Mayor Appoints Livable Streets Proponent Julie Christensen as D3 Supe

Julie Christensen, a leading North Beach advocate for wider sidewalks and a Central Subway extension, has been appointed as the new District 3 Supervisor by Mayor Ed Lee.

Photo: Juan Carlos Guerrero, ABC 7/Twitter
Photo: Juan Carlos Guerrero, ABC 7/Twitter

Christensen fills the seat left by David Chiu after his election to the State Assembly. She has shown promise as a neighborhood leader who stands behind changes that make room for livable streets improvements even when it means subtracting space for cars.

Christensen is a member of the SPUR Advisory Board and founded SF NexTstop to rally for an extension of the Central Subway to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. She has backed sidewalk extensions and bike lanes on Columbus Avenue, and championed the Mason Street plaza as part of the North Beach Library expansion, which opponents claimed would cripple the neighborhood when the block was closed to cars. (It didn’t.)

The appointment was announced on the library street plaza itself, where, in 2009, she remarked on the success of the trial plaza:

We were standing out there yesterday and the world was not coming to an end. North Beach was not hopelessly snarled in traffic. People have these Christmas faces on, like it’s Christmas day and this present has been dropped on them.

In a publicly-viewable Facebook post by North Beach News last April, she defended transit bulb-outs on Columbus at Washington Square Park that removed a handful of car parking spaces. She told NBN, “Will it be better? We shall see. There will be more room for pedestrians and more room for transit riders. Nice if the park gets healed. We shall see.”

Commenting on the post, one woman complained, “This is not just widening sidewalks, it’s a loss of tons more parking and a bike lane that does not make a whole lot of since [sic].” In response, Christensen wrote:

“Tons” of parking = 3 spaces eliminated. (Yes, I know, still a loss). There will still be 2 traffic lanes. No bike lanes – yet. That will be discussed at further neighborhood meetings.

In a statement, Mayor Lee said he’s “very proud to appoint” Christensen. “As a longtime District Three resident and small business owner, Julie has worked tirelessly on important projects and neighborhood concerns including the North Beach Library, the Central Subway and numerous pedestrian safety projects.”

Chiu, the outgoing supervisor, was considered one of the city’s most bike-friendly politicos for a time. But when Polk Street merchants complained about the loss of parking spaces for protected bike lanes, Chiu caved and dropped his previous calls for SF to move quickly on implementing a robust bike network, which he once said was his top priority.

So, while Christensen’s record on transit and livable streets is promising, it remains to be seen how strongly she’ll stand up for safety improvements to her district’s streets when the parking-at-all-costs crowd gets loud.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who has previously decried the “tortured path” of the North Beach Library expansion as a symbol of how “a highly popular, beautifully designed project” can be “stymied by a small group of opponents,” told the SF Examiner that Christensen is “one of the best neighborhood leaders in the city.”

“She has a proven track record of getting things done at a neighborhood level,” he said.

Read more coverage of Christensen’s appointment at the SF Chronicle and the SF Business Times.

  • p_chazz

    She sounds like a keeper. But meanwhile, over at 48HillsOnline, Timmeh Redmond is fuming because Cindy Wu wasn’t appointed, calling Christensen a tool of the tech plutocrats and predicting that Rose Pak will back the second coming of Aaron Peskin…

  • That was a hard choice between two great candidates, both sensible and passionate advocates of livable urbanism. Cindy has been excellent on the Planning Commission, and Julie served on the SPUR board at the same time I did. She’s good. It’s heartoning that we are lucky enough to have this sort of dilemma.

  • djconnel

    What’s her position on Polk?

  • Amanda Clark

    Isn’t every modern day SF politician a tool of the tech plutocrats to some degree?

  • Julie is awesome. She’s not going to be a sop to any side in these debates, but will be a pragmatic, get-it-done kind of supervisor whose guiding light is a more livable city.

  • As was clearly evident in the struggle over the NB Library and Joe DiMaggio Park, Julie’s star is rising while Peskin’s is setting. He doesn’t have the backing of the new constituency of North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Union Sq., Fisherman’s Wharf, and Russian Hill, and I’m not sure his pull in Chinatown is all that great, either.

    He’s a has-been, and will never be able to pull off a Jerry Brown because he hasn’t reinvented himself in the intervening years.

  • p_chazz

    Aaron Peskin is the same age as Kamala Harris (50). In 2009, he was the President of the Board of Supervisors and she the District Attorney. Today, she is the Attorney General of the State of California, and on the short list to be the next Governor. Meanwhile, Aaron is running to get his old job back. How the mighty have fallen.

  • M.

    Would anyone expect no one to fume over not having their pick chosen in SF? Like with all change, we deal with it and move on – usually remarkably quickly. Leadership is very heavy lifting and cannot replace each of us being the change we want to see instead of just commenting on the sidelines.

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