Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules

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Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency Board will consider some proposed updates to the “red carpet” lanes installed recently on Mission Street to provide more rapid Muni bus service. The red carpets have been very popular among transit riders, but some Mission Street merchants have expressed concern that the revised traffic flows have been bad for business.

Here’s what the SFMTA has in mind:

We recognize [the red carpet] was a big change for the Mission, and it’s our priority to make it work for everyone. Already we’ve made several changes to enhance the project and make traffic flow more smoothly. We will be recommending a few more changes to improve traffic circulation, which will be heard at the next SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. The SFMTA commits to continuing to monitor Mission Street to ensure the project goals are achieved.

Mission Street Changes at SFMTA Board
August 16, 2016
Mission item will be heard at 3:00 PM
City Hall Room 400
If you are unable to attend, submit comments to MTABoard@sfmta.com.

The following changes will be recommended for legislation by the SFMTA Board of Directors:

  • Removing two of the required right turns on Mission at 26th and 22nd. This will allow vehicles to travel four blocks on Mission before encountering a required right turn, making it easier to access businesses and find parking along the street. We expect this change to improve traffic circulation without increasing through traffic or delaying bus riders.
  • Relocating the outbound Cortland stop to the nearside of the intersection. Moving the bus stop nearside will improve boarding ease for Muni riders.
  • Exempting taxis from the left turn restriction at 21st Street. This exemption, in the middle of the Mission corridor, will provide more options for taxis to reach their destinations.

The recommended changes are the result of a series of community engagement activities to discuss how the new street design is being perceived by neighborhood residents, bus riders, motorists and others using Mission Street. Staff worked closely with community members, Muni riders, neighborhood organizations and other non-profit organizations, as well as David Campos, District 9 Supervisor. Outreach activities included several small group discussions, a community hearing (summary of comments heard is available here), merchant walks and an intercept survey of 1,400 people on Mission Street.

That SFMTA survey is interesting, because it underscores the extent to which the data about how shoppers get to Mission Street diverges from what merchants believe about their customers. In an article that looked at this question, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner wrote:

The recent SFMTA survey of people in the Mission — conducted June 28, June 29 and July 9 — found that 69 percent of 1,400 respondents went to the Mission by public transit.

Those surveyed arrived to eat, drink, visit friends and work. But the largest group surveyed — about 350 people — was there to shop.

Specifically, the SFMTA said 76 percent of surveyed shoppers “usually” take transit, and 10 percent drive.

Merchants, however, disagree that most shoppers take transit.

Michael Gardner, the 42-year president of Siegel’s Clothing Superstore & Tuxedos on Mission Street, felt the survey was all wrong.

“This just doesn’t make sense to me. It just can’t be right,” he said.

For Bernal Heights residents,  the mandatory right turn on Mission Street northbound at Cesar Chavez has been a particular point of concern. The SFMTA’s FAQ explains why the mandatory turn at Cesar Chavez will remain in place:

Why aren’t you removing the required right turn at Cesar Chavez?

We heard many requests to remove the required right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, which some feel acts as a barrier to two neighborhoods. This was a difficult decision. Doing so would make traffic and transit performance worse on northbound Mission Street than before the project was implemented because one lane of traffic was removed [to create the restricted access lane for Muni buses].

The required turn at Cesar Chavez diverts drivers who drive through Mission toward downtown. Instead, we will address community concerns by removing two of the required right turns at 26th and 22nd to improve access to destinations along Mission without congesting the street with traffic looking for a fast way downtown.

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

Ballot Proposition Would Shift Street Tree Maintenance Back to City

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Bernalwood has previously shared stories about Bernal neighbors who have struggled to pay big bills levied by the City to cover the cost of street tree maintenance. Now, after some unpleasant wrangling on the Board of Supervisors, a proposition sponsored by D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener to get the City to once again assume responsibility for street tree maintenance is on track to appear on the November ballot.

Joshua Sabatini from The Examiner reports:

The agreement was announced Tuesday amid a turnout of about 300 people organized by the Friends of the Urban Forest, a nonprofit group that supports growing San Francisco’s tree canopy. San Francisco has approximately 105,000 street trees on sidewalks and medians.

For years, The City has controversially shifted the care of trees to property owners, after failing to fund tree care in its annual budget. But voters this November will have a chance to approve a charter amendment to require The City to take back oversight of all street trees, the liability that comes with them and any sidewalk damage the trees might cause.

The measure was introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener, but a compromise was reached to shore up support from other supervisors, including Supervisor John Avalos, who had previously introduced a competing proposal.

“This is a grassroots movement that has been brewing for a long time of people in this city that understand that trees matter,” Wiener said. He called The City’s decision of “dumping responsibility” of street trees on property owners a “terrible and unfair system.”

The Examiner adds that a final vote to put the tree measure on the November ballot should happen in the Board of Supervisors today.

PHOTO: Expensive tree on public land, assigned to Neighbor Laura in 2015, by Neighbor Laura

Citing Pipleline Fears, Neighbors Seek to Delay New Homes on Folsom

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

Rendering of proposed homes, view southwest from public garden below Bernal Heights Blvd.

Rendering of proposed homes, view southwest from public garden below Bernal Heights Blvd.

A group of Bernal neighbors are still concerned that if two homes are built on a Folsom Street lot, the site could explode in a gigantic fireball. As a result, the neighbors will appear before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 19 in hopes of delaying the project to conduct an environmental analysis. The Bernal Heights Neighborhood center has been providing organizational assistance to the nervous neighbors.

The neighbors hope the Board of Supervisors will intervene to delay construction of two proposed homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom, on an undeveloped lot near the intersection of Folsom and Chapman, just below Bernal Heights Boulevard.

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The project, which will require the construction of a new stub roadway extending Folsom Street to the north, has already secured approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission.

“We’re not against development. This is not a development issue,” says Neighbor Herb Felsenfeld, who lives near the proposed homesites and has been spearheading the effort to collect signatures for a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “it’s a public safety issue and a traffic issue.”

Bernalwood obtained an undated  draft of the letter to the Board of Supervisors that Neighbor Herb has circulated:

Dear Board Members,

Request for Environment Review – Our safety and even our lives are at stake.

Construction on two lots at 3516 and 3526 Folsom Street have been given categorical exemption from environmental review, however this particular plot of land, encompassing 6 lots and a street right of way, poses significant, potentially life-threatening, safety and problems.

These include:

  • Construction by a private developer over a 26” PG&E gas pipeline without industry recommended safety protocol in place and made public, resulting in the potential loss of life and property. All safety guidelines and oversight must be transparent and shared with residents. The San Bruno tragedy is fresh in our minds.
  •  Difficult-to-manage traffic conditions at the corner of Folsom and Chapman Streets. The projects have no on-street parking, and on-street parking will be eliminated from 2 more houses. (And, there is the potential for 4 additional new homes) Delivery trucks, construction vehicles, and visitors will be forced to park at the base of the street, blocking access to many homes.
  •  The project’s lack of planning for garbage, recycling, and compost pickup will impace both public health and safety.
  • The project site’s proposed steep street presents a significant threat to drivers and residents, and a liability issue for homeowners and the City.
  •  The structures would create a north-facing solid wall blocking significant public vistas from Bernal Heights Boulevard along the open-space park.

There are specific NTSB and Pipeline Information and Protection Act protocols that should be followed for all land use near pipelines, and we expect assurances from you that these will be met.

This is your opportunity to keep your promise to the keep the citizens of San Francisco safe by requiring that a complete environmental review is undertaken and all appropriate safety measures are in place before any construction is approved for this undeveloped section of Folsom Street and the adjacent properties. We also request that the safety measures and oversight is transparent to the impacted neighbors.

In May 2014, when the fear of a Folsom Fireball first emerged among neighbors in the theoretical “blast zone” of the surrounding homesites, Bernalwood contacted PG&E to learn more about Pipeline 109, the existing gas line buried below Folsom Street. We also asked about the safety procedures used when construction occurs at a pipeline site. Bernalwood’s 2014 questions, and PG&E’s responses, are again provided here in their entirety:

1. When was the section of pipeline under the the proposed home site installed? When was it last upgraded?

The line was installed in 1981. PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safe operation of this line.

2. How often is this section of 109 inspected? What does the inspection entail? When did the last inspection take place? What were the results of that inspection?

This section of L-109 was successfully strength tested (via a hydrostatic pressure test) at the time of installation. PG&E records show no history of leaks for L-109 in this area.

PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system.  PG&E regularly conducts patrols, leak surveys, and cathodic protection (corrosion protection) system inspections for its natural gas pipelines.  Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately.  PG&E also performs integrity assessments of certain gas transmission pipelines in urban and suburban areas.

Patrols:  PG&E patrols its gas transmission pipelines at least quarterly to look for indications of missing pipeline markers, construction activity and other factors that may threaten the pipeline.  L-109 through the [Bernal Heights] neighborhood was last aerially patrolled in May 2014 and no issues were found.

Leak Surveys:  PG&E conducts leak surveys at least annually of its natural gas transmission pipelines.  Leak surveys are generally conducted by a leak surveyor walking above the pipeline with leak detection instruments.  L-109 in San Francisco was last leak surveyed in April 2014 and no leaks were found.

Cathodic Protection System Inspections:  PG&E utilizes an active cathodic protection (CP) system on its gas transmission and steel distribution pipelines to protect them against corrosion.  PG&E inspects its CP systems every two months to ensure they are operating correctly.  The CP systems on L-109 in this area were last inspected in May 2014 and were found to be operating correctly.

Integrity Assessments:  There are three federally-approved methods to complete a transmission pipeline integrity management baseline assessment:  In-Line Inspections (ILI), External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) and Pressure Testing.  An In-Line Inspection involves a tool (commonly known as a “pig”) being inserted into the pipeline to identify any areas of concern such as potential metal loss (corrosion) or geometric abnormalities (dents) in the pipeline.  An ECDA involves an indirect, above-ground electrical survey to detect coating defects and the level of cathodic protection.  Excavations are performed to do a direct examination of the pipe in areas of concern as required by federal regulations.  Pressure testing is a strength test normally conducted using water, which is also referred to as a hydrostatic test.

PG&E performed an ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2009 and no issues were found.  PG&E plans to perform another ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2015.  This section of L-109 also had an ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment) performed in 2012, and no issues were found.

Automated Shut-off Valves: There are two types of automated shut-off valves recognized within the natural gas industry: Remote Controlled Valves (RCV’s), which can be operated remotely from PG&E’s Gas Control Center, and Automatic Shutoff Valves (ASV’s) that will close automatically as a result of rapidly falling pipeline pressures and/or increased flows at the valve location. There is an RCV on L-109 in Daly City that can be used to isolate the section of L-109 that runs through this neighborhood.

3. Is this section of pipeline 109  “the same type that blew up in San Bruno?”

No. Line 109 operates at a much lower pressure and is smaller in diameter, and is of a much more recent vintage.

4. What safety procedures does PG&E put in place when home or street contruction occurs on the site of a major gas pipeline like 109?

Anytime a contractor or resident makes an excavation on franchise or private property, they must call 811 (State Law for Underground Service Alerts [USA]) in advance so we can identify and properly locate our UG facilities.  When our Damage Prevention group gets the USA request and identifies a critical facility like a gas transmission line in the scope of work, they notify the caller that they must contact PG&E for a standby employee.  PG&E must observe a safe excavation around our lines if any digging is within 10’ of it.  We must be present when they dig around this line.  Our standby inspector will instruct and guide the excavating party to avoid damage.  Excavators who violate this Law are subject to fines.

5. Does the steep grade of the Folsom site have any impact on Pipeline 109? Given the grade at the proposed site, are any special provisions or procedures required to ensure the safety of the pipeline during construction?

The grade of the street have no impacts on the operation of the line.  If the cover is not removed or disturbed within 10’ of the line, there are no special precautions needed.

6. Are there any specific technical or safety challenges posed by the proposed home site, and if so, how does PG&E plan to address them?

As long as the structures are built within the property lines similar to the existing [homes on Folsom Street], they will not pose any issues for us patrolling and maintaining that line.  The proposed home sites are not on top of line 109, and are no closer to the line than existing homes in the neighborhood.

Additional Background: In the area outlined in the map [Bernalwood sent PG&E, shown above], PG&E’s natural gas transmission pipeline L-109 runs down Folsom Street and turns east to follow Bernal Heights Blvd.  Line 109 in this area is a 26-inch diameter steel pipeline installed in 1981 and has a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 150 pounds per square inch gage (psig), which is 19.8% of the pipe’s specified minimum yield strength (SMYS).  This provides a considerable margin of safety, since it would take a pressure over 750 psig to cause the steel in the pipe to begin to deform.

When we cited PG&E’s previous Bernalwood comments about the project, Neighbor Herb said, “We want NTSB standards to be followed.” However, Neighbor Herb was unable to point Bernalwood toward the specific NTSB standards he wants PG&E to follow.

To be sure, independent of the pipeline on Folsom Street, recent events have not inspired much confidence in PG&E’s ability to manage its pipelines safely. In the wake of the 2010 San Bruno Pipeline explosion,  documents presented earlier this month in a criminal trial related to the San Bruno blast revealed that, in 2008, PG&E had prioritized profitability over safety management.

But the pipeline is just one of several concerns shared by neighbors near the proposed homesite. “Once the road gets put in, it’s likely more houses will go in,” Neighbor Herb says. “Once the road goes in we can have six pretty big houses there, with six times as many garbage cans, and six times as much construction, and six times the concern about emergency vehicles.”

Parking is also a concern. “Adding three more cars fighting for parking space will make parking even more difficult,” Neighbor Herb said.

3516 Folsom, ground floor plan

3516 Folsom, ground floor plan, showing two-car garage

A review of the plans for both of the proposed homes shows that each will include a two-car garage.

“The issue more with the City than with the developers, given that the City did not require a CEQA [environmental] review and gave the project a waiver,” said Neighbor Marilyn Waterman, another neighbor who has also been active in the effort to gather signatures for a letter to the Board of Supervisors.  Neighbor Marilyn, who divides her time between her home on Gates and a home in Menlo Park, adds,” The City needs to take responsibility for the neighborhood’s public safety  issues.”

Ailed Paningbatan-Swan, director of community engagement for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, confirms that BHNC has gotten involved in the issue. “I’ve been helping to connect [those seeking environmental review] with other neighborhood leaders,” she tells Bernalwood.

“I’m not going to say anything about the parking issues; my concern is the public safety,” Ailed adds. “We are not opposed to having the houses built, we are concerned about the public safety issues around the PG&E pipeline.”

“It’s difficult to get much information from PG&E, but there will be safety process established to protect the gas line,” says Fabian Lannoye, who owns one of the lots at the proposed site. “PG&E is not willing to do any work on this project until it is approved.” Fabian tells Bernalwood he owns one of the proposed homesite lots, and that be plans  to live in the house he hopes one day to construct.

The Bernal Heights Democratic Club and the San Francisco Chapter of the Sierra Club are also said to be planning to submit letters to the Board of  Supervisors about the 3516 and 3526 Folsom project.

D9 Supervisor David Campos is expected to recuse himself from tomorrows Board of Supervisor’s vote on 3516 and 3526 Folsom, because he lives a block away, within 500′ of the proposed homesite.

IMAGES: Renderings via Fabian Lannoye

Your Esmeralda Slide Park Renovation Project Update

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The stairs around the Esmeralda slides were closed for a few weeks recently while works crews laid down new concrete as part of the ongoing Esmeralda Slide Park renovation project. That was a nuisance, but now that work is complete, and the stairs are open again. Hurrah!

So what’s next? Neighbors Joan and Nancy, your volunteer cat-herders and advocates for the Esmeralda Slide Park renovation, wrote to Bernalwood to share this update:

The Esmeralda Stairs between Prospect and Winfield were finally opened up ,just days before 4th of July weekend. This marks the first sign of a restoration of our beloved Stairway after almost 2 difficult months when the only access was to skirt around the chainlink fence at Prospect and Esmeralda, and the caution tape and barricades at Winfield and the Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza.

Some answers to why all this mess is occurring and when will it end:

The Plaza’s concrete was demolished in May to make way for new irrigation pipes installed to provide water for the entire Park and Plaza planter box. This is a big deal, and it took five years for the City to finally take care of this. For those who think this isn’t worth the mess the City has made of the Esmeralda plaza, try lugging a 100′ hose to water each of the plants in the Park. That’s how a couple of us have been watering the Park for the past five years. As for watering the new plants in the Plaza planter box volunteers put in last August, a couple of neighbors have been graciously drawing from their own water and dragging hoses into the box.

It took the City months to get a new water meter from PUC. Turns out, the City can’t get other agencies to move faster than us mere citizens. Meanwhile, WebCor, a private construction company that does lots of work in San Francisco, is doing all the concrete work for free. That’s great, but you know know how free goes: WebCor does the work in between their “real jobs” with the upshot, it takes longer.

After 6 weeks of torn up concrete, the irrigation pipes are now under the newly poured Plaza. Hopefully, in another month, our picnic table and benches will be re-installed. A new retrofitted slide approach platform (with a railing) will be installed, making it possible for people in wheelchairs to pull themselves onto the slide and go down (though they’ll still need assistance exiting the slide).

Speaking of wheelchair access to the Plaza; Once the City starts tearing up old public sidewalks, they need to come into this decade by meeting American Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements. Even though the Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza is at the apex of a steep hill with narrow sidewalks, two new curb cuts leading into our Plaza will make it possible for a people with wheelchairs or strollers to wheel into the Plaza easily.

The mounds of dirt that seem to grow every day at the base of the slide are there because of the trenches being dug for the irrigation pipes coming down the hillside to deliver the water from our new water meter. The trench on the hillside between the staircase and the slide will get covered with lots of fresh dirt in planting boxes, which we hope many gardener wannabes will volunteer to help plant and weed when the time comes. Meanwhile, in the past we never planted along the hillside because our hose didn’t reach for watering, and we didn’t create terracing to hold soil for plants we couldn’t afford. Now, between the City and WebCor, they’re going to make and install the terraces after the City completes the installation of the water pipes. We’re hoping they’ll complete this work in the next couple of months, although the City hasn’t confirmed their timeline.

Lastly, the wretched slide landing pad will be replaced. Concrete will be poured by WebCor to accommodate a brand-new, softer pad that’s wider and curved for those who live dangerously and travel fast down the slide. Once again, the City hasn’t provided a timeline for this, but we’re hoping in the next couple of months.

Thanks to everyone for their patience, and please enjoy the access we once again have to our stairs. Be safe navigating the trenches in the slide landing area, and we’ll have more progress updates soon!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbors Joan and Nancy

Next Phase of Esmeralda Slide Park Re-Renovation Underway

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The ongoing effort to re-renovate Bernal’s iconic Esmeralda Slide Park resumed last Saturday, May 14, as a group of community volunteers joined forces with civic leaders, City agencies, and construction professionals to begin work on a new sidewalk and irrigation system.

Esmeralda neighbor Joan Carson has helped champion the project, and she shares this update on what happened last weekend, and what’s coming next:

Last Saturday’s event took place from 9 to 10 am, and it marked the beginning of the next phase of renovation for the Park. In particular, we all came together — folks from our Bernal neighborhood, San Francisco Public Works, Laborers Local 261 and San Francisco Parks Alliance — to help remove some of the concrete salvage created when WebCor builders demolished of the plaza’s old pavement. Although our efforts were mostly symbolic on Saturday, the act drove home the incredible partnership that’s making this renovation a reality.

We all remember the plaza rebuild last summer, when the picnic table, benches, slide landing and it’s approach, and the planter were rebuilt. That was the first phase of the City’s re-emergence on the scene to give a face lift to Esmeralda Slide Park. In early Fall, San Francisco Public Works, Laborers local 261 and a few of us folks started work on the next phase of renovation, including planning for park-wide irrigation and additional planting areas.

This led to the City doing more land-use planning for needed infrastructure improvements, like of curb cuts for sidewalk ramps that meet ADA compliance, a land use survey detailing what’s in the Park and its terrain, a tree assessment to determine the health of the trees and identifying which trees needed to be removed to make way for future more appropriate plantings.

On March 9 of this year, San Francisco Public Works held a community meeting at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center where those of us involved in the planning of Esmeralda’s continued renovation gave a presentation on the next phase of work. We got a small turn-out, but all those who showed up were really excited by the plans.

That brings us to where we are right now. WebCor joined the partnership in March and is doing the plaza demolition and new concrete pour. While construction is underway it’s an inconvenience for all us who now using the Esmeralda Stairs to get where we want to go, and it’s sad not be able to enjoy the slide.. But, in a few weeks, we’ll have water pipes underground to deliver water throughout the park and a new pavement in our plaza.

Nancy and I will keep you posted on landscaping plans for the park, including a new landing pad, more planting beds, and more volunteer days to join together and put new plants into the park.

Here’s a special celebrity bonus shot of Neighbor Joan, in seasonal hardhat chic:

joanmay14BIG THANKS to everyone who is helping to make the Esmeralda Slide Park better than ever.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Bernal Merchant Seeks Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Program

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Neighbor Eden Stein is a resident of the La Lengua Autonomous Zone and the proprietor of the fabulous (and resilient) Secession Art & Design store at 3235 Mission (@Valencia). She’s also president of the Mission-Bernal Merchants Association, which represents merchants along the Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street.

In recent weeks, Neighbor Eden has expressed concern about Muni’s new “red carpet” bus lanes on Mission Street. Although bus riders report the new red carpets have noticeably improved public transit, Neighbor Eden says local merchants are struggling because the rollout of the new traffic configuration has coincided with reduced foot traffic and sales in Mission Street stores.

This morning, Neighbor Eden released a letter summarizing her views on Muni’s new red carpet along Mission Street:

Two months ago, MTA reconstructed Mission Street, introducing red transit lanes and forced right turns. The bus is running two to five minutes faster, but I have observed a decrease in pedestrian traffic and clientele, especially for daytime businesses. My business is not only a go-to for locals, but a destination for people from all over. The forced right-hand turns funnel drivers away from shopping and local restaurants, making it harder for our customers to show up and support us. This is a direct call to our customers to walk, bike, take public transit, or drive to support local businesses impacted along Mission Street.

My specific concerns for Mission Bernal are to make sure it is safe for pedestrians, residents, and our valued customers. A request has been made to MTA to put in protected left turn signals at 29th and Valencia, remove the right hand turn at Cesar Chavez, and review positions of new bus stops. I am concerned that the Mission-Powers bus stop is not well-lit and is located in front of a preschool. My other concern is when it rains the red paint is causing the buses difficulty in stopping. I have seen the buses slide through the intersection at 29th Street on the red light because they are slipping on the red lanes. This is a safety concern for our whole community. I support public transit, but not at the cost of safety or small business. I am for finding a balance that works for all us.

My grandparents owned a storefront for over 40 years in Philadelphia. Their legacy business was one of the things that inspired me to open Secession Art and Design in an emerging area of the Mission in 2007. Mission Street has been home to my gallery and boutique for 9 years, supporting over 60 local and independent artists and designers. Businesses along Mission Street all want the chance to be legacy businesses, and live out our dream that small business can thrive in San Francisco. This is why I became president of the Mission Bernal Merchants Association, so my neighborhood would have a passionate point person who lives and works in Mission Bernal.

I have attended many MTA meetings, sometimes closing my store to make sure my voice is heard. A happy medium needs to happen, so small businesses aren’t forced to shut down. I want to continue my grandparents’ legacy of doing what I love everyday, being the owner of a small business. I’m working to help Mission Street culture return back to its vibrant and artistic hustle.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive, encouraged me to go outside my comfort zone and speak up for my community, and reminded me to be strong and love what I do!

You rock, Eden

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

Bernal Neighbor Named Director of City’s New Homelessness Office

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While Bernal residents keep an eye on efforts to address the homeless encampment underneath the Cesar Chavez/101 interchange, one Bernal Heights neighbor will soon be paying particularly close attention: Yesterday, neighbor Jeff Kositsky of Precitaville was introduced as the first director of the City’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Heather Knight from the San Francisco Chronicle covered Neighbor Jeff’s appointment:

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s plan for a new department of homelessness — an idea bandied about at City Hall for at least 14 years — is taking shape, with a budget of at least $160 million, nearly 200 workers and a new director, who was announced Wednesday.

He’s Jeff Kositsky, a well-known figure in the city’s homeless service system. Since 2013, he has worked as executive director of Hamilton Family Center, which provides emergency shelter and other services to homeless families. He led the Community Housing Partnership, which manages housing for 1,300 formerly homeless adults, for nine years before that.

“The city has all of these amazing programs that are really world-class,” Kositsky said. “To be able to bring all of those under the same department under a unified strategy to help really amplify Mayor Lee’s vision for addressing homelessness in San Francisco is an honor and an amazing opportunity.”

In his new role, Neighbor Jeff will oversee a department with 110 employees and an annual budget of more than $160 million. His top priorities in the big new job will include opening more Navigation Centers to provide interim shelter for the homeless and deploying a new information system to improve management and coordination of homeless cases and services. The new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will launch on July 1.

PHOTO: Neighbor Jeff Kositsky photographed by Connor Radnovich for The San Francisco Chronicle