At a meeting attended by District 9 Supervisor Campos, MTA Director Ed Reiskin and staff, and more than a dozen Mission community leaders, Reiskin acknowledged the SFMTA got it wrong on Mission Street. Mission leaders requested a public apology and a big community meeting to allow the public an opportunity to chime in on what they want. Stay tuned for the results on that one. Supervisor Campos promised to set up meetings with local leaders to discus remedies.
The good news is that Leo’s Hot Dog Stand is staying put and the general consensus is that the SFMTA should remove the forced turns on Mission Street. As most of us who live in the neighborhood know, few people use Mission Street as a thoroughfare.
Suddenly adding forced turns every couple of blocks, has created more confusion and difficulty for drivers forced to turn their attention to yet one more problem, and made the streets less safe. Already, merchants have heard from customers and clients who apologize but say they can’t do business there any more. If the goal is to clear the street of existing businesses, the SFMTA has succeeded.
Threats of painting out the red lines and such other radical moves have been heard on the street. This is not a time to mess with the Mission as the residents and merchants are already under intense pressures to leaves the area by developers who want to displace them.
The red lanes add to the ominous threat of gentrification hanging in the air that brings large groups of protestors to the Planning Commission to fight market rate development in the Mission. One of the Spanish speaking community leaders struck a chord when she said the red lanes are “another Monster in the Mission.” Those words may become the next battle cry to stop the SFMTA projects.
Along with a lot of complaints about the horrible conditions on Mission Street and the already devastating effects the changes have had on the Mission merchants, there were some positive suggestions.
Questions about money were raised. The SFMTA plans to spend six million dollars to “improve” Mission Street in ways that obviously are not supported by the neighborhood. The problem that the Muni riders have is that the buses are over-crowded. Cutting bus stops and forcing cars onto side streets does not relieve crowding on buses. Adding a bus to an existing line costs around 1 million dollars. Why, it was asked, can the SFMTA not just add a few more buses to the crowded lines to relieve the crowding instead?
Many people want to bring back jitneys and some suggest that the express bus lines should be moved to South Van Ness or some less crowded street. There was a lot of talk about surveys taken of Muni riders and merchants, but no mention of surveys of drivers. How can you leave drivers out of the equation.
One community leader suggested looking at how the City of Los Angeles put together a red lane plan for Wilshire Blvd. in LA with a tremendous amount of citizen input. Suepervisor Campos echoed the thoughts of many when he said we need a plan by the neighborhood not a plan laid on the neighborhood.
The results of this emergency meetings are that the community will immediately convene with Campos’ staff and the MTA to work out a plan that will not devastate the Mission. There are also immediate calls for a public apology and immediate halt of enforcement of the forced turns off Mission street.
There are also plans for a wider Mission District Community meeting to air grievances and listen to ideas from the community.