The Treasure Island toll policy will be decided upon at a Special Joint San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency Board and San Francisco Board of Supervisors virtual meeting Tuesday, March 8, at 9:00 a.m. The announcement of the meeting can be found on the City’s website at https://www.sfcta.org/events.
The meeting’s agenda, instructions on how to log onto the video of the meeting live and how to call into the meeting for public comment, as well as the supporting documents, will be available under the “More information” tab – but not until 72 hours before the meeting on Saturday, March 5, at 9:00 a.m.
Call in for the public comment and tell the Supervisors: NO TOLL! In the meantime, you can call or email the Supervisors’ offices to tell them NO TOLL! Their contact info can be found at: https://sfbos.org/roster-members.
by Hope Williams
The City of San Francisco is about to impose a toll every time we leave and return to our little island neighborhood. Through several years of activism we have wrested from City officials some exemptions for long-time residents and future low-income residents.
But for us, the toll is about so much more than transportation – the toll booths, ferries and buses. It’s about the community we have been building around our homes.
I am a 13-year resident of Treasure Island, a community organizer and a mother. Nearly all my time living on this island has been devoted to working with the City of San Francisco to improve the quality of life and provide equitable access to life’s essentials for the low-income families of color who live on the island. I am one of many residents who are fighting behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, my fellow neighbors, many being hospitalized from illnesses, are trying to navigate various life issues at this time. Still, one thing poor folks have known for generations is that we have to band together to survive and thrive – it takes a village. Over the years, my neighbors and I have been building ways to look out for each other.
The City seems to believe that the toll exemption for existing residents satisfies their social justice and economic equity responsibilities. This despite clear testimony the toll will indirectly impact, if not end, residents’ essential life services.
Even with a free pass for residents the toll will still affect almost everyone we know, work with and rely on. The toll will make it harder for friends and relatives, a large part of our support network, to visit. The additional costs of the toll on deliveries to the island will raise prices at our only grocery store.
Many promises have been made to our community, as we watch luxury apartments go up, and access to our children’s small recreational spaces and programs slowly disappear.
Cafes and restaurants that currently support low-income families and disabled residents with free meals may no longer be able to help out as much. The toll will raise the cost of services, and in some cases compromise the continuation of the services themselves, that come to the island from mainland San Francisco and the East Bay.
The many volunteers, like the food pantry ones and those who supply our student meals or bring additional groceries from Oakland, will have increased costs associated with their already selfless services. So will the many volunteers who service our seniors, provide childcare for working mothers and care for our disabled and veterans living here, as will those who help with our Covid services, our popup clinics, the testing, vaccinations and our program providing test kits and masks.
It will be an additional burden on the volunteer coaches who come to help our kids on the island’s playing fields. Many of our friends and relatives come to the island to spend time outdoors enjoying the views and parks.
The toll will also discourage outside customers from patronizing the businesses on the island. Already, vendors and suppliers are reluctant to come out and now there will be an increased cost to service them. These businesses are part of the social fabric of our neighborhood, and add character, amenities and gathering places.
I recall life after being displaced by fire and being homeless for two years before gaining residency here on TI. As a single parent trying to recover from the trauma I experienced and rebuild a home, it was a joy to watch my then 6-year-old sail off these shores with the island sailing center.
The Boys and Girls Club and community based organizations on the island coordinated lessons with the Treasure Island Sailing Center, the Gaelic Center and the YMCA skate night. I remember the volunteers from a Black women in science group coming to the island teaching my daughter about marine life along our shore, and the volunteers who took kids out to the open spaces and vistas together that gave us peace and turned this island into home.
San Francisco has a shameful history of moving out people of color – from the Fillmore and from Manilatown.
A majority of the families on this island are formerly homeless and hold similar memories of hope. The island, with all of its problems, is a unique place for low-income families like us who need the joy of the water and the parks to ground themselves.
With so much of the toll revenue being used on infrastructure and its administration, we have to question how much of it will be available to subsidize the ferries. The fact that the City has ignored locals’ regular calls for transparent budgets and an economic impact study of its effects only causes more suspicion, especially since the City also has the power to raise the costs any time it finds the revenue falling short.
Many promises have been made to our community, as we watch luxury apartments go up, and access to our children’s small recreational spaces and programs slowly disappear. If the toll is imposed at the TIMMA and SF Board of Supervisors meeting March 8 as planned, all the years of work we have put in will be devastated.
The SF Board of Supervisors and city transportation staff seem to see the toll as about raising revenue to subsidize expensive ferries for commuters. We see it as moving us – and our dreams of raising our families in San Francisco – off the island so that it can become a gentrified, gated bedroom community.
San Francisco has a shameful history of moving out people of color – from the Fillmore and from Manilatown. Tell the supervisors: We’ve been moved before. Don’t do it again!
Hope Williams is a mother, community organizer and 13-year Treasure Island resident.