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Hayes Valley

City Staff Still Gunning for Hayes Valley Open Street

In a second attempt this year, SFMTA is trying to gut Hayes Street shared space... because cars

The crosswalk on Hayes Street to Patricia’s Green, part of the stretch SFMTA wants to give back to drivers on the weekend. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

SFMTA staff announced Tuesday that they were moving to reduce the weekend Hayes Street open streets to just Saturday from 1 to 10 p.m. Currently, the section of Hayes from Gough to Octavia is shared on Fridays, 4-10 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. From an SFMTA blog post, explaining what staff is recommending, with a few Streetsblog corrections in caps:

Consolidate REDUCE the OPEN streets closure from three days a week to Saturdays from 1pm-10pm. We heard from some merchants that DRIVER access to their businesses was being impacted by the recurring 3-day closure. The 3-day closure was also limiting emergency access by the Fire Department and impacting operations of the 21-Hayes Muni line. A one-day closure will allow the permit sponsor to focus their resources on creating a successful, consolidated REDUCED event while accommodating the multitude of needs DRIVER CONVENIENCE OVER ALL OTHER MODES on the street during the other weekend times.

As to the Fire Department claim, this a little imponderable--fire trucks can't go around a few signs in a true emergency? It also fits a pattern with the department of opposing basically any attempt to reduce car traffic lanes (but never street parking, which really does block fire access).

As to the 21-Hayes, what exactly is the problem? The weekend route involves a tiny diversion in one direction.

“The Hayes Street Shared Spaces program has brought joy to residents, more foot traffic for small businesses, and safer streets for pedestrians and their families,” said Supervisor Dean Preston in a statement made Wednesday about the proposed reduction. “It makes no sense to gut this program by limiting it to a handful of hours on a single day. If anything, we need to be talking about expansion.”

As reported in the SF Standard, last July the city first moved to abruptly end the "shared streets" program on Hayes. Merchants in the area complained and Supervisor Dean Preston intervened to force SFMTA to "walk back" the plan. Now advocates and the supervisor's office are working to stop this new attempt to "consolidate" the Hayes Street shared space.

"The Hayes Valley Shared Spaces program launched in August 2020, a point of neighborhood pride in an otherwise uncertain period," added Preston. "In partnership with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, and with buy-in from local businesses, the Hayes Valley Shared Spaces program has stood as a poster child for city efforts to cultivate car-free streets as a means to economic recovery."

Neighbors are rallying around a vision to make the 400 block of Hayes Street permanently closed to private vehicle traffic, much like the intersecting section of Octavia that is now Patricia’s Green. An online petition telling city leaders that neighbors “not only want car-free Hayes preserved, but expanded to permanent 24/7 car-free status” has more than 1,165 signatures.

Meanwhile, the SFMTA Board will vote on the staff recommendation on Tuesday, October 17. Streetsblog urges readers to attend the Board meeting in person or virtually and to let the board know they don't just want Hayes Street shared streets maintained, they want it expanded.

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