Skip to content

Posts from the Carmen Chu Category


Drunk Driver Kills Hanren Chang, 17, on Sloat Boulevard

Updated 11:16 p.m.

An allegedly drunk driver was arrested for hitting and killing 17-year-old Hanren Chang on Sloat Boulevard near Vale Avenue on Saturday night. According to CBS 5, 29-year-old Keiran Brewer was driving westbound on Sloat at about 11:20 p.m. when he hit Chang, who was crossing the street in the northbound direction, and dragged her “a short distance.” Update: According to ABC 7, Chang was a student at Lowell High School and had just got off a Muni bus on her way home after celebrating her birthday.

Hanren Chang. Photo: ABC 7

Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe said the organization “is saddened to learn of San Francisco’s fourth pedestrian death this past weekend. Hanren Chang was a young girl who lost her life in an awful way, killed and apparently dragged by a car on Sloat Boulevard, one of San Francisco’s most dangerous streets.”

“It’s time for Mayor [Ed] Lee to mobilize city agencies to make our streets safer for everyone, and prevent more needless tragedies,” she added.

Keiran Brewer. Photo via CBS 5

Despite some recent safety improvements, Sloat, a state highway run by Caltrans, remains a deadly speedway dividing the Parkside neighborhood. In January 2012, Caltrans put Sloat on a road diet (converting two of six traffic lanes to buffered bike lanes), upgraded some crosswalks with more visible markings, and lowered the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph. However, without further physical traffic calming measures, the lives of residents crossing the street are still at serious risk.

Two pedestrians were injured on Sloat in 2011, and as Streetsblog reported in January 2010, 54-year-old Feng Lian Zhu was killed by a driver on Sloat near Forest View Drive.

“We were encouraged by the recent improvements Caltrans made on Sloat,” said Stampe. “Clearly much more needs to be done, and the city and the state need to work together quickly to add lights and further traffic-calming to fix this deadly road.”

Sloat runs along the border between District 4 and District 7, whose new supervisor, Norman Yee, expects to hold a hearing later this month to review dangerous spots for pedestrians and the status of safety projects. Eileen Barrett was killed by a driver two weeks ago on Lake Merced Boulevard, another high-speed road in Yee’s district.

As of last week, District 4 is represented by newly-appointed Supervisor Katy Tang, who replaced Carmen Chu. On the Board of Supervisors, Chu pushed Caltrans to initiate last year’s safety improvements. Although Tang didn’t initially mention pedestrian safety when asked about her transportation priorities, she followed up with Streetsblog saying she’d like to discuss the issue further. If you have a pedestrian safety question you’d like us to bring to Tang’s attention, let us know in the comments.

Update: Tang told ABC 7 that pedestrian improvements are slated for the intersections of Sloat and Everglade Drive, Forest View Drive, and 23rd Avenue.


New D4 Supervisor Katy Tang: Curbing Muni Switchbacks a Top Priority

Katy Tang (right) and Mayor Ed Lee (left) on a merchant tour on Irving Street yesterday. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Katy Tang was sworn in Wednesday as the supervisor for District 4, comprised of the outer and central Sunset. Tang, who grew up in the district, was appointed this week by Mayor Ed Lee to replace Carmen Chu, who Lee recently picked to serve as the city’s assessor-recorder. Chu spent five years on the Board of Supervisors, during which Tang served as her legislative aide.

Streetsblog caught up with Tang at a publicity event yesterday, where she and Lee visited merchants on mid-Irving Street and spoke with reporters. When asked about her priorities for improving transportation in the Sunset — from Muni to pedestrian safety to bicycling — she touched only upon the issue of curbing Muni switchbacks.

Switchbacks are often used by Muni managers as a way to re-distribute vehicles to other areas on the system where managers determine they’re needed most. In SF’s outer neighborhoods, this often forces Muni riders off their train, where they are told to wait for the next one, which, according to Muni, should be no more than five minutes behind.

Here’s what Tang had to say on the matter:

As you know, the Sunset District is one of the furthest districts away from the center of the city, so transportation is obviously a very important issue that is ongoing. I think that the issue of switchbacks has been a continuing problem that we need to work on with the MTA, and making sure that when our residents are trying to get home, for example, after a long day at work that they aren’t abandoned at Sunset Boulevard, midway. So I think that’s very important, but I think it’s also very important to make sure that we’re working together with MTA on this.

While Tang’s focus on Muni switchbacks falls pretty much in line with Chu’s limited record on transportation issues, her district has plenty of other livable streets issues to tackle, like rampant sidewalk parking and calming traffic on deadly motorways like 19th Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, and Lincoln Way. With its excessively wide streets, the Sunset also has plenty of room for improvements like protected bike lanes, bike boulevards, and more pedestrian space to help liven up its commercial districts.


SF Concrete Commissioner: Stop Parking on the Sidewalk!

sidewalk_parking.jpgPhotos: San Francisco Department of Sidewalk Parking
Parking a car on the sidewalk is illegal and unsightly, as many San Franciscans know too well, but it also causes a hazard for those with visual impairments, as Lighthouse for the Blind illustrated when they began their campaign to eliminate the practice in the Sunset. And while a simple white line and the threat of consistent enforcement of the law by the MTA prompted drivers to park legally on 19th Avenue, the problem has not disappeared there or in any other district.  We've seen examples of the street-cleaning, sidewalk parking ballet throughout the city on sweeping days, though the burden of moving your neighbors' five cars while they're at work has diminished since DPW cut back on their runs (leaving our streets far dirtier in the process).

Now, an enterprising resident of the Excelsior, who wishes to remain anonymous, has created a website to publicize the abuse and advocate for comprehensive enforcement. The San Francisco Department of Sidewalk Parking website went live last week with numerous photos from the neighborhood, and while Commissioner Concrete admits that he doesn't occupy an office in City Hall and doesn't have the power to issue tickets, he advises you and all your friends to help populate the website and memorize the Department of Parking and Traffic's parking hotline: 415-553-1200.

Read our interview with the commish below the break.


Supervisor Carmen Chu Wary of Parking Meter Extension Proposal

It shouldn't be too surprising to those who have followed the debate on extending parking meter hours that Supervisor Carmen Chu is not a big fan. A tipster forwarded us an email from Chu's office sent out last night to constituents encouraging them to show up at today's MTA Board meeting and give their opinion about the MTA extended meter hours study.

Chu's opinion, as stated in the email: "I believe that the MTA must be more surgical in their approach. Not only should the MTA take a look at circulation/congestion on a neighborhood by neighborhood level, but they must also take a look and assess how the economy has impacted different areas before implementing any changes."

I don't know if the MTA's proposal could have been more surgical in Chu's district, where the agency proposed extending meter hours on limited commercial streets such as Taraval, Noriega, and Irving (click here for the map). On Noriega, for instance, extended metering would only occur on three blocks near 19th Avenue and a few more near Sunset. This is a far cry from the blanket 8 pm extension that had been proposed originally in the MTA budget compromise in May and is certainly better than the Oakland situation.

We've also heard that Chinatown merchants will be out in force at the meeting to oppose any changes and will request an explanation of the methodology behind the MTA's study in their area.

Though Livable City tells us they are trying to organize merchants from a couple of the commercial districts in the study area, it's possible the meeting is going to be swamped with angry business owners who fear the effects of increased meter hours, even if it would make it easier for their customers to park nearby.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors meeting is today at 2 p.m. San Francisco City Hall, room 400. The parking study presentation is item 14 on the agenda. The meeting will be broadcast online on SFGTV2.  Here's more info on who to contact to voice your support for the parking study. You can also send feedback to

Read the complete Chu email after the jump.



MTA and SFPD Launch Campaign to Improve Safety Near Muni LRVs

IMG_0531.jpgSupervisor Carmen Chu, with a demonstration of the new safety sign in the background. Photo: Michael Rhodes
The Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Police Department have launched a new initiative with Supervisor Carmen Chu to improve pedestrian safety around Muni light rail vehicle (LRV) boarding islands. The MTA has added new stickers to the front and back of LRVs warning drivers that they must stop and wait for pedestrians disembarking from the trains, and the SFPD says it will begin enforcing the law more aggressively.

At a press event announcing the initiative, Chu said she's been working with the MTA to address the issue. The problem is especially prevalent in her district, where the N-Judah and L-Taraval lines stop exclusively in the center of the street. "We see, a lot of times in our district, near misses, where individuals are coming off of the train and vehicles are not stopping because either they are unaware and they can't stop in time, or are going too fast, or maybe just simply don't know that it is a rule."

The new bright yellow signs on LRVs were added last week and read: "Motorists must stop for pedestrians." While many train stops already have signs mounted high up on utility poles, MTA Deputy Chief Operating Officer Samuel Lau said the new signs are far more visible to motorists. "Motorists don't really have their eyes trained on what's 20 feet on the right hand side," said Lau.


Supervisors Give Golden Gate Park Meter Study the Go-Ahead

410050_25b2a8b15d_o.jpgCould parking meters ruin this view? Flickr photo: morganthemoth
In a vote that signaled both San Francisco's new direction on parking policy and the severity of current budget shortfalls, the Board of Supervisors yesterday approved an ordinance giving the MTA authority to study installing parking meters in the eastern portion of Golden Gate Park.

By a unanimous vote, the Board indicated its support for the ordinance, though the supervisors reasons differed. The vote only authorizes creating a parking plan for Golden Gate Park, not its implementation, which the MTA will need to seek later.

The Recreation and Park Department, the MTA, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, and Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos have expressed strong support for the measure in the past, since it will generate funds for the MTA and the Rec and Park Department, and is consistent with the city's Transit First policy.

After yesterday's vote, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he still has "major reservations" about installing meters in Golden Gate Park, including the meters' aesthetic impact on the park. Elsbernd also expressed concern about whether the meters would "create residual parking problems" in surrounding neighborhoods, such as the Inner Sunset, the Richmond, and Haight-Ashbury.


SF Supes Committee Supports GG Park Metering and Streetscape Bond

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee showed unanimous support today for a pair of proposals that will both have major impacts on people walking, biking, using transit and driving in the city.

410050_25b2a8b15d_o.jpgDrivers often take advantage of Golden Gate Park's free on-street parking. Flickr photo: morganthemoth

The first is a measure to begin charging for on-street parking in the eastern half of Golden Gate Park, where many of the park's most popular attractions are located. The plan will turn over responsibility for on-street parking in Golden Gate Park from the Recreation and Park Department to the MTA, which will install meters and charge for some street parking in the park for the first time.

The Rec and Park department, the MTA, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, and Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos expressed support for the measure on public policy grounds, since charging for parking may lead to reduced driving and increased walking and biking in the park, and is consistent with the city's transit first policy.

Given the impact on transit riders of recent Muni fair hikes, Campos said drivers should "share the pain" of balancing the budget.

The meters will be a financial boon for the MTA and the park department, with the MTA collecting citation revenue and the park department collecting meter fare revenue. Once the meters are installed, as early as next April, they're projected to bring in $500,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30 and $1.4 million in the second year for the park department. The MTA will bring in a net profit of about $379,000 per year.


Can the Board of Supes Still Force a Better MTA Budget?

budget_and_finance_committee.jpgBudget and Finance Committee file photo by Bryan Goebel
The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee voted for a second time Wednesday to reject the MTA budget and send it back to the full Board. It followed a narrow vote by the full Board Tuesday to table BOS Prez David Chiu's original rejection motion, following a "compromise" reached at the last minute to put $10.3 million in revenue and cost savings back into Muni's budget.

The 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Carmen Chu dissenting, followed a lengthy discussion in which Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos and Ross Mirkirami argued that the MTA budget was still woefully unacceptable, with all agreeing the rejection motion was the only way to get the MTA to budge some more. A procedural move at the last meeting allowed members to consider the motion again.

"We were able to get to where we got to yesterday because we had a measure before us calling for the rejection of the MTA budget," said Avalos. "I do think that we live in a political world and need to have this rejection measure before us in order to be able build the kind of pressure we might need to get some more changes."

Avalos said if there was anything flawed about the process over the last week it was that supervisors weren't being specific enough about changes and ideas they wanted to see in the budget, instead only criticizing what they thought was wrong with it. 

"I think if we have a process where we can come to some agreements that are specific and take those to the MTA and the Mayor and use the next week to discuss that somewhat further, we might be able to make a few other changes that can alleviate perhaps fare increases [and] service cuts that are alarming.”


Streetscast: An Interview with District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu


San Francisco Supervisor Carmen Chu represents the Sunset District, which includes some of the city’s major thoroughfares: the Great Highway, 19th and Sunset avenues and Sloat Boulevard. She was appointed to her post by the Mayor in 2007 and elected last November.

Chu's main mode of travel tends to shape her views on transportation issues. She gets around mostly by car and only rides Muni a few times a month.  In a lengthy interview in her City Hall office, she expressed tepid support for studying a car-free Market Street, said she needs to study the Bicycle Plan before she "wholeheartedly" supports it, but hopes the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) will help overhaul Muni.

"I’m very, very happy that we were able to embark on the TEP process, the Transit Effectiveness Project.  We have for a very long time had a transit system that truly wasn’t reflecting what the changes in the demographics of this city were."

At the same time, Chu believes there is a parking shortage in the city. She recently voted to support a conditional use permit for a developer who wants underground parking for a condo complex at 299 Valencia above the ratio set in the Market/Octavia neighborhood plan, a sustainable blueprint that took ten years to craft.

"In San Francisco we do have a parking issue, whether people want to say that we can just ignore the parking issue and that people will eventually choose public transportation, there truly is a parking shortage, where people are kind of fighting for spaces.  In a situation where the parking was all underground...I didn’t see a problem with adding the additional parking spaces underground."

Chu also outlined some of the initiatives she has undertaken to improve streets and sidewalks in her district, particularly along corridors that have seen a high number of fatal pedestrian crashes.

The interview with me and reporter Matthew Roth was recorded on February 26, 2009.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.