Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: $18 million. That seems like a lot of money, especially considering San Francisco’s fiscal problems.Why is the cycle track project so expensive?

Q2: Did MTA hire independent, third-party experts to analyze the project impacts?

Q3: Did MTA analyze the impact of the project on the streets near Masonic?

Q4: Did MTA analyze the impact of the additional traffic that will be generated by the Target store at Masonic and Geary?

Q5: What will be the impact of removing the dedicated right turn lane from Geary eastbound onto southbound Masonic?

Q6: Did MTA analyze the impact of the 18 month construction period on the neighborhoods along Masonic?

Q7: Did MTA analyze the cumulative impact of the project combined with the removal of parking on the South sides of Fell and Oak Streets?

Q8: Did MTA notify holders of residential parking permits in the area about the project or about any meetings regarding the project?

Q9: Does MTA have contact information for the holders of residential parking permits in the area?

Q10: Q: Did MTA notify residents of the area on and around Masonic about the project on a timely, systematic and consistent basis, including meaningful detail about the reduction of travel lanes and removal of parking? Were these residents given fair notice far enough in advance of decisions?

Q11: MTA claims the project has overwhelming community support. Would MTA agree to a nonbinding vote by notifying all residents, in writing, within a specified area of Masonic about the project and giving them an opportunity to vote on whether or not they approve of it?

Q12: Why will the project reduce the number of travel lanes on Masonic?

Q13: What will be the impact of the bus bulbouts?

Q14: How many street parking spaces will be lost?

Q15: Are there any other MTA projects in the area that would affect street parking?

Q16: I have a garage. How will the cycle track affect me?

Q17: I live on Masonic. How will I be affected?

Q18: I have a disability. How will I be affected?

Q19: Could Masonic be improved without removing parking and without reducing travel lanes?

Q20: Is there an alternative North-South bike route?

Q21: According to MTA’s own figures, a daily average of 32,000 motor vehicles used Masonic in 2010, and during 90 minutes of PM rush hour there were only 31 bicycles counted at Masonic/Golden Gate. It doesn’t seem fair to spend so much money and create so much hardship and congestion for so many residents, visitors, businesses, employees and commuters in order to benefit a small number of cyclists. Why is MTA doing this?

Q22: What is MTA’s position on the impact of removing parking spaces?

Q23: What is the contact information for San Francisco officials, agencies and employees about this project?

Q24: Did the Fire Department do any analyses or studies on the impact of firefighting and other emergency response?

Q25: The project would construct a raised cycle track, above street level and below sidewalk level. Has this type of design ever been used in San Francisco or any comparable American city? Has MTA analyzed drainage and pavement issues at the intersections of the cycle track with the many dozens of driveways along Masonic?


Q1: $18 million. That seems like a lot of money, especially considering San Francisco’s fiscal problems.Why is the cycle track project so expensive?

A: Ask MTA. The project includes a raised concrete cycle track on Masonic from Geary to Fell, around 7/10 of a mile. That’s a lot of concrete. (At $18.2 million for 7/10 of a mile, the project cost is around $26 million per mile). And $18.2 million is the estimate in late 2012. The final price tag could well be higher.   Back to top

Q2: Did MTA hire independent, third-party experts to analyze the project impacts?

A: No. The limited analysis that was performed, was done in-house by MTA. Back to top

Q3: Did MTA analyze the impact of the project on the streets near Masonic?

A: No
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Q4: Did MTA analyze the impact of the additional traffic that will be generated by the Target store at Masonic and Geary?

A: No
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Q5: What will be the impact of removing the dedicated right turn lane from Geary eastbound onto southbound Masonic?

A: Currently, vehicles going eastbound on Geary turn right onto southbound Masonic using a dedicated right turn lane before Masonic, thus avoiding having to go all the way to Masonic. The project will remove this lane, so both vehicles turning southbound and those proceeding straight on Geary will have to go all the way to Masonic. Congestion will increase, especially with the additional traffic from the Target store.

Q6: Did MTA analyze the impact of the 18 month construction period on the neighborhoods along Masonic?

A: No
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Q7: Did MTA analyze the cumulative impact of the project combined with the removal of parking on the South sides of Fell and Oak Streets?

A: No
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Q8: Did MTA notify holders of residential parking permits in the area about the project or about any meetings regarding the project?

A: No
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Q9: Does MTA have contact information for the holders of residential parking permits in the area?

A: Yes. MTA issues and administers the residential parking permits, so it has that information readily available. Back to top

Q10: Did MTA notify residents of the area on and around Masonic about the project on a timely, systematic and consistent basis, including meaningful detail about the reduction of travel lanes and removal of parking? Were these residents given fair notice far enough in advance of decisions?

A: No. MTA claims it did, but outreach was skewed toward supporters and likely supporters, not residents and businesses that will be affected. Thousands of residents who will be directly affected received no notice whatsoever. Of those who did receive notice, some didn't receive notice of all meetings, and many didn't receive notice in a timely manner. Also, no outreach was done to people who don't live in the area but commute on Masonic, except for supporters and likely supporters.   Back to top

Q11: MTA claims the project has overwhelming community support. Would MTA agree to a non-binding vote by notifying all residents, in writing, within a specified area of Masonic about the project and giving them an opportunity to vote on whether or not they approve of it?

A: MTA has refused to hold even a nonbinding, advisory vote, with Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin stating: "Putting the project to a vote would not only confuse the community and others who worked to bring the project to this point, it would also imply that managing the public right-of-way should be an inherently political process." MTA's fear of testing its claim through direct democracy is understandable, because in 2004, after nearly a year of neighborhood pressure, the Department of Parking and Traffic (MTA's predecessor) agreed to hold a vote about the Page Street traffic circles, and residents opposed that project 77% to 23%. And more recently, MTA conducted an online survey about its plan to eliminate huge amounts of parking on Polk Street; although it skewed the survey design in favor of the plan, a majority of respondents opposed it. Yet MTA is continuing to push its plan to eliminate parking on Polk Street. Visit     Save Polk Street
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Q12: Why will the project reduce the number of travel lanes on Masonic?

A: Currently, on certain blocks of Masonic there is no parking during morning commute hours (Northbound - the East side of the street) and evening commute hours (Southbound - the West side of the street), which results in an additional travel lane at those times.The project would install cycle tracks at the curb lanes, so the extra travel lane will be eliminated. Back to top

Q13: What will be the impact of the bus bulbouts?

A: When buses stop to load and unload passengers, the bus will remain in the rightmost of the two travel lanes (the lane adjacent to the cycle track), so only one travel lane will be moving.Congestion is likely to increase.Also, in order to access the bus stops, pedestrians will have to cross the cycle track.

Q14: How many street parking spaces will be lost?

A: MTA says around 167 street parking spaces will be lost. The actual number may be more because MTA counts 20 linear feet as a parking space, but some of the parking spaces along Masonic between driveways are less than 20 feet and may not be included in the count. Also, residents on Masonic will no longer be able to park across their driveways.   Back to top

Q15: Are there any other MTA projects in the area that would affect street parking?

A: MTA has already removed all parking on the South side of Fell between Baker and Scott, and will also remove all parking on the South side of Oak between Baker and Scott. MTA has a plan to install parking meters on some of the streets near USF, and possibly on the perimeter blocks of the John Adams campus of City College.   Back to top

Q16: I have a garage. How will the cycle track affect me?

A: It will increase congestion on Masonic, especially during rush hour, and increase traffic on nearby streets as drivers avoid the increased traffic on Masonic. Pollution will be increased, as traffic on the nearby streets is increased and as drivers circle further and longer in search of parking. Emergency response time will be slowed down.   You will no longer be able to park across your driveway. Back to top

Also, Masonic and the surrounding areas will become a chaotic, congested mess during the 18 month construction period.

Even though you have a garage, it will be harder for friends visiting you to find parking. At night, the personal safety risk for your friends will be increased, as they will have to park further from your home and walk further to return to their cars.Because there’ll be so much less parking available in the area, it will be harder, and maybe ultimately more costly, for you to get deliveries, to do construction, painting and other work on your home, and to have visits from service providers.   Back to top

Q17: I live on Masonic. How will I be affected?

A: Besides the impacts described above, it will be much more difficult for you to: load/unload people and packages; take a taxi; have paratransit service; have items delivered; have visitors; move in and out of your home; and have construction, maintenance, painting and other work done.

If you have a garage, it will be more difficult and dangerous to pull out of your driveway. Your ability to see cyclists will be limited. Also, cars pulling out of driveways on a busy street such as Masonic can only do so when motor vehicle traffic is stopped by a red light. Given that some cyclists don’t obey traffic signals, you could be pulling out of your driveway when you don’t expect any traffic, only to hit an unexpected cyclist. Because some cyclists don’t use lights, this will be even more dangerous at night.
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Q18: I have a disability. How will I be affected?

A: The major parking loss will especially hurt seniors and disabled people, who are limited in how far they can walk and how many streets they can cross. It will also make it more difficult for you to have home visits from caregivers, Meals on Wheels, physical, respiratory, occupational and other therapists, and repair services from wheelchair repair companies. And the increased personal safety risk at night for residents returning home and visitors returning to their cars after visiting friends will especially impact the most vulnerable - women, seniors and disabled people.   Back to top

Q19: Could Masonic be improved without removing parking and without reducing travel lanes?

A: Yes. New trees could be planted, lighting and traffic signals could be improved, new bus shelters could be added, the street could be repaved, and safe, legally compliant curb ramps could be constructed.  Back to top

Q20: Is there an alternative North-South bike route?

A: Yes. Please see   A Better Bike Route     Back to top

Q21: According to MTA’s own figures, a daily average of 32,000 motor vehicles used Masonic in 2010, and during 90 minutes of PM rush hour there were only 31 bicycles counted at Masonic/Golden Gate. It doesn’t seem fair to spend so much money and create so much hardship and congestion for so many residents, visitors, businesses, employees and commuters in order to benefit a small number of cyclists. Why is MTA doing this?

A: MTA hopes this project will attract many more cyclists on Masonic. This strategy of “if we build it, they will come” is based largely on general surveys about attitudes toward cycling conducted in Portland and other cities besides San Francisco. Regarding the impact on automobile drivers and passengers, consider the impact of MTA’s other projects and policies (for example, removal of street parking spaces throughout the city, reduction in travel lanes, parking meters on Sundays, hugely expensive fines for parking tickets, etc.) on people who use autos.

There is no minimum number of bicycles counted on a street for MTA to install a bicycle lane, per MTA email Aug. 2013 to Save Masonic.   Back to top

Q22: What is MTA’s position on the impact of removing parking spaces?

A: The specific language from the San Francisco Planning Department quoted in the discussion below is from the Planning Department’s October 4, 2012 Certificate of Determination regarding exemption from Environmental Review for the Fell & Oak Streets Bikeways Project. However, this language is boilerplate and is basically the same as the language about parking in the Bicycle Plan Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Department is responsible for conducting environmental review or determining that a project is exempt from review; MTA has relied on and adopted the Planning Department’s position about removing parking spaces.

MTA and the Planning Department claim that loss of parking spaces is not an environmental impact under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act), merely a social effect. The Planning Department states that the “social inconvenience of parking deficits, such as having to hunt for scarce parking spaces, is not an environmental impact, but there may be secondary physical environmental impacts, such as increased traffic congestion at intersections, air quality impacts, safety impacts, or noise impacts caused by congestion.”But after acknowledging this possibility, they dismiss it in two conclusory paragraphs full of boilerplate. They claim: In the experience of San Francisco transportation planners, however, the absence of a ready supplyof parking spaces, combined with available alternatives to auto travel (e.g. transit service, taxis, bicycles or travel by foot) and a relatively dense pattern of urban development, induces many drivers to seek and find alternative parking facilities, shift to other modes of travel, or change their overall travel habits.”(Emphasis added.)

They go on to state: The transportation analysis accounts for potential secondary effects, such as cars circling looking for a parking space in areas of limited parking supply, by assuming that all drivers would attempt to find parking at or near the project site and then seek parking further away if convenient parking is available.  Moreover, the secondary effect of drivers searching for parking is typically offset by a reduction in vehicle trips due to others who are aware of constrained parking conditions in a given area.”  Because of this, the Planning Department concludes that any secondary environmental impacts resulting from parking shortage are minor. (The last sentence quoted is circular, and if it were really true, there would be little or no parking-related congestion anywhere because, as parking became scarcer, people would either change transportation modes or stay away from an area altogether, and the area would remain static. Imagine how bad this would be for residents and businesses in the area.)

No factual basis is stated for these conclusory assertions - no observations, no studies, no investigations, no surveys, no data, no measurements, no statistics, no analyses of the particular conditions in a particular neighborhood, no interviews, no testimony of residents, merchants or visitors – just the “experience of San Francisco transportation planners…”  The time period on which their opinion is based, is unstated. The identity, professional qualifications, expertise, experience, and track record of these anonymous transportation planners are not revealed, nor is any factual, empirical basis whatsoever given for their opinion.

Moreover, the statement quoted is internally inconsistent:  if drivers seek parking further away from a project area, then they would be driving further, therefore causing more congestion, more idling and more pollution.The question is: how much? But neither MTA nor the Planning Department has made a factually based attempt to answer it.

In October 2012, pursuant to the Sunshine Ordinance, the following was requested from MTA and the Planning Department:

“All documents regarding the factual statements, analyses and conclusions in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs of the section entitled “Parking” in the Exemption from Environmental Review for the SFMTA Fell & Oak Streets Bikeways Project.” [Note – The Parking section has six paragraphs; the first paragraph is an introduction describing the number of parking spaces lost in that project.]

MTA responded: “After reviewing our records, the SFMTA has determined that the agency does not have any records responsive to your request.”

The Planning Department responded: “There is nothing to provide since the “Parking” standard language does not reference any specific document, is not based on a specific study, and is grounded on the expertise of San Francisco transportation planners, as stated in the language.”

It’s revealing that the Planning Department response refers to the “‘Parking’ standard language” in the Certificate: they admit that their discussion is mere boilerplate. MTA and the Planning Department have no factual basis for their claim that parking impact would be minor.

MTA's claim that the effect of drivers searching for parking is typically offset by a reduction in vehicle trips due to others who are aware of constrained parking conditions in a given area is just plain untrue, especially in a residential area like the neighborhoods along Masonic. Most people who own cars are very unlikely to sell them even if forced into longer searches for street parking. Nor are they likely to readily switch to, or increase their use of, a flawed transit system, especially at night. And those who rent or own housing that includes off street parking are very unlikely to get rid of their cars.   Back to top

Q23: What is the contact information for San Francisco officials, agencies and employees about this project?

A: E-mail addresses are below.

Mayor Ed Lee   mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org
Board of Supervisors   board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org
Supervisor London Breed (District 5)   london.breed@sfgovorg
Supervisor Mark Farrell (District 2)   mark.farrell@sfgov.org
Supervisor Eric Mar (District 1)   eric.l.mar@sfgov.org

MTA Board   mtaboard@sfmta.com
Ed Reiskin, MTA Director of Transportation   ed.reiskin@sfmta.com
Seleta Reynolds, Team Leader, MTA Livable Streets   seleta.reynolds@sfmta.com
Mike Sallaberry, Masonic Project Lead   mike.sallaberry@sfmta.com
James Shahamiri, Masonic Project   james.shahamiri@sfmta.com


Potential funding sources:

San Francisco County Transportation Authority   www.sfcta.org
1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-522-4802 (voice);
415-522-4829 (fax)

Maria Lombardo, Interim Executive Director, SFCTA,   maria.lombardo@sfcta.org
Tilly Chang, Deputy Director of Planning, SFCTA,   tilly.chang@sfcta.org


Roberta Boomer
SFMTA Board Secretary
One South Van Ness Avenue, Seventh Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103-1267
415-701-4505 (voice); 415-701-4502 (fax)


Metropolitan Transportation Commission   www.mtc.ca.gov
Metro Center
101 Eighth Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510-817-5700 (voice)
email:   info@mtc.ca.gov

MTC chair, Amy Rein Worth,   aworth@cityoforinda.org
MTC Executive Director, Steve Heminger   sheminger@mtc.ca.gov

When writing to city officials , please copy us on your e-mail   info@savemasonic.corm

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Q24: Did the Fire Department do any analyses or studies on the impact of firefighting and other emergency response?

A: No.   Back to top

Q25: The project would construct a raised cycle track, above street level and below sidewalk level. Has this type of design ever been used in San Francisco or any comparable American city? Has MTA analyzed drainage and pavement issues at the intersections of the cycle track with the many dozens of driveways along Masonic?

A: No and no. In response to inquiries about use of this design in other cities, the best that MTA could come up with is a cycle track on Road No. 3 in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Richmond is next to Vancouver. Here's the photo MTA provided.

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