Quantcast

Richmond Merchant Group Sues To Block Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project

Image: SFMTA
By Carrie Sisto - Published on February 15, 2017.

Plans to speed up bus service for more than 52,000 daily riders on Geary Boulevard could face a new legal hurdle, if a lawsuit filed by neighborhood merchants is allowed to proceed.

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project was approved by the board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (CTA) in January after more than a decade of negotiations with residents, merchants and other neighborhood stakeholders.

As we previously reported, construction on the first phase of the BRT project is expected to start in the fall, with the goal of creating transit-only lanes along Geary from Market to 35th Avenue, and improving pedestrian and bike safety. According to project planners, it's expected to reduce round-trip travel times on Geary by as much as 20 percent.

Image: SFMTA

But that could be delayed pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by San Franciscans For Sensible Transit, a group of more than 60 merchants and other community members that have long opposed the Geary BRT project. The group is led by vocal Geary BRT opponent Bob Starzel, a Richmond district resident and former head of the SF Examiner.

The suit, filed on February 3rd, 2017 in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that the final environmental analysis for the BRT project contains “fatal flaws,” because it did not fully analyze a “no-build alternative” when studying the best option for the Geary Street corridor.

The state of California requires all major developments to complete an analysis weighing the environmental benefits and costs for several alternatives, including one reflecting no action.

The plaintiffs argue that the current 38R-Geary Rapid bus service would be preferable to the major construction planned to install the BRT—and save the city its $300 million price tag. With construction likely to take up to five years, the merchants argue that it could cause difficulties for businesses on Geary, due to reduced parking access for customers.

A rendering of planned bus and bike lane changes at Geary and Masonic. | Image: SFCTA

The plaintiffs are asking the court to “slow down” the project by sending the final environmental analysis back to the CTA and the SFMTA for further analysis of the no-build option.

They say their comments on the draft environmental review went unnoticed, and that they were given only nine business days to file comments on the final analysis, which was released on December 9th, 2016, and adopted by the CTA board on January 5th, 2017.

The plaintiffs also argue that newly elected District 1 supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer should have been allowed to vote on the final EIR before the project moved forward. Fewer has previously expressed concerns about the BRT project, of which her predecessor, Eric Mar, was an outspoken supporter

However, supporters of the BRT project say that this is a last-ditch delay tactic on a project that had many years to accrue local feedback.

“This project has gone through a decade of environmental review,” Paige Miller, a former member of the now-disbanded Geary BRT citizen advisory committee, told the Examiner. “I think this lawsuit is a delay tactic by a small number of individuals in our community who haven’t liked it all along.”

The CTA is "reviewing the lawsuit and has no comment on pending litigation," spokesman Eric Young told Hoodline. He said the project team is continuing to work towards obtaining approval of the environmental review from MTA and the Federal Transit Administration, which is expected to occur this summer.

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Mission Bay

New Belgium Brewing opens first company flagship restaurant and taproom in Mission Bay

Sandwiched between Oracle Park and the Chase Center, New Belgium Brewing — one of the largest craft brewers in the country — officially opened its first company-owned and operated taproom and eatery, New Belgium, at 1000a 3rd Street in San Francisco on Friday.  Read More

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Castro Duboce Triangle

Team with Saison ties set to open Mexican restaurant Comodo in the Castro

Hoodline has learned that two people who are part of the restaurant group behind two-Michelin-starred Saison are set to open a new Mexican restaurant at 2223 Market St., formerly Nomica and before that neighborhood favorite 2223 Restaurant. Read More

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Civic Center Mid-Market Tenderloin

New Tenderloin program aims to elevate youth voices and promote young leaders

The Tenderloin will see a boost in after-school and community activities for teens and older transitional-aged youth through a new program funded in part by a federal grant. Read More

Apr 08, 2021
San Francisco Ingleside

New Jersey-based Korean American grocery chain H Mart set to open at the edge of Oceanview

At long last, after about an 18-month delay, popular Korean American grocer H Mart is opening its first San Francisco location in OceanView Village at a near-term date still to be announced. Read More