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Richmond residents sue city to slow Geary bus project

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Merchants call review of decade-old plan “fundamentally flawed”

An articulated bus on the 38 Geary Route. Christian Munoz

Sometimes lawsuits are themselves the final step in San Francisco’s legislative process.

Although the Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project was in the works for over a decade before finally advancing to something like the home stretch in January, a lawsuit filed on Friday aims to slow it down again.

The BRT would, among other things, create long stretches of bus-only red lanes along the length of Geary to help the constantly muddled, jam-packed 38-Geary bus line avoid the constant snare of traffic.

But a group calling itself San Franciscans for Sensible Transit sued the SFMTA and a city transit board last Friday, calling the bus project a “thruway which destroys the quality of life and economic health of the Richmond District.”

The 60 or so petitioners claim that the project’s Environmental Impact Report was a bum deal and accuse the city of “blessing the pre-ordained outcome without responding to public comment.”

Among other things, the suit aims to do the following:

Vacate and set aside approval for the project, vacate and set aside certification for the final EIR, issue an injunction to restrain from taking any action to carry out the project pending public hearing, [and] evaluate the No Build Alternative.

Octoferret

The suit alleges that the no-build alternative is the better option for speeding up Geary. Despite its name, the no-build option doesn’t simply leave the corridor as-is.

The improvements it suggests are more modest and in line with those planned for some other parts of the city, including:

  • Adding traffic signals to certain stretches that lack them now.
  • Fixing up degraded pavement, particularly between 27th and 33rd avenues.
  • Adding 14 pedestrian crossing bulbs throughout the corridor.
  • Deferring to the Muni Forward plan for Geary improvements.

The suit asks the city to slow down rather than stop the BRT entirely, and to go back over the Environmental Impact Report, which Richmond merchants and neighbors involved in the suit call “fundamentally flawed.”

Neither SFMTA nor attorneys for the plaintiff were immediately available to comment. One local who worked on the citizens advisory committee for the bus project told the San Francisco Examiner that the suit was “a delay tactic by a small number of individuals in our community who haven’t liked it all along.”