SFMTA green lights extending Geary Boulevard bus lanes, eliminating 30 parking spots

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
SFMTA green lights extending Geary Blvd. bus lanes
San Francisco officials voted unanimously to extend Geary Boulevard bus lanes to make roads safer for pedestrians.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco officials voted unanimously to make some big changes to one of the city's busiest roads.

The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project will update utilities and make things safer for pedestrians in the Richmond District.

But, another change involving bus lanes and changes to parking is upsetting some local merchants.

"It will kill off almost all of the damn businesses out here," Kenny Yue, a San Francisco resident said.

Strong words from workers in San Francisco's Richmond District, who say this improvement project along Geary Boulevard could kill their businesses.

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"People will never really come back to small businesses, they're not," Shlomit Heller, a co-owner of Beauty Network said.

Heller has co-owned the Beauty Network on Geary for 38 years and says it's too soon for a project like this.

"We were closed during the pandemic, for a long period of time as a small business and so we really truly need an opportunity to come back," Heller said. "People are not coming in to shop."

The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project will make a number of upgrades to the corridor over a four-year period, but the next phase is the one creating controversy.

In that phase, Muni will extend transit lanes for buses along all of Geary Boulevard.

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But to do that, they will eliminate 30 parking spots.

A change that some worry, will mean less shoppers at local businesses.

"No cars, no people, I'm not advocating for more cars, I'm saying keep it the way it is, find another way to make it work because we don't want the proposal that they're asking," Yue said.

But some believe the good outweighs the bad, as the transit agency claims this project will make bus service faster and more reliable.

"I think it's a win - win for people there that are maybe at the mercy or have to utilize this public transportation on a daily basis," Paul Quate, a San Francisco resident said.

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And according to a Muni survey, people coming to the Geary Corridor overwhelmingly walk or use transit. And those people who walk or use transit visit Geary businesses more frequently than people who drive.

"For visitors who still need to drive, plenty of parking will remain," Dylan Fabris, community and transit manager for San Francisco Transit Riders said. "The SFMTA should not have to delay and reiterate good projects like this one for the sake of a few parking spaces."

A spokesperson for SFMTA says this phase of the project, known as the Quick-Build phase, involves signage and striping changes that will not include any excavation work.

"We deeply value the livelihoods of the people who run businesses in our city and understand the serious effects the pandemic has had on them," SFMTA said in a statement. "We support their recovery wholeheartedly and want them to thrive."

This phase is expected to take about three months.

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