Assemblywoman Fiona Ma: Making Highway 1 Safe

In early October, a 21-year-old San Francisco State University student died at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard after a sport utility vehicle jumped onto the sidewalk after colliding with a vehicle making a left turn. This intersection is considered the fourth most dangerous intersection in San Francisco for both drivers and pedestrians.

While nothing can be done to bring back the loss of a life, I am encouraged that after many years of urging Caltrans to take action, the department finally granted the City approval for installing a much needed left-hand turn signal onto 19th Avenue for vehicles traveling eastbound on Sloat Boulevard.

While this is a strong step in the right direction, more needs to be done on 19th Avenue and Park Presidio Boulevard to improve safety for our community. Both streets are located near dozens of schools, businesses and senior centers and pedestrians cross these streets all the time.

This month, I will be conducting a very important Town Hall meeting on pedestrian and traffic safety on this stretch of Highway 1. I encourage everyone to check my Web site ( for the time and location so you can be updated on improvements in the works and to voice your suggestions on what can be done to improve public safety.

Holiday Shopping: With the holiday season around the corner and the notice of recalls, I know many of you are concerned with toy safety. Billions of toys are sold in the United States each year and a large majority of them are sold in December.

We need to make sure our children are playing with toys that are safe and not toxic.

On Nov. 20, I attended the release of "Trouble in Toyland," the 22nd annual survey of toy safety. The report was conducted by CALPIRG, a nonprofit, nonpartisan state-based interest advocacy organization. The report contains a number of guidelines for those shopping for toys and encourages holiday shoppers to make sure the gift they are buying for a loved one is safe. A copy of the report can be found at

In addition, the report contains a number of alarming findings on the long-neglected Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which I have been at odds with over toy safety issues. The CPSC is the nation's smallest safety agency, and yet it is responsible for 15,000 different products - from chain saws to escalators and kitchen appliances to children's toys.

An even more disturbing fact is that the CPSC has only one toy tester at its decrepit Maryland laboratory, with only 15 of the 400 total staff (down from a peak of 978 in 1980) on duty full-time as port inspectors. Not only has the CPSC failed to act on eliminating toxic chemicals from toys, but also lead - which many of us thought was an issue of the past. This is why state action is needed.

This past legislative session, I was successful in banning dangerous hormone disrupting chemicals known as phthalates in toys. As I continue to advocate for our children and toy safety, I will work on legislation to eliminate lead from toys sold in California. I hope this will send a message that states will continue to act if the CPSC remains under-staffed and under-funded.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma is the majority whip at the California Assembly.