Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mayoral Candidate David Chiu Takes District 5 Transportation Tour, Backs Cross-town Separated Bike Lanes and the Boulevard Design for Masonic

Dennis Yee of Martini Cleaners is on board with Chiu campaign

Chiu noted Divisadero's unfortunate "skinny sidewalks," toured with Dan Nguyen-Tan

Chiu assured Walt Bell of Black Dog Trading Company he wanted to help small businesses

Chiu with Remy Nelson at the city's first parklet outside Mojo Bicycle Cafe

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu launched his second week as an official mayoral candidate with a “transportation tour” today of District 5, stopping in Japantown and along Divisadero. In the few hours squeezed between meetings at City Hall, Chiu walked, biked, and took Muni to meet local merchants and residents. He described his transportation choices as part of his message to city voters, telling BIKE NOPA, “I am absolutely committed to sustainable transportation in District 5 and all the districts as part of a more livable city.”

Chiu said his transit-first vision for the city includes a safer Masonic Avenue, and he strongly endorsed the Boulevard design developed by city planners with support from several neighborhood groups. “We should make Masonic one of the great streets of this city,” Chiu said. He recognized that “creative financing” will be required to pay for the traffic calming changes proposed for the corridor.

Without hesitation, Chiu also backed the cross-town separated bikeways proposed in an initiative developed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and supported by Mayor Ed Lee and the SFMTA Board of Commissioners. In District 5, these changes would include bikeways on Fell and Oak streets between Scott and Stanyan. “This is how we start building a more sustainable transportation system in the city,” he said. “When you improve travel for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users,” Chiu added, “motorists benefit as well.”

Taking his mayoral campaign around the city without a car still has its challenges, as Chiu found when he waited for the #22 Fillmore bus from Japantown. With the clock ticking on his time away from City Hall, he jumped on his bike to reach his next stops on Divisadero. Later he commented on the state of the MTA. “Muni is dysfunctional, for many reasons. MTA management has frustrated many of us. We need the transit union to support needed changes. And several parts of the Transportation Effectiveness Project lack implementation.”

The condition of city streets rounds out Chiu’s concerns for transportation policy. He said he looked forward to further consideration of a streets bond measure to secure funds to repair and maintain city streets. Several district supervisors initially backed a streets repair bond measure for the November 2009 ballot before determining that the recession and public sentiment made passage unlikely. City planners are now looking to November 2012 for a similar streets measure, although Chiu said it might appear in the current election cycle instead.

On his tour of Divisadero, Chiu met with three popular merchants. Dennis Yee, proprietor of Martini Cleaners, told Chiu he was generally satisfied with the city in his dealings as a small business owner. After his visit with the supervisor, Yee said he was ready to back Chiu for mayor. “For my dollar, he’s been doing the work the city requires. We need someone who knows the operation going in.” Yee didn’t hesitate to take a campaign sign for his window.

Walt Bell, owner of Black Nose Trading Company, reported that his business was doing well. Six employees work with him in the dog specialty store that offers doggy day care, a dog walking service, and a huge assortment of dog grooming and care products. Bell is also a member of the Divisadero Merchants Association. “Our biggest concerns are the eleven to twelve empty storefronts on the street and the city’s permit process that gets ridiculous.” The complaints are familiar with anyone who has tried to start a business or make changes in operations. As Bell noted, permit expediters are used by those who can afford them because the process is so convoluted and difficult.

Chiu made his last stop before spinning back to City Hall for a budget meeting at the city’s first official parklet, outside Mojo Bicycle Café. In response to another reporter’s question, the candidate said he was “totally in favor” of the city’s several mini street and sidewalk parks. “Parklets represent the formation of community.” Mojo’s owner Remy Nelson reiterated the concerns of his colleague Walt Bell about keeping Divisadero viable for local businesses.

Chiu’s car-free campaign has booked nine more neighborhood tours in March.

1 comment:

  1. Finally, a mayoral candidate that understands bikers and public transit customers!