Rose Pak’s opposition could slam brakes on car-free Stockton Street project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s preliminary plan to make part of Stockton Street a car-free pedestrian walkway may be threatened by opposition from Chinatown community organizer Rose Pak.

Pak slammed the car-free project as harmful to Chinatown in an email June 16 to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, which the San Francisco Examiner obtained…

The SFMTA and businesses agreed in February to research making the walkway permanent after construction is complete…

n her letter, Pak wrote on behalf of the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce that the neighborhood “understood we would suffer” inconveniences due to construction of the Central Subway, but believed they would be temporary.

However, making the project permanent also would “make permanent all the problems we’ve experienced,” she wrote, calling it “unacceptable to our community.”

The proposal would need to go before the SFMTA Board of Directors for community input and subsequent approval, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District said property owners on Stockton Street generally support the project.

“They’ve seen it as a boost to sales,” she said.

Pak later told the Examiner she met with Reiskin to discuss Chinatown’s concerns.

She said “he apologized they never did a better job of outreach” to the Chinatown community, and “he has agreed” the project would not work, because closing that section of Stockton Street would stop the flow of traffic into Chinatown and harm businesses.

“So I consider the issue closed,” Pak said… (more)

Rose is wise to see the folly in the plan to cut Chinatown off from the rest of the city.

When is the SFMTA and City Hall going to consider how dangerous it is to cut a neighborhood out of the normal traffic pattern of the city? How will trucks and other regular delivery services get to Chinatown with no easy access? How will emergency vehicles get in and out? Many people could be trapped in an emergency evacuation situation.

 

Muni’s Sluggish 30-Stockton Finally Set to Get Greater Priority on the Streets

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Muni’s notoriously sluggish 30-Stockton line is finally set to get some upgrades that will give buses higher priority on streets through the dense neighborhoods of Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, and near Fisherman’s Wharf…

Wu noted that it’s “still important to listen to community input” on the bus upgrades. A recent public outreach open house held in Chinatown by the SFMTA about the project was sparsely attended, but it’s unclear why.

One attendee, Jim Fong, said he rides the 30 and 45 regularly, and that he’s concerned about longer walking distances for seniors once stop spacing is increased from every block to every two blocks. Citywide, a 2010 Muni survey of riders found that 61 percent would consider walking a longer distance, if it meant the overall ride would be quicker and more reliable.

Aside from stop consolidation, the only point of contention for some seems to be proposals to remove car parking for transit upgrades. Chinatown residents and merchants don’t seem to depend much on car storage, and they’ve been happy to ban car parking on Stockton Street to boost business during the busy Lunar New Year shopping season.

It’s unclear how many car parking spaces would be removed in total for transit amenities, like 11 transit bulb-outs that allow for faster and easier boarding. Crosswalks at 18 intersections along the route would be made safer with bulb-outs, whether or not those intersections have bus stops.

The plans also include a two-block road diet on one-way Kearny Street, where the northbound 30 runs between Market and Sutter. Removing one of the street’s four narrow traffic lanes would allow for wider traffic lanes that better fit buses, the SFMTA says. It’s unclear if the road diet would extend beyond Sutter… (more)

North Beach wants holiday halt to subway work

Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

With the holiday season here, the Municipal Transportation Agency has paused some of the most visible and disruptive construction of the Central Subway in Union Square.
The long-closed stretch of Stockton Street between Geary and Market streets has been opened to relieve traffic – and pedestrian – congestion during the busy holiday shopping season.
But hey! What about us? say subway opponents and some business owners in North Beach and Chinatown…
No North Beach Dig held news conferences in Chinatown and North Beach on Tuesday to call for a holiday construction moratorium in North Beach as well, saying businesses near construction sites are seeing business drops as big as 50 to 70 percent during a busy time of the year, according to Howard Wong, another No North Beach Dig member.
“Union Square managed to get a moratorium and we did not,” Carnes said.
Not so, said Paul Rose, an MTA spokesman. All construction in North Beach was halted over Thanksgiving weekend, he said, and the same construction plan that pauses construction in Union Square for the holidays also stops work in the right-of-way at Columbus and Union streets in North Beach.
However, work in the parking lot of the Bank of America at 1455 Stockton St. and at the former site of the Pagoda Theatre at 1731-1741 Powell St., across the street from Washington Square, continue – with work hours extending to 11 p.m.
The complaining, of course, also continues… (more)

2 Neighborhoods – Different Treatments

You can help us by signing the petition:

Stop subway construction during the holidays.

SF Muni Considering Central Subway Expansion Into North Beach

Muni Chief Ed Reiskin is now examining the possibility of extending the 1.6 billion dollar central subway project beyond Chinatown, to an abandoned theater in the North Beach neighborhood. Phil Matir reports… (more)

Choose your version of this story. It is guaranteed to be out there somewhere in the news. Where will it (the tunnel) really end up? Only his holiness knows for sure, and he isn’t too sure either, what with no money and no plans, the SFMTA bores on, amid mounting legal disputes. No doubt the owners of the Pagoda Theater are betting on a big win.

S.F. Central Subway subject of suit

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate.com – excerpt

A day before federal transportation officials are expected to give $942.2 million to the controversial Central Subway, opponents of the project on Wednesday filed suit to stop construction of a station with a Union Square entrance.
The lawsuit, filed by subway critics Save Muni, is the latest, and so far most aggressive, effort to stall or kill construction of the 1.7-mile subway from Caltrain to Chinatown. The suit contends that the Municipal Transportation Agency’s plans to build an entrance to the Union Square/Market Street station in the square violated a City Charter prohibition of nonrecreational uses in city parks. It seeks to force the Municipal Transportation Agency to move the station or put its location to a public vote… (more)

Related:
Suit filed against S.F. Central Subway project
Lawsuit aims to derail controversial San Francisco Central Subway line
SF Receives $942M For Central Subway Amid Lawsuit By Opponents

As filing deadline passes, San Francisco supervisor races take shape

By: Joshua Sabatini : SFExaminer – excerpt

The players are finalized and all that remains now is the drama over who will emerge in November to serve on the Board of Supervisors for the next four years.
There are six open seats on the 11-member board, and after Friday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline there was little in the way of surprises. Perhaps the biggest suspense was whether a serious challenger would emerge to take on board President David Chiu, who represents District 3, which includes Chinatown and North Beach…

While Chiu won’t have those scrapes, he is facing upset hopefuls in architect Joseph Butler, who runs a private firm, and Marc Bruno, who just sued The City over Muni’s Central Subway project. Both candidates are taking on an incumbent who has already amassed $147,000 in campaign donations. Both men gave similar reasons for running: More attention needs to be given to the needs of residents.
“David is just not an on-the-street kind of guy,” Bruno said. “He’s well-intentioned, but he’s a technocrat.”
Butler said there is the need for a “neighborhood up government.”

(more)

Front-Runner to Build SF Subway Station Has History of Cost Overruns

By Zusha Elinson : Bay Citizen – excerpt

A construction giant with a history of cost overruns and expensive legal battles is the leading candidate to build a new subway station in San Francisco.

Tutor-Saliba Corp.’s $239 million bid to build the Chinatown station for the planned Central Subway is the lowest of four bids being evaluated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. By law, the lowest bidder has a significant edge in public contracts.

But history suggests that the transportation agency should proceed with caution: Collectively, 11 major Bay Area projects completed by the construction company since 2000 have cost local government $765 million more than expected, 40 percent above the initial bids, according to a review by The Bay Citizen.

“Tutor is doing the same thing that he has always done: He bids super low, but the project ends up costing a lot more in the end,” said Kevin Williams, a former city contract compliance officer who raised concerns about the company’s work at San Francisco International Airport. “The reason that he is repeating this on the taxpayers’ dime is because he gets away with it.”…

(more)

Why are we not surprised? More evidence that the SFMTA is not competent to manage effectively. But then they aren’t spending their money so why should it matter?

Utility relocation starting in North Beach on August 13

Central Subway construction will take place on this block of Columbus Avenue near Washington Square Park.

Construction associated with the Central Subway tunnel will begin August 13 in North Beach. The work involves relocating utility lines on a half-block section of Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets.

The Central Subway tunnel is planned to extend past the last station in Chinatown to North Beach. When tunneling is complete, the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be removed from the ground on Columbus Avenue. The utility work is expected to take approximately four months to complete and is required to prepare for construction of the TBM retrieval shaft.

Surface construction activity will be take place on Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets, with some work at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Union Street. Construction hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To mitigate construction impacts, street sweeping will occur on a daily basis, dust and noise will be monitored and controlled, and a traffic control officer and a flagger will facilitate the flow of traffic during work hours…

(more)

NIMBY Watch: North Beach Folks Want to Stop/Stall Central Subway Construction

sfist.com – excerpt

It wouldn’t be Monday in San Francisco without a tale of a construction project that someone, somewhere is going to fight tooth and nail to stop. Work is beginning on the North Beach end of the upcoming Central Subway line, which will actually terminate at Stockton and Clay Streets, in Chinatown, just shy of Broadway and North Beach. A coalition of residents and businesspeople in North Beach are looking to protest and delay the construction work at their end, because they’re not seeing any direct benefit coming out of it. You see, instead of an ultimate subway terminus coming out of this project, all they’re going to get is a lot of noise, a disruption of business around Washington Square and Columbus Avenue, and a big ugly hole where tunnel boring machines will be exiting, at Washington Square…

(more)

The photo of the projected Chinatown station design leaves one to question whether there is any intention in preserving North Beach’s rich cultural heritage.