The L-Taraval Rapid Project by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency includes a major renovation of the traffic management for Taraval Street along with installation of new safety provisions. The staff at SFMTA have been working with neighbors and merchants for more than a year exploring ways to accomplish mutual goals of achieving safety and transit reliability.
Numerous changes proposed include adding boarding islands at every Muni stop, removal of Muni stops, installation of red transit-only lanes, removal of parking spaces on Taraval and new traffic signals to name a few modifications.
Negative public reaction to these changes has been documented in thousands of signatures on petitions opposing them and protests at a large community meeting called by Muni to present the plan. Negotiations have been held by staff with neighbors and merchants to work out alternative methods to achieve goals. The result was a pilot program for six months to evaluate the agreed-upon alternatives before final approval and implementation of the project.
The SFMTA Board of Directors will hold a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20, to review and approve the installation of parking and traffic modifications and to amend the transportation code. The board is being asked to make permanent changes to Taraval Street before the agreed upon pilot program has taken place or evaluated for its effectiveness to achieving goals.
This bait-and-switch on promises made to our Taraval neighborhood commercial district and residential community is unacceptable.
Many of us now believe that the SFMTA has a one-size-fits-all mentality for effecting change along rapid transit lines. They know what modifications they want to make to speed up travel and improve safety and they do not want to customize their plans. The SFMTA has not acknowledged the uniqueness of the Taraval Parkside District, which is primarily the residential suburbs of San Francisco, that requires a different transit plan from downtown.
Our reliance on shopping in the local commercial district includes both driving and parking on Taraval, as well as using Muni, to frequent the businesses and public amenities. Removing street parking and removing Muni stops does not serve our needs. Stores need to get deliveries by large trucks that will block a transit lane. Muni-only lanes will prevent the free flow of traffic on many blocks of Taraval.
To our knowledge, the police station on 24th Avenue, the fire station on 18th Avenue and the Post Office have not been consulted and agreed to the installation of cement traffic islands and traffic lights that may interfere with their operations.
Neighbors on Ulloa and Santiago streets will have perpendicular parking imposed on them without having any traffic studies done to evaluate the safety of this type of parking on these streets .
The SFMTA has been featured in the San Francisco Examiner almost daily for the past several months. Some stories present positive improvements to Muni and traffic issues, but too many stories document the problems that people are having with controversial SFMTA decisions.
The L-Taraval Rapid Project is at a crossroads right now, and this story could go either way. The board should honor the agreements made by staff with the community by postponing its final approval of the original project on Sept. 20. Instead, the board should approve only the pilot program agreed upon. We need to see how well the proposed changes meet neighborhood and Muni needs before implementing it for good.
Will the SFMTA board earn the public’s trust by supporting a trial period, or will it continue to be in the headlines for making mistakes?
Nancy Wuerfel is a member of People of Parkside Sunset and served for nine years as the District 4 appointee to the Park, Recreation, Open Space Advisory Committee.