Press Release

Outer Taraval Community Demands Answers from SFMTA re: L-Line Project



Outer Taraval merchants between 46thand 47th avenues sent a letter to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board members, requesting that the SFMTA provide alternative solutions to staging, provide a traffic study, provide more information about the impact of construction on local businesses and a commitment from SFMTA To receive regular updates during construction.

Residents who live around the Outer Sunset neighborhood also sent their own letters to the mayor asking that SFMTA find an alternative staging area and consider the environmental and quality of life impacts it will have on the community.

The letters from the merchants and residents were sent in anticipation of the second community SFMTA meeting set to be held for this Friday.


WHO:   Doug Marschke, Owner, Underdogs Too
Ben Wintroub and Andrea De Francisco, Owners, Tunnel Records
Matt Lopez, Owner, White Cap
Lauren Crabbe and Michael McCrory, Owners, Andytown Coffee Roasters
David Quinby and Les James, Owners, The Riptide
Harpreet Sangha, Brother’s Pizza
Eddie Choi, Avenues Coffee
Outer Taraval Residents

WHEN: Friday, August 9th at 5:30 pm

WHERE: Grace Lutheran Church, 3201 Ulloa Street, San Francisco, CA 94116

WHY:    Until recently, the Outer Taraval corridor – between 46th and 47th avenues – has been a severely depressed commercial district. The only active businesses along the corridor were the Riptide, Brothers Pizza, Bashfull Bull 2 diner, and Than’s Cleaners. In recent years, however, several new small business owners have committed to our district – White Cap bar, Underdogs Too restaurant, Tunnel Records, Avenues Coffee & Surf Shop and Andytown Coffee Roasters.

While the City has tried to beautify the area with parklets and streetscape gardens, these new businesses must be firmly rooted for the neighborhood to see a lasting difference. While the merchants and residents are supportive of the L-Taraval Improvement project, the merchants believe that the proposed staging area along with the three+ year life span of the project will deter customers due to disturbed pedestrian beach access, lack of parking, disrupted traffic flow, and the disruption of store fronts caused by active construction.

According to Ben Wintroub, owner of Tunnel Records, “MTA failed to consider the drastic effect this staging area will have on the Lower Taraval merchants. The stated construction time of three years means we will have large trucks and machinery using our street as a through fare for the entire period of construction. So long after the actual project is completed on our block the trucks and traffic created will still be present and active.  The burden is too great. Other portions of Taraval will only intermittently feel the effects of the improvements, while the lower Taraval area will shoulder the entire burden of the project.”

A few weeks before the projected start date of July 1, SFTMA had notified the merchants and residents that the staging area was going to be along 48th Avenue, and a total of 96 parking spots would be lost. Due to advocacy from the merchants and SF Supervisor Gordon Mar, who sent a letter to the SFMTA, the project was delayed in order to hold a community meeting to provide input on the staging area.

The options presented were: Option A, which would eliminate 96 parking spots along 48th Avenue, or Option B, which would eliminate 16 parking spots along 48th Avenue. Given the pushback from the community, no vote was taken and SFMTA proposed to go back and look at an alternative staging area at the SF Zoo (Option C) and come back for a second community meeting to take the vote.

District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar reflects on the process, noting, “Gaining true neighborhood buy-in and community support for essential projects like this one requires more robust outreach, and giving the community a seat at the table in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. After receiving very little notice of the proposed staging location and substantial impacts on merchants and residents, our office worked quickly to develop proposals to mitigate the impacts, and pushed SFMTA to conduct the public input process we should have been offered from the beginning. The lack of communication with our office or the public throughout this process has been frustrating and frankly unacceptable, and I stand with the small business leaders asking to be heard. We need this project to move forward, and we need the SFMTA to address the needs and concerns of the neighborhood.”

Seeking answers and a solution, the merchants held another meeting last week with Supervisor Gordon Mar, a representative from SFMTA, and representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Workforce and Development (OEWD) to try to find relief for the merchants. At the meeting, however, a representative from SFMTA indicated that Option C was not viable and was not able to provide additional information about the project. Additionally, it is unclear if the alternative suggestions that merchants suggested would be considered.

Since the proposed staging area options will be on 48th Avenue, the residents who live along 48th Avenue will be most impacted. In addition to the impact that it will have on parking, traffic and pedestrian safety, the residents are concerned about the potential environmental and quality of life issues that the staging area will have on the residents and those who frequent the area.

As one neighbor puts it, “it’s mindboggling that we were not brought in on the discussion when this whole project and it’s staging was conceived and how this was presented only as a parking issue.” The residents have banded together to send a letter that requests that SFMTA look at another staging area besides 48th Avenue for the entire duration of the L-Taraval Project.

The merchants have also banded together to ask the mayor and the SFMTA Board members for the following:

  • Provide alternate solutions to staging that is NOT on the Lower Great Highway.
  • Provide a traffic study on the staging area on Lower Great Highway. This street is a major thoroughfare in the Outer Sunset, and functions as the main Great Highway when weather conditions and sand close the main Great Highway. If there are large trucks loading/unloading all day, traffic will move up to residential streets that lack proper crosswalks, causing serious pedestrian safety issues.
  • Improve its communication with the Outer Taraval merchants and residents.
  • Regular updates on the project as it pertains to construction in front of our businesses.

Time is of the essence and the livelihoods of the small business owners and our employees are directly at stake. Doug Marschke, Owner of Underdogs Too, summarizes the project as “causing me to risk everything.  We have received inadequate information on construction impacts and couldn’t even get basic answers on who is accountable at the MTA.  That has led to a complete lack of trust of the MTA from merchants and residents.“

About:  This release is from a community group of residents, and merchant in the Outer Sunset Area of San Francisco. The neighborhood is in the southern part of the Avenues south of Quintara and north of Sloat Boulevard.

(Editor’s note. follow this link to a recent story on the issue by the Sunset beacon newspaper: L-Taraval Rail Plan Struggles to Stay on Track.)

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