By Tom Radulovich and Nicole Ferrara
A quarter of San Francisco’s land area is devoted to streets. That’s a quarter of the city’s land area dedicated to tar and asphalt, cracked sidewalks and parked cars. Streets occupy more space than parks and green open space. Yet that space — and the opportunities to reimagine that space — too often goes ignored. The closer we look, the more we realize the vital role our streets and sidewalks play in our daily lives.
Walking and biking for commuting, exercising or just getting around are linked to improved health and happiness. Walkable streets allow small businesses to thrive, supporting a vibrant local economy and neighborhood livability. Expanding transportation options by improving walking, cycling and public transit reduces traffic congestion and pollution. Transportation options that are safe, reliable and accessible give everyone expanded access to jobs, housing and services, especially for those who can’t afford a car. That’s why voting yes on Propositions E, J and K are so important.
Prop. E ensures that the city — not you — is responsible for street tree and sidewalk maintenance resulting from tree damage. It will set aside $19 million each year for maintenance, including repairing cracked sidewalks, which account for 85 percent of all sidewalk damage on our streets. Street trees are key ingredients to our psychological health — science shows they literally make us happier. Trees also support pedestrian safety by naturally slowing traffic and calming streets. Prop. E will allow property owners to sleep easier at night by shifting responsibility back to the professionals.
Propositions J and K improve the other side of the curb — our streets. Our city streets are often poorly designed and ill maintained, and we invest too little in keeping streets and our transportation network in a state of good repair. Propositions J and K will provide over $10 million annually for a range of transportation needs, including street maintenance and repair, safer walking and biking and investments to making public transit safer, faster and more reliable and accessible. These measures provide the funding to help San Francisco meet its Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic pedestrian and cyclist deaths and serious injuries within a decade by funding proven safety improvements on San Francisco streets, starting with the most dangerous. Bad streets endanger everyone — walkers, bikers and drivers. But they impose the greatest burden on our most vulnerable road users — children and youth, seniors and people with disabilities as well as our lowest income residents that rely on walking and transit to get around.
Propositions J and K work in tandem to ensure that leading edge transit justice policies, such as free Muni for low-income youth, seniors and people with disabilities, don’t fall by the wayside when the economy turns south by providing dedicated funding for those programs, while also preventing service cuts and providing better late-night transportation options. This election day, San Franciscans can make that quarter of our city safer and greener while simultaneously tackling another of the city’s greatest challenges — homelessness.
Propositions J and K provide $50 million a year for more housing and prevention services for homeless San Franciscans. That means fewer people forced to sleep on the streets, and more people connected to services and housing.
When you review your ballot, you’ll see that Prop. J provides the roadmap for how to spend new money, and Prop. K provides the money itself. In order to fund these necessary investments and finally tackle transportation and homelessness, both propositions must pass. If J passes without K, the mayor has the option to cut those expenses, which he would do since the money wouldn’t exist. With a $10 billion transportation deficit over the next 15 years, this funding is critically needed to maintain and improve our system for the years to come. The longer we wait, the more the system crumbles, which means the price-tag becomes greater while transportation options worsen. Thankfully, with Propositions J and K, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Please join us in supporting Propositions E, J and K this November for a safer, greener and more accessible San Francisco.