MuniBRT: Why it means higher taxes, fewer jobs and more dangerous streets

Photo: Courtesy Geary Blvd. Merchants Association, San Francisco

Photo: Courtesy Geary Blvd. Merchants Association, San Francisco

Protesting GearyBRT is not about being anti-transportation. It’s about not letting government agencies and their development friends (most who neither live nor shop in our community) treat our residents, our resources and our neighborhood carelessly.

It’s easy for some people to disregard the Richmond District as a bunch of NIMBYs, especially if you don’t live or work in the community. It’s also easy for them to disregard the needs of the elderly, the disabled and our extensive Chinese community, all of whom will be affected by the damage and turmoil caused by bulldozing down Geary Boulevard.

What’s in it for our community and who truly benefits?

The City has not completed a formal outreach to determine how all of our diverse communities feel about GearyBRT. We need to know how everyone feels about this project before recommendations are made and strategies are implemented.

Where is the savings in travel speed for our residents?

The SFCTA can offer no promise of travel time savings except from a report that’s over 8 years old and does not account for improvements made along the Geary Boulevard corridor, including our amazing new luxurious and speedy bus fleet. Have you ridden down Geary on these buses? They are great!

Where is the increase in customers for our shops?

Look to the work completed on Ocean Avenue and Third Street and it’s evident. The programs have had no measurable positive effect except for displacing our City’s African-American, Chinese and Hispanic populations. In the Richmond, we celebrate our diverse communities and we stand by their side when they are threatened. GearyBRT, in its current incarnation, poses a great threat to all of our residents and small business owners.

Why would anyone be so eager to spend $300,000,000 without having substantial, real-world evidence supporting the beneficial claims of this project?

Moreover, why would any reasonable person want the SFCTA to spend $300,000,000 on a project when a real solution would cost a mere fraction of that amount? Why would anyone be so willing to overspend to solve a problem?

This GEARY BRT program, the more you look into it seems a lot like those $436 hammers, $600 toilet seats and $7,622 coffee brewers that defense contractors would try to slip by our legislators back in the 80's.

The reason why there is no promise that the SFCTA can make is because it’s all theoretical. The evidence that does exist is easy to see on Ocean Avenue and Third Street, Muni spent millions on both projects, with no community benefit to this day. There are no thriving businesses off Third Street where it was supposed to be such a boon to the local economy. A few more restaurants popped up, but that has nothing to do with Muni, it has to do with Mission Bay and the techworkers out at Potrero Hill. Even more jarring is that SFCTA is preparing to bulldoze their way down Geary Blvd without having all the money they need to get the job done right.

Geary Boulevard is Pro Public Transportation but the SFCTA plan isn't about making life easier for the Richmond, its about getting federal and state monies and playing God with people's lives and life savings disregarded other than the laughable "We're listening." line as they file our grievances in the circular file.

There are pro-transit solutions that are immensely less costly then BRT in the Richmond. The City seems to be only too eager to get their hands on big dollars and conduct another big project rather than being pragmatic and focusing on what really works. The diamond lane or the red lane on O'Farrell Street is a perfect example of something that is both highly effective and inexpensive to implement, and most importantly does not disrupt a bustling neighborhood due to unnecessary and excessively costly construction.

The city has failed to make the case as to why this is such a great deal and worth the headaches and heartaches the major construction will entail. They have poorly communicated their community goals rather than their construction and development goals.

If GearyBRT can truly listen too and care for the needs of those who will be put at risk by the project, then there is hope. Many residents from around the City don't believe that this current BRT plan can save money, time or be completed on schedule/budget or with the thoughtful planning and additional infrastructure built-in to truly address the increased density that the City hopes the Richmond can absorb. We are not accepting of Geary BRT doing a half complete job and sticking us with a mess from the SFCTA’s lack of proper and thorough planning.

On Geary Boulevard we have many thriving small businesses – take a look at shop windows and you’ll see many signs to hire new employees. The Richmond wants a thoughtful approach before the City fumbles this project like they have so many before.

There are no safeguards for residents, small business and property owners and people who visit and love spending time in the Richmond. This plan needs to be sent back to the drawing board. It's too easy to disregard the people who will be stuck with this proposed MuniBRT mess, yet after decades of fighting, there is too much hunger for money for them to stop. So fight on, we must. For more information visit www.StopMuniBRT.org.