The $3.8 million SFMTA project designating lanes on Mission Street bus- and taxi-only, a system used on Market Street and other thoroughfares, was enacted with the stated goal of reducing congestion and transit times while increasing safety. It's still too soon to know what the long-term effects of the changes, which SFMTA Transit Director John Haley called "exciting stuff" during their inception, will be, but the reduction of parking on Mission Street has become a red-hot issue for local residents and businesses.
Drivers, naturally, have made their objections known, and small business owners have also argued that the limits on parking have driven customers away. The controversy has yet to cool off: Last night, many critics met with the SFMTA board of directors, where the rhetoric grew purple.
“This is just one more act of violence that the people in the Mission feel," Mission Local quotes one resident, Mary Eliza. “When their primary street, with the district name on it, is violated in this way without really taking into consideration the needs of the community, you’re going to have a problem.”
"They’re not going to come back,” Eden Stein, the owner of Secession Art & Design on Mission Street, told the meeting. “From 16th to Randall there has been a loss of business, and a lot of businesses can’t wait months for changes to happen. Businesses are going to close down. We need some action.”
Previously, Supervisor Campos and other critics have called the move, inspired by the paint job, a "red carpet." That metaphor wasn't strong enough, it would seem. As one activist, Raeleen Valle-Brenes, told the board, “SFMTA’s red carpet-bombing of the Mission was a surprise attack, and wholly unwelcome."
Others have objected to the paint's color itself. As the Examiner quoted Erick Arguello, a representative of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, at a previous discussion meeting: “For us it represents a gang color.” Market Street's similar lanes are also red.
Members of the Transit Rider's association, meanwhile, tell Mission Local they're concerned but optimistic. “I’ve noticed the bus service is better,” one member, Brian Stokle, reportedly said. “The reduction in bus stops paired with bus only lanes have helped move people more quickly and efficiently.”
“Obviously transit is a priority for us," said another member, lyse Magy, "but the last thing we want to do is harm small businesses. What’s the point of having good transit if you don’t have places people are going to?”