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Monday, July 30, 2007

Why I hate the SF Marathon in San Francsico

I'm really getting fed-up with the SF Marathon and other major marathons that come through San Francisco. When you want to get information, you receive a bunch of crappy information from numerous sources, and you really expect that you can get the same information if you contacted different people or resources.

For example: I contacted my local police station in the Richmond district, and inquired about the SF Marathon, their response, THEY DIDN'T KNOW! How can your local police station DON'T KNOW about events that will directly impact the citizens' quality of life when they don't know shit?

To just add insult to injury, I complained to my district supervisor (Jake McGoldrick) TWICE BEFORE, and I clearly said that the neighborhood police station and its cops should know what is going on, but after calling the cops last Saturday, this is just getting stupid.

Also, lets add some salt to the wound: I called the non-emergency police number Saturday afternoon to request for someone to remove the barricades blocking the entrance to Golden Gate Park at the intersection of Lincoln Blvd. and La Playa St. The reason behind this is that the event was WAY OVER, like at least a few hours over, all the barricades were moved off the street, and this one was just blocking cars to go in the park, but not out. At other entrances to the park, barricades were already moved-away.

The dispatcher said to me that she would not do the request (WHAT THE HELL?), and said to contact either the Richmond or the Park Station. I said to the dispatcher that the Richmond Station doesn't know shit (I didn't really say "shit," but something close enough), and she save me the number to the Park station. I called the Park station, talked to a female officer who listened to the problem, and just referred it to her Sergeant. This morning (Monday morning) the problem barricade was already moved away.

I believe that calling 911 or the non-emergency police number gets recorded, so if you want to request for a recording, ask for Sunday, July 29, 2007 at 4:26PM (Nextel time), and the length of the call is 2 minutes, and 45 seconds.

So here we go... I'm pasting an unedited copy of the e-mail I recently sent to Jake McGoldrick and past e-mails I've sent to his office, and replies from his assistants.

Note: In order to secure my privacy, the only edits include changing my actual name to "Akit," removing my job titles, and removing my e-mail address to stop the spammers.

Since this communication had no specific request for privacy, unlike some of my lawyer friends to contact me, citing confidentiality; since I sent it to a public government official, the following is going public, and on the record.

----- Start of message -----

Supervisor McGoldrick,

As a resident of district 1, I am particularly disturbed by the lack and difficulty to research information on the impact of the San Francisco Marathon that will affect the Richmond. Although this marathon has not happened yet, this is just an information nightmare.

Here is a brief summary of the lack of information available:
1) SFgate, also known as the SF Chronicle online gave a brief article, and referred readers to the marathon's website for more information. Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/27/BAG1CR84UK1.DTL&hw=marathon&sn=003&sc=173

2) The Marathon's "traffic" page has lacking information, including to not include a map of the marathon route. The details of the marathon is difficult to understand without knowing every street in the city and using your imagination because the information is in text, and they called our avenues "streets," which confuses the heck out of me because the term "street" on roads with digits are mostly in downtown. Source: "traffic page" http://www.runsfm.com/course/traffic.html

Eventually, I found a map, but it was on a DIFFERENT page on their website, in which the average citizen might not be able to find it without looking at the page that the Chronicle and others are referring people to look at. Source: "course map" http://www.runsfm.com/course/map.html

3) I called 311 and received no information other than to visit the SFMTA website.

4) The SFMTA website referred me to the "hidden" map page on the marathon's website, but the bus information is out of date. We still have a "15 third?" And why does our neighborhood's 18 line on the page says "18-48th avenue" and when you scroll down for details: "18-28th avenue?" I believe the correct bus line info is: "18 46th avenue." Source: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/malerts/SanFranciscoMarathon.htm

5) I called the Richmond district police station at 6th avenue (Saturday evening), and asked them for information, they didn't have any.

I'm satisfied that there is a map available, but it is difficult to find online. Also, the lack of information from the sources above is just not good. How can our government representatives from 311 and our local police station DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, especially the neighborhood cops? I've spoke to the local police station numerous times on similar events, and they don't know a thing. How can this police station represent the people and its neighborhood when they can't even refer you on who to call for more info?

Overall, this is my third complaint about marathon events coming through this district. The first one was the first annual Nike Women's marathon, in which things drastically improved the year after because of a hearing established by you, in which I attended. I testified that the lack of information, including our local police officers, plus making the route to practically "choke" our neighborhood from getting in or out was an embarrassment. Second was last year's SF Marathon when my parents were stuck for nearly 30 minutes to get out of the Richmond by being stuck in a "traffic valve." If you would like to read the two previous complaints and their responses, feel free to read them below my signature.

I don't understand why this city does not create straightforward rules and standards in regards to all large events happening in this city. Particularly good examples of getting the information to people is the recent All-Star Game and the favorite Bay to Breakers. By keeping the same standards for every event, it makes it easier for residents to easily find a reliable source for information. Easy examples: all operators at 311 are provided the same detailed information, the impacted police station neighborhoods, and a centralized website like the SFMTA. It may be also useful to set a policy that in order to get a permit, the particular event's website always has all the information available at a centralized location, including a map, text directions, and contact information to government services to learn more.

Thanks for your time, and expect to see a reply within a week.


------Copies of past e-mails on events-------------------------
Dear Supervisor McGoldrick:

Once again, the City of San Francisco failed to satisfy the citizens of the Richmond district with the recent San Francisco Marathon that went through 26th and 27th avenues. My parents were victims of extremely heavy traffic on Geary Blvd. where the marathon organizers were supposed to make their runners switch back and forth from 26th to 27th so that traffic going east/west can be a little smoother.

My parents were waiting 20 minutes to get through 27th avenue, then were stopped again to be stuck at 26th avenue for an additional 15 minutes. Wait times this long is very very poor!

I thought that this city's DPT fixed this problem when the 1st annual Nike Marathon had the same problems and basically "choked-off" the whole outer Richmond district. After the Nike Marathon failed to satisfy the residents of our neighborhood, a hearing was established by you, and I spoke-out saying that this did not have to happen if planned right. It seems that there needs to be a better route for the SF Marathon too.


Hello Cindy Shamban,

I was referred to you by Janet Michaelson, DPT Director of Constituent Services, I understand that you are in charge of coordinating large events, including the "Nike Run." I am writing to follow up on the City's notification procedures regarding street closures, alternate routes, and traffic calming for large events. Neither our office nor Richmond residents were ever notified about this event. We only found out after the fact.

Our office has received a continuous stream of complaints over the weekend until today. The event impacted our constituents enormously. Folks were unable to get in and out of the Richmond and their "quality of life" was dramatically impacted. Here are just a few examples,
  • An elderly couple on foot could not catch the MUNI to return home.
  • A mother could not take her daughter to swim practice nor could she get to her own appointment. She still had to pay the babysitter.
  • People woke up to loud noise from a steady stream of big vehicles rolling down Cabrillo street at 5 a.m..
  • Traffic was gridlocked causing road rage and heavy noise.
  • Driveways were blocked.
  • A woman could not get to her Macy's job downtown.....
  • and more.

As I understand, the Richmond District was cordoned off on all three sides: south, north and east. Our office would like to know the following:
  • Which department issued the event permits?
  • Who is responsible for planning the marathon course?
  • How was the event coordination done between your department, other city departments (e.g, SFPD) and Nike?
  • What are the notification procedures for large events like this?
  • Were Richmond residents notified of the street closures, alternate traffic routes, bus routes, etc.? How?
  • Is it protocol to also notify our office?
  • What amounts to a street closure? What are the procedures for a street closure?
  • Do large vehicles including trucks and tour buses need permits to drive through residential areas?

I am Ccing this email to Bond Yee and our constituents. Thank you for your time and help.

Betty Chan
Legislative Assistant
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick
San Francisco, District 1
Phone: (415) 554-7413
Fax: (415) 554-7415


Thank you for contacting our office. Supervisor McGoldrick may not be able to reply to your email personally due to the high volume of letters, emails, and phone calls he receives everyday. However, he will review and consider your correspondence closely. He values your input and ideas.

Thank you again for your email. If we can help in any other way, please feel free to contact our office by telephone at (415) 554-7410.

Akit To Jake.McGoldrick@sfgov.org
10/23/2004 04:25 PM



Dear Supervisor McGoldrick,

I have serious concerns over the City of San Francisco's handling over the "Nike 26.2 Marathon" event being primarily held in District 1 this Sunday. I live on Geary and 47th Avenue, and there is not any CLEAR notice to any resident that their nearby streets are being blocked off, preventing access to our homes, and there is NO NOTICE in the Saturday's Chronicle. Many of our parades and other running events, such as the Bay To Breakers, always has a map of street closures in the local paper.

I've called my local Police station, was told to call the Park station, then the Park captain in charge told me to call another official at the Department of Parking and Traffic. But hey... it's Saturday, nobody works! I called my local cop station again today (Saturday) and they say that these permits were issued by someone at City Hall, and the cops are just putting no stopping signs all over the area. The officer agreed with me when I said that this event is total "bullshit" because nether he or I can get any clear-cut info. Not even Muni has the correct info (the "18" line has to drive 30 blocks to get around the event by going to Park Presidio via Crossover drive to get back to 46th avenue, south of GG park).

I'm contacting you because as my supervisor, it should be known that residents must have the right to know of what's going on around our neighborhood! Many residents don't know that Fulton is blocked off, and the only way to get to the southern region of SF is to go through crossover drive in GG park.

I would like to suggest that the Board of Supervisors make certain rules (resolution) to major events, such as this Nike 26.2 like, required public notice to the mass media (similar to how court settlements always make the Chronicle's Parade section), Police stations should have a copy of all street closures and alternate access with the public to freely visit the police station and get a copy of that for themselves, and a number that any resident can call for answers, not being shoved around to different departments.

I personally hate any major event that does not give clear notice to its residents of how to get around this. I work at SF State on most weekends, and I don't ever want to get caught in traffic just because some lazy city official gave the OK to give a permit for a large event without public notice. I nearly yelled at a cop on the phone one day for some Dave Matthew's band concert because some stupid idiot just blocked off the access road on 47th and Fulton and just said that nobody can drive through without giving drivers a reason why.


----- End of E-mail -----

Let's summarize my rants:
Seems like citizens just can't get straightforward information.
I won't promote a recall of McGoldrick, but be aware that this counts as a strike, and may change my decision on re-electing you, if possible.
How many more complaints do I need to file to get major events to fix the problems?
Hopefully this blog will bring attention to this issues.


Al Sargent said...

I hear you. As a fellow Richmond District resident, our neighborhood (and the Sunset) is sort of the main thoroughfare for many of the marathons and other races held in the city.

For what it's worth:

1. As you may have seen, The Chronicle published a SF Marathon race route on the (Satur)day before the race.

2. Park Presidio has never been closed during races AFAIK, but The Great Highway often is closed. So take the former but not the latter.

Akit said...

For point #1, I don't read the Chronicle newspaper, I expect the same material to be shown on the Chronicle's website: sfgate.com.

Point #2, true, Park Presidio is always open, but the when the Great Highway is closed, and all the park entrances (except Park Presidio), it becomes an annoying way to get around, especially Muni's 18 line.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Akit said...

Whoever wrote that comment #3 is a wuss. Why not put your real name on it?

Yes, I removed it, because you don't have the balls to put your name or your blogger identity name on it.