Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build sparks transportation talks for CCSF students

Frida Kahlo Way is a small street that runs alongside City College’s main campus and is surrounded by multiple high-injury streets – Ocean Ave, San Jose Ave, Geneva Ave, and Interstate 280. It’s a thin connection between southern neighborhoods like Oceanview, Ingleside Heights and Outer Mission, and our city center, and also a crucial bike route that many people in the area take to get to Hearst Slow Street and then onto Valencia Street, Market Street, and beyond. That’s why the SFMTA created the Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build project, which is nearing final approval.

The Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build is one of several projects in the southwest corner of San Francisco that will transform an isolated and transit-poor part of our city into a connected neighborhood with safe streets. We cannot overstate the need for connectivity in our city for active transportation.

In addition to the existing transportation needs of Archbishop Riordan High School, Frida Kahlo Way is also expecting a new housing development, Balboa Reservoir, which will bring over a thousand new residents to that corridor. Frida Kahlo Way is in desperate need of improvements to make transportation more efficient and sustainable. This is all part of our larger vision for full connectivity throughout the city for active transportation and creating an environment that encourages mode shifting. 

At the February 22nd Board meeting, the City College of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees voted on a resolution opposing the quick-build due to concerns from the student body about affordable transportation and lack of communication from the SFMTA. The Associated Student Council of Ocean had voted on their own resolution to oppose the quick-build on February 14 because of these reasons.

At that meeting, students and stakeholders of CCSF voiced their concern for the loss of free parking that students rely on on Frida Kahlo Way. After the SFMTA returned 13 parking spots, the project in total will eliminate 32 net parking spots. All other parking on campus is paid and parking fees can stack up quickly. Many CCSF students identify as low income, often working full-time jobs and caring for family simultaneously. Students expressed concern that removing free parking without offering a realistic alternative for students who can’t bike and roll puts a huge burden on those students. While the quick-build will create opportunities for some students to safely bike and take active transportation to campus, not all of them can. Providing free public transit and off-street parking options to CCSF students, in addition to the quick-build, would alleviate this burden.

City College students need all the affordable transportation options they can get. We stand by student concerns for affordable transportation – CCSF students deserve free public transit AND protected infrastructure to get to school. We call on the SFMTA, CCSF’s Board of Trustees, and the Board of Supervisors to work collaboratively and address these concerns.  

In the long term we know that the quick-build will improve congestion and traffic flow in the area. However, to reach that point, CCSF leadership and the SFMTA need to work together to bridge that gap. Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition wants to support this transition for the campus and empower students to choose biking as a sustainable, safe and affordable mode of transportation. 

On March 28, CCSF’s Board of Trustees had another meeting where they heard from SFMTA staff, including the project managers and Director Jeffery Tumlin. SFMTA’s presentation highlighted that with new residents coming in and upcoming construction on CCSF’s campus, they need to prioritize mass transit and active transportation over private car ownership and use, because otherwise existing traffic and parking issues will be exacerbated. 

At the meeting, CCSF Board of Trustees shared their concerns about the lack of equity consideration in the project. Several trustees shared that this project needs to center students who will be displaced by the removed parking – especially students who live in their vehicles and frequently park on Frida Kahlo Way. They want to be sure that their low-income and working class BIPOC students aren’t being blamed for the climate and environmental issues in San Francisco. The meeting ended with no action taken. 

The SFMTA is still planning to move forward with seeking final approval at the Board of Directors on May 7th with expected implementation this summer. Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is working to facilitate strong communication and collaboration between all stakeholders during this process. We will need your help to support the quick-build and better transportation for CCSF and the southwest neighborhoods. Sign up for campaign updates to hear how you can help.

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