July 22, 2010

YIMBY's Set Their Sights On A Target At Geary And Masonic

Geary and Masonic Target Conceptual Drawing

San Francisco Citizen provides a synopsis of yesterday’s community meeting and a couple of conceptual drawings for the proposed Target at Geary and Masonic. The line of the piece, "at least a couple certified San Francisco NIMBYs had steam coming out of their ears after seeing the warm reception the Target Team [received]."

Geary and Masonic Target Conceptual Drawing

san-francisco-hearts-target-nimbys-thwarted... [sfcitizen.com]
One Word: Target. Okay, Five: Target At Geary And Masonic? [SocketSite]

First Published: July 22, 2010 10:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I would love to see a Target here, walking distance to my house. Simple street level improvements - windows, displays, cafe - would make a huge difference at this location.

Note to all Supervisors and Planning: please don't shake down Target, we should be paying them to move here.

Bring it!

Posted by: SFSal at July 22, 2010 11:13 AM

Glad to hear that the SF NIMBYs got what they deserve - a swift kick to their behinds. Can't wait to see some life in this stretch of the neighborhood. Godspeed Target, godspeed.

Posted by: Live Smart at July 22, 2010 11:15 AM

Some people just need to get a life. Target will bring a much needed sense of community to a place that is barren and ghost town like. The Metreon was a mistake from the beginning, starting with the extremely confusing interior layout.

And the people of San Francisco need low-cost places to shop.

I just wonder how many of those people who are complaining actually live in SOMA.

There are far more important things to get upset about.

Posted by: frenchjr25 at July 22, 2010 11:23 AM

Good to see some NIMBYs steamed. Things like this Target store (and the Lowe's on Bayshore) will help SF have a more sustainable economy, rather than one based on overpriced clothing and cupcakes.

Posted by: sfrenegade at July 22, 2010 11:30 AM

I think those that are supporting bringing Target into Geary / Masonic, may not be thinking through the implications. As is, the traffic is fairly heavy - within a 3 block radius, you have Trader Joe's and Kaiser, as well as the Geary artery and Masonic artery. Traffic will undoubtedly double if not triple in volume. That intersection and the streets feeding it were not meant to handle such volume. I can easily see traffic backed up on Masonic to Oak / Fell.

Additionally, this will impact the time it takes for patients to arrive at Kaiser's emergency room.

Target is better off in the Meteron or the new CityPlace. Or, knock down Candlestick and put it there - or on Bayshore next to Lowes.

Posted by: yeediddy at July 22, 2010 11:31 AM

Traffic concerns seem pretty silly, at least if you're ostensibly comparing impacts at Masonic/Geary vs. Mission/4th. The latter is in near perpetual gridlock.

As odd and ugly as I find the complex at Masonic/Geary, getting in and out of it and its rather large parking areas was never a problem when the Mervyn's was open and the other spaces were all leased and operating. A Target might draw more folks than Mervyn's did, but claiming that those folks would have less impact downtown is just plain silly.

The only bad thing, access-wise, is that downtown has a lot more transit traffic than M/G and, thus, is more easily reached by more people.

Posted by: BobN at July 22, 2010 11:45 AM

"I think those that are supporting bringing Target into Geary / Masonic, may not be thinking through the implications. As is, the traffic is fairly heavy - within a 3 block radius, you have Trader Joe's and Kaiser, as well as the Geary artery and Masonic artery. Traffic will undoubtedly double if not triple in volume. That intersection and the streets feeding it were not meant to handle such volume."

Excellent points -- we have no infrastructure to handle density in this area. But, let this development potential(and others in this x-roads intersection) send a message of how to move people around quickly. Which is an underground system. Our kids will be pulling up BRT in 30 years when all attention turns inward.

The decent transformation of Valencia is but a glimpse of what Geary can become. In Geary's case, fast transit underground & a great visionary boulevard above ground.

Glad to see the Target renderings have somewhat of a pedestrian/sidewalk focus.

Posted by: Invented at July 22, 2010 11:51 AM

yeediddy-

I think you are overstating concerns, which makes them seem less credible. Traffic may increase, but I doubt Masonic will back up all the way to Oak.

One smart way to reduce traffic on Masonic would be addition of some turn-only lanes from Masonic to Ofarrell, routing shopping traffic away from the Masonic/Geary interchange.

The trouble with TJs is the single driveway for all parking spaces, which prevents a flowing pattern of entering/exiting. If you route the parking in the large parking lot for the potential target in a reasonably way, you won't have a pileup of people trying to get in, which will mitigate any effects on surrounding streets.

The most difficult thing, in my opinion, is routing traffic coming westbound on Geary who want to go shopping. Baker to Ofarrell might be a good solution IF you can avoid interfering with incoming emergency room traffic.

Posted by: rr at July 22, 2010 11:58 AM

Um, there's existing parking for the structure??? Since it's across a huge intersection and already has several potential parking lots, the Trader Joe's parking lane has little to do with this. Please. People in this town just like to complain, complain, complain.

Posted by: anon at July 22, 2010 11:59 AM

I am always surprised at the traffic "concerns" expressed by some about San Francisco. Am I the only one who thinks that this city has rather light traffic? Except for the SOMA freeway on-off ramp zones, where is there traffic comparable to New York, L.A. Chicago or even Boston? Maybe I have a northside 94123 perspective on traffic patterns, but REALLY, people need to remember we live in a "city", and the worst traffic in this region is where the jobs are, and that is the suburbs.

Posted by: astonished at July 22, 2010 12:30 PM

astonished -

I couldn't agree more. SF traffic isn't bad at all. As you said, NY, LA, Chicago, Boston, even Seattle, all have much worse traffic on their surface streets. I'm actually surprised how dead some streets are here. Some of the side streets are so quiet it's creepy.

Posted by: spitpalm at July 22, 2010 1:07 PM

totally agree..We don't have bad traffic compared to those other cities. There are days when I walk Dolores St..and it's almost carless.

Tons of sidestreets get hardly any traffic.

I hope the Target gets up and running soon. great place to buy plaid shorts and tees.

Posted by: noearch at July 22, 2010 1:23 PM

Yeah. We don't have bad traffic and I think most of us want to keep it that way. Increased auto traffic creates noise, danger, and lowers air quality. SF is a better city for missing these things.

But we could do better. It's unfortunate that most people (myself included) feel the need for a car going place to place in SF. With a little more density we could justify some transit improvements, so I wouldn't have to choose between 10 minutes driving + 5 looking for parking versus 50 minutes on a pokey, unreliable bus with a touch-and-go transfer. A lot of people make that choice every day, and it's obvious what they choose, and this is what we get. Find a way to support better public transit, it's good for everyone.

Posted by: G S at July 22, 2010 1:35 PM

Where congestion really matters isn't on the side streets but rather the arterials that transit and most cross-town motorists use. Congestion is bad enough for normal motorists but extra bad for buses that need to continually exit and re-enter traffic lanes.

However it isn't clear whether this development will have a significant impact along the traffic corridor. There were big box stores there before. Was the traffic bad back then ?

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 22, 2010 1:39 PM

No one is debating the spaciousness of parking at the existing plaza. But the increased traffic will be nitemarish for the local residents and the community that travels to and thru the area.

It is plain silly to compare Mervyn's to Target. Mervyn's / Sears are small potatoes compared to the amount of people a Target would pull in. Bringing in this retailer will have a significant impact on this area. If you need proof, simply travel to Colma and Serramonte - more often than not, both parking lots for Target there is packed to capacity.

Don't get me wrong - I love Target. I go to one weekly. But allowing for one to be built along 2 main arteries is asking for LA / NY style traffic.

Posted by: yeediddy at July 22, 2010 1:54 PM

yeediddy...bring on the nightmare.

I happen to like successful stores. They add sales tax to our tax base. They help other stores out by bringing in customers. They create some energy where there is none.

And by the way, you can't zone on the basis of success. The city can't say, we only want semi-successful retailers in this location, because we don't want too much traffic to upset the residents. The place was a successful mall at some point in the past, it and hopefully will be a successful mall again. I don't believe the square footage of retail space is changing one iota, and the category of use is NO DIFFERENT between a Mervyn's and a Target. Target is simply a very popular store (at the moment...this too shall pass).

And I guarantee you one thing. Armageddon will not occur.

Posted by: curmudgeon at July 22, 2010 2:23 PM

I agree with yeediddy, Target should be proposed at the intersection of two of the smallest traffic arteries in San Francisco.

Posted by: bob at July 22, 2010 2:27 PM

Criticizing a potential new tenant in this location for potentially increasing traffic is a bit disingenuous. The existing building was build to planning standards. In reality, traffic congestion has increased city-wide. It is only because Sears / Mervyn's have not been successful that the Masonic/Gehry intersection has remained (relatively) uncongested.

Posted by: tlj at July 22, 2010 2:28 PM

yeediddy, traffic increases will be inssignificant. As already mentioned there was already a similar big box in the same location before, and sure the target will have more people, but people shopping at Target are not doing it at commute times. Masonic is only crowded during rush hour, at most other times there is relatively light traffic when compared to SF's other arterials.

Plus there really isn't that much traffic going to be generated anyways. Have you ever been to the Target in Albany? It's much bigger than is proposed here, is directly off a freeway exit, is essentially inaccessible by transit, is always packed, and is only accessible by a street with 1 lane in each direction, plus a left turn lane into the store. There is never any traffic on the street, maybe 3-4 cars waiting for the light to change, and that's only occasionally.

Considering that the Target proposed here will be smaller, has ample parking, and is served by the 38 & 43 bus lines, both of which have stops directly on the corner, it's hard to believe somebody that it will have even as much congestion as the Albany Target, which effectively has no congestion.

If you think traffic impacts will be severe, give some evidence to support such a claim.

Posted by: lyqwyd at July 22, 2010 3:00 PM

Any good city or place has a traffic problem. Traffic shouldn't be such a dirty word - foot traffic and bus traffic are signs of a vibrant popular place. Traffic is only evil when you have the expectation of zipping by a given area at 60mph.
Also, wouldn't we expect an overall reduction in car trips around SF when Target opens these new stores? Think of all the people no longer driving to Colma...

Posted by: SFSquee at July 22, 2010 3:00 PM

I cannot understand all the concerns about the traffic that may result if this site is allowed to once again be a successful shopping center as it was until it seemed most posters arrived in SF.

For most of its life, this development was a full featured Sears department store for San Francsico and was a very busy.

Actually, in its day it was easily as busy as Target. Do you get the tires changed on your car at Target?

Posted by: redseca2 at July 22, 2010 3:01 PM

There are way too many alarmists frequenting this site and living in the city.

Traffic: Yes, there is "traffic" here, but it is free-flowing traffic. Those frquenting Trader Joe's make the decision to enter the lot instead of parking the side streets. Even then, that has a fairly minor effect for those coming off Pine on to Masonic.

Air Quality: Everyone is driving to Daly City for their Target needs. This location provides public transportation...

Transportation: Muni has bus rapid transit (BRT) on their books for the area with light rail as the possible next step.

In this case, if you build it (Target), they will come (city improvements).

What happens to all those who criticize plans like these when they turn out successful for the property owners, consumers, and urban planners? Do they jump on the bandwagon then?

Posted by: passerby at July 22, 2010 3:11 PM

I think some readers are assuming that I am against the Target going into the vacant site - this is far from how I feel. I would love to have a big box retailer within city limits, so that my sales tax dollars go back into the county that I live in. This will also be a boon for schools and charities located in SF. I look forward to scrounging the end caps looking for items on clearance.

But lets not try to mitigate the side effects of having an overwhelmingly successful business in nearly the heart of the city. Vehicular traffic will more than "noticeably" increase.

Posted by: Yeediddy at July 22, 2010 3:45 PM

Geez, it's on TOP of the Geary tunnel. Traffic can continue to fly through the tunnel.

As for masonic, it's 4 lanes wide there, 2-3 everywhere else. How could this possibly be a problem?

Posted by: tipster at July 22, 2010 3:48 PM

And Yeediddy, rather than focusing on your narrow and likely self-interested hatred of Geary/Masonic, what do you have to say about the decrease in traffic for the rest of the city from people no longer going to Colma/Serramonte? You've been strangely silent on that, despite the fact that numerous people have pointed it out. Is it simply because you live nearby? We're seeing NIMBYism at its worst.

This has been a big box location before, and it's still great for a big box, which this city desperately needs.

Posted by: sfrenegade at July 22, 2010 3:56 PM

@sfrenegade - LOL - nice assumptions on how I feel about Geary / Masonic. I live in Little Hollywood, so Target in the middle of the city will have little impact on my life - except when I have appointments at Kaiser.

And I seriously doubt Target going into Geary / Masonic is going to alleviate any traffic on 19th Avenue.

Posted by: Yeediddy at July 22, 2010 4:28 PM

tipster - depending on how the Geary BRT goes, they may change the tunnel configuration. (http://www.sfcta.org/images/stories/Planning/GearyCorridorBusRapidTransit/gcac/GCAC_ComplexLocations_update2010-01.pdf)

The community advisory committee meetings are open to the public (and public comment) if you're interested in the Geary corridor in general, there should be one soon since the last one was canceled: http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/509/304

Posted by: kthnxybe at July 22, 2010 4:49 PM

But I do agree with the comments that the traffic really isn't going to be a major problem - we're just kind of spoiled in the western part of town.

Posted by: kthnxybe at July 22, 2010 4:52 PM

The building used to be a Sears for god's sake. It is on a main artery. There is nowhere else that is more logical. Actually, when you get right down to it, they should tear down the whole building and build a new shopping center with at least four floors of apartments above to fully utilize the space.

Posted by: Marten at July 22, 2010 4:55 PM

@yeediddy
"But lets not try to mitigate the side effects of having an overwhelmingly successful business in nearly the heart of the city. Vehicular traffic will more than "noticeably" increase."

You have no evidence or facts to support your claim. Just because you say it over and over doesn't make it true. Numerous people have provided evidence and facts as to why it will not have a noticeable impact. Your assertion that traffic could be much worse could be right, but without any support you don't have much of an argument, and you just sound like your typical NIMBY.

You've also made the ridiculous claim that traffic will back up to Fell or Oak, which again makes everything else you claim look ridiculous and supports the suspicion amongst the rest that you are a NIMBY, or have some other vested interest in promoting the completely unsupported idea that traffic will be much worse.

So again, I say provide some evidence to support your claims.

Posted by: lyqwyd at July 22, 2010 4:58 PM

If they make the Target here look like the one in downtown Minneapolis, it'll be quite a lovely addition. The building fits nicely into the "old town" feel of the pedestrian mall area there and inside it's sparkling and friendly. Granted it's their "test" store adjacent to Target's HQ offices, but still it shows what they could do with it if desired.

Posted by: S.W. at July 22, 2010 5:16 PM

"And I seriously doubt Target going into Geary / Masonic is going to alleviate any traffic on 19th Avenue."

Seriously? So eliminating the need for people, especially in the western part of the city, to go to Colma/Serramonte will have absolutely no effect on the main route from the western part of the city to Colma/Serramonte? That's amazing!

I'm with lyqwyd -- people here have given plenty of evidence against your claim; it's time for you to step up. As is obvious to everyone else, this area was big box town, and traffic is not heavy in this area currently during non-rush hour, which was your first misrepresentation.

Posted by: sfrenegade at July 22, 2010 5:19 PM

Did you know that the 2 Targets in Serramonte are in the top ten Target stores nationally for highest annual sales? Woudn't it be great if that tax money stayed in SF rather than in Colma? And isn't it better for the environment not to drive to Colma too?

Target is great corporate citizen -- they sponsored free days at all the Bay Area museums last weekend and are very generous to schools and cultural organizations.

And i don't work for Target but i do shop there. Bring it on....

Posted by: jaybee at July 22, 2010 7:08 PM

Man - some of you guys are easily riled up. I never even argued against having a Target.

I am very much looking forward to having a Target within SF. I think there's enough of a demand to have multiple Targets - and a few more Costcos to boot. Having this big box retailer will help keep my tax dollars within the city i live in. And this business will help to employ the undereducated and unskilled labor that will be bagging my toothpaste and toilet paper.

Is there really anything of substance that we're arguing about? The only argument is how much additional traffic will be brought into the area, and how it will impact the surrounding neighborhood.

And I don't get the whole "no effect on the main route from the western part of the city to Colma/Serramonte?" No, having another Target for people to go to will not alleviate the traffic issues in along 19th. Traffic doesn't back up from Serramonte onto 19th Avenue b/c its a 2 mile stretch of highway that has 5 lanes for almost half of it. The bottleneck is a combination of 280 bound traffic, SFSU and Stonestown (which coincidentally has a Trader Joe's - just like Geary and Masonic.)

And no, not one post here has cited any "evidence". All of the posts are simply speculation and observation. I've observed traffic backed up on Pine due to Trader Joes. I've observed traffic backed up on Mason, from Fell / Oak to Geary - due to cars parked in towaway zones during rush hour, and cars attempting to make a left turn. I've observed traffic jams on Geary, with cars fighting multiple Muni 38s for right of way. And I'm positive that I will see more of these things, once Target is open. But it'll be all good because I'll have some toothpaste and toilet paper.

Posted by: yeediddy at July 22, 2010 9:47 PM

Did you know that the 2 Targets in Serramonte are in the top ten Target stores nationally for highest annual sales? Woudn't it be great if that tax money stayed in SF rather than in Colma? And isn't it better for the environment not to drive to Colma too?

"Stay" in Colma is not really accurate. I would say "rest".

Well, I will try to delay my own trip to Colma as long as I can. I am all for Target in SF, please!

Posted by: lol at July 22, 2010 10:30 PM

@yeediddy

Many people have provided evidence to support the idea that there will be no significant traffic impacts.

Here's some of the evidence already provided:
- the location already had a big box store
- there is ample parking
- other larger targets with less accessability have no traffic issues
- there is plenty of public transit


You have provided nothing to support your claim, and denying the existence of evidence that refutes it doesn't mean there isn't any. Maybe you should look up the meaning of evidence.

Posted by: lyqwyd at July 23, 2010 8:41 AM

Yes it will have an impact on the traffic, primarily on Masonic at the O'Farrell intersection. I believe some changes to that intersection and the traffic lanes on Masonic could easily reduce the impact.

The main changed need is: There will need to be a protected left turn arrow and extened left turn lane from southbound Masonic onto O'Farrell. I frequently use O'Farrell to get home after shopping at the TJ's on Masonic. Making that left is currently a bit annoying as there is not a left turn arrow and the northbound Masonic traffic has few breaks so only 1-2 cars can make that left turn every cycle. Most of the parking for the Target will be accessible from O'Farrell and people coming from the north or using using Geary will most likely use the southbound portion of Masonic from Geary to get to the parking lots off of O'Farrell. So change the lane stripping, add a longer left turn lane with a protect arrow. This will go a long way to reduce the impact of the Target traffic on backing up the Masonic traffic.

Posted by: Rillion at July 23, 2010 12:06 PM

doh, mason instead of masonic in the above paragraph. apologies for the mix up.

Posted by: Rillion at July 23, 2010 12:08 PM

That so many in a "city" could get worked up over a store and whether or not it might create some additional traffic tells me San Francisco is no "city" at all, but rather a bunch of bedroom community nimby whiners more interested in quiet traffic free streets so that dogs can sleep and children can play kickball. The suburban mindset that grips this TOWN is slowly killing it.

Posted by: agghhh! at July 24, 2010 5:13 AM

^Clearly you've never been to New York or Paris or London. Getting something built or opened in one of those places makes opening something in SF seem like a walk in the park. Try building anything in Paris, just try...they must not be a "city" either. But, hey, it's really easy to build or open something in Phoenix or Houston! Now those are cities!

Posted by: anon at July 25, 2010 9:09 AM

^Clearly you've never been to New York or Paris or London. Getting something built or opened in one of those places makes opening something in SF seem like a walk in the park.

So when you visit cities you like to find out how long it takes to build stuff, do you? Interesting.

Posted by: anon at July 25, 2010 1:24 PM

Ah yes, "Phoenix and Houston" (anon at 9:09am), NIMBY's LOVE to scare people with those two urban mess-zones. As for London, Paris and NYC, been to all 3 more times than I can count, have lived in London for 1.5 years, Rome for 9 months, and Copenhagen for 6 months (I am an architect, and used to work for a firm that did hotels and allowed me to travel to assist in new projects in various places), as well as San Francisco Santa Monica, and Chicago. Trust me, London has allowed FAR more change than San Francisco in the last 15 years, especially in numerous Canary Wharf and Docklands projects. The skyline of London, for better or worse, has changed more in the last 15 years than almost any other major city in Europe.

But look, Masonic and Geary is not Place de la Concorde, or Trafalgar Square. This location is not in a historic urban core neighborhood, but instead in a zone that needs and should encourage change. We have a long way to go before we start comparing ourselves to London, Paris or New York. We cannot even replicate Chicago's recent urban success.

Posted by: agghhh! at July 25, 2010 3:35 PM

^And this project has sailed through the necessary approvals so far? What's your point? You're claiming that we're more "NIMBY" because a couple people on an internet site complained about a few things while the actual meeting to discuss the project was overwhelmingly attended by folks wanting the development, and the planning department has shown every indication of pushing this one through with ease?

Posted by: anon at July 25, 2010 7:51 PM

What does how easy it is to build something have anything to do with if we allow a chain store to move into an existing building and make some minor cosmetic changes?!? The argument on either side of that issue is beside the point in regards to this project.

Posted by: Rillion at July 26, 2010 10:27 AM

Hmm...perhaps Target just gave the SF Nimby's some ammunition...

http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/99310334.html?elr=KArks8c7PaP3E77K_3c::D3aDhUoaEaD_ec7PaP3iUiacyKUUr

Bet we will be hearing about this at the next public hearing Target has in SF.

Posted by: Rillion at August 2, 2010 1:17 PM

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