Boulevard design "is going to be a major improvement" for Masonic
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced that a majority of Masonic area residents favor the more complete Boulevard street design for the corridor. The package of traffic calming measures in the plan is expected to make Masonic Avenue safer for all road users and improve the visual appearance of a ten block stretch from Oak to Geary streets. Implementation of the Boulevard design awaits a final report due by the end of the year, followed by an approval process and a search for funding. Actual on-site construction is unlikely to begin for at least two years. BIKE NOPA presented details of the Boulevard option in a previous story. Masonic Avenue residents who attended a September 30 community meeting took the survey to give their preferences between two design options.
Javad Mirabdal, SFMTA Director for the Masonic Traffic Calming Project, told members of the North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA) on November 18th that survey results indicated a solid preference* (see note below) for the more ambitious and more complete street design. "This is the better option," Mirabdal said. "It's going to be a major improvement and it will re-shape Masonic Avenue, creating a better feeling for driving and walking."
More than 50 NOPNA members attended the bi-monthly meeting; only two expressed concerns about the Masonic project. They cited the proposed removal of parking, the installation of a bike lane "on a busy street," and the extent of outreach leading to the community meeting where the survey was conducted. Mirabdal replied that to make Masonic safer, changes have to be undertaken and "something has to give" to allow space for the center median, the Muni bus bulb-outs, and a separated bike lane. He noted that in a SFMTA daytime parking study, 60% of the parking on Masonic was for less than two hours. He believes these short-term users are students from the nearby USF campus and not Masonic residents. "Less than 20% park more than four hours." He added that the Boulevard project will also create 50-80 new parking spaces to partially mitigate the loss of Masonic parking.
Mirabdal emphasized that the traffic calming package for Masonic "is not a bike project." During other public meetings he has added that Masonic is the only direct north-south route in the area for bicyclists, just as it is for motorists. Regarding the adequacy of community outreach, Mirabdal described the door-to-door distribution of meeting notices prior to the first two Masonic community meetings and a mass mailing of 1400 notices for the final meeting. The announcements included information for how to contact Mirabdal directly.
Masonic Avenue and NOPA residents have, in fact, received a continuous stream of information about the Masonic project in addition to what the SFMTA distributed. Jarie Bolander, NOPNA president, confirmed that notices of the Masonic meetings and project updates have been included in several previous association newsletters that are distributed to 5000 individuals. The meetings were also announced in email blasts to 800 members and other interested parties, and speakers have regularly discussed the Masonic project at NOPNA meetings. Neighborhood blogs and city-wide media have also covered the traffic calming proposals.
In addition to NOPNA, Mirabdal said he has talked with other neighborhood groups in the Masonic Area, including the Ewing Terrace Neighborhood Association, the University Terrace Neighborhood Association, the San Francisco Day School, and Fix Masonic.
The SFMTA expects to release a full report on the survey findings within the next two weeks.
For detailed project information: www.sfmta.com/masonic
Contact project manager, Javad Mirabdal: firstname.lastname@example.org
For previous stories in the A Better Masonic series, check here.
* November 3o note: Javad Mirabdal requested a change in my report of his description of the degree of support for the Boulevard plan. He believes his statements indicated to the NOPNA audience that there was a "preference" rather than a "solid preference" for the proposal. Today's post reveals the actual data which indicate that 76% of survey respondents "strongly liked" or "liked" the Boulevard option while 64% favored the Gateway alternative.