Scott Weiner – Candidate, District 8

Scott Weiner

Scott Weiner, District 8

Name:  Scott Wiener

Age:  40
Occupation:  Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
District:  8
URL for website:
Neighborhood You Live In:  Castro
Date Questionnaire Returned:  August 16, 2010
1. How often do you rely on Muni to get you around town? If not, what do you use instead? What would make it easier for you to choose Muni over other forms of transportation?

I ride Muni just about every day.  I’ve commuted on Muni to and from work for the past 13 years.  I would like to use Muni as my exclusive mode of transportation, but there are some parts of the city where Muni service is inadequate, and Muni’s north-south service is generally unreliable in my experience.
2. What are the primary concerns of Muni’s owners (aka riders) about transportation and Muni in your District?

First and foremost is the lack of reliability on some lines.  The J Church is a particular problem.  Its frequency is random, NextMuni doesn’t track it accurately, and it runs only one-car trains because of the size of the boarding islands.
Second is the lack of frequency, and reduced evening service, of the so-called neighborhood lines – for example, the 48, 52, 33, 35, and 37.  These lines provide critical access to BART and the Muni underground for people living in Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, Corona Heights, and other neighborhoods in the hills to the west of the Castro, Noe Valley, and Glen Park. When service is reduced on these lines, people become effectively stranded.
Third is the reduced reliability of the subway during rush hour, particularly the evening commute.  It has become more and more painful to commute outbound to Castro Station during evening rush hour.
3. As a Supervisor, you will serve on the Board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. What is the role of the SFCTA, and what would you set as priorities for the agency in the next 4 years?

The TA provides critical funding for capital and other transportation projects, primarily through distribution of sales tax revenue.  The TA has a capital plan, and I support that plan.  Of particular importance are ensuring that bus rapid transit becomes a reality, implementing signal priority for Muni vehicles, performing needed maintenance (including mid-life rebuilds) on Muni vehicles, and resurfacing/rebuilding our roads to ensure that all users can travel safely and conveniently.
4. Difficult decisions often have to be made regarding transportation in San Francisco. Sometimes a well-researched project may have loud, angry opponents, or a popular project may not be the best for City residents and for San Francisco’s transportation infrastructure.
How would you make a decision under these kinds of circumstances?
(Feel free to cite a similar situation from your past experience as an example – it doesn’t have to be transit related)

It’s important to listen to and engage with the community to ensure that we have good information about the pro’s and con’s of a particular project.  The best policy decision then needs to be made, even if it’s not the most popular decision.  I experienced this recently with the proposed Noe Plaza, at 24th and Noe, which would have been part of the City’s Pavement to Parks program.  The plaza was extremely controversial and resulted in several contentious meetings in Noe Valley.
I publicly supported the plaza and almost certainly lost votes by doing so.  But I believed the idea was a good one – at least for a trial period to see if it worked – and I thought it was important to let the voters know what my thinking was.
5. What is the Fix Muni Now charter amendment? Do you support it? (Y/N) Why or why not?

I support Prop G, the Fix Muni Now charter amendment.  In fact, I share my campaign headquarters with the Fix Muni Now campaign.  The San Francisco Charter currently guarantees that Muni operators be the second highest paid in the country.  As a result, there is no collective bargaining about salary, and Muni is thus unable to negotiate away a series of awful work rules that cost Muni millions of dollars a year.
Prop G would eliminate this charter requirement, subject salary to collective bargaining, and require that if the operators want certain work rules, they have to prove that the work rules will not increase fares or cut service.  Prop G is a common-sense and critical first step to reforming Muni’s dysfunctionality.
6. One (of many) causes for Muni’s perennial budget woes was the illegal seizure of state gas tax money by Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature. This has left a large hole in Muni’s income (as well as every transit agency in CA).

How would you make up this gap in Muni revenue? Would you support

– a local funding source or sources (fees, taxes, or other type of revenue) to avoid future problems caused by the state?

– would you achieve savings through cuts to Muni’s budget, fare increases, etc.

– or, do you have other ideas on how to get Muni out of its annual financial woes? (You can choose more than one option, but just explain it clearly)
First, by passing Prop G, we can eliminate the work rules that are costing Muni millions of dollars a year.  This will be a significant help.  Prop G will also avoid automatic salary increases for operators, as occurred this year, while other city employees are taking pay cuts.
Second, I support a local VLF.  Prop AA, on the November ballot, will create a $10/vehicle local VLF.  I support Prop AA, but it isn’t enough.  Senator Mark Leno is pursuing state legislation that would allow for a higher local VLF, to be approved by the voters.  I support Senator Leno’s legislation and am proud to have Senator Leno’s endorsement.
7. Finally, tell us a story about a funny or unique experience you’ve had on Muni.

One morning, I boarded the subway at Castro Station on my way to work.  A gentleman on the train was smoking a crack pipe.  Another passenger asked him if he would mind putting the crack pipe away.  He responded that he was smoking the crack for medicinal purposes.  No one was really sure how to respond to that, so he just smoked away the rest of the ride.
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