Commentary: Tracy Thompson

By Tracy Thompson

When I picked up the June 16 issue of the San Francisco Examiner, I was shocked to see that Prop. A came up short of meeting the 2/3 vote needed to slip a cool $400 million to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) from the General Bond.  

My shock wasn’t because the tribe had spoken, but because the ballots were actually counted, and the ballot measure failed. The result was not in favor of what everyone would have thought; another easy transfer of money from the General Bond to the SFMTA in the name of “improvements for safety to transportation around the City,” supposedly with no tax implication. 

Ever since I saw the article, the estimated arrival times of buses and trains at station stops have been reading “Registering” with no info on when the next bus or train is expected to arrive. Or, the screen is blank – the first of the SFMTA’s punishing San Franciscans for not voting “yes” on Prop. A.  We had already spent money on those kinds of “improvements” back in November 2020 with the passing of Prop. A for “Street Bond”).   

The second punishment, according to Gwyneth Borden, chair of the SFMTA Board of Directors, will be the “hard choices” that the SFMTA will make resulting undoubtedly in worse service for riders, especially the low income, “people of color” and “essential workers”  (sympathy trigger words) on public transportation. Borden stated that fleet replacement and maintenance projects will be impacted as there will be less money for street improvements, such as new traffic signals, transit-only lanes and pedestrian and bike “safety measures.” Boo hoo.    

Let’s take a step back and evaluate the latest “improvements” to the City’s transportation venues which have not only resulted in severe traffic congestion in all parts of the City, but have destroyed the efficiency of traveling through the City as the SFMTA wastes millions on what they like to promote as “Safety First,” either for bicycles or pedestrians.  Do I need to mention that at $7/gallon of gas, confluent travel will not be taken into consideration?

First off, the SFMTA will no longer have the money to install second or third “speed humps” within one city block (especially speed humps going up hill).  They also may not be able to close roads purposed for cars in residential areas so as to accommodate people walking in the middle of the street instead of on deserted sidewalks. What may stop is the installation of traffic signals in the most unexpected and unnecessary places, inducing more traffic congestion. 

Take the new traffic signal on Lake Merced Boulevard, for example. Or the potential to have a traffic signal where, for decades, there has been a functioning stop sign at the Great Highway/Skyline Boulevard intersection.  “What’s a little more gridlock?” says the SFMTA.  

Did I mention the “bulb outs” at intersections placing a pedestrian further into the road “for safety?” How about the fleet of new buses and trains that have already taken to the streets with a minimal number of riders? My favorite is the elimination of lanes off of Fell Street and Masonic Avenue and the unsynchronized lights on Sunset Boulevard; thorough fares that once allowed traffic to flow at safe speeds, making getting around town a nightmare. If you haven’t already, buck up for Park Presidio.

In the Examiner’s article, Gwyneth Borden even references that “affordable housing” will be affected with the failure of Prop. A. Looks like we can say goodbye to the SFMTA contracting out “Third Party Consultants” to perform biased pilot studies to determine how many people are actually walking on Ocean Beach versus the Great Highway. Or can we? It’s more than likely that the public transportation passenger will take a back seat to ridiculous pilot studies such as these. 

Borden claims that the reason Prop. A failed at the ballot was because “It’s a strange time for people. Inflation is bad, the pandemic is ongoing and people are not feeling happy with the direction of the country, of the City, of the state.” Or, “People seemed to not know what Prop. A was for.”   

Please give the tribe some credit. In November 2020, less than two years ago, $487 million was allocated for Streets via Prop. A.   People, other than the SF Bicycle Coalition and anti-car “not for profit” groups, are fed up with the removal of streets within the park and City, we are fed up with your wasting our $7/gallon gas and damaging our cars with your speed humps, we are fed up with the cost of a parking ticket, street cleaning violation or increased Muni fares; we are fed up with the amount of money that is allocated to the SFMTA when all the SFMTA can do is turn around and extract more money from us in what you label as a “no tax” Prop. A. 

The elderly are fed up with having no nearby place to park when they want to shop for food because the SFMTA has transferred essential parking spaces to Citibikes or Jump, both of which pay the SFMTA more money than income generated from parking meters.  

The SFMTA has done irreparable harm to this City’s businesses. The vacant commercial storefronts along Van Ness, Market, and Irving are casualties of the SFMTA and indicative of Jeffrey Tumlin’s smug futuristic projects. If more money is gifted to the SFMTA for similar projects down the road, then there are going to be a lot more vacant store fronts along other targeted corridors. Last but not least, we are fed up with the intentional traffic gridlock caused by the SFMTA actions.

Gwenyth: Your Board of Directors might want to re-evaluate your priorities in where you spend your money instead of warning us that the failure of Prop. A will be taken out on the few people in the City who actually need and use public transportation. Also, the article in the June 16 Examiner claims that the voters were so focused on the recall of Chesa Boudin that they didn’t know how to vote on Prop. A. Quite the contrary, the voters have spoken and they will no longer tolerate the frivolous allocation of money to the SFMTA that is constantly wasted while wreaking havoc on every San Franciscan street and charging us a tax (Yes, Virginia, there is a tax on every proposition that passes).  

When doesn’t the Board of Supervisors vote 11-0 on anything that directly impacts their constituents, the likely result of backroom wheeling and dealing. In other words, the Board of Supervisors does not care about you, San Francisco; the failure of Prop. A 2022, the recall of Chesa Boudin, the recall of the School Board, the battle to keep Lowell merit based is your wake-up call. Just as important, the Board of Supervisors voting to close JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park prohibiting access for the aging population.   

Hopefully this will be another indication that the tribe has spoken, opposing propositions that siphon money from the General Bond and falsely claiming “no tax impact.” The tribe is realizing that these propositions have a tax impact on every citizen living in San Francisco, not just the ones who pay the taxes here.   

To say that we are frustrated with the City’s government is an understatement. This is our response to the City’s careless and irresponsible behavior, spending of billions and in return giving us filthy streets, high crime, and citywide government corruption.

Tracy Thompson is San Francisco resident and a voter in the Sunset for 30 years.

Categories: Commentary

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6 replies »

  1. You left out our tax dollars going to support the SF Bicycle Coalition and Kid Safe which is why they have a disproportionate influence within the SFMTA and Park and Rec. They are embedded in these agencies either as consultants or staff members. These small groups are highly vocal and good at marshaling their members to overwhelm surveys and hearings (particular with advance notice given to them and close communication as evidenced by the emails obtained through the Sunshine laws). There wasn’t even an organized campaign against Prop A, it’s failure was the result of the Western part of SF feeling ignored and not heard as the GH was closed, JFK, slow streets etc.


  2. Good commentary!

    Let us not forget the “parklets”, “SOMA stones”. fiberglass pillars, stop eliminations, and other defacements that SFMTA and DPW have used literally hundreds of millions of dollars for!

    We want lower fares, better service, fairer fees and parking rates, fairer taxation of corporations and the wealthy, better public outreach, an end to manipulated polls and less advertising.


  3. I agree with all of this, except the opinion that the tribe has now spoken. The tribe is not done, it’s just getting started . . . Thanks Tracy.


  4. Excellent post. We in the Sunset knew exactly what we were doing when we in this district defeated Prop A. We are fed up with city government using our tax dollars to close streets and turn them over to a very small minority of bike riders and to fund endless studies that result in skewed manipulative surveys that falsely claim that the majority wants these roads closed for bike riders. When will the mayor and the BOS start making fair just decisions for all San Franciscans?


  5. i am thankful that Tracy took her time to express herself …. a lot of which I whole heartily shared. I have lived in SF since the 70’s and have never felt this frustrated. I saw the Supervisors not supervising….
    — are you not aware of the improvement on 19th Avenue divide where the wrong vegetation was put , with picks and thorns (difficult maintenance), now turn brownish catching bags and garbage adding to the unsightly mess .. And when maintenance is needed, one lane is blocked, making this North-South “thorough way” a parking lot. … How much did you spent ?
    — same for Sunset Blvd…. where the few cactus and succulents was planted….now mingled with weeds making maintenance more difficult than its natural state….
    — when 19th Ave has no left turn, why is 20th Ave “not a through street”…..when you need 20th Ave to make a round the block turn to get to the left side ?
    — in a regular residential intersection, why a round-about is built to tighten the space ?


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