by Thomas K. Pendergast
When a $300,000 plan to spruce up the intersection of Geary and Park Presidio
boulevards was discussed at a recent community meeting, it apparently
did not go far enough for some people.
Local resident Warren K. Tom called it a “band aid that’s covering up a much
“The entire strip (of Park Presidio Boulevard) from Lake to Fulton is an eyesore.
We should be embarrassed to have this strip of no-man’s-land in the midst of
our neighborhood; that’s not been taken well care of,” Tom said.
“People are afraid to walk through it, not because of just the homeless, but the
trees are aging. They’re old. As a matter of fact, a tree in front of my sister ’s house … a
huge chunk of a tree fell because of the winter rains. So, I think beautifying just one
corner sounds lovely and it’s wonderful but what really needs to happen is that this
entire strip needs to be revitalized and reconsidered.”
Shannon Cairns, a representative of the SF Department of Public Works (SFDPW), said
the plan is to expand the bus waiting areas at the northeast and southwest
corners of the intersection of Geary and Park Presidio boulevards by “pulling the street
corners back” in order to create more space for people waiting for Muni bus lines.
The plan would create seat-walls on those corners to prevent people from
cutting across the busy intersection, while also providing more seating.
To beautify the intersection, SFDPW proposes planting “colorful vegetation”
on all four corners of the intersection, replacing the sidewalks on both sides of
Geary with dark grey concrete, perhaps with sparkles in it, and adding
new curb ramps.
“The idea of gateways is something that we want to highlight,” said Robert
Tidmore of the SFDPW. “We think the Geary/Park-Presidio intersection is important
enough that it merits some sort of gateway.”
“If you’re driving along Park Presidio, other than having street names to identify
each intersection, chances are you wouldn’t be able to distinguish one or the
other from the next because as you’re driving along Park Presidio it looks very
similar; it’s very monotonous,” Tidmore said. “There’s nothing really to tell you,
‘Hey, I’m at Geary Boulevard; this is a more important corridor.’ So, one of the
ideas for this project is to change that and to give some character and some importance
to that intersection.”
Kevin Clark, a member of the District 1 Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee,
brought up the idea of larger bus shelters to help protect passengers from the elements.
“Existing Muni bus stop shelters are really just advertising vehicles,” Clark
said. “They’re really not designed to protect people against wind and rain, and
that is a monster waiting spot for the #38 Geary and #38AX. The shelter is the key
feature of it, not just the sidewalk. I’d rather stand on the dirt and have shelter
than have a sparkling sidewalk.” Cairns responded.
“We can look into maybe sizing-up the Muni shelter that’s there or get more
than one shelter. I think of particular concern is the southbound #28 stop,” Cairns
said. “The northbound has fewer people waiting there but the southbound certainly
has a lot of people waiting, and we heard about that shelter so we’ll definitely
be looking into what we can do about that as a part of this project.”
The project is funded from the $248 million Road Repaving and Street Safety
Bond, which voters passed in 2011. “We’re certainly focusing on the #28
(Muni line) stops there,” Cairns said. “The southbound #28 is a very heavily used
stop with a lot of people waiting there.”
Another local resident, Aryeh Weinberg, said he goes into the greenbelt
area that runs along either side of Park Presidio Boulevard and cleans up the
trash, sometimes engaging with the homeless people in the area and asking them to
pick up their trash.
“It’s going to get destroyed,” Weinberg said of the proposed beautification project.
“If you don’t have something that is barring people, what’s going on, in terms
of the types of actions that happen specifically on that corner, specifically the southwest
corner, they’ll deliberately destroy it. And what I mean by ‘they’ is a combination of
people who don’t care, who are just walking through and throwing their trash around …
I catch people who are doing their daily drinking before they get home and hiding their
bottles in the brush.
“You have the homeless people, some of whom will clean up trash, but a lot of
them won’t,” he elaborated. “I wouldn’t spend a single dollar in there until you get
the San Francisco police to commit to walking through there on a regular basis
and enforcing vandalism charges. Unless the City is committed to enforcing whatever
rules we have about it, and I don’t care if you’re sending people to jail or
not, it doesn’t matter.”