Q&A: Ocean Avenue Action Plan Task Force Takes Shape

The intersection of Geneva and Ocean avenues in June 2017. Alex Mullaney/Ingleside Light

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At the final meeting of the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee in June, the San Francisco County Transportation Agency presented its plan with District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar to launch a community-based task force to create an action plan for improving mobility and safety in the neighborhood.

The task force held its first meeting last month to define the scope of the plan and received a recommendation from the SFCTA Community Advisory Committee. Now called the Ocean Avenue Action Plan, the project will go before the SFCTA Commission, which Melgar is a member, to secure $275,000 in funding this November.

In late October, the Ingleside Light interviewed SFCTA Senior Transportation Planner Camille Guiriba who will staff the task force about its formation and mission. The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Guiriba: This effort is part of our Neighborhood Transportation Improvement Program, and while we haven’t formally started, we’re kind of in this project development phase. We’ve been scoping and checking in with the potential task force members early on about the scope. And so that’s why we had our first meeting. It will go to our board in November, and then that’s where we hope to get the process formalized and get our funding approved for the action plan and task force effort.

Mullaney: Did the supervisor select its members?

Guiriba: Yeah, we worked closely with the supervisor and also supervisor [Ahsha] Safai, because the length that we’re looking at for Ocean Avenue is from Junipero Serra Boulevard to San Jose Avenue.

Mullaney: What happened at the first meeting?

Guiriba: At the first meeting, we presented the objectives of the effort. Our goal is to look at existing concepts, develop new concepts and then focus on prioritizing what can be funded and implemented in the next several years. 

We’re really trying to prioritize transportation improvements that should move quickly because there have been ideas floating around for the corridor that haven’t happened. There are good ideas and different processes, whether it be the actual Balboa Reservoir effort or other corridor plans that other agencies have worked on, but there just hasn’t been much movement on many of them. We want to inventory those through the process, identify work with the task force and also do general outreach to identify what are really the key priority projects to move forward more immediately. [And] make sure they have funding and clear next steps to actually be implemented.

We have a secondary study area of bike routes that are parallel to the [avenue]. So we got feedback on that from the task force and they actually had us expand a little bit of the area we were looking at. So that was helpful feedback before we got started, and then we went over our draft outreach plan. 

We have two rounds of outreach planned, one for the spring, next year and the fall. And so we went over different strategies and wanted to get feedback from the task force members about how to reach different communities or different methods we should consider for the outreach plan. 

More recently, the SFMTA has been looking at changes to the Frida Kahlo-Ocean-Geneva intersection. And so that’s also going to be in the mix. And then we got into, and then, of course, the development and the different development projects. That was something that the task force wanted us to consider in transportation improvements related to those and other Balboa Park Station area circulation efforts.

There was a lot of discussion about safety and accessibility, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists. We talked about the Frida Kahlo-Ocean-Geneva intersection and transportation conflicts that have been there. We talked about impacts of vehicle traffic from the freeway and how we can minimize those. And then just transit issues that people observe, you know, with buses and trains getting stuck behind cars a lot, especially on Ocean going east and west.

Mullaney: How much funding is going to be requested?

Guiriba: The total project budget is $300,000. We are looking at requesting about $275,000 from the NTIP program and $25,000 through Community Response Team Funds that are available to each district supervisor via SFMTA.

Mullaney: How will SFMTA and other stakeholder agencies participate?

Guiriba: SFMTA is going to help staff the effort. They will support development of any new transportation improvement ideas that we want to create through the process, because they have the engineers and transit planners that have the expertise. If there are other city agencies that need to be involved in the implementation of concepts, they’ll help coordinate it, whether it be Public Works or [San Francisco] Public Utilities Commission. 

We do coordination with the state Department of Transportation, so any improvements that might be related to the freeway on and off ramps or overpasses.

Mullaney: How come the project didn’t go to the SFCTA CAC in September as planned?

Guiriba: Yeah, we were working with the supervisor’s office to scope and then we wanted to have this initial preliminary meeting and because of the Board of Supervisors’ summer break and staff breaks as well, we didn’t put together the task force until later in the summer. We just pushed it back a month.

Mullaney: How does Jane Q. Public get involved and stay informed with this project?

Guiriba: We’ll have a project listserv, and we’ll also have those two rounds of outreach. We have asked the task force members to help liaise with their groups that they’re involved in, and keep them informed about what’s happening. We’ll have ongoing updates about what the task force is up to for the general public as well.

The Ocean Avenue Action Plan goes before the SFCTA Commission for final approval this November. For more information, visit sfcta.org.