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Two-Item Tuesday: Update on Frida Kahlo Way, Lake Merritt BART Development Plans

A look at the parking situation on Frida Kahol. Photo from advocate Sara Barz

Two stories dropped Tuesday that are of interest to the safe and livable streets community.

Supervisor Melgar throws down on City College over Frida Kahlo Way safety project

Supervisor Myrna Melgar with her bike in front of City Hall. Photo from her staff

S.F. District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar gave her full support Monday to putting a two-way protected bike lane on Frida Kahlo Way by City College. From her statement, part of a letter to the College Board of Trustees:

I am writing to express my strong support for the Frida Kahlo Quick-Build and concern that the City College Board of Trustees would oppose such an essential project without even a briefing from the SFMTA nor participating in the exhaustive community outreach process that was held by the SFMTA in collaboration with my office.

She also wrote:

In January 2024, the City College Board of Trustees voted to approve a climate and sustainability action plan which aims to reduce and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The Frida Kahlo Quick-Build would bring City College more in line with these stated goals by providing safer infrastructure for sustainable transit, including biking, transit-only lanes, and improved BART connectivity.

This is significant. Readers may recall that the City College Board of Trustees came out against the project because it means sacrificing a measly thirty parking spaces (in order to prevent cyclists from getting mashed, which seems like an excellent trade-off). And remember this is a college surrounded by seas of parking (see image above) with 3,000 spaces. It's good to see Melgar coming out strongly in defense of safe streets.

BART to start work on Lake Merritt station development

Planned developments for Lake Merritt BART

It's been a long fight, but BART is well underway in turning many of its 1970s-style park-and-ride station properties into housing and retail developments. One of the stations in the BART system most in need of an overhaul is Lake Merritt. It's adjacent to Oakland's Chinatown, Jack London, Laney College, and of course the housing around Lake Merritt itself. But right atop the station it's concrete and parking. That's soon to change. From a BART release:

New affordable and market-rate housing, office, and retail space will be developed over several phases. Phase 1.1 (Bldg. B on the illustration) is currently scheduled to break ground in mid-2024, with the construction of a 97-unit senior affordable housing building on BART’s existing surface parking lot. 

To accommodate this Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) project, BART will no longer offer Reserved Parking starting June 1. Daily Fee parking will still be available on a first-come, first-served basis until construction formally begins, when the parking lot will be permanently closed. Customers can check for updates on Daily Fee parking availability, as well as signage at the two entrances to the Lake Merritt parking lot.  

Lake Merritt Station is easily accessible by bicycle and transit.

Streetsblog takes some exception to that last statement. While there are plenty of bus lines, the bike and pedestrian routes between the thousands of residential units in Jack London Square and the BART station vary from awful to more awful. And plans to improve them have festered. One can only hope BART, the city of Oakland, Caltrans, and Alameda County will find a way to improve them, although things are not looking hopeful.

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