Poets Plaza Debate Continues: To Close Vallejo Or Not?

by Geri Koeppel : hoodline – excerpt

At a meeting on Thursday evening, North Beach and Telegraph Hill residents peppered public agencies with their questions and concerns about Piazza Saint Francis, the Poets Plaza, which is being proposed for the 600 block of Vallejo between Columbus and Grant avenues.

The crux of the argument, which has gone on for several months, remains whether that block of Vallejo should be permanently closed, or whether at least some traffic should be allowed to flow… (more)


Vallejo Street Closure For Poets Plaza Now On Hold

hoodline – excerpt

The proposed temporary closure of Vallejo Street between Columbus and Grant avenues has been delayed for a second time, after neighbors showed up at a Sept. 24th hearing for the SFMTA’s Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation for Temporary Street Closures (ISCOTT) to express their concerns…

Kristen Foley, who’s lived in the neighborhood for six years, said she heard “quite a few” neighbors spoke out once again at the Sept. 24th meeting of ISCOTT, which approves or denies road closures. Someone put flyers on cars the previous weekend, she said, which got the word out and might’ve spurred attendance. Foley had previously told us that people who don’t live in the immediate neighborhood aren’t aware of the difficulties the closure will pose for drivers.

“If they did it with thought and weren’t being bullies about it to get someone’s pet project complete, it would make more sense to me,” Foley said. “I feel it would be a community decision, rather than just someone telling us this is going to happen. If they’re claiming this Poets Plaza is going to bring the community together, then why aren’t they involving the community it’s going to affect?”…

“I think there’s some growing concern about what emergency vehicles will have to do,” said Grant Miller, who lives in the neighborhood. He doesn’t have strong feelings about the plaza, but “I’ve heard it may delay response times up to several minutes, and that could be a legitimate concern.” On the other hand, “some people are very much in support of it. It could turn out to be beautiful. It depends on how they do it.” … (more)

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)

District 3 Street re-designs

Supervisor David Chiu July/August 2014 Newsletter – excerpt

Broadway Street Design Advances
For years, Broadway, particularly from the tunnel to Columbus Avenue, has had significant safety and quality-of-life issues as motorists speed from the west to the east side of our district, through the heart of one of the densest residential neighborhoods on the West Coast.  We have seen too many traffic-related collisions in a mixed-used corridor where residents of all ages live, play, go to school and work.

As reported by the SF Examiner, we have made good progress at planning a Broadway Chinatown Design project to transform Broadway into a more vibrant and multi-modal street for all users. The two-year interagency effort has completed its planning phase and the Department of Public Works is now preparing construction documents for the new Broadway. The Final Report on the street design and design website contains more details on the context, history, and planning process thus far. You can also view and provide feedback through August 4 on new public artwork proposals that are part of this exciting project.

Lower Polk Community Benefit District Vote Coming Up
After three years of hard work and extensive outreach led by a steering committee of local residents and businesses, this month, the Board will vote on establishing a Community Benefit District for the Lower Polk neighborhood. Lower Polk is a diverse, wonderful neighborhood that faces a number of challenges. Public safety, vacant storefronts, homelessness, and lack of green space are common concerns. The new CBD would use its $800,000 annual budget and any additional funding to provide services above and beyond the City’s current level. Lower Polk will see additional capital improvements, sidewalk cleaning, graffiti removal, tree maintenance, and safety and social service outreach ambassadors, among many others.

It’s impossible to write about the potential Lower Polk CBD without remembering and celebrating the contributions of Shell Thomas, who for years spearheaded the efforts to make it a reality. He also championed other important projects in North Beach, Chinatown, Broadway and Polk Street with dedication and humor. Shell passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and will be dearly missed by many in our northeast neighborhoods… taken from Supervisors Chui’s newsletter July

Stay tuned for upates on neighborhood meetings to voice your opinions on these these designs.

Columbus Safety Plans Vetted By Community, Opposed By Merchant Leader

by  : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Over two-thirds of the space on Columbus Avenue is devoted primarily to cars, yet only one-third of the people on the street are typically in automobiles.
That’s according to a 2010 study of how to improve the design of Columbus, in which residents and transportation planners came to the conclusion that North Beach’s thoroughfare needs calmer traffic and more space for pedestrians, transit, and bicycling. Now, three years later, as the SFMTA looks to finally implement the ideas laid out in the plan, some merchants and residents are pushing back, dismissing the extensive analysis and community planning already done.
Columbus is set to be re-paved next summer, presenting an opportunity to cost-effectively implement the concepts in the SF County Transportation Authority study, which include bulb-outs on Columbus’ narrow, crowded sidewalks and an on-street plaza — dubbed “Piazza St. Francis, the Poet’s Plaza” — on an adjacent block of Vallejo Street. At the intersection of Columbus, Green, and Stockton Streets, traffic islands would be added to simplify motor vehicle movements, diverting traffic off westbound Green and southbound Stockton (converting it to a one-way street north of Columbus).
With a road diet, one stretch of Columbus, between Green and Union Streets, would get transit-only lanes, while 8-foot-wide buffered bike lanes would be installed between Green and Washington Streets (although the bike lanes weren’t included in the SFCTA study, the traffic impacts of a road diet were)… (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.

San Francisco Central Subway Plans Move Forward

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is modifying part of its plan for the Central Subway Project that sparked opposition and lawsuits from North Beach residents. The original plan was to extract underground drilling equipment 2000 feet beyond the approved tunnel on Columbus Ave. between Filbert and Union Streets. Critics charged that that amounted to extending the subway without doing any environmental studies..
“I’m completely in support of the subway,” said Marc Bruno of Save North Beach, the organization filing a lawsuit against the project. “As soon as we know there won’t be any construction on Columbus [Ave.], we can retract the lawsuit…
Howard Wong from SaveMuni, the other group suing to stop the current project plan, says his concern is not just with the tourism traffic, but the projected change in demographic that could be brought on by the Central Subway…
“I do think moving construction to the Pagoda Theater as opposed to on Columbus Ave. is a better alternative,” Wong said. “But in the long run it is not beneficial to the city.”…   (more)

We were at the North Beach SFMTA Meeting and recorded the event. Clips are online for viewing here:  http://vimeo.com/groups/168462

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.

Community Meeting on Alternatives to Planned Central Subway Tunnel Boring Machine Extraction in North Beach

Please Come to a Community Meeting on Alternatives to Planned Central Subway Tunnel Boring Machine Extraction in North Beach
Monday, Nov. 19th at 7:30 pm at Tel-Hi Gym
North Beach Community Meeting with MTA on possible alternatives to planned extraction of Central Subway tunnel boring machines on Columbus Ave.
Monday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Tel-Hi Neighborhood Center Gymnasium, 555 Chestnut St., or enter at 660 Lombard (Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center)
We have received a notice that the SF Municipal Transportation Agency & Supervisor David Chiu will be hosting a discussion on Monday, November 19th about possible alternatives to bringing the Central Subway boring machines out of the ground on Columbus at Washington Square Park.
View the MTA notice here: Central Subway Community Meeting Notice

THD and many others have been seeking alternatives to having the current Central Subway construction disruption to the heart of North Beach on Columbus Avenue continue for the next two years in order to extract the tunnelling equipment there, especially in light of the fact that the nearest subway station would be nearly a 1/2 mile away at Washington & Stockton.
Last week, THD and North Beach Neighbors sent a joint letter to the SFMTA asking why they have failed to thoroughly study alternatives to the highly disruptive Central Subway construction in North Beach as was promised.  View that letter here:  THD & NBN Joint Letter on Central Subway Construction. Download pdf flyer.

Please come to the community meeting on Monday evening to listen, ask questions, and help keep the pressure on the SFMTA & Supervisor Chiu to fulfill their promise of finding a less disruptive method of completing the Central Subway Project.
Mike Sonn, Chair, Transportation Committee – Mike.Sonn@thd.org
Telegraph Hill Dwellers , www.THD.org

Related rail story:
Obama’s New Cabinet Can Make Trains Run on Time
Plans were announced the day of the meeting on sf.streetsblog.org

Subway utlity work begins in North Beach despite lawsuit

abclocal.go.com – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the protests of neighbors — one of whom has sued the city — crews Monday are starting to relocate utility lines in North Beach as part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway project…

The planned work has prompted one man to file a lawsuit, and other neighbors and merchants who are angry about how the construction will affect them are threatening to file a second one.

Marc Bruno, a North Beach resident with the group Save North Beach, filed a lawsuit on July 31 asking a San Francisco Superior Court judge for an immediate temporary restraining order to block the project.

That request was denied last Thursday, but an injunction hearing is scheduled in the case on Aug. 29, Bruno said…


Related stories:
Despite Lawsuit, Central Subway Work Kicks Off In North Beach

We just learned that Marc Bruno is running for District 3 Supervisor, against President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu.