Neighbors on both sides of Divisadero have united in opposition to the two freeway-style signs that the city recently placed on Oak and Fell streets. Both NOPNA and the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association (ASNA) sent letters of protest to Nathaniel Ford, Executive Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), the SFMTA Board of Directors, and the SFMTA Traffic Engineer Jack Fleck. In addition, the associations have urged District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to do all he can to get the
ASNA President Ben Allison wrote to Mirkarimi that SFMTA conducted “no advance outreach whatsoever to our organization or our members on this issue.” In his message to the SFMTA director, Kevin Rafter, President of NOPNA, wrote, “Our neighborhood is outraged that these signs are going up, as was voiced in our neighborhood meeting on September 17 where we had over 80 people in attendance.” As noted in a previous post, SFMTA notified nearby residents of an upcoming hearing concerning the proposed signs with a brief mention of “variable message displays.” The notice included nothing about freeway-style signs or electronic traffic messages.
Rafter stated NOPNA’s fundamental disagreement with the SFMTA staff position that the signs will increase safety. “Rather, we predict that they will distract drivers from watching the road and provide a subtle signal that Fell and Oak are extensions of the 101 freeway.” Both NOPNA and ASNA believe the signs will “encourage speeding and put bicyclists, pedestrians, and children more at risk.” Neighbors' concerns were heightened two weeks ago when a pedestrian, Melissa Dennison, was struck and killed by a motorist on September 15th while she crossed Fell just west of the SFgo sign standard. A memorial to Dennison has been placed at the site.
Ironically, the SFgo conflict coincides with the start of the city’s makeover of the Divisadero Corridor with bulbouts, repaving, new street trees, and more attractive street lamps. Allison of ASNA objected to what his organization considers the negative impact the signs will have on this revitalization. “We also feel that the installation of these signs completely contradicts the extensive community planning that took place leading up to the current construction on Divisadero to help make the area feel less like a freeway and more like the neighborhood commercial district and dense residential zone that it is.”
The leaders of the joint campaign recognize that Inner Richmond and Inner Sunset neighbors are concerned about unwanted traffic clogging their streets as motorists seek parking when the Golden Gate Park Concourse Garage is full. (SFMTA acknowledged at the September 17 NOPNA meeting that the primary purpose for the
ASNA and NOPNA proposed other alternatives as well to the Fell street sign including the use of mobile/temporary signs, developing overflow parking detours at the entrance of the garage when full, developing permanent non-electronic signs that directs traffic to the nearby UCSF garage when needed, and discouraging park visitors from seeking neighborhood parking by granting residents free neighborhood parking permits.
Supervisor Mirkarimi’s office is encouraging neighbors to offer suggestions and comments on the SFgo signs as well as their concern about speeding on Oak and Fell, according to his aide Vallie Brown. “Ross is looking at this as a much bigger picture with traffic calming, bicycle and pedestrian safety, traffic on side streets, and the influence of Market and Octavia traffic,” Brown explained. But when asked if the supervisor would request a hold on the Fell and Oak signs until a big picture analysis was completed, Vallie deferred comment. Instead she emphasized that they first needed to study all the factors involved. “It’s not like MTA has come to our office with SFgo information and briefed us on this. We were left wondering, ‘How did these signs suddenly appear?’” Mirkarimi intends to convene a meeting with the directors of SFMTA and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority within the next few days to discuss SFgo and the larger traffic and safety concerns.
One proposal advanced by NOPNA and ASNA was apparently tried but then dropped. Brown explained that the California
None of the neighborhood groups want a return to the Central Freeway ballot wars that pitted western residents against North Panhandle,
NOPNA and ASNA request that everyone who believes the Oak and Fell signs are inappropriate, ineffective, visually offensive, or dangerous voice their sentiments to Supervisor Mirkarimi and to SFMTA representatives:
firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org , and email@example.com . For more information on the opposition to the SFgo signs, search “sfgo” here at BIKE NOPA and at sf.streetsblog.com .