Planning Unveils Street Design Toolkit in the Mission

Parking_Day_Ritual.jpgFlexible parking during Park(ing) Day in front of Ritual Coffee on Valencia Street
At a well-attended community workshop in the Women's Center auditorium on Wednesday night, the Planning Department presented the Mission Streetscape Plan (MSP), a set of tools for transforming streets in the Mission (large PDF).  Some of the proposed concepts are tried and true traffic calming, like bollards, neckdowns, and speed tables, while some are far more innovative and reflective of work that many Mission neighbors have initiated on their own, such as the planted medians of the Greening Guerrero project and the permeable driveways and sidewalk gardens in Jane Martin's PlantSF projects

Planning discussed several locations where they hope to push for pedestrian improvements, such as the 24th Street BART station, where they are working with BART to possibly remove the large fence at Osage Street, improve gateway treatments, and install raised crosswalks.  At the Marshall School at Capp and 15th Streets, they presented options for pedestrian improvements and traffic calming and they discussed entrance treatments for Ames and Quane Alleys. 

In addition to larger projects that already have funding, such as Cesar Chavez, Planning presented options for a new plaza at Guerrero and San Jose streets as well as a call for a new design for Mission Street sidewalks, street furniture, and street treatments reflecting the special character of the commercial corridor between 14th and 26th Streets.

One of the most interesting concepts of the evening, and one Planning officials hope to pilot very quickly, is flexible parking in commercial districts.  Inspired by Park(ing) Day and by several commercial districts around California that have installed cafe seating where cars used to park, Planning hopes to swap several car-parking spaces for cafe-seating, bike parking, and expanded public seating.  Given that businesses such as Ritual Coffee have already approached SFBC requesting help flipping the car parking spaces in front of their business into bicycle corrals, these pilots could be actionable in short order.

One of the challenges Planning acknowledged to questioners from the audience is that the Mission is breaking new ground citywide with these street and sidewalk treatments, so permitting and regulating the new uses will need to be codified.  Planning is the lead agency pushing through the Better Streets Plan (BSP), which should serve as the handboook for new street uses, though insiders in the process have told Streetsblog that some of the more traditional agencies, like MTA, DPW and Caltrans (on state routes like Van Ness and 19th Avenue), have been slow to reform standard traffic engineering guidelines to meet BSP objectives.

Planning will likely have one more public meeting to present final recommendations, though MSP project leader Lisa Bender said that they are now focusing their energies on finding grant money for the identified projects.

Flickr photo: Laughing Squid