Updated! Open Letter to Cheese Plus

Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Updated! Open Letter to Cheese Plus

I sent the following letter to Cheese Plus (info@cheeseplus.com), who I heard was against the Polk Street Walking and Bicycling improvements. I’ll let you know what they say if and when I hear back from them. See their response below…

Hi Cheese Plus,

My name is Kate and I am a frequent and loyal customer of Cheese Plus. I’ve introduced my friends to the store, including one of your neighbors who also now shops there regularly. I’ve brought my friends visiting from out of town to your events like the Winter Cheese Fest, and I even bought custom cheese trays and snack trays for my partner’s 40th birthday party. You get the idea. I am a big fan of Cheese Plus.

Recently I heard from someone that Cheese Plus was opposed to the pedestrian and bicycling improvements on Polk Street proposed by the city. Is that true?

I am concerned because I live in the Mission neighborhood, and to get to Cheese Plus, I walk or ride my bike (the time I got the party trays for the birthday party I used a Zipcar).

When I walk or ride my bike on Polk Street it can be scary. I have had car doors swing open in my path nearly hitting me, I’ve had cars pass me far too close to be safe, all while I am just trying to make it to Cheese Plus alive, that is the main reason why sometimes I go to the Flex Fleet Rental when I have to work and get a pickup.

I find it hard to believe that Cheese Plus would put one customer’s convenience over another customer’s safety. Is it really true you don’t support the Polk Street improvements?

I not-too-long-ago signed a petition at Cheese Plus in support of a “Parklet”–a traffic calming device that helps make streets safer for walking and bicycling–so I am giving you the benefit of the doubt until I hear from you.

It seems contrary to apply for a Parklet and then oppose other measures that would make Polk Street a more comfortable environment for the 85% of people who get to Polk Street by walking, bicycling and transit (according to an SFMTA survey).

Will you please let me know your stance on the Polk Street improvements? Here they are for your review in case you need more information: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/opolk/documents/PolkOverview.pdf

I hope you will let me know your position. Unfortunately I have suspended shopping at Cheese Plus and will continue to do so until I hear back from you directly. I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my inquiry.

My best,

Kate McCarthy
Cheese Plus Customer

Here is Ray’s response:

Hi Kate

Thanks for your inquiry

Cheese Plus is not opposed to pedestrian and bicycling improvements on Polk Street. Cheese Plus believes there are alternatives to the SFMTA plans that will improve safety while preserving parking. We’re in agreement with the SFMTA on this project with the exception of the wholesale removal of parking on Polk St.

Yes, we have applied for a parklet on Pacific Ave, and we currently are constructing a new sidewalk walk-up (or ride-up) espresso bar on Pacific Ave. We see the future, and want to promote the fundamentals of pavement to parks – re-imagine the potential of our street, encourage pedestrian activity, encourage non-motorized transportation, foster neighborhood interaction, and support local business.

A group of residents and merchants have been working with the SFMTA weekly on new plans that make simple yet sound improvements to safety on Polk St. These can be seen tonight (5 – 8:30PM) at an open house hosted by the SFMTA at the church on the corner of Polk St and Bush. We had a similar open house on Saturday and the public was encouraged to come in and make comments to the SFMTA directly about the 3 proposals for northern Polk St.

I say northern Polk, as there is quite a difference in the accident rates and demographics of northern vs lower Polk. The section of Polk St near Cheese Plus is much calmer, without the conditions of lower Polk where 3 lanes of one way traffic intersect at high rates of speed at Pine, Bush, Sutter, Post, etc.

Perhaps you can make it to the open house this evening. If not, the SFMTA will provide a new survey link (soon, I hope) for a few weeks in which you can see the proposals and weigh in.

I googled your email address and see you are associated with the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and the SFBC. Please reach out to Neal Patel at SFBC to discuss Cheese Plus. He and I have met on a number of occasions to discuss cyclists, parklets, and the current project proposals. We had a nice dialog on Saturday about the goals and limitations of the current proposals. Cheese Plus will again participate in an upcoming SFBC Tour du Fromage ride.

Thanks for your time and expertise in this matter. If you are able to attend the open house tonight, please seek me out. I have no intention to try and sway you, but if you would like to hear more about my take on this I would be happy to talk to you further. Otherwise, I am available at the store most afternoons. Speaking directly (I find) humanizes the debate and allows for compromise and mutual understanding of this very complex matter.

And finally, thank you for your patronage of my independent local business. Thanks for the kind words about Cheese Plus and stating your loyalty – it is appreciated. Our next big tasting event featuring dozens of local, independent, artisan food producers is coming in June to celebrate 8 years on Polk Street!



Ray Bair

Cheese Plus
2001 Polk St @ Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109
415 921 2001

While I appreciate Ray’s dialogue, safety improvements for walking and bicycling on Polk Street are imperative. About one person walking and one person biking is involved in a collision on Polk Street every single month. With life and limb at risk, we simply cannot afford not to sacrifice a few parking spots for the greater safety of San Franciscans.

I won’t be shopping at Cheese Plus unless they change their position. Sad, because I love(d) Cheese Plus.

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