City Hall

City Hall: Gordon Mar

Adjusting to the New Normal

By Supervisor Gordon Mar

In May, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a recognition that comes at an especially challenging time for our communities, with the continuation of anti-Asian acts of hate and violence. 

In the Sunset, our neighborhood recently came together in a powerful demonstration of solidarity for the AAPI Safety and Solidarity March, and I’m grateful to everyone who showed up to support our AAPI communities. I want to especially thank our Sunset District community, faith and labor groups for coming together to organize this event with my office, including the District 4 Youth and Families Network, Wah Mei School, Self Help for the Elderly, Sunset Church, Sunset Ministry, and SEIU 201. I also want to thank all the groups who hosted resource tables at the event to connect attendees directly with programs, services and support. We know that the solution to violence is to empower and unify communities, and our public institutions at all levels must respond to the community’s urgent demands for action. 

Last month, I also convened a Board of Supervisors hearing on anti-Asian violence with Supervisor Connie Chan and called on city departments to work together to create a comprehensive citywide plan to prevent violence and support victims in Asian American communities. And last week, I introduced a resolution formalizing this call to action, and setting a deadline of June 1 for the first draft of this new citywide plan and convened the first planning meeting with the mayor’s office and 10 city departments. There’s much more work to be done. Together, it’s our duty to turn fear, sorrow, and rage into love, solidarity and structural solutions.

In the last few weeks, we took a big step forward toward returning SFUSD students to classrooms with the return of in-person learning for early education and elementary school students. Our office is working closely with the principals of every elementary school in the Sunset, and the SFMTA, to support their needs as students return – including coordinating crossing guard assignments, updating loading zones for student pick ups/drop offs, and more. This includes making some adjustments to Slow Street barrier locations to accommodate student pick ups/drop offs, and we’re continuing to work with school leaders and the SFMTA to ensure we’re doing everything we can to support our students, teachers, parents and families. 

As we continue to reopen our economy, schools and civic life in the coming months, I am also concerned about how increased traffic volume on our streets will impact pedestrian safety and progress towards our Vision Zero goals. This concern applies to the temporary closure of the Upper Great Highway for safe recreation during the pandemic, and the cumulative impacts of this change with construction on 19th Avenue, Taraval Street, and car-free spaces in Golden Gate Park. Each of these projects has important benefits, but together they have created real challenges for congestion and safety. In good news, SFMTA has implemented dozens of new speed cushions and stop signs in the Outer Sunset – on schedule and on budget – that we called for and funded. These traffic-calming measures were needed prior to the pandemic and will make our streets safer for years to come. However, they are insufficient in addressing the impacts of the increased traffic volume expected in the coming months if the Upper Great Highway remains fully closed to vehicles.

Safety on our streets in the Outer Sunset and Parkside needs to be a primary consideration in upcoming decisions about the Great Highway that will come before the Recreation and Park Department and SFMTA Board of Directors in the near future. My office has been working closely with our colleagues and with city departments to ensure they’re accounting for the collective impact of street changes on the west side. For too long these projects have been treated as separate and independent measures, when both their benefits and negative consequences are cumulative. And as more and more San Franciscans get vaccinated and the end of the pandemic grows nearer, we have a responsibility to shift our work from temporary, reactive measures to thoughtful, proactive ones

This means the City should take the time to engage the public and do the thoughtful design work we could not do a year ago. We should plan transportation projects holistically and be proactive about meeting the needs of our neighborhood. We are deeply committed to this work and to ensuring that you have a voice in the decisions departments will be making that impact your lives and our neighborhood. 

As one example, we’re moving forward with a funding allocation to start an inclusive planning process for an enhanced, family-friendly biking network in the Sunset, which has been identified as a high priority through public input in our District 4 Mobility Study. We think this approach, with public input and site-specific design, can better realize the promise of Slow Streets, which serve a real need for better biking infrastructure, but which are failing to meet it. We look forward to sharing more updates on this work soon. 

And this month, we’re supporting the citywide Small Business Challenge, asking San Franciscans to exclusively shop and dine at local small businesses for the month of May. In the Sunset, we’re lucky to have to have dedicated neighborhood programs to help connect our neighbors with the small businesses that make our neighborhood so special, including our ongoing Sunset Strong campaign (www.sunsetstrong.com) and the weekly Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Mercantile, whose launch we supported last year. Our small businesses are meeting monumental challenges themselves to stay open and serving our community. By taking the Small Business Challenge, we can show them our support to help them survive and thrive for years to come. 

Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at (415) 554-7460 or marstaff@sfgov.org.

2 replies »

  1. Hey Gordon, I have an idea: since you want to be proactive about thoughtful design, why don’t you *really* put a survey out and get an accurate reading on who wants it open or closed? Or… are you just going with your own choice and sway from special interest groups on this one?

    You seem more deeply committed to your own agenda and ensuring that no one has a voice in the decisions that departments will be making that impact our lives and our neighborhoods.

    Sincerely,
    Open the Great Highway Already

    Like

  2. The Upper Great Highway (UGH) needs to reopened now until safety, health, and environmental effects are properly and accurately assessed. Keeping the UGH closed may be contrary to Vision Zero safety goals, damaging to the environment, and yet another bad urban planning decision that exposes citizens to health risks in a way that exacerbates decades of systemic exacerbation of racial disparities in exposure to pollutants.

    As many as 18,000-20,000 vehicles per day used to travel the UGH. It is likely that all of them will be diverted through District 4 (D4) with the UGH closure. The District 4 Mobility Study utterly failed to assess any of these impacts. As I have detailed in a previous letter to Supervisor Mar, the D4 mobility study is unscientific and meaningless.

    Diverting massive volumes of traffic from the UGH through the residential streets of D4 means several things. (1) As many as 40,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per day are being moved from one of the historically safest arteries into citizens’ neighborhoods, likely increasing future accident rates contrary to Vision Zero policies, (2) if those vehicles are traveling further, the UGH closure is increasing overall greenhouse gases (GHGs) contrary to any sensible green policies, (3) those GHGs and other toxic pollutants, including large amounts carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and fine particulate air pollution matter (PM2.5) are all bad for humans and are being moved from a corridor reasonably distant from housing into residential streets.

    Moving a highway to our streets puts a continuous toxic cloud at our doorsteps. According to recent scientific reviews by the World Health Organization, living within 100 meters of higher traffic is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular death, respiratory mortality, asthma, low birth weights, childhood cancer, lung cancer and many other adverse health risks. According to a recent paper published in a journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science racial-ethnic minorities are exposed to disproportionally high levels of air pollution, and D4 is predominantly non-white. Ramming a highway through a neighborhood was common in the 1950s and 1960s. We don’t need to be doing it again.

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