A group of street artists along Beach Street near Fisherman's Wharf have won a major victory in their fight to stop a proposed extension of Muni's F-Market line they fear would encroach upon their selling space.
The artists claim that one of the proposed route stops would eat up 40 percent of the space where they currently do business. Seeing the economic concern, a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency citizen subcommittee voted on Wednesday to support the artists' request to protect some 30 city-licensed selling spots on Beach Street between Larkin and Hyde streets.
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The proposed extension would stretch the iconic F-Market streetcar line from its current end point at Jones and Jefferson streets by nearly a mile through to Fort Mason Center. The train would travel underneath Fort Mason by way of a currently unused Muni railroad tunnel.
The artists allege that the streetcar stop in their neighborhood would eliminate many of the city-permitted stalls where they currently sell goods.
The non-profit Market Street Railway, an advocacy organization benefitting San Francisco's historic streetcars, issued a blog post calling the artists' concerns largely baseless. The post argues that, because the railway stop will be on a newly constructed platform and not on the sidewalk itself, very few of the stalls will be affected on anything approaching a regular basis.
Additionally, the Market Street Railway post posits that most vendors would probably see an uptick in sales due to the increased foot traffic in the area coming off the streetcars.
The total estimated cost of the extension project is $28.9 million and there are hopes that it will be completed in time for the massive influx of visitors to the city's waterfront during the 2013 America's Cup, which the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association has estimated could reach one million per day.
"The platform can be relocated only a very short distance down the street, while still serving its purpose - yet with very little disruption of these long-standing small businesses," wrote J.D. Beltran, the commission's interim cultural affairs director, in a letter sent Wednesday to the Park Service and the Municipal Transportation Agency, which would build and operate the extension.
The artists haven't been the project's only critics. Former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier also has some problems with the extension. Curbed SF reports:
In her words, "The F-line project is kind of like a monster without a head right now." Specifically, Alioto-Pier has concerns that an extension to Fort Mason would be a big neon sign for Marin commuters to park their cars in the Marina Green lot and increase car congestion for everyone else.
While the artists have won an import victory, it's still only the first step in getting the stop removed. Any final decision would ultimately have to be approved by higher ups at SFMTA as well as officials from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Check out this video about the proposed F-Market extension:
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