Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project Gets More Stakeholder Input

Some residents questioned if the cost of dozens of parking spots is too high for bike lanes, new crosswalks and bus boarding islands.

Three people outside of City College of San Francisco, two with signs.
People concerned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's project for Frida Kahlo Way carried handmade signs laying out their concerns on Tuesday. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency hosted an open house at City College of San Francisco Tuesday afternoon to share information and collect feedback for its Frida Kahlo Quick-Build Project

The open house was held outside of the college’s Multi-Use Building under a canopy, opponents of the proposal brought handmade signs casting doubts on the project. One read, “If it ain’t broke don’t quick fix it!”

The project aims to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling along Frida Kahlo Way — formerly Phelan Avenue — and Judson Avenue west of Foerster Avenue, according to the transportation agency’s plans. Proposed improvements include crosswalk upgrades, curb changes, two-way protected bike lanes, boarding islands for the 43 Masonic bus and the removal of bus stops.

Quick-build projects are temporary, meant to be put in place for one to two years, as a way to test and refine street improvements.

“We're trying to improve connectivity for people using alternative modes so that they're not so reliant on their cars and so that the stress of the reduction in parking demand due to all the changes in the area isn't felt quite so greatly,” said Elliot Goldrich, the project’s manager.

People gathered under a canopy
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials speak with members of the public about the Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

All of the proposed improvements come at a cost of dozens of parking spaces, which several community members expressed concern over.

“I am very concerned about the decline in enrollment here at City College and making it harder for the students to get here and find a place to park, it just doesn't seem to be a very good thing for the college,” said Rita Brown, who lives nearby on Judson Avenue.

Gabriel Ho, a traffic engineer, said that they are trying to increase capacity of the street while also improving accessibility to the college, which has two buildings under construction and a third on the way, and the 1,100 homes set to be built on the Balboa Reservoir.

“We have a complex ecosystem here where people are choosing to walk [and] take transit,” Ho said. “Some people choose to bike, many people choose to drive. Based on the City College’s own statistics, the vast majority of students do not drive to campus. They’re taking transit or walking or biking.”

Three signs rest in a gutter
Signs brought to the Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build project open house meeting on Tuesday. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

Other concerns that arose focused on the two-way bike lane and its potential to create more congestion on Frida Kahlo Way.

“I think it needs to go back to the drawing board,” said Fred Muhlheim, a City College student. “The SFMTA has not been in ongoing contact with the community and, as the bike lane on Valencia Street has hurt merchants dramatically, this project would dramatically hurt students' access to safety.”

For Judson Avenue resident Brian Garcia, this two-way bike lane doesn’t make sense because there is a lack of bike traffic.

“I don't quite understand the necessity for putting a bike lane in when there's really not a whole lot of bike usage that goes north-south of traffic,” Garcia said. “Plus we have a fire station there. Then things are going to get clogged up here. That's always been kind of a concern there.”

Not all feedback was negative. City College sophomore Jay Langdon supported the proposal.

Two visitors look at plans for the Frida Kahlo Quick-Build Project.
Plans for the Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project were shared with the public at an open house held at City College of San Francisco. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

“Now that I know what it’s actually going to do, it seems cool,” Lagdon said.

The project is expected to get approval from the transportation agency’s board of directors soon and then be completed by summer.

Despite the reassurances, concerns lingered.

“I'm just afraid it's going to be more of so much of what has happened with planning here where we end up with the same bad plan that we would have but it's two or three or four years delayed because they're going to go through the process of getting community input, in this case input from the college but it's really not going to change anything,” Brown said.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct a spelling error.

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