Part of plan showing 30th and Lincoln
North Parkers found a buried meeting Change Order on the debated 30th Street bike lines one day before the vote. But a last-minute push by the locals found no traction, and the plan to remove more than 500 parking spaces - including 13 of 17 for handicapped people – along a 1.5 mile stretch of 30th Street – was approved by the city council Tuesday.
It was a seven-to-one vote; Councilman Chris Ward was absent from the meeting.
New signs for area
The matter came to the council in the back pages of a pile of mundane matters to approve – 30th Street did not appear on the meeting agenda index nor on the more detailed listing, where it is part of a matter called Approval of Construction Change Orders. It’s not until the second click through to detailed documents that it shows up.
The North Park group Save 30th rallied Monday with less than 24 hours after they discovered it was coming to insist it be heard by the council rather than shuffled through as part of the consent agenda. A consent agenda consists of matters the council has to approve when the council staff expects no public comment, opposition or revisions to proposals. (A menu of items are often approved without being listed or discussed this way.)
“The proposed bike lanes on 30th Street will be a detrimental change to the businesses that rely on deliveries and the patrons who do not live there,” said Renay Johnson. She cited Councilmember Chris Ward’s advice to a longtime resident that she could move if she needed parking – for which his staff says he later apologized. “Moving Is not an option for many people including myself.”
A group who oppose the drastic parking loss are already suing the city over the plan and in July, the city’s Mobility Manager Everett Hauser signed an affidavit that said no final plans existed for the scenario they sued over, allowing the city to argue that since there was no project, there was no need for the city to review its environmental impacts.
But it’s clear that there are detailed drawings that were underway when Hauser made his statement; a 51-page document of engineering drawings showing bike lanes with the final review approval date of October 20, but that appears to have been drawn by June 26, 2020, according to signatures on the document.
A month after the first round of signatures, Hauser swore under oath that the estimated cost of the striping for the 2.25 miles from Juniper Street to Adams Avenue would be $250,000; but the change order approved asks for $304,000 for the 1.5 mile stretch from Juniper to Polk, with no information on costs for the remaining .75 miles from Polk to Adams or on the bollards and signs in the engineering.
The plan has been in the works since February 2019, producing contentious meetings whenever local residents had advanced notice from agendas required by California law. But supporters, including Councilmember Ward, say there has been extensive outreach – though they count meetings where city staff spoke about the bike lanes without letting the public know it was a topic they planned to cover.
"The city has been playing a shell game, The only thing they have been doing for several months is engineering to the last inch, nothing varies from the core of the year-plus already-decided project,” said attorney Craig Sherman, who represents the 30th Street dissenters. “ This is not a Transportation and Storm Drain project as the city has prominently labeled it on its plans. This is a backroom, special-interest-promoted street change to accommodate a bike lane arrangement by Ward and the mayor on behalf of bike lane cronies.”
On Tuesday, the council approved a change order to pay the pipeline project contractor to paint the bike lanes on the newly slurried road. While it means the bike lanes will be created, the action was worded as a construction change order – a fiction even supporters had trouble maintaining.
North Park Community Planning Group member Marissa Tucker Borquez, said she supports the bike lanes.
“As a local resident I spend a good chunk of my free money in North Park businesses and I am proud to, but I strongly prefer to get to those businesses using my bike, scooter or [as a] pedestrian,” Borquez said. “We’re talking about a change order here, not necessarily bike lanes, but I know community members have decided to intertwine these. However I strongly applaud the city for putting in bike lanes.”
Another speaker, from Bike SD, tried to say he was calling to support bike lanes, but then corrected himself and said he supported the change order.
The owner of an 18-unit apartment building, Eugene Polley, said that his tenants who don’t have onsite parking will suffer, that there will be problems with deliveries and services at his building. He said that businesses will suffer. Polley noted that neither Ward nor Mayor Kevin Faulconer would agree to meet with the community.
Another business owner, who has a parking lot, noted that he already has people who are not his customers using the lot. He worries that, with 500 lost spaces and 500 people competing for existing space nearby, his customers will be crowded out of the lot.
None of those concerns were addressed by the council, which voted without comment. Councilmember Barbara Bry was the only no vote.