Saturday, April 23, 2016

San Francisco's Mission Street and the Red Carpet Fiasco

My "personal vehicle" OJ on my beloved Mission Street, SF

In February of 2016, changes were made to San Francisco's Mission Street under the name of the "Red Carpet Program" designed to reduce traffic on Mission Street and speed up the commute for bus riders. The following is my opinion only, and I will share a letter I sent to Supervisor David Campos as well as several members of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. I was actually thrilled with the kind reply I received, here copied beneath my letter. Note: this is my opinion only, and I have tried to state my reasons and my position clearly in the letter.

Some news coverage may be found here: The Examiner announces the work, and Mission Local later discusses some of the feedback.

Forced new Right turn off Mission onto Cesar Chavez

Red Carpet paint on Mission Street, SF

Dear Supervisor Campos, 

I cried when I saw the forced right turns off Mission Street.

I love The Mission. I love Mission Street. I love shopping at unique, small, non-corporate stores, eating at independent restaurants, and I love the color and vibrancy of this amazing, unique and artistic street. My friends all joke that if they can’t find me, they should just look on Mission, and my ex-husband made fun of my use of Mission Street to get anywhere as a running joke.

I am also a “personal vehicle” driver and a social media power user, and have been ranting about this online since the start. I was given your email and told that you are responsible for this. (NOTE: letter was originally sent to Sean Kennedy of SFMTA then later fwd to David Campos - cs)

I used to rent at Dolores and 28th but my rent was raised and I moved to Viz Valley, where I need to commute by car to the Mission for my daughter’s school, and to my work. Mission Street made my daily “commute” from the outer mission to Everett Middle school an interesting and colorful journey that filled me with joy every day. I intentionally avoid the blandness and crush of the freeway by driving on Mission. Being able to drive on my beloved Mission Street allowed me to still love SF, though I can barely still afford to live here.  If we could all afford to live inner SF and not have cars this would be great, but that’s never going to happen with our real estate market. Even if the minimum wage goes up to $15, what a joke to think that someone earning $15 an hour could afford to rent or even buy even the smallest apartment in San Francisco!

I wish the utopian “transit only” concept would work, but ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL! I am a mom who carpools kids, so a bike is not an option. I actually do sometimes ride the bus, and I don’t think we should have to compete for use of streets with busses.

Can you explain why my tax money was used to paint the street (hideous! Now it looks like a video game! Will Mission Street ever be used for movie filming again? Not with that eyesore paint!), to erect plastic lane-markers (which are already being broken by incensed drivers who crash through them to keep going along Mission Street) and to pay the salaries of the traffic officers who have been stationed at the forced right turns? And how are those poor folks doing with all the verbal abuse I have heard hurled at them by drivers?

Do you want to force all the struggling businesses on Mission between Cesar Chavez and 16th out of business? I used to make stops at these places on my way to or from taking my kid to school. Now I will not see those places and forget about them and just go to Target instead, where I can park. This is the spiral that eventually forces small businesses to close and brings in more malls in out-lying areas, where we need cars for access. Unwittingly, your transit-only focus will contribute to the death of the inner city for all but the young and well-paid and just encourage urban sprawl.

Please reverse the forced right turns and let cars drive on Mission Street, and please allow Left turns onto Cesar Chavez from Mission to that drivers can access the freeway, which is where you want cars anyway, correct? 2 min per bus ride is not enough of a savings to justify this ugly mess that looks bad, will close businesses, and is downright un-friendly. 


Carrie Swing

ex-Mission resident

Lover of Mission Street


Hi Carrie,

Thank you for sharing these comments. While Supervisor Campos is supportive of improving public transportation for the 65,000 riders that use Mission Street, he is extremely concerned about the unintended impacts of the Red Carpet program, including the safety and small business concerns you mention.  He has called on the SFMTA to make adjustments to the program to address the negative impacts.

I am forwarding your message to Matt Brill, who is managing the program so that he is aware and can be responsive to your concerns.

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Sheila Chung Hagen
Legislative Aide
Office of Supervisor David Campos