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Kahlo Way Plan
The concept reconfigures the southbound Frida Kahlo Way approach and converts the shared leftturn/through lane to a left-turn only lane. The concept could be implemented with striping, signal timing adjustments, and temporary curb extension materials. There are no constructability concerns with implementation.

Everyone hates SFMTA’S Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project

Two-way Bike Plan and Elevated Bus Stops Get Thumbs Down

• • • • • • • • April 5, 2024 • • • • • • • •

City College of San Francisco, one of the City’s most beloved institutions, is again under attack. After facing the loss of accreditation in 2012, a revolving door of Chancellors, and drastic class cuts, safe, adequate access to the school is now at risk.

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The proposed Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project is much more than that. It is a significant reconfiguration of the street. A two-way bikeway would replace existing parking. Bus stops would relocate from the curb to new transit boarding islands in traffic lanes.”

Claiming that it will make Frida Kahlo Way, the main thoroughfare to CCSF, safer and more convenient, SFMTA is proposing a “Quick Build Project.” (https://www.sfmta.com/projects/frida-kahlo-way-quick-build-project)

Quick-build projects are part of SFMTA’s Vision Zero Program. They are intended for streets on San Francisco’s Vision Zero High Injury Network. SFMTA describes them as “reversible, adjustable traffic safety improvements that can be installed relatively quickly…”

Kahlo Plan Map
Project Overview Map of the Frida Kahlo Quick-Build

The proposed Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project is much more than that. It is a significant reconfiguration of the street. A two-way bikeway would replace existing parking. Bus stops would relocate from the curb to new transit boarding islands in traffic lanes.

SFMTA claims the project will make the street safer and more convenient for cyclists, pedestrians, buses and cars. However, safety data provided by the agency shows that Frida Kahlo Way is not a High-Injury Corridor. SFMTA planned the project with little input from the CCSF community. It will reduce bus stops, eliminate parking, disrupt traffic, create congestion in the neighborhood, and expose more cyclists to a dangerous intersection at. Ocean Avenue.

This is the same misguided agency that added center-lane bike lanes on Valencia Street, which many cyclists hate. It created a Quick-Build project on Geary Boulevard that threatens the viability of the business corridor and decimated Taraval Street during a torturously slow construction project. Why should it be trusted to do what’s right for the City College community?

Since SFMTA first rolled it out last Summer, the storm of protests objecting to this project has been growing. Most recently, the CCSF Board of Trustees passed a Resolution opposing the plan “…unless and until there are amendments to the plan that resolve the concerns raised by members of the CCSF community ...” The Trustees joined students, faculty, staff, and other community members in voicing their opposition to the project. And a growing number of people are signing an online petition opposing the project.

Cross Section Kahlo Way
Frida Kahlo Way at North Drive - typical transit configuration at bus boardiing island

Yet the agency is determined to move forward. On February 23rd, SFMTA Engineering approved the project to advance to the SFMTA Board of Directors for a final up or down vote that could happen as soon as mid-April.

The plan must be redrawn. According to Madeline Mueller, long-time CCSF faculty member, serving for over 50 years on the college’s Facilities Master Planning Committees: “The SFMTA proposal to drastically re-engineer City College’s major thoroughfare, Frida Kahlo Way, is a total design disaster. It supposedly will protect bicyclists and thousands of students/pedestrians while improving public transit stops and reduce the need for cars. But it fails on all counts! Instead, every group listed is placed in increased danger from the badly conceived and drawn plans.”

As a commuter school, many CCSF students depend on their cars to travel between jobs, homes, and classes. They require parking. The loss of street parking in the proposed plan may seem nominal, but in combination with the loss of 1100 parking spaces in the Lower Balboa Reservoir Lot for the construction of the Balboa Reservoir Residential Project, it will result in the loss of access to affordable educational opportunity for students from throughout the City and beyond.

Biking to school doesn’t work for all students. While public transit is efficient for many, the commute time to the college can be unrealistic, depending on where you live. And, this proposal doesn’t include increasing the frequency of lines serving the college or providing free MUNI passes for students.

Additionally, there are several large construction projects planned for both sides of Frida Kahlo Way, including the Performing Arts Education Center, a CCSF Garage, and the Lower Balboa Reservoir project, that will reveal the changes needed to Frida Kahlo Way and adjacent streets. CCSF HEAT (“Higher Education Action Team”), a group of students, faculty, and community members, recommends that SFMTA work with CCSF to coordinate altering Frida Kahlo Way given this current and future construction. Implementing the proposed project now is unnecessary and disrupts safe shared traffic patterns. It must not go forward at this time.

Cross Section Kahlo Way 2
Frida Kahlo Way at Cloud Circle entrances — typical configuration mid-block

Also, SFMTA faces a fiscal cliff that will cause a significant budget shortfall in the coming years. The agency is struggling to find ways to increase revenue and reduce costs. Soaking money into this project during a financial crisis cannot be justified. It is an unnecessary, unaffordable extravagance.

Finally, we have recently learned that the funding for this project was approved by the SF County Transportation Authority (“SFCTA”) in December 2021. At that time, SFMTA indicated they would do community outreach before any work was done on the project. Despite that promise, the greater CCSF community did not learn about the project until over eighteen months later, in July 2023. SFMTA’s failure to live up to its promise of community involvement is inexcusable.

If SFMTA wants to kill City College, as they are killing small businesses, they could not be doing a better job. This project would reduce the educational opportunity for hundreds of CCSF students, which is unacceptable.

Quick-Build Projects should not begin until solutions for severe negative impacts to stakeholders are incorporated in plans. CCSF HEAT has several proposals that will increase safety and not compromise access to the school, disrupt traffic, or cause polluting congestion. The motto needs to be “Do No Harm.” As the City sees on Valencia Street, resolving problems with a Quick-Build Project can be slow, contentious and expensive once it is in place.

We urge SFMTA to engage with the CCSF community, the cycling community, and surrounding neighborhoods to ensure that any redesign of Frida Kahlo Way will serve all their needs and maximize safe and easy access to City College.

Michael Adams; Jean Barish; Harry Bernstein; Marilee Hearn; Fred Muhlheim; Madeline Mueller
Members, CCSF HEAT Frida Kahlo Way Working Group

April 5, 2024

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