Neighbors Share Concerns at SFMTA Meeting Jan. 12

Looking north on the Embarcadero. (Photo: Geri Koeppel)
Looking north on the Embarcadero. (Photo: Geri Koeppel)

By Bill Hannan, GGTA President

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 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 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 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.

(Note: Both GGTA and BCNA are signed up for Planning Department notices. Carol Parlette is the designated Planning contact for BCNA, and I am the Planning contact for GGTA.)

MTA distributed a list of 14 pending projects. Please contact GGTA if you want a copy of the list. The only project on the list that I think is of interest to our groups 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. I do not know if our groups will be able to recruit a volunteer to attend monthly meetings. If not, we should probably establish contact with MTA to be kept informed of the Embarcadero Enhancement Project.