Neighbors Voice Concerns at SFMTA Meeting on January 12

By Bill Hannan, GGTA President and BCNA Secretary

On January 12, 2017, I represented the Golden Gateway Tenants Association (GGTA) and Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association (BCNA) at a District 3 meeting at City Hall of neighborhood group representatives with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) staff members. 

The two-hour meeting was called by Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s aide Lee Hepner. Present were five MTA staffers and about 25 representatives of neighborhood or merchant groups, including Stan Hayes and Howard Wong for Telegraph Hill Dwellers, and a representative of a Russian Hill neighborhood group. Aaron Peskin made opening remarks and attended throughout.

We were given 5-by-7-inch pieces of paper and invited to write two concerns on them. My two were:

  • Bikes?
  • Overpass?

About 30 of these pieces of paper were posted on a wall. Much time was devoted to the relative placement of the pages. There were about five for pedestrian safety or senior citizen safety. Other pages included general policy goals such as good planning and uncrowded buses that run on time. There were a few specific items such as an intersection redesign on Columbus Avenue, and reopening lower Stockton Street after the Central Subway is completed.

After brief review of some posted concerns, discussion moved to how MTA should conduct planning/outreach/communications. Several participants stated that MTA outreach is often done only after much preliminary planning and expense, so that projects have acquired momentum and are difficult to stop or change by the time neighborhood groups are informed. Aaron Peskin advised that the SF Planning Department does a good job of community outreach, and that MTA might benefit from copying the Planning Department’s outreach.

MTA distributed a list of 14 pending projects. Please contact GGTA if you want a copy of the list. One project of likely interest to GGTA and BCNA members is the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, which is a redesign of the Embarcadero roadway to provide a “bikeway” and “separate and clearly defined areas for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.” Also on the list are a possible extension of Central Subway to the north, and safety improvements along Columbus Avenue.

We were told we will be sent a follow-up solicitation for further comments to MTA, and we were asked how often we want to return for future meetings. Nearly everyone in the room voted to return for meetings once a month. Our groups will seek to recruit a volunteer to attend meetings, or to work with MTA on an alternative way to be kept informed of the Embarcadero Enhancement Project.