Moving Geary Forward
Geary Boulevard is a critical commercial corridor in the Richmond District. It has been home to several iconic local businesses, including House of Bagels, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant and Joe’s Ice Cream. It connects the foggy west side to downtown San Francisco and is the main transit artery of the district. Pre-pandemic, the 38-Geary bus lines were the most traveled bus route west of the Mississippi River.
The pandemic negatively impacted local businesses and essential workers citywide, although many neighborhood commercial corridors in the Richmond District have been resilient and continue to thrive, with new businesses opening on Outer Balboa and Inner Clement. However, central Geary continues to see vacant storefronts and less foot traffic, not to mention the deteriorating Alexandria Theatre. With the impending recession, and with transit service levels below pre-pandemic levels, we need to ensure we are doing everything we can to support our local merchants and workers during these difficult times.
With the upcoming Geary Boulevard Improvement Project, more commonly known as Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), beginning its last stages of installation of transit-only lanes on Geary from Stanyan Street to 34th Avenue, my office felt it was important to work with community members and local merchants to solicit feedback. We worked closely with local merchants to identify ways to mitigate the impact of the project on our small businesses. Meanwhile, we also heard from many transit riders about their needs to have the 38-Geary bus lines fully restored.
Similar to Van Ness BRT, the Geary BRT was initially approved with center-running transit-only lanes, combined with water and sewer system upgrades. But during the pandemic, the SFMTA installed temporary emergency transit-only lanes along the Geary Boulevard corridor for service efficiency. As a result, data found that side-running transit-only lanes produce similar service efficiencies with less construction and funding required. So, in December 2021, I asked for funding from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in order to shift the project to side-running transit-only lanes, with pedestrian and traffic safety improvements.
Combined with future improvements, this new design for Geary BRT can serve as a model to improve public transit efficiency, increase community benefits and mitigate negative construction impacts – that is, if it is done right.
This is why I am asking the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to prioritize the existing needs of our transit riders and to restore the 38-Geary to full service before implementing the Geary BRT project. I also asked for the project to prioritize the most critical pedestrian and traffic safety improvements, with the water and sewage system upgrade construction starting later in 2026, after the full restoration of 38-Geary and recovery of the local economy.
To support our local merchants, SFMTA has agreed to my request to halt the extended meter parking on Saturdays and Sundays in the Richmond. And my office will continue to work with SFMTA to provide financial assistance to merchants to modify their shared spaces to accommodate this project. After we have prioritized these most impactful services, then SFMTA can proceed with the conversion of angled parking to parallel parking between 15th and 26th avenues, if the parking conversion is still deemed necessary.
San Francisco can achieve an equitable local economy that supports local businesses and improves and builds mixed-use housing development along our transit corridors. We can start with Geary BRT so the Richmond can become a model for the rest of the City. We can do that by ensuring that the Geary BRT supports our local merchants, while improving pedestrian safety, delivering transit reliability and paving the way for a robust transit corridor to serve tens of thousands of riders daily.
Connie Chan represents District 1 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She can be reached at 415-554-7410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Categories: City Hall
The impact of a dedicated bus lane on Geary between 15th and 34th Avenues, requiring the loss of 20% of the parking on Geary, will decimate business on Geary. And the only benefit is that, possibly, transit time will decrease by a little over a minute. Parking is already maxed out on Geary, and 20% less parking will mean 20% less business, which would force many small businesses on Geary to shutter their stores and restaurants. SFMTA must not consider this change at this time. And everything possible must be done to avoid this disaster, which could destroy the economic base of the Richmond District.
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Jean, you espouse a windshield perspective and overlook transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Particularly on Geary, Muni is very well used to access local businesses.
A 20% loss of parking might result in 20% fewer motorists accessing the effected businesses but it doesn’t mean there will be 20% less business. If crosstown buses (with their dozens of riders per vehicle) are able to access the central and outer Richmond neighborhoods more quickly (and reliably), local business might see the boost it needs.
Bus Rider, as a fellow bus rider, a very regular rider of the 38, and a frequent visitor of the area of Geary in question I respectfully disagree with your assessment.
The area of Geary between 16th Ave and 24th Ave is the section that would lose most of the parking places. Not all parts of Geary are the same.
This section of Geary is quite family focused with a number of family oriented restaurants, children and community centers (such as Peek-a-Boo Indoor Playground, Imagination Playhouse, Agape Community Center, etc.), 2 pre-schools, and four churches – all of which serve families from across the city. Families that need cars to transport the children, elderly and other family members to these locations – which then require parking. Losing 20% of the parking for some of these could mean losing much more than 20% of their business or lowering the impact on the community because it is more difficult for families to come to the area.
Additionally, the nature of a number of businesses in the area rely on significant vehicle traffic. Businesses such as Blackwells, Gables, UPS Store, and the laundromat at 20th have a large percentage of customers who drive to pick up products, take packages to ship, or do the laundry.
Where I live on Geary is less family oriented and I think the bus lane has helped – but where I live we already had parallel parking and the addition of the bus lane didn’t reduce parking.
But what it did do is increase the congestion for the drivers on Geary by forcing the cars into 2 lanes vs the previous 3. This then forced those who need to drive to suffere longer drive times and emit more pollution. It also increased teh traffic on the side streets and more drivers get off of the crowded Geary and move to the side streets such as Anza and Euclid/Clement – street where family live, kids ride bikes, people walk dogs.
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Enough is enough. Put a rail line under the darn street. Better money spent than billions for car-oriented BART extensions or the $6B Caltrain extension to downtown.
The red dedicated bus lanes citywide need to go. They are ugly (first of all) and second of all, a bus goes down them only once every five to 10 minutes, leaving everyone else stuck behind a slow car in the one or two lanes that we have left on the street (it’s usually just one lane left). I know people want the buses to go fast, but people want their cars to travel fast too. Wait in line like everyone else.
And Jeffrey Tumlin’s plan to get rid of half the parking in front of businesses on Geary Boulevard is just plain immoral (and stupid).
If you want to help us get rid of Tumlin & the SFMTA Board, one thing you can do is join Equitable Street Access on Next Door (https://nextdoor.com/g/feec96hkc/). We are done.
There was a Richmond District Community Meeting hosted by Jeffrey Tumlin on the evening of 1/18 at the Richmond District Recreation Center and it was chock full of angry people, enraged at Jeffrey Tumlin for his atrocious plans for the streets of SF (specifically in the Richmond District, but really his plans for EVERY district in SF, as they affect us all) after he ruined so many streets in so many neighborhoods already. He actually tried to (quite literally) escape the meeting early.
Like I said, we are done — beyond done — with the SFMTA. Their day has come. We have not hit the press yet with a lot of things, but it’s coming soon.
Take a drive down Geary and count the number of closed storefronts now. If the plan is to drive out all the merchants to make room for new towers along the Geary corridor than removing more parking is a great idea. You can turn it into the same dead zone that you have on Market Street now. Like those car-less empty streets? Just make it more difficult for customers to delivery services to get to the merchants who are still paying rent and attempting to recover from the downturn.
As for Tumlin’s dream that more people driving in fast buses will stop to shop along the way, why would they? Isn’t the point of the fast buses to speed people from one destination to another? How are they supposed to receive deliveries?
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The most outrageous thing Jeff Tumlin said on TV was, “Driving is mostly free for people who are driving cars.” This blatantly false statement fails to acknowledge the price of buying or leasing a car, the maintenance of the car (added to by the poor condition of our City’s streets), the insurance on the car, the gas for the car, the public parking expenses, the bridge tolls, and the contribution of every car owner to the taxes to maintain our City’s roads and support his transit agenda which is anti-car.
If your goal is foot traffic on Geary, as I agree it should be, take a long look at what makes Geary unappealing.
It’s the cars.
We haven’t heard a reaction from your office about the injury to the postal carrier at 14th and Cabrillo. It’s. The. Cars.
The sooner you get this, the better business will be and more importantly, the safer our city will be.
-a Richmond dad
Businesses are suffering because of slow streets and closed streets. Just take a long look at Van Ness. And closing 12 streets and in the park is a disaster. They cause unnecessary traffic jams on 41st Avenue ,California Street, Lincoln and Fulton. Our museum s are losing revenue. The city still looks closed to tourists and these closed streets are confusing. Lastly,why should people who live on slow streets have a private street while the parallel street gets more traffic! This is nonsense and a policy ill conceived and poorly planned. Taking advantage of the Covid crises to implement these policies was wrong on so many levels!
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As San Franciscans who care about our neighbors who have spent decades investing in our community by buying and renovating their homes and building a good reputation from services offered from the small businesses they started and grew, we need to support them by being able to drive to neighboring districts, park, shop, and help each other get by. As a frequent customer of all the businesses along Geary Blvd. to which Supervisor Chan refers, and several others not mentioned, if it becomes too difficult to park nearby I will not be able to continue to patronize them. I’m not alone. One merchant already lost 20% of his business due to Pandemic restrictions and now expects to lose 50% if the parking in front of his store is removed. SFMTA Improvement Projects that remove parking from commercial corridors have devastating effects on each business located there unless it also has its own private parking lot, which few are fortunate enough to have.
To observe an example of an “improved” corridor, see Taraval Street in the Outer Sunset with its many shuttered empty storefronts and practically no vehicles using it since the implementation of MTA’s Taraval Improvement Project that removed significant parking from Taraval. It now intends to remove even more needed commercial and residential parking throughout the Outer Sunset to install rental bike stations. The stations can be located elsewhere in the Sunset against the sides of huge commercial buildings like banks or grocery stores on extra-wide sidewalks where they won’t block pedestrians or create a need to remove any parking spaces, but SFMTA refuses to consider it despite overwhelming objections voiced during a recent hearing held by the SFMTA Sustainable Streets Engineering Committee. This anti-car SFMTA action will prevent customers and delivery trucks from parking with easy access to the struggling shops. Residents, some disabled, will no longer be able to park in front of their own private homes in a residential area near Sunset Boulevard. We pay for our cars, car insurance and parking; we pay rent and mortgages on the buildings where we live and work. And we pay for our public transportation services while they continue to be sporadic, inadequate and unsafe.
Why are our representatives not listening and acting on our behalf? At least there’s one. Thank you, Supervisor Chan. I hope more Supervisors will follow your lead.
Jeffrey Tumlin is ruining the SF economy, driving businesses out of town or killing them altogether. He was fired from his last job in Southern CA for similar stunts to what he is doing to us, and at $425,000 a year annual salary. He is obsessed with biking and bikes, thinks that is the answer to climate change. Biking does next to nothing to fight climate change. Transit and EVs are the answer, but he pours millions into biking and bike lanes. We the People must demand that he be fired. He is no friend to the vast majority of San Franciscans.
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Like many of my neighbors in the outer Richmond District, I made the decision to stop shopping and running errands in the area three months ago and it’s been so much easier to just drive the extra few minutes it takes me to get to Daly City or South San Francisco and do business there. It’s so much less stressful. I finally reached my limit with hunting for parking that’s increasingly disappearing in the our area as well being crammed into one lane with other cars while a large bus and taxi lane sits empty right next to us. Parklets have also taken up so much of the metered parking in the Geary and Clement area, and these “shacks” sit empty 24 hours a day; virtually no one uses them, especially during the cold weather. Jeffrey Tumlin continues to repeatedly lie to all of us that he isn’t targeting drivers and yet repeatedly spends large amounts of the transit systems’s funds on street traffic, all the while whining about how now there isn’t enough funding left to adequately run the bus system that’s been in shambles since he’s been hired! The Mayor seems to have no awareness whatsoever of how incomptetent this man has been in his job and just continually looks the other way. How much more of the city’s money is she going to allow him to throw away before she finally wakes up and smells the coffee?
Thank you Connie.
It must have been hard to get a photo op with that phony ex-political consultant Marjan at simples a few months ago, but you are the real deal. You listen to all sides, you want to do good for the Richmond district, and you try to find compromise solutions.
What you don’t do is show up and pretend during election time, and ride around in goofy bus trying to hoodwink Richmond residents to vote for you so that you can just be a puppet of the mayor.