Red lanes on 16th Street? Not so fast, say Mission District activists

By Julian Mark : missionlocal – excerpt

Mission District anti-gentrification activists made one thing clear to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Tuesday night: They do not want the bus-only red lanes the transit agency has planned for 16th Street.

“You gave us two years to stop them from being painted — now tell us how!” said Rick Hall, a member of United to Save The Mission, a coalition of neighborhood activists, echoing the sentiments of many in the room…

The project is slated to wrap up in 2021 and is expected to cost $67.5 million. It is being undertaken in two phases. The first focuses on improvements from Third Street to Potrero Avenue, and the second phase will be along the busier stretch from Potrero to Church Street.

The staunch resistance to the red lanes is buttressed by the common complaint of Mission Street merchants that the lanes are to blame for a decline in business. Businesses argue that the lanes have limited parking on Mission Street and that restricting left turns onto the corridor further limits accessibility… (more)

At some point a count of who supported, opposed or was undecided about the red lanes was taken among those present and the vote was heavily weighted against the red lanes.

This story about the expansion of red lanes does not exist in a vacuum. SFMTA just admitted to massive expensive and dangerous mistakes and coverups that have been widely reported in the media. Many complaints about these abuses were reported for months by the public and exposed in the media. Why did it take so long for our city officials to listen to the public? It is not hard to understand why people do not trust the SFMTA plans to impose more changes on the communities that oppose them.

Long before SFMTA management admitted to wrong-doing, coverups and lies, and long before the bridges, overpasses and Transbay terminal started crumbling, a long line of public commenters, whistleblowers and investigative reporters have gone on the record of warning city officials about abuses at the SFMTA. We know it is a failed department. The news reports daily on the breakdown of the transit and traffic systems. Why did it took City Hall so long to figure it out and admit what we all knew?

The real lesson our government needs to learn from the disaster is:

  • The public is not stupid and should determine what the SFMTA does with their money.
  • The public should request the changes. SFMTA staff should execute them.
  • If the public wants a traffic light, or a scramble as a protective measure they should get what they ask for, not speed bumps, traffic circles and bulbouts.
  • If the riding public should determine the seat configuration on the new buses not the SFMTA.
  • Now that we have the admissions, the city officials need to consider some major changes in how the SFMTA operates including a possible ballot initiative to re-organize the department.