by Michael Durand
The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) presented to the public on Oct. 18 its
final plan to ease traffic on Eighth Avenue, between Lake and Fulton streets in the Inner
Several dozen local residents crowded into a small room at the Richmond/Senator Milton
Marks Branch Library to view a gallery-style presentation and to discuss the project with
SFMTA representatives. The project’s goal is to provide a “neighborway to create a safe
and comfortable street for people walking and biking in the Inner Richmond.”
“This evening was not quite what I was expecting,” said Forbes McNaught, an IT worker
who has lived on Eighth Avenue for about five years. “I don’t think they were ready for
the hordes of polarized opinions. There are two sides to the camp. One side is more
realistic, knowing we need to do something and any kind of positive change will help.
The other side is that we don’t want to make any changes because we’re happy with the
way traffic has been.”
Because there is an entrance to Golden Gate Park at Fulton Street, Eighth Avenue sees
approximately 4,700 vehicles per day, compared to 2,450 on Seventh Avenue and 1,525
on Ninth Avenue, according to the SFMTA.
To achieve its goal of making the street safer, the SFMTA proposes to add 10 speed humps
and two “speed cushions” to slow down traffic and to implement traffic diversions to
disperse vehicles onto nearby streets.
The SFMTA plan would require vehicles traveling north on Eighth Avenue to turn left or
right at Anza Street. Southbound traffic would be forced to turn left or right onto
Tom Pye, a resident who lives on Balboa, between 10th and 11th avenues, said, “It seems
to be the universal impression among the attendees tonight that the plan has already
been decided upon and this is kind of a placebo effort on the part of the city and SFMTA.
I think the plan is being imposed.”
Prior to the recent presentation, the SFMTA had two public events, according to its
website. The first, on Oct. 19, 2016, invited members of the public to give their input at a
“pop-up table session” at the Richmond Branch Library regarding walking and biking on
Eighth and 10th avenues. The second was on March 11, 2017, where the initial plan
was presented and neighbors’ feedback was considered.
Charlie Ream, an SFMTA planner, is the project manager for the Eighth
“I think tonight went great. I’m happy to see a lot of people from the neighborhood
come out and share their different opinions. I’ve been receiving feedback from both
sides of the fence, people who like the plan and those who don’t.”
As for future opportunities for community involvement, Ream said, “Right
now we’re targeting December for a hearing where the public will be heard
and where SFMTA staff will answer questions and record comments on the
record, and January for the SFMTA’s board meeting for final approval.”
Another local resident, who requested her name not be published, said public
notification has been lax.
“The first I heard about this project was a week ago. I immediately put it on
the Next Door website and the community jumped on it right away. Very few
knew anything about this project. I expected to come here tonight to do some
public speaking and express my opinion, but that’s not what this is about. My feeling
is that the SFMTA board has already made up its mind and the public hearing
coming up is just one more item on their check-off list. ‘Oh, we had our public
hearing.’ They have spent too much time and money to walk away from this project.”
McNaught said that, because of the increased traffic on Eighth Avenue, living
conditions on the block has been getting worse.
“You can’t have plants in the front of the house – they die. You can’t leave the
windows open in the summer because of the black soot. It’s pointless to clean the
windows because in a week they are filthy again. We’ve got to share the burden.”
According to Ream, before the project would break ground, the SFMTA will
meet with the SF Department of Public Works, which will do the construction.
Ream said he expects work will begin in the summer of 2018.
“This was one of the most attended public meetings I’ve been to. People obviously
feel strongly about it and we’re excited to bring forth a project to make Eighth Avenue a
safer place to bike and walk into the park,” Ream said.
Ream said he welcomes further comments from the public. His e-mail address
Further information about the neighborway project can be found on the website