West Portal enterprise house owners lambast metropolis over proposed site visitors security plan

Pedestrians cross in front of trains outside of the West Portal Muni station in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. Traffic officers have been assigned to the intersection of West Portal Avenue and Ulloa Street for the past few weeks to control the often congested flow of cars, trucks, buses and streetcars. (Photo By Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

(BCN) — A group of business owners in San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood are fuming over the city’s plans to fast track a traffic safety project that they say will worsen congestion and harm their businesses. Last Thursday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced it was proposing several changes to the area defined by West Portal Avenue, Ulloa Street, Lenox Way and Claremont Boulevard in order to protect pedestrians.

SFMTA officials said Mayor London Breed and District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar asked for the changes and for the project to be expedited in the wake of a collision last month that killed a family of four waiting at a bus stop on Ulloa Street and Lenox Way near the West Portal Muni Station.

Planners said people had 10 days to provide feedback through a series of three public events and an online survey so they could bring the project to the SFMTA Board of Directors for consideration in May or early June, with an eye toward completing some improvements by the end of the summer.

Opponents, however, say the project and the rapid planning process are both deeply flawed.

“This is blatant political pandering during a campaign season by Melgar and Breed,” said West Portal Merchants Association president Deidre Von Rock. “We had a tragedy, they’re shamefully using that tragedy as a place to, you know, say ‘Hey look, something bad happened and we’re fixing it and we did it fast.’”

Von Rock, who runs a legal practice in the area, said the changes proposed by the SFMTA wouldn’t have prevented the March 16 collision that killed Diego Cardoso de Oliveira and Matilde Ramos Pinto, their 2-year-old son Joaquin and infant Caue Ramos Pinto de Oliveira.

The project will, however, create such a complicated traffic mess that people will be discouraged from dining and shopping in the area, a potential disaster for small businesses that operate on slim profit margins and are still trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

A key aspect of the project is the elimination of several left turns in the area — with some exemptions for commercial vehicles — and a restriction at the intersection of Ulloa Street and West Portal Avenue that would stop private vehicles from going straight on Ulloa, with eastbound drivers diverted up West Portal into the merchant corridor, according to an SFMTA spokesperson.

While it doesn’t propose removing parking from West Portal Avenue, it does eliminate six part-time loading/part-time parking spaces on the north side of Ulloa Street between West Portal and Claremont Boulevard to accommodate the proposed relocation of bus stops for the 57-Parkmerced and 91-Third Street/19th Avenue Owl Muni lines.

Additionally, two spaces on Lenox Way would be converted for city use only.

“My office and the SFMTA are currently collecting feedback from the community on this proposal. We have launched a survey, hosted three pop ups on the merchant corridor, and gathered input from hundreds of emails, phone calls, and in person comments at City Hall,” Melgar said in an email.

“We have heard valid concerns about impacts to traffic on other streets, double parking, and traffic safety at surrounding intersections, and are actively engaging with West Portal merchants to address concerns, solve problems, and incorporate their feedback,” she said.

The merchant association, which says it’s working with the Greater West Portal Neighborhood Association and the Forest Hill Association, said the city has yet to provide any data to support the proposed changes but they are willing to work with planners to come up with alternate solutions.

“What we want is for this proposal to stop and then if the City Hall and MTA want to have a thoughtful discussion with stakeholders about other traffic calming measures that may make sense there, we as merchants have discussed a variety of things over the years, whether it’s stop lights or stop signs or speed bumps on the surrounding areas that Muni has not once taken seriously,” Von Rock said.

More information about the project, including how people can provide feedback, is posted at

Breed didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright © 2024 Bay City News, Inc.

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