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New D5 Supe Christina Olague a Promising Proponent of Livable Streets

New District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague greets merchants on Haight Street yesterday. Photo: Aaron Bialick

District 5's newest representative is Christina Olague, the car-free president of the SF Planning Commission and noted progressive activist. Advocates say she holds promise as a champion of livable streets and sustainable transportation on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

"Her values and expertise are going to be invaluable as we transition into San Francisco's post-redevelopment era, and in our continued quest to make San Francisco more affordable, equitable, and sustainable," said Tom Radulovich, the executive director of Livable City.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced the appointment Monday morning before joining Olague on a merchant walk along upper Haight Street, where she told Streetsblog that she would make pedestrian and bicycle improvements in her district a priority, along with extending parking meter hours.

"I want to start talking about all those issues right away," she said.

Olague will join her first Board of Supervisors meeting this afternoon, representing District 5, which is comprised of neighborhoods including the Western Addition, Hayes Valley, the Fillmore, Haight-Ashbury, Inner Sunset, and NoPa. She succeeds former Supervisor Ross Mikarimi, a strong advocate for livable streets who left his seat vacant after being sworn in as sheriff on Saturday.

"As happy as I was to see Supervisor Mirkarimi elected to sheriff," said Radulovich, "I was sad to see such a strong advocate for sustainable transportation, affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, community benefits from development, and accountable planning leave the Board of Supervisors. Fortunately for us, Christina has been a leader in all those areas as a planning commissioner."

In a statement, Mayor Lee praised Olague for "spearheading plans for growth and development in San Francisco and developed policies related to land use, transportation and neighborhood planning." Some reports have pointed out that she co-chaired the "Run, Ed, Run" campaign, though Lee claimed that it "clearly" wasn't just that which influenced his decision to appoint her.

Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Olague walk down Haight Street.

D8 Supervisor and transit advocate Scott Wiener, who has "worked closely with Christina on land use and transportation issues," described her as "thoughtful, pragmatic, and independent."

"I look forward to working with her to ensure that our transit policies move the city in the right direction," he said.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum said Olague's appointment "installs a strong voice for making our streets safer and more accessible for everyone."

"This is a critical time to continue strong leadership in District 5 as long-awaited improvements for safer streets and better neighborhood connections move forward, including the Fell and Oak Streets separated bikeways, the Masonic Avenue redesign, and traffic calming in the Lower Haight's Wiggle route," she added.

Olague said she would prioritize those projects as well as extending parking meter hours, which she noted would encourage parking turnover and provide revenue for transportation improvements. "It's something we really need to engage people in, because it's one of those really heated issues," she said.

Olague, who lives in NoPa without a car, is a regular Muni rider and has firsthand experience with pedestrian and bicycle conditions in her district like those on Fell and Oak Streets.

"If you cycle, walk, or take Muni, your perspective on a lot of these issues takes on a different light," she said.

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