NIMBYs Fight Glen Park GoBike Station

The corner of Randall and Chenery. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The corner of Randall and Chenery. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

It’s nearly two miles from 24th and Mission BART to Glen Park BART. That’s a long distance between stations and it’s where last-mile solutions, such as share bikes, are needed most. But, once again, we find neighborhood objections tying up the program, this time because of a planned bike share rack at the corner of Chenery and Randall Streets.

From an email written by Mike Schiraldi (forwarded to Streetsblog) who is lobbying hard to get Glen Park bikeshare on track:

The plan to bring bikeshare to Glen Park–now entering its third year of community outreach, far more than any other dock in the city–has been blocked by a single member of the SFMTA board of directors. Why? Two Glen Park residents by the names of Lori and Chris went over the heads of the SFMTA staff, directly to the board, and lied, saying that the community opposition to the project was near-unanimous. As a result, as crews were preparing the logistics of physically installing the station a couple weeks ago, this boardmember took the unprecedented step of placing an emergency hold on the permit.

That board member is Art Torres, who apparently put an emergency hold on the deployment of the bikes at the behest of some neighbors in Glen Park.

“I was at one of the Glen Park association meetings about this, where the comments were mostly in support of the program,” said Dan Crosby, the advocate who first brought this matter to Streetsblog’s attention. “It’s so frustrating to see people complain about ‘lack of outreach’ and then, when the outreach shows that people support the program, do an end run around the process.”

“Locating bike share stations near BART is a key way to support public transit and promote connections between sustainable modes. Over the past two years, we have done extensive community outreach at this site, received a large degree of local support, and now stand ready to work with our partners to install this station as soon as possible,” said a spokesperson for GoBike.

Lori Stasukelis (the ‘Lori’ that Schiraldi mentioned in his email) commented to the SFMTA board on January 15. Her testimony is at 46 minutes 30 seconds and contains the usual hyperbole familiar to anyone who attends these meetings. She claimed Motivate had a deceptive campaign and the adjacent school got no notice and that a majority of those who were in support don’t live in the area.

She also said: “We know the area. We live there. We are concerned about the safety of the kids and the school.”

Photo by Dan Crosby
Photo by Dan Crosby

Safety of the kids at the nearby Dolores Huerta Elementary School?

It’s a rack full of blue bicycles.

Meanwhile, Schiraldi recommends the following:

  1. Search your email for the letter you wrote last July to  sustainable.streets@sfmta.comin support of the station–this was received by the SFMTA staff, but not passed along to the Board of Directors
  2. Copy and paste it into a new email, addressed to MTABoard@sfmta.com
  3. Edit it to make sure you hit these key points, if true:
    • You have a bona fide connection to the site. If you live nearby, say so. If not, do you ever visit the area around 30th & Church to shop or eat? Mention that. Do you ever use the Glen Park BART station? The Randall dock is a prerequisite to bikeshare coming to the BART station, and in fact, much of Sunnyside, Ocean Avenue, and beyond.
    • You wish you could attend the SFMTA board meeting, but you have a job (etc) that’s not compatible with showing up at City Hall at 1pm on a weekday
    • You want to see this station installed without further delay
  4. Put glenparkurbanists@gmail.com on the cc: line.
  5. If you have a significant other, roommate, or child of appropriate age, and they care about this sort of thing, encourage them do it as well. If you instead write one email on behalf of, say, you and your spouse, it shows up in the tally as one person.

Finally, if you are somehow able to show up at City Hall on a weekday, the next SFMTA board meeting is this coming Tuesday [tomorrow!] at 1pm. Here’s the agenda; Item #11 is a discussion of bikeshare community outreach, but they won’t be accepting public comment at this agenda item. If you’d like to speak up about any of this, your opportunity will be Item #9, general public comment.

“I think it’s insane that it takes two years to get permission to re-purpose three of the city’s 275,000 parking spaces,” Schiraldi told the Examiner’s Sally Stephens in an article about the location last December.
RandallStatChanery

  • Eric Johnson

    Raldi already has reddit and NextDoor at his disposal. Why is Streetblogs turning its keys over to him?

  • Jeffrey Baker

    If you were right about everything you’d get a platform, too.

  • nolen777

    I used to live in the building right next to the school, and I just don’t think the objections hold water. Randall & Chenery is moderately busy at peak hours, but the danger, such as it is, is entirely from overly eager drivers at the stop signs not paying attention. A bikeshare dock instead of a parking spot there would actually make things better.

    And I would have used the heck out of that station. I’m a few blocks away now, so I’ll be using the Miguel & Arlington station instead, but we need both (and Glen Park BART).

  • Mike Schiraldi

    That one got canceled because the adjacent homeowner didn’t want it.

  • nolen777

    ugh. missed that somehow. : last I saw all the objections were to the Randall one.

  • Mike Schiraldi

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of declining to have a car-parking space on the public land next to my home.

  • Mlurm

    I live around the corner from there, and the arguments they’ve put forth (that I’ve seen) about this bikeshare station are prevaricating bullshit. Fairmount Elementary does indeed get a bunch of congestion on Chenery Street, but it’s caused by cars dropping off kids at a citywide-admission school. “Lori” lives a block away and is, like the neighbor on Arlington, motivated by her personal convenience and some fanciful delusions about property values.

    I haven’t had the pleasure of Lori’s door-to-door efforts, but the Arlington St stand had the neighbor whose house it would have been near carrying around a petition and citing the rationale that the Fairmount teachers would be unable to find any parking if it weren’t for those precious spaces taken up by all the nasty bikes. I did try to act civil but the sociological study of someone lying so hard they believed themselves did get distracting to the point where I was probably rude to her about it staring through her shoulder in a dazed trance.

  • Bob Roberts

    If Schiraldi gave half as much concern about Vision Zero as he does to pandering to the bikeshare lobby, he would be helping to negotiate a compromise that promotes the protected San Jose Ave bike lane and reduces activity on narrow busy Randall St. It’s not about parking. It’s about sane traffic planning.

  • Tom Atherton

    This piece totally misses the point. The neighbors and school are for bike share and, as anyone who lives here knows, Randall Street in front of the school is just plain the wrong location. This part of Randall is a congested on-ramp to 280. It’s a school bus zone. Adding bikes to the mix is not safe for bike riders or pedestrians at this location. Alternative viable locations — some only hundreds of feet from the school on adjacent streets — were recommended and supported by neighbors because they are safer. All of the emails to MTA were made public through a records request and they simply do not support this Streetblogs story. If you’re interested in balanced reporting, see the Examiner columnist who reported on this in December: http://www.sfexaminer.com/glen-park-gobike-station-add-congestion-already-chaotic-intersection/

  • nolen777

    There was some specific reason they couldn’t use San Jose & Randall, to do with sidewalk width or ADA or something. I’m sure the meeting notes have that information.

    More generally though, as a cyclist, I love the San Jose bike lanes but I don’t know what problem is solved by putting bike share there. San Jose north of there is terrible; Chenery/30th/*any other northbound street* is better. San Jose south of there is great, but the only possible destination from there is Glen Park BART. The Randall & Chenery location at least had the advantage of being convenient to the next station down, when Miguel was still on the table.

  • thielges

    Is the real objection loss of parking? That “think of the children” safety objection sounds specious.

  • RK

    Yes. Always. 3 parking spots (where privately-owned vehicles sit stationary for 97% of the time) are somehow more valuable than providing space for ~30 bikes which are shared and circulated and utilize the same square footage infinitely more than parked cars. But SF has been gifting privileged car owners free parking for so long … god forbid we remember that the earth is burning and try to encourage people to drive less.

  • NYSHLONSF

    A few self-selected civilians are better at traffic planning than MTA? Doubtful. In any event, cyclists don’t generally use Randal, they use Chenery.

  • Mike Schiraldi

    If you look at the original letters that all the opponents sent last summer, it was all about the parking. Then they realized that was a non-starter, so they started saying the real problem was insufficient outreach. Then when that was disproven, suddenly the new problem was that all the support was from outside the neighborhood. Then it was demonstrated that even within the neighborhood, support easily outweighed opposition. So now it’s about congestion and schoolchildren’s safety.

  • Mike Schiraldi

    The worst part is, this isn’t even about protecting parking spaces for parents that are dropping their kids off at school. The block has free unlimited parking, no Residential Parking Permits required. Most of the parking spaces on the block are being used by people dumping their cars for days at a time, not school parents or people patronizing local merchants.

    The whole block should be 5-minute parking during school pickup and dropoff hours.

  • Bob Roberts

    MTA performed not a single traffic study to give them the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. They are unable to produce any data to support their decision. Neighbors, on the other hand, have volumes of direct observation and experience. MTA apparently has no use for evidence since they did not ask a single person about the site conditions prior to submitting the Randall site for final approval. So, what part of “planning” ignores critical information? GoBike just did what fits into their profit model.

  • Tom Atherton

    This piece misses the point. Neighbors here are for bike share and, as anyone who lives near this location knows, Randall Street is just the plain wrong place for it. Adding a bike rack to a school bus zone and student drop-off space is not going to calm traffic – it’s going to make a busy sidewalk and chaotic road, which is a de facto freeway on-ramp, even more congested. That’s the reality on the ground here. Viable alternative locations – some within hundreds of feet of the school on adjacent streets – were recommended and strongly supported by school staff and neighbors because they are safer. An Examiner columnist wrote a balanced piece about this issue in December: http://www.sfexaminer.com/glen-park-gobike-station-add-congestion-already-chaotic-intersection/. If this process truly had three years of outreach, MTA board should examine why nearby locations were not seriously considered and selected. That is certainly enough time to have reached a consensus.

  • 94103er

    Nonsense. Neighbors do not have volumes of direct observation and experience (of which, odds are, does not include any kind of formal traffic study). Neighbors, like all humans, are flawed and biased in their observations and do not process what they don’t see, and overprocess what is ‘different.’ Hence the vitriol with which drivers post to comment boards complaining about cyclist behavior because they have been inured to dangerous driver behavior (being totally ubiquitous).

  • 94103er

    Oh god. He’s posting a Sally Stephens piece and calling it ‘balanced.’ No need to read further, folks.

  • crazyvag

    Drivers go slower and more carefully when there are more bikes around. One could argue that school zone would be safer if bike racks were there serving as a virtual speed bump.

  • Mike Schiraldi
  • Mike Schiraldi

    Also, even if you narrow down the public comment letters down to just people in the immediate neighborhood, the majority still support the station.

    (Not that other constituents’ feedback should be disregarded, or the professional traffic engineers’ work dismissed.)

  • thielges

    > The block has free unlimited parking…

    Ahhh, so that clarifies the motivation. Free street parking enables one to enjoy the amenities of a city while preserving suburban perks of owning a car without the cost of parking. It would not be surprising to find that the most vocal opponents are parking on this block. People will fight hard to preserve access to a valuable free asset.

  • p_chazz

    And the Chris mentioned in Mike’s email is Chris Faust, the vice president of Upper Noe Neighbors. http://uppernoeneighbors.com/who-we-are/, which has apparently claimed the area in an anschluss.

  • mx

    A traffic study? The project consists of replacing a couple of car parking spaces with bike parking spaces. That should not require a systematic study (I assure you, no traffic study was conducted to make the decision to allow free and unlimited car parking there).

    If the station poses problems visible through direct observation and experience, I presume that should become obvious within about five minutes after installation, a neighbor can shoot a video, and we can all see what you claim should have been so obvious to us all along.

  • Stuart

    Are you arguing that Streetsblog shouldn’t quote anyone who has the ability to post on public social networks? Should the comments section be shut down as well since we could all just post on reddit and NextDoor?

  • @thielges – A valuable free asset subsidized for them by the 30% of us who live in carfree households.

  • Eric Johnson

    reddit is a cesspool. Letting “the Face of Reddit” have a substantial role here risks turning Streetsblog into a cesspool too

  • djconnel

    I testified at the meeting. All of the objections included “insufficient outreach” and “safety” cards. One specified child safety. The consensus of these is this is a high speed intersection where parking a bike is dangerous. I ride and run here often, and have never seen high speed traffic, but if there is high speed traffic the obvious solution is traffic calming. Nobody at the meeting was there to advocate that, predictably.

    Other than Torres, who advocates “balance” in implementing Transit First, which is literally what was defeated in 2014 when measure L crashed and burned with only 36% of the vote, the Board was sympathetic to bike share, and the hold was dismissed. Cheryl Brinkmann in fact pointed out it is a “policy board” and shouldn’t be deciding every single station: that the network has been approved and it should be deployed. Torres was clearly on the defensive, and claimed at least the meeting had been a “healthy discussion.”

    I previously had to correct Torres during a meeting because he referenced the environmental impact of lost car parking. That’s explicitly zero under state law for CEQA purposes.

    Anyway, basically a waste of time, and hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the NIMBY opposition to GoBike. Aaron Peskin, are you listening?

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