Muni detours Eighth Avenue traffic diversion plan

by Thomas K. Pendergast


The SF Municipal Transportation Agency’s (MTA) Muni division has backed off a traffic

diversion plan planned for Eighth Avenue after a community backlash led them to

reconsider the project’s direction.


 San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer (left) listens to the
concerns of residents living near the Eighth Avenue traffic plan. Photo: Thomas K. Pendergast.

Ten speed humps are to be installed on Eighth Avenue, between Cabrillo and Lake

streets, a four-way stop is to be installed at the intersection with Lake Street and another

four-way stop is planned for the intersection of Cabrillo Street and Ninth Avenue.


The part of the plan that was abandoned, however, would have diverted northbound

traffic off of Eighth Avenue at Anza Street using physical barriers, forcing motorists to

turn left or right, while southbound traffic on Eighth Avenue would have been diverted

at Balboa Street, forcing drivers to make the same choice, while bicyclists and

pedestrians could still travel freely down Eighth Avenue unimpeded.


Since it was expected that northbound and southbound traffic would be funneled onto

Seventh and Ninth avenues – where two schools sit, one on each street – both safety and

traffic congestion concerns were raised.


There is an elementary school at the Zion Lutheran Church, located on Ninth Avenue and

Anza Street. On Seventh Avenue, between Cabrillo and Balboa streets, there is the Frank

McCoppin Elementary School. On weekdays, at about 8:45 a.m., Seventh Avenue can get

congested with cars when parents drop their children off, and again there is heavy

traffic in the afternoon when the school lets out. There is also a Safeway market at

Seventh Avenue and Cabrillo Street, which attracts a lot of traffic day and night.


On the evening of Jan. 31, in the auditorium of the school at Zion Lutheran Church, more

than 70 people gathered at a meeting led by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer to

hear about Muni’s new plan, which will now drop the traffic diversion component



“I just want people to know that the MTA has made changes to the project based on

feedback from all of you and many other neighbors, and also from the two schools,”

Fewer said. “Our office believes the project still meets the goals of increased pedestrian

and overall safety. We worked closely with McCoppin and Zion Lutheran.”


While the new proposal no longer includes the traffic diversions, it still includes the

addition of 10 speed bumps along Eighth Avenue, between Lake and Cabrillo streets, four

speed bumps on Ninth Avenue (two of those between Geary Boulevard and Clement

Street and two between Geary and Anza Street) and four new speed bumps on

Seventh Avenue (two on either side of McCoppin Elementary School and two on either

side of George Peabody Elementary School).


Jason Hyde of Muni said Eighth Avenue has a higher amount of traffic than nearby

north-south running streets, and is heavily used by both tour buses and bicyclists

because it is a vehicle entrance into Golden Gate Park and one of the flatter

streets in the area.


Charlie Ream, also of Muni, said the feedback the department got showed a lot of strong

support for the traffic diversion barriers on Eighth Avenue from residents

of that street but they also received a lot of calls from neighbors on Seventh and Ninth

avenues concerned about the traffic coming onto their streets because of the diversions,

and the impact it would have on their routines and safety around the schools.


As an example, Ream mentioned that both Zion Lutheran and McCoppin have loading



“We weren’t really able to sway the community, in our minds, to gather the support we

needed to move forward with diversion on Eighth Avenue,” Ream said.


Then he brought up the subject of tour buses.


“That’s probably been the biggest thing that we’ve heard from Eighth Avenue neighbors,

the impact of large vehicles, the tour buses, commercial loading vehicles on Eighth

Avenue, especially the southern blocks of Eighth Avenue,” he said.


Virginia Ferrero, a 40-year resident of the neighborhood and a tour guide on a charter

bus, said she has seen tourists turn their collective noses up at the city’s downtown area

because of the general seediness there; but eventually they get to Golden Gate Park.


“That’s when they just fall in love with San Francisco,” she said. “We are so proud of our

beautiful west side of town. I think we shouldn’t be saying ‘get rid of the tour buses.’ We

should be allowing them to come in so we can show them how beautiful our City

really is. Eighth Avenue is the only entrance from the Golden Gate Bridge to get into the

park. So what can we do?”


Noelle Pak, a student at Zion Lutheran who is also the eighth grade student council

representative, and her brother Noah Pak, the seventh-grade student council

representative, both addressed the audience at the community meeting.


“Every day we see cars lined up in front of our school on Ninth Avenue picking up and

dropping off our students,” Noelle Pak said. “Unfortunately, we also see impatient, angry

drivers speed past the waiting cars into oncoming traffic every single day. If you close

Eighth Avenue, this traffic hazard will only get worse and we fear it is a tragic accident

waiting to happen. So, thank you adding speed bumps and not closing Eighth Avenue.”


“We basically got a good compromise,” said McCoppin Elementary School Principal

Bennett Lee. “They did a huge compromise by not shutting off Eighth. There is not a

huge, huge difference by adding a lot of speed bumps, which we encourage.

I think it’s a great thing.”

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