San Francisco’s “Little Hollywood” neighborhood shouted, and transit planners listened.
A new bus route was revealed in a recent study of the proposed Geneva-Harney Bus Rapid Transit System, one that may spare Little Hollywood much heartache.
The tiny neighborhood is nestled under the Bayshore Freeway, on the south side of The City. Recently, the neighborhoods along Geneva Avenue were alerted to the potential restructuring of traffic lanes along the roadway and side streets to speed up transit.
The initiative is called “Geneva-Harney Bus Rapid Transit.” As with BRT projects on Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, it would create bus-only lanes and level boarding platforms to make buses behave like speedier trains.
Rachel Hiatt, a principal planner at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, touted the groundwork laid by the agency’s new study, which was released late last month.
“Nobody had taken the step yet to say, ‘Here’s what the improvement will look like, here’s what the route will be, what the street will look like,’” Hiatt told the San Francisco Examiner.
“To look at the range of possibilities,” she said, “and those tradeoffs.”
One of those tradeoffs became clear as Hiatt and planners from the SFCTA, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Daly City and Brisbane conducted community meetings. Little Hollywood residents decried a loss of parking from the BRT line, primarily along Blanken and Lathrop avenues.
Neighbors started a Change.org petition against the potential BRT changes, which garnered 182 signatures.
“I’ve lived on Blanken Ave [sic] for over 30 years,” wrote Vic Ramil, a signer of the petition. “It is a an absolute struggle to find a place to park on our street.”
The stakes are also high for residents along the southeast side of San Francisco.
The new transit system is aimed to serve the new mammoth housing developments at Candlestick Point and Hunters Point Shipyard, among others. More than 13,000 new housing units, and more than 4 million square feet of commercial space will soon flood the area, according to the transportation authority’s study.
And, the study notes, there are no direct public transit links between those neighborhoods and Balboa Park BART station or the Bayshore Caltrain station.
The solution is a newly proposed third alternative route, Hiatt said, which runs along Beatty Street, circumventing Little Hollywood’s problem areas.
None of the three proposed routes have been definitively chosen. The next step of the BRT project is an environmental study by the SFMTA.
Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents neighborhoods affected by the BRT project, was happy to see a compromise was reached for Little Hollywood.
“Excited doesn’t even capture it. How about elated? On cloud nine,” she said.
Cohen advocated with the transportation authority for the third alternative, she told the Examiner, after hearing concerns from her constituents.
Now, she said, “The neighborhood’s perspective is included.”