Central Subway future unites unlikely allies

Deciding the future of San Francisco’s tunnels has aligned two polar opposite members of the Board of Supervisors.

Politically progressive Supervisor Aaron Peskin recently announced his backing of an extension of the Central Subway, a political position close to the heart of politically moderate Supervisor Scott Wiener — who has advocated for subways across San Francisco.

The two supervisors both expressed support for finding a new possible subway entrance for Central Subway expansion, just as The City loses the chance to build one at the much-touted Pagoda Palace Theater site in North Beach.

Since Supervisor Aaron Peskin was re-elected to his seat in District 3, questions swirled in transit circles about his position on the Central Subway’s extension.

Phase 2 of the extension is under construction now, bringing the T-Third line from downtown through Chinatown into North Beach. A much-discussed, but not yet final, $643 million extension to Fisherman’s Wharf was advocated for by former District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen.

Christensen lost to Peskin in last November’s election. But would Peskin support the same subway touted by his one-time political opponent?

“I believe the Central Subway should be extended to Fisherman’s Wharf,” Peskin told the San Francisco Examiner, a position he touted in other outlets recently as well.

Potential subway construction should be subject to “meaningful community involvement,” Peskin said.

Supervisor Wiener previously introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors dubbed the “Subway Master Plan,” calling for subways to be built across The City.

“Even though Aaron and I have clearly had our differences, we get along personally,” Weiner said, “and we’re both passionate about transit.”

The Central Subway’s expansion, according to Christensen and others, relies crucially on the old Pagoda Palace Theater to become a subway station in expansion plans.

Now the Examiner’s media partner, Hoodline, reports that the owner of the Pagoda site expect to break ground on luxury condos at the site this month.

“We’re waiting for a permit,” the site’s broker, Martin Kirkwood, told Hoodline. “We’re looking at end of January to break ground.”

But a November report from the Budget Legislative Analyst office identified alternative sites in the neighborhood for subway entrances: the Piazza Pellegrini Parking Lot on Columbus, a parking garage on Filbert or a small park triangle on Columbus and Union are potential subway entrances.

The report, Peskin said, clearly shows “the future of Central Subway northerly expansion is not predicated on acquisition of the Pagoda site.”

Peskin also noted that the report “calls into question why [The City] pursued the Pagoda site in the first place.”

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