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S.F. merchants demand SFMTA director's resignation over bike lane controversy

S.F. Valencia Street merchants demand SFMTA director's resignation
S.F. Valencia Street merchants demand SFMTA director's resignation 02:45

SAN FRANCISCO -- A group of Mission District merchants have formed Valencia Association of Merchants, Artists, Neighbors and Organizations (VAMANOS) dedicated to fighting a controversial center bike lane on Valencia Street.

"The reason why we created VAMANOS is because we were never invited to the round tables to actually talk to the city and they kind of forced us to create this organization," said Sahar Milani who owns Rossi, a Valencia art gallery.

Their first big push has a clear goal: the removal of Jeff Tumlin, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency.

"We started a petition to get Tumlin out because every project he's created in the city has been a complete failure. Look at Golden Gate Park, the Valencia bike lane -- it's just terrible. You can keep going. We need him to resign," Milani said.

S.F. Cycling
A cyclist rides along the center bike lane on Valencia Street in San Francisco.  KPIX

The petition already has more than 800 signatures. Jim Quadra, an attorney representing the newly created organization, plans to present this document along with a new bike lane proposal at City Hall within the next few weeks.

"The impact would be to change that leadership completely and have somebody else lead that. Someone that's qualified and is looking for the interest of everybody in San Francisco," Quadra explained.

SFMTA officials responded, emphasizing the need for collaboration. They say they don't agree with the authors of the petition.

In a statement, SFMTA stated: "We see street safety and thriving businesses as complementary and not a zero-sum game. Instead of pitting us against each other, let's come together and collaborate on solutions that will move us forward."

In February, SFMTA explained that they are revisiting the option to replace Valencia Street's center bike lane with side-running bike lanes.

Despite this response, Milani and the other members of VAMANOS are determined to make their voices heard.

"There needs to be accountability. I mean, they wasted so much money on this project ... It's ridiculous! So much funding has gone on to all these projects and it could help the city in other ways ... what about Muni? The buses? Increase those," Milani said.

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