Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Three commuter shuttle stops proposed for Castro district

Protesters block a shuttle bus. Courtesy Flickr, Chris James Martin

Protesters block a shuttle bus. Courtesy Flickr, Chris James Martin

San Francisco transportation planners are proposing to designate three zones in the city’s gay Castro district to be used during a portion of the day by commuter shuttle buses.

The proposal is part of the 18-month-long citywide pilot project that began in August to deal with the numerous buses that transport tech company employees from various neighborhoods throughout the city to their employers’ corporate campuses on the Peninsula.

The idea is to allow the shuttles to continue picking up their passengers without causing delays for the city’s public transit buses or tying up vehicular traffic in the congested Castro neighborhood.

“What we are really trying to test is does this minimize impacts on Muni and other users,” said Carli Paine, a manager with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Sustainable Streets Division, during this morning’s Castro Merchants meeting.

Paine’s department is proposing the SFMTA create permitted commuter shuttle only zones in the following locations in the Castro.

One would be created on the west side of Church Street at 15th Street, in front of a plumbing store and cafe, and would be used between 6 and 10 a.m.

Two would be on Castro Street. The first, on the east side of Castro Street at Market adjacent to the Pottery Barn building, would be in effect from 4 to 8 p.m.

The second zone would be on the west side of Castro Street at 18th Street in front of the Walgreens. It would be used between 6 and 10 a.m.

The SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets Division will consider the proposed three shuttle zones at its September 19 Engineering Public Hearing.  The proposal will then go before the SFMTA Board for approval.

If the Church Street/15th zone is approved, then the zone currently being used in the mornings on Church Street at Market adjacent to the Safeway will be removed.

“In the Castro it has been really hard to find acceptable locations,” said Paine, noting that “there is a large population of the shuttle riders in the Castro.”

While Castro merchants welcome seeing the shuttle stops near their businesses, they are also concerned about seeing parking spaces be taken out of service, even if for a limited time.

“I am not unhappy with the shuttle buses going through the Castro, but I am worried about the loss of parking spaces,” said Hortica owner David Gray. “I love the people getting off the buses because they become my customers. But I also don’t want to lose metered parking spaces for customers.”

Terry Asten Bennett, general manager of Cliff’s Variety, agreed that “the shuttles create a lot of foot traffic into our shops.” Nonetheless, she added that, “I too am worried about the loss of parking.”

The SFMTA’s engineering public hearings usually take place at 10 a.m. in Room 416 at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 4, 2014 @ 4:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Diaz, convicted in park death, released from custody

David Diaz in an undated photo. (Photo: Courtesy Public Defender's office)

David Diaz in an undated photo. (Photo: Courtesy Public Defender’s office)

Officials have released from custody the man recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter for choking to death another man in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park in 2011.

Jurors recently acquitted David Munoz Diaz, 25, of murder, but found him guilty of the lesser charge in the death of Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23. Canul-Arguello’s charred, mostly naked body was found with a melted recycling bin in the park just before 5 a.m. June 10, 2011.

Diaz was released after a Wednesday, September 3 court hearing, according to Deputy Public Defender Alex Lilien.

Diaz couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but Larry Metzger, 55, Diaz’s boyfriend, said, “I’m happy he’s out.” Metzger said Diaz was released on his own recognizance. His sentencing is set for October 7.

Metzger, who owns the Castro bar The Mix, said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the sentencing. … I don’t think he’ll have any more time to serve. I think he’s served all that he’s required to, from what I understand.”

During the trial, Diaz testified that he’d accidentally killed Canul-Arguello after Canul-Arguello asked him to choke him during a sexual encounter.

Jurors announced last Tuesday, August 26, that they’d also found Diaz guilty of arson, mutilating human remains, and destroying evidence.

Like Mitzger, Lilien has also said Diaz, who’d been in custody since his July 2011 arrest, may not serve any more time.

The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is four years. However, Diaz may be sentenced to less time than that, according to Lilien. Among the factors in the time he could serve, Diaz may be able to serve time concurrently for the other convictions.

“He’s likely done all the time they could sentence him to,” Lilien said.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro Street sidewalk project completion date pushed back into mid-October

947x500-1_343c6968ece2c5f7c6f84478bad0722f_947x500.resizedMore delays are impacting the $4 million sidewalk-widening project in the heart of the city’s gay Castro district, meaning work will not be completed prior to this year’s Castro Street Fair in early October.

City officials had hoped to wrap up the work prior to the annual neighborhood event, set to be held Sunday, October 6. But this morning (Thursday, September 4) they informed Castro business leaders that a number of items connected with the streetscape improvements will not be done until sometime in mid-October.

“A few things will slip past the Castro Street Fair,” gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener acknowledged during the montly Castro Merchants meeting. “But it is great the sidewalk is back in, that is the most important thing. Just having the wider sidewalks makes all the difference.”

After falling behind schedule in July once work resumed on the project following a two-week hiatus in June, due to the annual Pride month events that take place in the Castro, crews were able to make up some of the lost time last month and had nearly all of the new, expanded sidewalk in place prior to Labor Day weekend.

Workers were on the 400 block of Castro Street this morning north of the Castro Theater installing the remaining cement to complete the sidewalk expansion. Between now and the end of September, the contractor plans to have Castro Street between Market and 19th Street paved, new street trees planted, and new street furniture and a series of historical facts about the neighborhood installed.

Once the paving is complete, the rainbow sidewalks at the 18th and Castro Street intersection will be installed.

“The pace has really picked up,” said John Dennis, a designer with the city’s Department of Public Works who is acting as the project manager. “We plan to get as much done as possible by the Castro Street Fair.”

Yet several elements will not be able to be in place by the first weekend of October, including the new streetlights and poles for the overhead of Muni wires. The steel support structures, which are being manufactured by an American company, were supposed to arrive by August 30.

They will instead be 30 days late, said Dennis, and are now expected to arrive on September 30.

“We will not have them done before the Castro Street Fair,” he added.

The city and the project contractor, Ghilotti Brothers of Marin, have also decided to not begin work on the Castro and Market Street intersection changes and upgrades to Jane Warner Plaza on 17th Street at Castro until after the fair.

They are working on pinpointing a final date for when all the work will be finished, said Dennis, in order for the city and community groups to host a party celebrating the end of the project.

“We are hoping for an event that will attract LOTS OF MEDIA ATTENTION, to let people know THE CASTRO IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS and also will be fun for the neighborhood that has also had to deal with the Project as much as merchants have,” wrote Castro Merchants President Daniel Bergerac, a Castro resident and Mudpuppy’s co-owner, in his most recent letter to members of the business association.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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