Merchant concerns only half of Muni battle

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

On the surface, a meeting in the Mission District on Monday night was meant for the community to weigh in on new “red carpet” bus-only lanes on Mission Street. The lanes rolled out in February and stretch from 14th to 30th streets.

But the meeting exploded.

“A woman got hit by a car on Cesar Chavez!” shouted Roberto Hernandez, a community advocate often called the “Mayor of the Mission.”

Hernandez decried transit officials for allowing the new red lanes to cause traffic mayhem, not reaching out enough to residents and for hurting small businesses in his life-long home.

Half of the meeting’s 200 attendees cheered in support. The other half howled for Hernandez to stop.

In the crowd, two men stood within a few inches of each other’s faces, pointing and shouting.

This same scene has played out at recent Geary Boulevard and Taraval Street transportation meetings and may soon play out at West Portal, too.

Merchants from those neighborhoods were present for the Mission meeting as well.

A tide of merchant and neighborhood resentment is rising against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — and they’re now banding together for support.

“I think it’s real clear a citywide coalition is in the formation and building to really address how we need to put a stop to the way [the SFMTA] is planning,” Hernandez told the San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday.

And in small ways, those merchants are winning… (more)

Transit expansion

“I think what’s happening now is we have a lot of things we’re trying to move forward,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA’s director of transportation.

Perhaps the largest of these projects is Muni Forward, a push to boost bus service on many Muni lines across The City. This includes installing “red carpet” bus-only lanes like the one on Mission Street.

The Van Ness Avenue, Geary Boulevard and Geneva Avenue Bus Rapid Transit projects also involve a lot of construction. The massive Central Subway project is also underway.

“It’s all at the same time,” Reiskin said.

And that has led to loose alliances forming across San Francisco’s neighborhoods.

United concerns

Some merchant complaints are universal.

Muni projects have been blamed for reducing parking, hurting local businesses’ bottom lines and for only saving “a few minutes of time” for each bus or train line.

David Heller of the Geary Boulevard Merchants Association, said construction for the Geary BRT line may put merchants out of business.

Larger businesses “can afford two three years of hemorrhaging,” he said, but “what about the little guy?”

Reiskin said even if a line “only” gains two minutes each run, in the Mission, for instance, “You can add that up across a year, and that’s hours.”

Multiply that by thousands of riders, he said, “and that’s huge.”

On Taraval Street, Albert Chow, proprietor of Great Wall Hardware and a member of People of Parkside and Sunset, is wary of proposed concrete boarding islands along the L-Taraval train.

The SFMTA argues it would protect riders from cars as they disembark. But local merchants want the SFMTA to test changes to the L-Taraval before they’re made permanent, Chow said.

“There’s valid arguments on all sides,” Chow said. “It’s just a matter of getting a good compromise.”

So far, merchants have seen success.

After the Mission meeting, Reiskin said he may propose changes to turn restrictions on Mission within a month. The SFMTA also tempered some of its proposals on Taraval Street, opting to make them pilot programs instead of immediately permanent… (more)

SFMTA is not the only issue dividing San Francisco’s long time residents from the more recent arrivals. They aren’t even thinking about may happen to their jobs as a result of the Brexit and Trump campaigns.
The citizens of San Francisco are doing what they always do when threatened. The are fighting for freedom of expression, movement, and lifestyles. There is no way the conditions on the ground can continue much longer.
The common theme we are all dealing with here is money. The sucking sound you hear along with the drilling, grinding and pounding, is the money being vacuumed out of workers pockets into a dwindling few storehouses of wealth often referred to as banks.
No doubt they find the fight between us amusing. Sadly the “smart” ones are so lacking in education about the fundamentals of government and financing on the world stage that they think they are fighting for themselves, when they are being used by the less than 1 percent corporate elite to destroy what they can, before they are spit out after gentrifying the cities they think are theirs for the taking.
We who have gone through this game a few times and survived somewhat in tact, can watch as their fate unfolds when it is their time to go.


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