Van Ness Trees on Death Row – Chris Parkes

Not all the threatened trees in San Francisco are in our parks. San Franciscans have been dismayed to find that many of the SFMTA road improvements seem to have been designed with no thought for the mature trees that are so important in reducing pollution, sequestering carbon, and providing habitat. We’ve written about these before HERE. Now the Van Ness Project is imminent, and the neighbors are fighting to save these trees. Here’s an article by Chris Parkes.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.”
William Blake, The Letters, 1799

Van Ness Trees on Death Row by Chris Parkes

Please call SF Supervisors Today!

In just a few days, most of the trees in the center of Van Ness will begin disappearing in the middle of the night.

van-ness-threatened-trees-1

Many sidewalk trees will follow. In all, nearly 200 trees, many 50 yrs old or 50 ft tall, will be cut down. Eventually they will be replaced by saplings as two car lanes on Hwy 101 are permanently converted to bus-only lanes as part a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

van-ness-threatened-trees-2The project sponsor will argue that the impacts are positive. Are they?

What are we getting? Even if you ride the bus all the way from Market to Lombard, your typical ride today is 15-19 minutes. How much time will you save for this huge expense? 3 minutes? 2 minutes? Less?
What else will we get? Traffic jams, increased fumes. Loss of half-century old trees.

The elderly and disabled will need to board the bus from a narrow median in the middle of a congested highway.

Please ask SF Supervisors for a ballot measure to let voters decide this. Let’s save our limited transit funds for better projects, such as a modern subway system.

Many were unaware of this project until the city posted signs on trees last year, only to learn it was then too late to change.

As this project unfolds or unravels, please call and leave a voicemail for your SF city supervisor TODAY, and often, to let them know what YOU think of it. If on the other hand you are ok with it, or do nothing, you will be pleased and comforted to know that there are many more similar projects that are already in the pipeline and that will soon become unalterable.

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When the Van Ness project was first conceived, it was estimated to cost $60 – $65 million. Now the scope and cost estimate has blossomed to exceed $300 million, and ground has not even broken. Costs will continue to rise as changes mount.

Play a role in your city’s future. Please call your supervisor today.

As Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax once said: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

van-ness-threatened-trees-4

Twin Peaks – Extensive Trail Closures Planned

On Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 (tomorrow!) the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency(SFMTA) Board will consider approving the proposed Twin Peaks Figure 8 Redesign Pilot Project, a cross-departmental project of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) and the SFMTA. The meeting (which is of course open to the public) is at 1:00 p.m. in City Hall, Room 400.

This plan goes with extensive trail closures on Twin Peaks by SFRPD. We wrote about that last June. We’re republishing that (with minor updates) because it’s immediately relevant. If you oppose the trail closures, please attend the meeting and say so. You can also email or phone them a comment (today, before 5 p.m) at:

Office of the SFMTA Board of Directors
Phone: 415.701.4505
Fax: 415.701.4502
Email: MTABoard@SFMTA.com

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Here we go again – the shrinking of our parks by the Natural Areas Program (NAP). Instead of allowing visitors to experience wide natural lands, these plans want to restrict access to a very limited trail system. From these trails, you can look at the natural areas – but not touch or explore them.

It’s happened in McLaren Park recently. Now, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) is planning major changes on Twin Peaks. Extensive trail closures are planned for Twin Peaks. In the map below, the trails that will be gone are marked in red.

twin peaks trail closures in red

The project was positioned as one that would close half the Figure 8-shaped roadway to cars to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists by making it a Figure 3-shape. What they didn’t publicize was plans to close most of the trails allowing access to the peaks from various points. They will make the entire south side of Twin Peaks inaccessible.

Instead, there will be only one trail going straight through, a sort of pedestrian roadway. (The solid yellow line.)

HIDING THE TRAIL CLOSURES

On June 25th 2015, SF Recreation and Park held an Open House on the Twin Peaks Figure 8 Redesign. Project Objectives were presented, stated as:

“We will share proposals that address the following project objectives:

• Reallocate a portion of the existing roadway from vehicle use to pedestrian and bicycle use;
• Locate pedestrian crossings to link with trail sections; and
• Recommend realignment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail to cross over Twin Peaks Blvd.”

Notice that there was no discussion on Trail closures as part of these Project Objectives now, in 2015.

However, at a September 24 2013 meeting RPD made a presentation that showed extensive trail closures, along the east guardrail and closure of the two southern lobes. See the third page of the presentation here:

http://sfrecpark.org/wp-content/uploads/Twin-Peaks-Trails-Improvement-Project_PORTOLA-TRAIL_Community-Meeting-Presentation_9-24-13.pdf

This trail closure plan was also part of a handout used at a small May 7, 2015 stakeholder meeting. We strongly suspect these closures remain part of the RPD plan, but they do not want to alert the public. The trail closures, along with the new “Stay on Designated Trails” signage, would effectively close off public access to the south side of Twin Peaks.

SF Forest Alliance feels that NAP is going above and beyond the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP) before the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is even released and approved. They are using the Draft EIR as a decision-making document to decide which alternative to approve. They are putting out the road lane closure as the focus of this and then sneaking in the trail/land closures as part of the deal.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Write to SFMTA immediately at:

Office of the SFMTA Board of Directors
Phone: 415.701.4505
Fax: 415.701.4502
Email: MTABoard@SFMTA.com

Also, please call your supervisor and let them know as well.