr. Mayor, "Small Business Week"

Don't Kill Small Business

in North Beach!

Stop the Pagoda Big Dig!

Save $70 Million!

May 11: Lawrence Ferlinghetti on North Beach Pagoda Option

Supervisors and Mr. Mayor,

The following is a quote from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco Poet Laureate Emeritus:

"The extension of the Subway tunnels to Washington Square to make a "removal pit" will transform North Beach into something it mustn't be-- and permanently mar its traditional village feeling. With the extension of the Chinatown Subway into the very heart of historic North Beach, the special ambience of this fragile quarter will be greatly diminished."

---Lawrence Ferlinghetti & City Lights Books

You have been informed.

Constant Cranky Curmudgeon

May 4: R K Oytauer Blog


FYI from CCC: You have been informed!

Blog about North Beach and what it might be like after the Pagoda Dig begins

CCC Archives — Mar, Apr 2013

CCC Archives — Mar, Apr 2013

Web site updated September 7, 2014;