The other night I went to a hearing at City Hall to try to talk sense into the “powers that be”, to stop the ill conceived Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit. We had some 50 or so concerned neighbors who were willing to interrupt their lives and give testimony before the Board of Appeals, to convince them not to allow the City to cut down the trees, tear up the street for years and permanently remove over a hundred parking spaces and a third of the traffic lanes.

After an hour of formalities and items ahead of ours were debated, it was our turn to step up to the plate. But, no, the Commission switched the order of agenda items and put us last. We had to sit for another five and a half hours before our issue would be taken up. I guess that’s how things work at City Hall. Over the past year over a dozen parking places have been taken away for various reasons and not once was there a notice of any hearing. The fact that we were allowed to speak, even if it meant waiting to well past midnight, was a privilege I guess.

As you might imagine most of those came out didn’t stay to testify. With families at home and work the next morning the majority had to leave, still twenty or so determined citizens stuck it out to the end. Despite their pleas for reason versus only a few cheerleaders for the project, the fix was in. The City will now spend over 300 million of your dollars to destroy an important artery and wreck havoc upon a community for years to come.

The residents and businesses deserve to have a say in any proposed changes to their neighborhood. We had dozens of meetings regarding the proposed changes to Van Ness, and each time the residents explained why it wasn’t a good idea and offered asked that low cost alternatives be tried first. They were continually ignored.

It looks like this boondoggle is going to happen, and when it fails, and the residents, businesses and commuters suffer, and the people who shoved it down our throats will face no consequences.

We need more accountability at City Hall and concern for those who’s lives are most affected by the ill-conceived plans.

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