A final vote on the Wiggle Neighborhood Green Corridor Project has been delayed, as at least one neighborhood group withholds its support in response to proposed traffic restrictions on Divisadero.
The project, which has been in the works for about two years, is a joint effort by the SFMTA and SFPUC to both calm traffic in the area and install technologies to better absorb rainwater and prevent flooding along the Wiggle. It would involve corner sidewalk bulb-outs at various points along the popular bike route, coordinated signals on Divisadero to improve the flow of traffic, a raised crosswalk at Steiner and Hermann to enhance pedestrian safety, and permeable pavement to allow rainwater to soak into the ground instead of the sewer system, among various other changes in the area.
But there's one specific issue that appears to be holding up the project.
According to a recent SFMTA document, left turns would be prohibited on Divisadero at the following streets "to reduce clogging and prioritize through-traffic":
- Haight (southbound)
- Hayes (both directions during peak hours only)
- McAllister (both directions during peak hours only)
That proposal has apparently riled some neighbors, and the Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association (LoHaMNA) is currently refusing to back the plan due to the turn restrictions. The project was originally scheduled to head to the SFMTA Board of Directors next Tuesday, May 19th for final approval. While the SFMTA hasn't announced why the project has been struck from next week's agenda, the timing indicates that the left-turn issue may be a factor.
In a letter to the SFMTA dated May 6th, LoHaMNA writes:
"Because staff has been unable to satisfactorily resolve issues with our community, particularly with respect to retention of the left turns at Haight and Divisadero streets, we must reluctantly urge that the project not be allowed to proceed in its current configuration."
LoHaMNA contends that it raised concerns with the SFMTA at its April 3rd public hearing about the effect such turn restrictions would have on resident drivers.
"Put simply, we asked for consideration of the drivers coming home from services in the North side of the City (Kaiser, CPMC, water access in the Marina and Marin), or coming to our neighborhood for services. Those driving from the North literally will have any coherent direct route to homes and businesses blocked. It is not just an extra turn or two you are suggesting to get to the Lower Haight, it is three-to-four and a congested turn signal at Oak."
Haight Street resident Evan Matteo also opposes the project in its current form.
"There is a lot of good in the proposal, in term of bulb-outs, rain gardens, etc," Matteo tells us. But the no-turn restrictions on Divisadero, along with a proposed bulb-out to prevent southbound traffic from entering Scott Street at Fell, will cause greater traffic congestion on Divisadero, Matteo fears.
"The MTA proposal assumes that anyone driving into the Lower Haight, after the proposed changes, will turn from Divisadero onto Oak. This protected left at Oak presently requires a multi-light-cycle wait. With the closure of Scott Street, elimination of the left at Hayes and of the Haight Street left, the wait at Oak will be even longer.
"If the Lower Haight loses the ability to turn left onto Haight Street from Divisadero Southbound, in addition to the path down Scott into our neighborhood, we will be isolated, and have a hard time reaching our homes and businesses by car."
The Green Corridor Project has involved numerous community meetings and public hearings over the past two years. Reduction of so-called "cut-through traffic" has always been one of the project's stated goals.
"Motorists who drive through the neighborhood — rather than to a local destination — can cause congestion on residential streets, detracting from the neighborhood feel," states a 2013 introductory report.
And as early as September 2013, the SFMTA suggested that speeding up traffic flow on Divisadero would help reduce such cut-through traffic in the neighborhood.
"The SFMTA is exploring improvements to Divisadero that would make traffic flow more smoothly to make it more attractive to crosstown drivers."
While such changes might make the area less appealing for non-resident motorists, LoHaMNA and residents like Matteo fear they could make the neighborhood less accessible for residents, too.
We've reached out to the SFMTA for an explanation of the delay and any indication of when the project might reappear on the agency's agenda. We'll update if and when we learn more.