7-May-2016 (Sat)
Wherein our parklet is as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

So, one of these days, they're going to widen our sidewalk. This is a part of the "9 San Bruno Rapid Project", which is a miles-long project involving adding bulb-outs and relocating bus stops and so on. Barry has been attending meetings about this since 2014, I think. To make these things happen, the city bureaucrats prefer to have "neighborhood engagement", so Barry goes to these meetings and says things like, "We fully support this plan, so long as it involves a protected bike lane, no reduction in bicycle parking, and we get to keep our parklet."

Well, we're never getting a protected bike lane, they're almost certainly going to decimate our bicycle parking, and the parklet... has The Fear.

There are two phases to this: widen the sidewalk; then replace all of the junk that goes on top of the sidewalk. That first part, widening the sidewalk, is happening "soon", and the second part -- where all the junk goes, like the bus stop shelter -- is apparently still up in the air.

Here's a photo they've been passing around:

Widening the sidewalk entails removing all of the on-street parking spaces between DNA Pizza and Harrison Street, and making that be sidewalk. The bike lane (such as it is) will remain in the same spot, it will just be right next to the curb instead of next to parked cars.

And by "bike lane" I mean "the part of the road that the city has graciously provided for Uber and UPS to park in."

Part 1, Parklet:

Since our parklet is currently sitting on the street, they tell us we need to remove it so that they can put a sidewalk under it. And once they've done that, "maybe" we can put it back and "maybe" it can be the same size as it was before.

You can imagine how pleased I am about that "maybe".

Trying to get a straight answer on even the process to turn that "maybe" into a "yes" has so far remained impossible.

So let's say it's a "yes". Then I have questions like: what is the latest date that construction might start on our block, and what is the earliest date on which it will definitely be complete? Because I'd like to minimize the time we don't have a parklet, obviously. So far, the closest thing to an answer on that we've gotten is: the contractor is starting work "soon", and the whole 9 San Bruno project "should" take 7 months. Which, you may note, is not actually an answer at all. Unless you choose to interpret that as "you have to put your parklet in a storage unit for 7+ months, because some time in that period, there will be 5 days of work on your block." I do not choose to interpret it that way, because that's, what's the word I'm looking for, insane.

So, maybe they'll eventually let us put it back where it is. Maybe they'll make us reduce its size by half. Maybe they'll make us remove it forever. Maybe we'll have to stick it in a storage unit for the better part of a year before even knowing these answers. Who knows!

Part 2, Bike Racks:

When we installed the parklet back in 2013, we had approval to put bicycle parking next to it, but getting the city to come out and actually do that was going to take literally months, so we gave up on waiting and just bought bike racks and installed them ourselves. MTA has been pissed about this ever since, because they say our bike racks are too close together, and that there shouldn't be any bike racks on the sidewalk itself. So if they had their way, they would replace our 5 street racks and 2 sidewalk racks with just 3 street racks, since they say that's all that there is room for. Well, since our racks are full pretty much all the time, with 2 or more bikes on each rack, Reality disagrees with them:

In late 2014, MTA was this close to telling us, "you have to tear those out because we're about to install approved, and far-fewer, bike racks", but then this 9 San Bruno project was approved, which changes everything, so they temporarily (and by temporarily I mean three years) dropped their plan to destroy our bicycle parking. See? Sometimes the molasses-like progress of bureaucracy can work in your favor!

Part 3, Bus Shelter:

Some of the people over at MTA are of the opinion that the bus shelter should go directly in front of DNA Lounge, replacing all of our bicycle parking. Some of the people over at MTA (partly due to Barry having gone to all of these meetings and said "bike racks bike racks bike racks bike racks" every time) are of the opinion that the bus shelter should stay where it is. No decision on this has apparently been made.

Can you imagine what a clusterfuck it would be if there was a bus shelter two feet to the right of DNA Lounge's front door? The sidewalk would be basically impassible. The shelter would be full of people just loitering all the time. It would be a disaster for our customers and the people just trying to get on a bus.

Oh, but the part that would really make my head explode? All of San Francisco's new bus shelters have a six foot tall video screen on them running ads! Visualize fucking ClearChannel advertising fucking McDonald's two feet from my front door. Visualize it and weep.

9 Responses:

  1. MrEricSir says:

    I walk by the current bus stop regularly and it's utterly terrifying. The bus shelter is so large that it blocks off almost the entire sidewalk, and there's usually so many folks waiting for the bus that in order to walk past it, I have to step off the sidewalk and into the car traffic area.

    On the one hand, it's great that so many people are using Muni. Hell, I use Muni all the time. But on the other hand, I'm always worried that some dipshit motorist is going to run me over when I'm forced to enter the car lanes on my way to the food trucks or whatever. Believe it or not, I am not suicidal. SFMTA needs to make the sidewalk much wider, or simply ban private cars from 11th Street altogether. Either is fine but the current configuration is absolutely untenable.

  2. Tim says:

    Visualize fucking ClearChannel advertising fucking McDonald's two feet from my front door.

    I'd rather not visualize that, thanks, but could you get some polarizing film on your door and carefully align it opposite to the (presumably LCD) screen? Of course you'd need some sunglasses aligned the same way for elsewhere in the city.

  3. MattyJ says:

    Mid-block bus stops don't make any sense to me.

    But on the plus side, it's illegal to smoke at muni stops so DNA Lounge would enjoy a larger smoke-free zone.

    Have you thought about siccing Friends of the Urban Forest on them? Someone has to speak for the tree!

    • jwz says:

      I gather that one of the reasons they are considering moving the shelter is that there's not enough room between the corner and the glass block place's driveway to fit a whole double bus, only a single. From the way they describe that corner, you can tell that they'd really prefer to eminent-domain that driveway out the picture but they aren't sure they can really get away with that.

    • jwz says:

      Also, that fucking twig is still in the same spot on the picture. So at least there's that.

  4. Claude says:

    I am in 1488, and I do not envy you that crowd of 9 San Bruno walking dead outside your door. They have zero belief that people actually WALK on sidewalks; I have to shout to peel enough of them off the gate to get in or out, and I just assume I'll be walking in the street if I need to get to the corner.

  5. nooj says:

    It seems to be vogue now to redo bus stops so the bus doesn't pull over out of the car traffic stream, and then merge back in after the stop. This is coupled with promises of "rapid transit" and "improved scheduling." It's a disaster.

    The new "shelters" are hostile to users. There roofs are very high and small and long and thin. They are deliberately designed to provide little sun or rain protection. The new stop locations ("bulbs" and "islands" in SF MUNI's terminology) are hostile because they induce people to stand/sit/walk within inches of passing cars. When the bus stop is full (of drunks, tourists, or drunk tourists), people spill out into the street.

    This "transit island" icon shows a cute picture of a dude standing conveniently close to a bus. But it doesn't mention how the dude has nowhere else to stand and when a bus isn't there, he's less than one arm's length from cars. That's reality, not just a cartoon. It's unnerving, and you never get used to it.

    As for "rapid transit," all their combined improvements in my city (eg, adding rapid buses, but then preventing rapid buses from passing regular buses) reduced the travel time of a one-hour trip by three minutes. At a 50% increase in user cost.

  6. andrew says:

    I use those bike racks all the time. Let me join the chorus of those demanding more! I hate having to park my bike across the street for a crowded event.

    Maybe they can offer DNA a cheap deal on advertising on the shelter.

    • andrew says:

      Also: they want FOUR FEET between the parklet and the cafe entrance? What could go wrong?