MTA Executive Director Nat Ford and MTA Traffic Engineer Jack Fleck will reconsider the SFgo signs currently placed at Fell and Oak Streets west of Divisadero, according to two of the participants in a meeting yesterday with the transportation authority representatives. Ford and Fleck also said they welcomed input about the SFgo signs from nearby residents and they would look to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to guide their decision.
Manish Champsee, President of Walk San Francisco, and Tom Radulovich, Executive Director of Livable City, met with Ford and Fleck yesterday as part of their regularly scheduled sessions to discuss livability issues. Champsee said the two MTA reps seemed particularly ready to reconsider the Oak Street sign if the community objects to it. Radulovich said he recalled them saying that "if there are objections to the sign, they will drop it." He added, "They indicated that they are looking to the supervisor to guide them, to help them filter community input."
The Fell Street sign poses different challenges to the MTA than its twin on Oak. The MTA feels it has an obligation to the Concourse Authority in Golden Gate Park to erect some kind of sign structure on Fell Street to alert motorists when the concourse garage is full and to direct them to other parking options. While the Concourse Authority may be concerned about frustrated customers -- and lost ticket sales -- Richmond, Sunset, and Haight neighbors have voiced their frustration with motorists flooding their streets looking for parking, creating both congestion and risky driving by distracted drivers.
But even the Fell Street sign might not remain at its current location, or with its current design, if NOPA and Alamo Square neighbors mount a campaign against it, as several neighbors have discussed since last week's meeting of the North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association. Both Champsee and Radulovich said Ford and Fleck appeared open to a more appropriate and more attractive sign that was a better fit for the neighborhood. And they might consider moving it from the Divisadero intersection. Again, the two MTA representatives suggested they would look to the supervisor for guidance.
In effect, the MTA directors appear to be granting Supervisor Mirkarimi -- and presumably other supervisors who might find the freeway-style signs riling their own constinuents -- the option to say no to SFgo, or at least to the "visual message displays."
The challenge for District 5 neighbors will be to recognize the legitimate concerns raised by those further west (in the Haight, the Sunset, and the Richmond) as well as those further east (in NOPA and Alamo Square). A review of the location of the Fell Street sign as well as the design and scale of any display may identify a solution mostly satisfactory to all. To this end, Vallie Brown, Supervisor Mirkarimi's aide, said tonight that she has scheduled a meeting to be held within the next two weeks for the supervisor to specifically discuss the SFgo signs and traffic calming measures with Nat Ford and Jose Luis Moscovich, Executive Director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
Brown has encouraged all neighbors to summarize their concerns and suggestions and send them to her at Vallie.Brown@sfgov.org . She will compile their messages for Supervisor Mirkarimi to review prior to his upcoming meeting.