Why some SF business owners are calling for Mayor Breed to fire SFMTA director

The Change.org petition was started by a group that represents merchants along Valencia Street in the Mission District

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Here's why some SF business owners want SFMTA director fired
At last check, nearly 400 people are asking San Francisco's Mayor London Breed to fire the city's transportation director Jeffrey Tumlin.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At last check, nearly 400 people are asking San Francisco's Mayor London Breed to fire the city's transportation director Jeffrey Tumlin.

"He resigns, that is what I'm hoping for. He doesn't belong in that seat. He has just created disaster in the city," said Sahar Milani, owner of Rossi and spokesperson for the Valencia Association of Merchants, Artists, Neighbors, and Organizations (VAMANOS).

The Change.org petition was started by a group that represents merchants along Valencia Street in the Mission District.

"It is somewhat of a breaking point," said Milani.

This year, merchants on Valencia have filed claims against the city demanding the removal of a controversial center bike lane. They claim it's killing their businesses, because it led to the removal of 70 parking spots making it harder for customers to go to the area.

MORE: Merchants file claims against SF demanding removal of controversial Valencia St. bike lane

San Francisco merchants have filed claims against city and SFMTA, demanding removal of the controversial Valencia Street center bike lane.

The owner of Rossi went on a 30-day hunger strike in protest of the bike lane in April of this year.

"They put the bike lane because they want to get rid of cars but let's forget about the merchants," said, Milani.

MORE: San Francisco's new transit chief, Jeff Tumlin talks possible traffic solutions

SFMTA responded to the petition saying in part:

"The authors of this petition suggest that pedestrian and bicyclist safety and thriving commercial corridors are mutually exclusive. We do not agree."

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The petition claims they are not the only area being hurt by projects approved by Tumlin.

"Merchants from Hayes Valley contacted us. They see us on the news and they know we are trying to remove this bike lane. They have made a mess out of Hayes as well," said Milani.

The petition also lists an SFMTA proposal for traffic changes in West Portal after a family at a bus shelter was hit and killed by a driver. The proposal outraged many residents and merchants.

"I think it's clear if you look at the last thing SFMTA set out here, it didn't work for any of us and he was in charge of that. He is held responsible for what comes out of that and the entire MTA," said West Portal resident, Brent Sullivan.

MORE: Officials consider design change of SF's controversial Valencia St. bike lane after evaluation

Some business owners and residents said they agree with the petition calling for the directors resignation.

"I think he does need to step down. His leadership has shown that they don't actually care about San Francisco," said Nina Veaco, manager at Shaws Candy.

This isn't the first time that Tumlin has been in hot water over his transportation visions.

In 2013, according to a Santa Monica Daily Press article Tumlin was removed as a transportation consultant for the city of Santa Monica after City officials said he made comments online "that Santa Monica politics had been dominated by NIMBYs who used traffic fear as their primary tool for stopping development."

In 2019, Mayor Breed appointed Tumlin as SFMTA's director after asking the former director to resign.

MORE: Jeffrey Tumlin selected as new SFMTA director of transportation

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Full SFMTA statement:

"We all need to work together to support San Francisco's economic recovery. The authors of this petition suggest that pedestrian and bicyclist safety and thriving commercial corridors are mutually exclusive. We do not agree. We see street safety and thriving businesses as complementary, and not a zero-sum game. Instead of pitting us against each other, let's come together and collaborate on solutions that will move us forward."

The Mayor's office sent the following statement regarding Tumlin:

"Mayor Breed is focused on continuing to make all modes of transportation safe, efficient, and accessible for all. We've cut subway delays by 80% and expanded service across the city with many bus lines above pre-pandemic levels of service."

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