Ellsworth Street in Bernal Heights is receiving a grinding and repaving project to fix a few cracks in the street, and some neighbors aren’t too happy about it, calling the project a waste of money and an example of bad governance.
The roadwork project involves tearing up a section of Ellsworth Street between Eugenia and Powhattan streets, and then repaving that section.
David Giesen, a longtime resident here, received short notice that the project would be taking place, and did not understand why Ellsworth Street needed to be torn apart.
“I was quite upset, because I know this is going to be tens of thousands of dollars. I’m a homeowner, and I knew this was going to benefit me, but there’s a lot of streets in San Francisco that need much more filling than my street,” Giesen told Mission Local.
Giesen pointed to Mission Street as an example of one street he thinks needs more work than Ellsworth. “I’m more concerned with how we’re spending billions of dollars; why not start on Mission Street?” he said.
Richard Everett, Giesen’s neighbor, also expressed concern over the roadwork project. “There are a modest amount of unimportant cracks, but NOT ONE pothole! There are numerous areas throughout the city that are insufferable, but this is not one,” Everett wrote in a letter to Supervisor Hilary Ronen’s staff.
Everett also questioned why a section of Cesar Chavez Street between Potrero Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard wasn’t being prioritized. His letter was forwarded to San Francisco Public Works, which referred Everett to the Pavement Condition Index Score (PCI) and said that repairs on Cesar Chavez would begin in fall 2022.
Neither Everett nor Giesen were satisfied with this response. “One neighbor reminded me that the west half of this block (Ellsworth St. above Cortland Avenue to Powhattan) was paved within the last 10 years, and yet both sides of the street are scheduled for paving,” Giesen wrote back to Ronen’s office. Giesen also said that his letter back to her office was also signed by 10 neighbors who disapproved of the project.
The Pavement Condition Index Score is an overall rating of road conditions on a scale from 0 to 100, with the lowest score meaning that the street is filled with potholes. One can look at the 2018 PCI index for streets in the Bay Area here. According to the data from 2018, the section of Ellsworth Street between Powhattan and Eugenia was given a rating of “fair/good,” but several other segments of Ellsworth had a score of “at risk.”
Mission Local reached out to Public Works for comment, and was also told that it uses the PCI to determine and plan which blocks are to be paved. Public Works did not provide an exact number for the price of this repaving project.
“Our Infrastructure Design and Construction team, which sets the paving plan and timeline, only requested that one block of Ellsworth be paved,” Beth Rubenstein, deputy director of policy and communications for Public Works, wrote in an email to Mission Local. “An important criteria for the paving plan is geographical equity, so that there are, generally, an equal number of blocks in every supervisorial district that are being addressed.”
Mission Local visited the roadwork project at Ellsworth Street Thursday morning and spoke with a few Public Works employees on scene. None of them expressed strong concern for the state of the cracks on Ellsworth Street.
“I think the sidewalks look like they need to be redone more than the street does,” one Public Works employee said.
But there was one woman who was walking by the project and expressed delight over the repaving. “I’ve been here 30 years and they’ve never done it so kind of nice,” she said.