Monday, August 02, 2010

"Input" from NOPNA

We received this message the other day from the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA):

Last week, representatives from Target held a meeting at Masonic and Geary to take input on a proposed Target store in the mall. Even though this is outside NOPNA, it will affect the traffic on Masonic and the great work that Fix Masonic is trying to achieve.

There are two falsehoods here: there's no evidence yet that the new Target store will have any noticeable effect on traffic on Masonic Ave., and the "great work" Fix Masonic hopes to achieve: jamming up traffic on busy Masonic Ave. by taking away traffic lanes to make bike lanes. Maybe the writer didn't know it, but Fix Masonic is now a front group for the SF Bicycle Coalition, since Marc Caswell announced several months ago that he was going to "recruit" a "grass-roots" leader for the group, but we haven't seen any official announcement yet.

The Fix Masonic/SFBC propaganda continues:

Of particular note this month is a meeting on Aug 10th about Masonic...NOPNA strongly urges everyone to show up and give input. Neighborhood input is vital to creating a Masonic avenue that serves everyone's needs. We have seen how neighbors can positively influence a street during the Divisadero Revitalization project and want to see that energy and creativity applied to Masonic.

There's a big difference between the recent makeover of Divisadero and what the bike people want to do to Masonic: on Divisadero there was never any serious consideration of taking away traffic lanes or street parking to make bike lanes. Divisadero isn't in the Bicycle Plan, but Masonic Ave. is. (A few years ago, there was a proposal---even a Powerpoint presentation---by MTA to take away some street parking on Diviz to make a rush hour bus lane for the #24, but neighborhood opposition put a stop to it.)

Unlike Fix Masonic's website, NOPNA's is informative, if you do a little digging. It seems that NOPNA has already taken a position on "fixing" Masonic. Evidently the group is supporting The Bicycle Plan's Option #1 for Masonic. From a draft of a letter from NOPNA to the MTA:

The Masonic Avenue bike lanes under Proposed Option 1 of the Bike Plan EIR will improve traffic flow and greatly reduce the speeding and unsafe turning that currently make this traffic corridor so dangerous. NOPNA has worked closely with the advocacy group Fix Masonic to make Masonic safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

There are two more falsehoods here---is it okay if I call them lies?---first, that Option 1 will "improve" traffic flow on Masonic. The EIR says the opposite (go to Volume 2 of the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, and to pages 238-257 for the impacts of Option 1). Option 1 will have "significant unavoidable impacts"---that is, it will slow down significantly---both regular traffic on Masonic Ave. and the #43 Muni line. The second lie: that Masonic is now unsafe for anyone, except perhaps for motorists at the Fell/Masonic intersection. According to the city's collision reports, Masonic isn't particularly unsafe for anyone else, including pedestrians and cyclists, even though it efficiently handles more than 32,000 vehicles a day.

It's not clear if the letter was ever sent, but NOPNA's process is rather opaque. And there's this announcement: "It is NOPNA's intent to support these proposals unless Neighborhood feedback says otherwise." And a little lower: "Fix Masonic! Has voted to support Option 1." Fix Masonic!---with an exclam, just like Earth First!---is a front group for the Bicycle Coalition, but is NOPNA now a front group for Fix Masonic? Which is the tail and which is the dog here?

One wonders about the process at NOPNA. Don't they have a board of directors that makes these decisions at regularly scheduled public meetings that the membership can attend?

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"Is America going to abandon the women of Afghanistan?"

That's the question Christiane Amanpour asked anti-war Nancy Pelosi yesterday.