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The In-Box

Letters to the Times (May 2013)

The Polk Polka

In “Polk Street Latest Site for Parking, Biker Clash” (News, April 2013), I seemed to be one opponent in a boxing ring, so I’d like to restate that I speak for the majority who are deeply offended by this debate’s corrosive “Us versus Them” character.

We now know that disrupters were called in from outside S.F. to aggressively oppose the SFMTA’s Polk Street proposals at the March 18 meeting such that moderates were intimidated into silence.

A backlash included calls to boycott Polk merchants. However “Folks for Polk,” a group to which I belong, is creating a “Preferred Polk Places” list of forward-thinking businesses that we’ll thank with our patronage. FFP advocates “Healthy infrastructure: of public space and of public discourse” and represents people of all sorts who like facts and have vision.

Polk St. ranks in the top 7 percent for collisions in S.F.; the proposals address urgently needed safety measures, as underscored by Mayor Lee in his Pedestrian Safety Executive Directive.

SPSC’s “alarm went to panic” because they misinterpreted the proposals, then misinformed and incited a scapegoating mob. All storefront businesses must adapt in the face of global shifts. But, tsunami though it may seem, it’s not riding in on bicycles — demographics prove quite the opposite.

Lack of vision and resilience harms merchants more than any changes in the street scape could. Already, 85 percent arrive at Polk Street by means other than car. Bike Share will be here very soon. S.F.ers own fewer cars, the first Walk to Work Day was a huge success. People throng to safe places to stroll and shop; Polk Street could be on a major tourist loop. S.F. has one bike shop per sq. mile and 140,000 folks per week make at least one trip by bicycle.

One hopes Save Polk St. Coalition businesses aren’t built with “low-common denominator things” but they demand that a publicly funded project that will last for a quarter century and on which lives literally depend should be. Their obstructive tactics cost us dearly in dollars and lives and is shredding our social fabric, leaving only the legacy that those who shout loudest determine our future.

– Madeleine Savit, San Francisco


As a resident of the Richmond who grew up in the Marina District, I appreciate your coverage of the MTA Polk Street fiasco.

Ed Reiskin’s proposal for the deletion of parking spots was clearly designed to benefit bicyclists. He did not specify if those on bikes had gone through the red light when they were struck by vehicles. Parking has not improved under Ed Reiskin’s term as [SFMTA] executive director; it has gotten worse. This is due, in part, to MTA’s elimination of parking spaces with Sunday parking fees as a compound fracture.

While I am not in the city on Sunday as a rule and use Muni as a primary source of transportation, I find this insulting to motorists for whom MTA has contempt.

– Herbert J. Weiner, Richmond District


Dense city

I recently moved out to Ingleside. There’s gobs of space out here (Real Estate, “Values in the Sky,” April 2013). Houses with front and back yards and separated from each other by side yards.

What density?

– Mike Zonta, Ingleside

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