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Moving the Richmond District Forward

This summer marked the reopening of San Francisco’s economy and tourism, with vaccine rates the highest in the state. While the Delta variant has led to us putting our masks back on and showing vaccine proof before dining indoors, the City is bustling with events and activities that were canceled last year. 

As our economy continues to reopen, our roadways and public transportation systems are facing unprecedented changes. Late night transit services are slowly resuming, bus lines have returned, and some slow streets are on a path to permanence. On the west side, we’ve been at the center of two major road closures that have taken place during the pandemic: the closure of the Great Highway, and nearly two miles of car-free bike connectivity in Golden Gate Park. With several changes having taken place in these two areas over the summer, many constituents have questions about the future of each, and what transportation in the district will look like. 

Golden Gate Park

In early September, I introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors calling for the creation of a “Beach to Bay” car-free connection throughout Golden Gate Park, so cyclists can travel safely through the park and pedestrians and families have plenty of space to walk, scoot, play, and get around safely. I thank Board President Shamann Walton and Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Matt Haney for their commitment to a vision that we can have both a Beach to Bay car-free connection and equitable access for seniors and people with disabilities to Golden Gate Park. 

The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed my resolution because San Franciscans deserve no less, so we call on city agencies to do right by the people as they gather feedback on their proposals. We’ve done everything we can to engage with stakeholders and articulate this vision. Regardless, if people agree or disagree with our ideas, we ask them all to participate in the public process. 

The Great Highway

In August, Mayor London Breed amended the public health emergency order and announced the reopening of the Great Highway to vehicles on weekdays. The Great Highway is now closed to cars starting at noon on Fridays and remains a pedestrian and bicycle promenade throughout the weekend. I thank Mayor Breed for hearing the Richmond District residents’ concerns and applaud her leadership for a solution to improve travel access for working people, while also allowing for a car-free roadway on the weekends. Given this was only a modification phase to the emergency response I have been informed that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and Recreation and Park Department (RPD) are still re-assessing their approach to the future of the Great Highway – whether a pilot program proceeds or not, and what that pilot might look like.

Regardless, the future of the Great Highway must include an increase of public transit routes and service frequency for the Richmond, as well as improved bicycle connectivity and protected lanes. San Francisco, especially on the west side, needs better investment in our public transportation system and bicycle infrastructure in order to shift people out of cars and onto sustainable modes of transportation. 

With that, SFMTA is currently gathering feedback on transportation service proposals including the Geary Improvement Project and its 2022 Muni Service Restoration. 

Geary Boulevard Improvement Project

SFMTA has installed temporary emergency transit-only lanes under the public health emergency, allowing for temporary bus bulbs and transit priority signals to be installed on Geary Boulevard. In July of this year, the SFMTA Board approved a plan to make the temporary lanes permanent on Geary. The original Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project approved in 2017 envisioned center-running transit lanes in the middle of Geary between Arguello and 28th Avenue. SFMTA’s evaluation of the side-running transit lanes on Geary indicate that they have improved bus performance and the agency is now recommending side-running transit lanes instead of center-running transit lanes on Geary. 

SFMTA is currently gathering feedback from constituents on their priorities for Geary Boulevard, with an online survey, virtual open house, and pop-up district tablings. My priorities for Geary are to improve pedestrian safety, deliver efficient and safe transportation on the 38-Geary bus lines, and ensure our small business merchants and residents are informed of any proposed changes. I look forward to seeing the results of the SFMTA outreach conducted this Summer and Fall so our constituents can inform the future of the Geary BRT. 

2022 Muni Service Restoration

Similarly, I ask our neighbors to weigh in on the future of Muni’s transit service. SFMTA is a complex organization that deals with our streets, parking, transit lines, curb space, and so much more, but the goal of Muni is simple: provide robust, efficient public transit that meets the needs of residents. 

Supervisor Dean Preston and I have called for the full restoration of Muni service to pre-COVID levels because public transit is at the foundation of San Francisco’s economy, climate goals, and a more equitable and accessible city.

With all of these upcoming changes coming to the district, I encourage Richmond District residents to take a moment to think about your vision and hopes for how we get around the City. My priority for our neighborhood’s transportation future is to ensure we can be part of a climate resilient, transit-first city, and I call on our agencies to provide transparency and be held accountable in their outreach. The majority opinion should guide our City policies, not the loudest voices. So, I urge everyone to participate and voice your opinion at the department’s websites below. 

Great Highway Pilot Project: 

2022 Muni Service Network:

This article was published in the Richmond Review in October 2021.

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