SFMTA Planner Denies Plans to Create Evening Tow Away Zone along Upper Polk St

Press Release January 24, 2015

Luis Montoya, SFMTA lead planner of the Polk Streetscape Improvement Project, faced concerned residents and merchants in a closed door meeting Thursday in preparation for the upcoming January 30th Public Hearing to approve the agency’s long awaited project plans. Community members were alarmed to read that the MTA is proposing a morning and evening daily tow away zone for the implementation of a “temporary floating” bike lane from Pine to Broadway as posted on public notice posters wrapped along utility poles in their neighborhood.

Further questions and concerns grew from a report released from the planning department detailing the project’s exemption from an environmental impact report and the proposed plans including raised cycle tracks from Pine to Union, the removal of parking along the entire eastern side of Polk St, and the removal of up to 250 parking spaces at project completion. The report suggests the desire for future implementation of a full‐time raised cycle track along the east side of Polk St from Pine to Broadway (and permanent parking removal).

In response to these questions, Mr. Montoya commented that the posters were misprinted and there are absolutely no plans to implement a PM tow away zone along upper Polk St from Pine to Broadway.  He went on to comment that the report from the planning department is not his preferred proposal he will present at the public meeting on January 30th, but the planning department’s own interpretation of the project plans and data collected. How the Planning Department concluded the PM tow away zone he could not say. He did confirm his agency’s intention to implement the morning tow away zone despite minimal ridership numbers the SFMTA has recorded along northbound Upper Polk St on weekday mornings, and denied the SFMTA is planning to present a plan that calls for the removal of all northbound Polk St parking to create a raised cycle track from Pine to Broadway St  He added that his plan will remove approximately 150 parking spaces along the 1.3 mile Polk St. corridor (in addition to the hundreds of spaces being removed for the Van Ness BRT project), not the 250 listed in the Planning Department report.

At the conclusion of the meeting he asked the group for their trust and support despite the inaccurate and misleading public notice posters and planning department report, and left with a permanent marker in hand to personally alter the posted public notice signs.  On Friday a majority of the posters had been removed entirely, again questioning the agency’s accountability to the community in providing appropriate public outreach.

The Polk Streetscape Improvement Project public hearing will be held Friday, January 30th at 10AM in Hearing Room 416, City Hall.

This sounds like a real comedy of errors. Could this have anything to do with the Planning Department being overwhelmed with work requests? Time to slow down.

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