Community Clashes Over Choice Of Proposals To Improve Polk Street

Cars or bikes? Pedestrians or parking spots?

Another community meeting was held today on proposals to revamp San Francisco’s Polk Street that have groups facing off on what the city’s priorities should be for the new design.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is asking for the public’s input on at least six proposed layout options for the popular commercial corridor when the street is repaved in 2015.

While one option would largely maintain the status quo with some pedestrian improvements added, others propose adding bike lanes, parklets, curb bulbouts and other changes that would cause a substantial reduction in parking spots for cars along a 20-block stretch of Polk Street.

After the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association held a meeting last week on the proposals, another neighborhood group, the Community Leadership Alliance, held another one this afternoon attended by a few dozen people at the San Francisco Main Library.

David Villa-Lobos, the group’s executive director, said, “We have a big issue with finding parking on Polk Street.”

He and others said they were worried that getting rid of existing spots would worsen the situation, both for merchants and residents.

“It’s a mess as it is,” said another resident who declined to give his name.

But Marc Brandt was among other attendees at the meeting who said he thought more biking improvements could improve Polk Street and bring more customers to its businesses.

“More cyclists coming through means you get more people coming through and spending money,” Brandt said.

Luis Montoya and Darcie Lim from the SFMTA attended today’s meeting and answered questions from community members.

The pair said the agency will host its own larger public meeting on the design proposals in April or May and is seeking to finalize plans by this summer, then will go through the city’s approval process before construction would begin.

The various design proposals and a survey for residents or interested parties can be found online at

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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