Caltrans-induced veto of SF 19th Ave fine zone infuriates
- Published Friday, September 9, 2005, in the San Francisco Chronicle
Officials question veto of bill to double fines on 19th Ave.
Yee perplexed by governor's decision on his legislation
By Michael Cabanatuan
In the past three years, San Francisco has increased traffic
enforcement on 19th Avenue, erected electronic signs that display
drivers' speeds, given crosswalks a bolder look, installed red-light
cameras and aired public service messages -- all in an effort to get
motorists on the busy thoroughfare to slow down.
As a final way of discouraging speeding down the avenue, Assemblyman
Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, pushed a bill through the Legislature to
double fines for pedestrian-endangering traffic violations on the
stretch of state Highway 1.
"This was the last piece," Yee said Thursday.
But on Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the legislation,
saying that it "merely establishes a stretch of 19th Avenue ... as a
double fine zone without any additional measures."
That explanation perplexed Yee and his staff members, who pointed to
the other measures the city has taken to slow down traffic, some of
which the governor mentioned in his veto message.
"We have no idea why he vetoed the bill," said Adam Keigwin, a
spokesman for Yee. "It makes no sense whatsoever since, in
conjunction with the city of San Francisco, we're already doing all
Maggie Lynch, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Parking and
Traffic, was similarly puzzled. The city, she said, has invested more
than $10 million in safety improvements on 19th Avenue.
"We have invested heavily in making 19th Avenue safer," she said.
"We're constantly working to improve traffic safety on 19th Avenue.
It's always at the top of our list."
The governor's office declined to comment further on the veto.
But Schwarzenegger's veto message also said Yee's bill "would
perpetuate the piecemeal process of using a legislative measure to
establish each separate double-fine zone."
Schwarzenegger suggested that the Legislature allow Caltrans to
"develop a comprehensive program" for establishing double-fine zones.
Caltrans officials were not available to comment Thursday on whether
they had urged Schwarzenegger to veto the Yee bill or whether the
agency opposed double-fine zones.
Yee's measure would have applied to Park Presidio Boulevard in the
Richmond District, Crossover Drive in Golden Gate Park, and 19th
Avenue in the Sunset and Parkside districts.
Nineteenth Avenue is of particular concern for city officials.
Although it is posted for 35 mph, motorists routinely drive 10 to 15
mph over the limit, making the six-lane boulevard dangerous for
pedestrians to cross.
Since 2000, accidents on 19th Avenue have killed 13 people, including
a 54-year-old pedestrian hit by an allegedly drunken driver last
month, according to statistics provided by Yee's office. In recent
years, about 200 pedestrians have been injured each year on 19th
Yee's bill would have doubled fines for drivers cited for speeding,
illegal passing, reckless or intoxicated driving and a variety of
other moving violations on Highway 1 between Junipero Serra Boulevard
and Lake Street.
Yee said he would continue to press for the double-fine zone, working
to convince the governor that San Francisco has already worked to slow
traffic, then reintroduce the bill in January.
"I live in the Sunset -- I drive on 19th Avenue every day," Yee said.
"I have friends, family members and neighbors in harm's way because we
haven't done all we can to slow traffic down. I can't walk away from
E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanatuan@...