By Jason Henderson
In January, Mayor Ed Lee appointed Christina Olague as the new District 5 (D5) Supervisor. Christina replaces Ross Mirkarimi, who was elected Sheriff in November 2011, thus vacating the D5 seat. She previously served for seven years on the San Francisco Planning Commission where she helped craft the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan, which includes Hayes Valley and the eastern part of D5 (see map). Christina is familiar with the complicated transportation and planning issues in Hayes Valley, as well as affordable housing, public safety, and school issues in the eastern part of D5.
The HVNA Transportation & Planning Committee met with Christina soon after her appointment, and we are thrilled to report that she will be an excellent defender of the Market and Octavia Plan and other critical transportation and planning issues in Hayes Valley. As our new Supervisor, Christina also serves as a commissioner of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), which plans and funds key projects in the neighborhood. She has pledged to work closely with HVNA to see that good choices are made.
This year the city will be selecting a locally-preferred alternative for the proposed Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. HVNA has long-supported BRT on Van Ness because it is crucial for providing optimal north-south transit in the central city. Christina has stressed she will work with us to make this a signature transit improvement, specifically by advocating for either option “3B” or “4B,”* both of which have exclusive busways in the center of Van Ness. Both of these options would bring considerable time savings for transit passengers, significant reductions in Muni operating costs in the corridor, offer dramatic improvements for pedestrian safety, and will smooth the flow of automobile traffic on Van Ness because buses will no longer shift in-and-out of traffic.
One of the expected impacts of Van Ness BRT is diversion of a small amount of automobile traffic to Franklin and Gough streets. Given the benefits of BRT, this is acceptable, and we see BRT as an opportunity to get more people to choose transit over driving (it should also be noted that if we do nothing, traffic increases on those streets anyway.) As deliberations get underway, Christina has stressed that she will focus on neighborhood livability, including improving pedestrian crosswalks throughout the Franklin and Gough corridor, as well as ensuring that Market and Page streets become safer bicycle routes.
Christina also spoke to us at-length about the transit crowding most of us experience on the 5-Fulton, 21-Hayes, and the 6 and 71 Haight buses, all of which span D5. As a car-free resident, Christina regularly rides these buses and has promised to advocate improvements on these lines. She has also been appointed to the Schools Committee, where among other things she promises to advocate for safe routes to schools programs for our neighborhood schools. Additionally she has been appointed to the Public Safety Committee, where she can push for bicycle and pedestrian safety.
Affordable housing is also a key issue in Hayes Valley, and Christina has an excellent track-record as planning commissioner on advocating for affordable housing within new developments in the neighborhood. Christina is especially familiar with the 55 Laguna proposal, and is committed to making sure that the 55 Laguna project stays within the parameters of the Market and Octavia Plan, including defending the parking policies of the Plan and making sure there is affordable housing built on site.
In sum, Christina has been a strong ally with HVNA on transportation and planning issues and her values mesh well with ours. We are delighted to have her representing us, and grateful that Mayor Lee appointed someone who shares the progressive values of our district.
To learn more about Christina, see her bio at the Board of Supervisors website: SF B O S
*See “3B” or “4B,”*