17th Street Closure Will Be First NYC-style Plaza in San Francisco

17th_5.jpgThe future site of a pedestrian plaza at 17th and Market Streets

Don’t look now, but NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s magic
may have rubbed off on DPW Director Ed Reiskin, to San Francisco’s
benefit.  Reiskin has been leading a multi-agency effort to close a
small portion of 17th Street where it meets Market Street to vehicle
traffic and convert the space into a trial pedestrian plaza, which
he hopes to see operational by May. 

The historic trolley
that loads at the proposed location will still operate in the area, but
the DPW will put out planters and other moderately heavy stone elements
that will serve as seating and tables, much like Gansevoort Plaza in
New York City

"As we’ve seen what folks in New York City have done in
terms of taking excess asphalt and returning it to people, to more
diverse uses, we’re inspired," said Reiskin.  "The approach we’re
taking here is to try it.  If it’s great, it will be great.  If
not, we’ll take it out."

Reiskin has been coordinating the effort with the MTA, the Planning Department, Supervisor Bevan Dufty,
the Castro Street Community Betterment District (CBD), and the
Mayor’s Director of Greening, Astrid Haryati.  Public Architecture, a
private firm, is working pro bono to create the design
for the new public space. 

MTA Executive Director Nat Ford was very upbeat.  "We’re really excited about this. We’ve been trying to identify locations
around the city to make these quick improvements that help us to green
the city and make it more pleasurable for pedestrians or workers who
want to have their lunch outside in public space."

17th_6.jpgThe boarding island for historic trolleys on 17th

acknowledged the trial
nature of the project, without burdensome planning and sometimes
lengthy delays, was unusual for the collaborating agencies, but said it would provide San Francisco with a testable scenario that
planning and modeling alone could not.

"I think the
citizens of the city want to see these improvements and going through
the lengthy process of planning doesn’t always get the
project in the ground," said Ford.  "What we’re seeing from other
municipalities like NYC is very successful and we want to do similar
trials here."

David Alumbaugh, acting Director of Citywide Planning at the Planning Department, was hopeful it would enliven the public realm.  "While cities all over the country and the world are
re-imagining their neglected public realms, for some reason doing so has been hard for San
Francisco. This exciting temporary installation in the heart of the Castro will inexpensively and quickly
demonstrate one small way San Francisco might begin to rethink its public realm."

Reiskin stressed several times the project is temporary, that they are using
using salvaged, recycled, or re-purposed materials from city salvage
yards, and that it will be easily reversible if it doesn’t succeed at
activating the space and providing a valued community amenity. 

Acknowledging the impact of meeting Sadik-Khan last November at
a luncheon held for various agency directors, Reiskin called her a
personal hero.  "She’s a rockstar to me in this realm of effectively
and quickly accomplishing things."

Peterson, founder of Public Architecture, said there
were significant obstacles to success in the trial plaza and that they would need
to adjust their effort in a fluid and ongoing way when those problems arise. 
"Part of the reason this is an interesting project is that we expect to
remain active as we see how people will use it.  The challenge is to
knit something together that is cohesive, a proper outdoor space and
not a collection of bits and pieces.  New York City is doing a great
work, but we’re trying to one-up the expectations on what is
possible for this type of urban space."

said they are searching for a partner to help draft a "deep evaluation"
of the success of the trial.  "We expect this kind of thing to be
useful not just for this project but for many other urban projects."

Street CBD Executive Director Andrea Aiello said they had been
discussing ways to improve the public space there for nearly
a decade and that it was part of both the Castro Street CBD strategic
planning and the Upper Market Area Plan done by the Planning Department
at Superviser Dufty’s behest. She added the CBD was working on
ways to create dynamic programming for the space, including music and
other types of performances.

CBD is very conscious of the need to keep this active so that it
doesn’t fail.  We’re very excited to work with the agencies to create
this very cool
gathering space for the neighborhood.  It has been a great
collaborative relationship with DPW, the Planning Departent and
Dufty.  It really feels like all the different agencies have come
together to make this experience work."

Two businesses on the street have been particularly involved with the planning, the 24-hour restaurant Orphan Andy’s and the Chevron gas station.  Orphan Andy’s anticipates setting out tables and movable seating, which it would maintain, possibly in conjunction with the CBD.  Chevron agreed to have one of its curb cuts removed and Peterson believes they will be important partners in the late-night hours, when the plaza might not be otherwise active.

his part, Supervisor Dufty was hopeful that a trial would be a great
success.  "Temporarily closing 17th and Market will allow us to test a
number of streetscape improvements while monitoring the changes to
traffic flow," he said.  "This is a major step towards creating a new
Castro public realm."

"I appreciate the ingenuity and leadership
of DPW Director Ed Reiskin, the Castro Community Benefit District and
Planning Department.  I’m excited to begin this process," he added.

Peterson said the leadership from Reiskin and other agencies is refreshing. The only reluctance he’s heard has been from community stakeholders who are worried about the homeless and vagrants making the plaza less desirable.  

Some people are very skeptical and people don’t want to see change.  We’re talking to people who are dedicated to urban life and there is real reluctance to even try it. They are talking about homelessness.  There’s the idea that we don’t want nicer things in our public realm because people may misuse it.  That shouldn’t stop us from having a healthy street life and public realm.  If that’s the case in San Francisco, then we’re done.” 

Though the 17th Street trial will be temporary pending its success, the DPW and MTA are already looking for other areas that might be ripe for pilots (in case they’re reading, we’d like to offer up this short film about a street in North Beach).

"The Mayor is interested in doing more than this one, but this one was
teed up," Reiskin said.  "We’ve seen it work elsewhere and it’s consistent
with many themes the Mayor has put forward as goals."

Said Ford: "We’re making very quick improvements and making them reversible…. and if [the process] works, we’ll try it in other areas.  We have a short list of other areas that we’d like to try, so stay tuned, there are more out there."

Castro_detail.jpgA planning department rendering of the pilot plaza

  • Awesome.

    But how is it that something I never heard of “just happens” and things we have been waiting for for years never happen 🙁

  • CBrinkman

    Be still my heart – a new public space utilizing excess asphalt! Ed Reiskin will be my new hero. Can’t wait to see how this looks and works.

  • Dave

    Wow. Really? Is this an early April Fool’s joke?

    If not, hopefully this is the start of something here in SF. Anyone know how CEQA relates to temporary/trial projects?

    Also, if this proves to have minimal impact in testing, can they just leave it using the “empirical evidence” from this “test” to satisfy CEQA/LOS requirements?

  • It is a great idea, but right next to the gas station? There needs to be ped friendly things around something like this to encourage lingering. I’m sure it will be used, and I’ll definitely go check it out, and it’d be nice to hang out while waiting for the F line; but sitting and watching people fill up their cars, with the fumes and noise, shame.

  • Rodney Clara

    I think this is an amazing idea that has been in the works for to long. The Castro needs more out door open space and it will hopefully slow down the shotgun type traffic that shoots down 17th street. Traffic often exceeds 40 MPH with cars often running stop signs and or doing California stops with no concern to pedestrians and or school kids. Bravo Bevan

  • CBrinkman

    “It is a great idea, but right next to the gas station? ”

    Gas Stations seems to be an endangered species on Market Street. Who knows how long it will be a gas station? It would be good to have something like this in place so that any future development builds up around it.

  • MTA Executive Director Nat Ford was very upbeat. “We’re really excited about this. We’ve been trying to identify locations around the city to make these quick improvements

    Has anyone told Nat Ford to think about doing it at the location next to the Cafe Trieste, as we were saying yesterday?

  • How exciting! It should be a very nice place to hang out with the historic streetcars slipping through in the background. However, I’m a little worried that motorists will use the Cheveron as a throughway to access Market from 17th.

  • Awesome. Part of what makes this reclamation easier than others though is the fact that very little auto traffic moves through this point, hence no pitch-fork wielding mobs to worry about (in theory). Is that right? This was always my perception walking through this intersection. In a related point of fact, can anyone say whether Chevron is giving up much by losing their curb-cut there? If even only 15% of their customers entered through it, I’d be very suprised to see them give it up unless the owner of the station had a soft-spot for livable streets. Maybe she does apparently..

  • In East Germany, they learned about new projects when they appeared.

    Here, the Politburo has the courtesy to inform us, at times, what they have in mind before it rises.

    Not that more open space is bad, but more open space across the street from Harvey Milk Plaza and the Holocaust memorial open space around the corner from Collingwood Park open space seems like an embarrassment of riches of open space for some while others starve in closed space.

    I’m all for experimentation, but like with so much of Newsom’s “greening,” it has a distinctly political component when it comes to who benefits. At least the real Politburo had a knack for central planning.


  • Schtu

    This is great. The City should continue to experiment with proposals that can be reversed, modified or made permanent. So many projects in this city get slammed because people fear the unknown or they can’t visualize from drawings. By providing a test run you can prove to people that these ideas are workable and an improvement.

    It would be nice if there could be more seating on the sunny side of the street, and homeless people taking over the space is a valid concern. But having businesses help maintain the seating could be a remedy.

  • Funny how that it took Newsom to run for Governor before something good like this could happen. We don’t need 10 years to make things for something like this (which is how long people have been trying to make this improvement). We just need our “leaders” to realize they actually have to do something instead of just putting out press releases.

  • CBrinkman, you right about paving the way for future development. But isn’t it the case that development on an abandoned or closed gas station usually end up being very expensive due to soil clean-up, etc?

    Michael, you are also right. The station is in the back ground so might not be that big of a deal. It would be better to try it and see what happens.

    I’m 100% for this project, just saying that we should give something like this every chance possible to succeed. I’d like people to be able to point to this and say, “Why isn’t something like this in my neighborhood?”

  • CBrinkman

    Mikesonn, I’m not sure about how much more expensive it is to develop a former gas station space, but there are 2 underway a bit down Market – the now empty lot at Market & Sanchez (maybe they ran out of money), and the slated to be deveoped but still a gas station for now at Market and Buchanan, right near the Duboce Bikeway. And I agree that even if the first of these type of projects goes into a neighborhood that’s already nice and vibrant, it gives everyone something to point to and say – see, it works.

  • “right next to a gas station”….

    In some parts of NYC where people are so desperate for public space, I am sure if you put some tables and chairs in a working gas station you’d see people sit! Honest!

    Take it. It is all about experimentation. And as Charles said, why not do this at Cafe Trieste too?

  • Aaron Naparstek

    It is great news for San Francisco that city government is willing to experiment with pilot projects like these. Bureaucrats who are willing to try new things are a rare species. Ed Reiskin deserves a big pat on the back for sticking his neck out to try to make change. No one gets fired from their job at a big city agency for maintaining the status quo.

  • What’s the timeline on this? When can we expect to see this miracle with our own eyes?

  • Herb Cohn

    Nice to see the positive comments.
    What makes this proposal work, as opposed to past 17th Street closure proposals, is that it encompasses only part of the block…. leaving partial automobile access to the Chevron station on 17th, which other proposals have not. Many thanks should be extended to the gracious Sahagun brothers for working with the community on this.
    The Castro CBD’s Streetscape Plan is moving forward, thanks to Ed Reiskin and Supervisor Dufty. For more information on the CBD Streetscape Plan for all of Upper market, you can visit http://www.castrocbd.org .

  • jdub

    Kudos to Ed Reiskin! Let’s do the Trieste Plaza next. After that, how about removing parking from Coit Tower and putting tables and chairs up there. Just a pilot, of course.

  • AS I wrote @ Curbed SF, one of Berkeley’s slow streets, Milvia btwn University and Cedar, ends in a plaza.

  • Josh

    This truly is a ridiculous idea! Why would anyone want to “enjoy” a small patch of cemented area that’s filled with salvage yard leftovers while inhaling unhealthy fumes from not only the cars on the busy streets that surround the designated area but by the gas station? Sounds like an unhealthy way to spend any length of time. Rather than spending the time and effort on this project, why not just do something more with Harvey Milk Plaza? If this is a temporary project, why not do something temporary with Harvey Milk Plaza which is an empty, open space rather than closing a small portion of a street? If a temporary project for HM Plaza proves to be successful, then close the street to create additional outdoor space for all to enjoy?

    A note to Herb Cohn: Allowing automobile access to the gas station certainly isn’t going to make a lick of difference with regard to the success or failure of this project. The fact of the matter is, this project is destined to fail because the buffoons driving this project never sought community opinion nor input.

  • Mary Ann

    I couldn’t agree more with Josh. This project is a sad waste of time and energy. MA

  • Just curious how this project qualified for scarce funds?

    Was there some sort of competition or vetting process or what?


  • Michael P.

    Stone seating and tables? Has anyone been at that location recently? It’s usually either 56 degrees, 15 MPH winds, or both. Might be ten days a year that it’ll be pleasant in that location. Yes, next to the gas station is a lousey location. How about also opening up 18th Street between Castro and Noe Streets? Much better location.

  • Hey, it ain’t “Car Free Market” but it’s a start, and won’t stop people from trying to take back market. Heck, the best part of this is that it will make walking from the Castro onto Market easier – removing right turning cars from 17th which is worth the price of admission alone. The fact that 17th will now effectively dead end at Noe reduces the viability of it as a through street for cars, which could be very useful as a bike route (of course I avoid 17th as a bike route due to the deprecated train tracks but we can work on that too…)

    It definitely improves the F to be able to wait in that plaza instead of on the platform.

    Or, we could ask for 18th to close between Castro and Noe and be laughed out of the building for numerous reasons, among them the 33 runs on that street and cannot be re-routed because it is an electric trolley.

  • Joe

    This is great and Herb and the CBD deserve a lot of credit for getting this to happen. Actually this idea has been rattling around for over 10 years pushed Castro Area Planning and Action (CAPA) which is a group I belong to. In the Upper Market Design Workshops attended by hundreds of people on three nights in 2007, this idea was repeatedly raised by members of the community and is a prominent part of the plan for improving Upper Market that was the result of the design workshops (this can be reviewed at the Planning Department’s website, just do a search for “Upper Market”). And the business community in the Castro followed up with its own streetscape design plan that included this plan also (see link at Herb Cohn’s comment). Not to mention the Harvey Milk Plaza design competition in 2000; the winning entry with 17th Street closure and much more can be seen at http://www.capasf.org.

    This really should be seen as just the start of improving the intersection. We need a plaza that properly honors Harvey Milk and provides a real community open space. Today’s Harvey Milk Plaza is a nice entry to a subway station but it can’t be considered open space.

  • San Francisco is an inherently dense city and is slated to get denser. Any open space we can carve out from those economic pressures is a net win.

    That said, politics is how we allocate scarce resources without reducing ourselves to violence.

    I don’t begrudge any other neighborhood for fighting for what it sees as its best interests, but City government is supposed to be the place where competing claims on public largesse are reconciled politically.

    Given the crying need for open space in much denser neighborhoods that do not have the economic or ethnic privileges of the Castro/Upper Market, what was the political determinant which led to this project getting funded when others were left to languish?

    Does the Tenderloin not need openspace with population densities of 75,000/mi2? How about Chinatown with densities around 50,000/mi2? What about the North Mission with densities of 30,000/mi2? Why would Upper Market, with densities around 15-20,000/mi2 and all sorts of proximate open space receive scarce dollars while other neighborhoods that are arguably more deserving but of lesser means don’t?

    Is this Newsom’s way of trying to apologize to the Castro for royally f’ing up same sex marriage?


  • I commend the effort here. I do agree with some of the observations posted here about how this is coming from nowhere. Hello DPW-MTA and Bevin Dufty – we have a 8-year planning process for the Market and Octavia Plan area(just one block shy of this) and dozens of proposals like this. Get on it.

    One thing to consider is that this is another example of the “green” city picking the low hanging fruit and then resting on their laurels. If the MTA/DPW was really serious they would address Church and Duboce with this approach. That area is a hell hole for transit users. MTA-DPW-Dufty-Newsome should be ashamed that thousands of transit passengers are dumped daily into oncoming car traffic. Church at Duboce is one of the most despicable undignified transit stops I’ve ever seen.

    Oh I forgot, in this “transit first” city people who drive to Safeway MUST have priority to get through Church and Duboce. What was I thinking? The sky would fall if we made space dignified for transit users where it really mattered.

  • planman

    In general, I am in favor of experimental projects that help us rethink and redefine the public realm. I have no problem with this project moving forward as an experiment and maybe it will be a great success, but I have my reservations about the location. I couldn’t agree more with the previous posts that pointed out the bad weather–this area is on the north side of the block and is almost always shaded and cold. It would work well in Los Angeles heat, but not in SF wind and cold. Also, the fumes from the gas station and the traffic are pungent and choking, not to mention the noise from the streetcars.

    Currently, it is a dangerous intersection because taxi drivers and other confused motorists like to turn right from Castro St. across the painted lines and through the crosswalk to the Market Street outlet for 17th St. It doesn’t seem like the City is currently doing enough to guide traffic with effective signage or cite violators. Once the space is implemented, I would hope that cars would not barrel down Market St. and somehow think that they could still veer right down 17th Street. That will make for some panicked pedestrians in the new plaza and a traffic jam at Castro and Market as cars try to back up and vacate the intersection.

    Lastly, I must agree that the public input for all projects in the Castro/Upper Market area need to be better publicized. Whatever the current methods are, they are insufficient.

  • I agree with Murphstahoe, the improvements this will mean to pedestrians crossing the street from Castro to Market (an awful lot of people) are worth the effort in and of themselves.

  • Simon

    Egad, Jason – such (mostly, warranted) snarkyness toward the City and its “transit first” policy. But this time around, you should be pleased to know that as part of MTA’s 2010 track replacement project for Duboce/Church – the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association has been working closely with MTA/DPW/Planning/Bevan Dufty to really beef up pedestrian and transit amenities in that area:


    Might want to check in with the Neighbrhood Assc. to find out more. Looks like the improvements won’t go as far as banning cars from the area – but hopefully it’ll be a step in the right direction for that key transit node.

    One slow step at a time – as most things in the City are. Which is why it’s pretty refreshing and awesome to see such a fast-paced step forward with this temporary plaza idea for Castro/17th. Hopefully it’ll be a big success and result in more of the same!

  • Herb Cohn

    Josh… the lick of difference that this current proposal makes is because it engaged the property owners of the Chevron site to buy into the process. Without their support, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    As for community vetting, I think Joe answered that. Both the months-long Upper Market Workshop by the SF Planning Department and the months-long Streetscape Plan workshops by the Castro CBD addressed not only this type of proposal, but others as well. Both workshops were advertised, promoted, and well attended.

    The comments about Harvey Milk Plaza are actually right on point. The Castro CBD is currently searching for resources to transform the Plaza into what it naturally is… a community meeting place. As we saw depicted in MILK recently, the Plaza has been a political meeting place for decades. It would be nice to recognize that and stop trying to force crowds of folks into what is basically a transit stop. We’re working on it…

  • After all the comments clamoring for exactly this kind of pilot project, I don’t get the complaining about this project happening after just a couple years, and it isn’t exactly like this was an idea someone had last week. If you’ve been to any neighborhood planning meetings, you would have heard about this.

    Closing 17th at Market and Castro has been discussed for years and the Upper Market charrette was one of Bevan Dufty’s re-election campaign promises. It got delayed for a year or so, but the first community meeting was held in september 2007 (as I remember, there were concerns about traffic but pretty much everyone had the attitude of wanting them addressed so that it could happen) but I really just expected it to sit on a shelf after it was approved by the Board of Supervisors last October. Sure, it didn’t take a decade to happen, but it’s had support from all sides so why’d you want to hold it up? Just for the sake of added government bureaucracy? I say, since we’re all in favor of it here in the neighborhood, go for it and hopefully this will be a success story we leverage to push similar projects like the North Beach plaza by Caffe Trieste.

    Check out the Upper Market Community Plan for all the background and details, there are more ambitious projects in the plan that won’t happen for years, if ever.

    About Duboce & Church…

    That page at the SFMTA site is out of date, the project has been put on hold (don’t grown yet) in order to co-ordinate with a traffic calming project the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood association has been pushing for. Had the MTA gone ahead with the re-railing, the traffic calming project might never have happened or would have driven up costs to reconfigure the area right after it was dug up for the track project. On a related side note, I’m hoping with delay to get MTA to reconsider adding an outbound turn from Market onto Church (there’s only one going inbound) while they’re replacing the rail. M hope is to someday have low-floor surface streetcar service on the J-Line to free up capacity in the tunnel.

  • The mayor’s office signs off on stuff like this.

    At this morning’s Planning Commission hearing on transportation and land use, I brought up the notion of a one-stop shopping portal for residents that shows all planning studies going on in an area irrespective of which alphabet soup agency is conducting it, and that was well received by the commissioners.

    If those of us who are plugged in are blindsided by these projects that appear to spring out of nowhere, imagine how accessible these myriad processes are for those not so well connected.


  • This is awesome. My only concern: clearly nobody’s paid attention that that stretch of 17th Street is a bike route. Striping it with bike lanes is part of the Big 56 Project, at least one of two possible alternatives. But the second alternative, rerouting it up 16th Street instead, is better in my view anyhow.

  • Have you ever seen a cyclist on that stretch of 17th? It’s a dead end. In order to even get on it westbound you’d have had to climb up castro from 18th, which is the flattest eastbound route. Anyone going westbound is forced to turn around onto Market since it doesn’t go through to 17th on the other side of Market. Anyone going westbound on that side of Market is probably already using the bike lane route on 15th (14th and 15th are a couplet), cutting over to Market for a couple blocks before taking the slight-right onto 17th.

    I wonder why it’s part of the Bike Plan Update in the first place since it doesn’t go through and there are better, safer and flatter alternative routes already being used all around it?

  • Oakland needs to do something like this at the corner of College and Claremont to save pedestrians on College the painful multistage crossing of Claremont and 62nd/Florio Streets.

  • Liberal Feminist

    This is a total waste of money. We should be spending more on programs for the poor, the homeless, minorities and wymyn. Chevron is a racist, evil oil company that should be driven out of town. Until every battered woman has a home, and poverty is totally eliminated, we shouldn’t spend anything onmaking our city nicer. We need to increase taxes to 80% of people’s total income.

  • Peter

    this looks kind of awesome. i approve. go forth with this project, please. 🙂

  • Wow. Do any of these commenters live in the Castro? I lived at 17th and Diamond for about 4 years and I think this is fantastic idea. Many mornings I waited for the F line and would watch cars nearly trample my neighbors because there wasn’t enough room for them on the platform. Safety at that intersection will definitely increase because of this plaza.

    I have purchased gas at that Chevron, and frankly this change will not impede getting in and out of that station very much because most cars don’t take the sharp right from Castro in front of Orphan Andy’s and make a left into the Chevron from 17th. They will take the soft left onto Market and use the entrance off Market which isn’t blocked by the new plaza.

    For many warm, sunny days during most of the year in Castro, this is going to be fantastic. (Not that I live in SF anymore, but I had to read this article because it was so close to my old place.)

  • Sprocket&Axel

    This look great – now if we could get the 33 bus off 18th Street between Castro and Market and divert to Market all the way, as they once were, we can keep the buses from killing cyclists and crossing pedestrians in this steep grade.


  • trp

    Marcos, have you advocated for these other spots where you want to see plazas? Or organized the residents to ask for this attention? Because these things do not just fall from heaven, or the Politburo. People bark, and the loudest barks get heard. Politics are certainly not absent, but don’t discount the less visible locals who have pushed for this 17th improvement. You may not see them, but their reps do.

  • Scottable

    This is a fantastic idea! I moved from NYC last year and lived near the Meatpacking District. That little patch of street is so much nicer now and people love it. 17th and Castro is the perfect spot to do this in SF. 🙂

    My only reservation is about the homeless population taking over the plaza. The police need to make sure this area doesn’t become a complete mess (or a larger version of the stretch of 16th street between Market and Pond streets).

  • Finally! Duh! Only cars ever coming out of that street I’ve ever seen are confused and panic-faced tourists not sure whether they’re about to get sucked underground into the Muni tunnel, or slapped with a traffic ticket for driving in some kind of access road — you can almost see them bracing for the sound of tire spikes $$ and visions of no-coverage under their rental car damage waiver! 😉 LOL

    So yeah, like I wonder how many peds have been injured at that silly, confusing intersection — as well as the one just one block away at 16th and Noe (that’s another deathtrap disaster zone, IMHO) — while the supes (?) and (that too often snippy) Merchant$ of Upper Market clan debated for 10 (!!) years about “gee, what ever to do!”. Sigh. Hope this is the “seed” for many such (even minor) car-free initiatives all along Market — down thru Church — and connecting to Hayes V? Gawd, and if 5th/sixth/7th @ mkt would ever get even a modicom of real attention — ?? Nah, I’m a dreamer! ;-$
    Cheers SF! Prenzlauerberg, Berlin and the Old City area of Krakow, Poland salute these baby-step efforts!


  • Peter Toscani

    I live nearby and had the pleasure to see the planters laid out today and a phalanx of traffic control officers guarding said planters –or…? How much did the city spend on their services? Why were they there? What’s up with the gas station still there and really, why not utilize that Harvey Milk Plaza to its full potential instead of this spontaneous-looking “park”? But the planters are up already so let us try to make the best of it! Now to get a couple 18 story towers looming over it and we really could be enlightened.

  • Michael Ritter

    The plaza is nice nod to making our streets livable. The next couple of blocks though prove to be one missed opportunity and one sheer disregard for our neighborhood. The people at Cornish and Carey win the prize for sheet disregard for the neighborhood by shrouding the open green space at the corner of Noe and Market in a hideous canvas curtain – a fine example of owner entitlement trumping the greater good. The award for missed opportunity goes to the new bank building and parking lot fronting the corner of Sanchez and market – putting a parking lot on a corner is counter to what the Upper Market planning meetings last year stated makes a street scape pedestrian friendly and beautiful – something that should be avoided.

  • This corner is sunny and active with pedestrians, and there’s no green space in the area for eating lunch unless you walk to delores park. The muni plaza across the street, designed in the 70s, is a ridiculous waste of space that does nothing but give bums a place to camp out. I imagined repurposing that pointless walkway to nowhere into a usable open area, but closing 17th makes way more sense. It’s sunnier, busy, and right next to the F-line terminal.

    The street served little purpose. The gas station that these frumpy conservatives are complaining about is neither dirty nor even directly that close to the street; there is a mini garden on the corner of the lot anyway. I’m most impressed that a pedestrian area and streetcar could share the same area (as they do all over European cities) in America without people freaking out about how terribly dangerous this is. What’s dangerous is that as a street, this serves as an offramp to the freeway of fast moving traffic barreling down Market street from Twin Peaks. I’ve seen plenty of huge pickups fly through this crosswalk at asinine speeds as they enter what is a sleepy residential neighborhood.

    Congratulations on SF doing something smart. It’s hard to fathom that Muni was involved in this somehow without burning the project down.

  • Allan Dewes

    Very cool! I remember about 1 year ago responding to a street survey about castro improvements. I said, how about a place sit in the sun on nice days and eat your lunch. Thank you for not just listening – but making it happen. I spent today having coffee and reading email in the park before going to the gynm. This must be permanent. SF needs more of these parks. SF DOT gets AAA+++. Allan

  • I’m also very excited about this! Agreed, we need more under the sun spots in the neighborhood. Best of all, we won’t have to worry about getting run over when crossing the street between Twin Peaks and the gas station. Kudos for making this pilot happen!

  • FromageMan

    How about painting the plaza green instead of that brownish color? Also, how about some real planters instead of those cardboard tubes reminiscent of college dorm creativity. I like the granite. It’s like something from ancient ruins. Maybe we can get a palm tree in that small triangle by the gas station.


Mayor Newsom Unveils SF’s First Pavement to Parks Plaza

Supervisor Dufty and Mayor Newsom at the 17th St. plaza dedication cerimony, via Jamison on Flickr Standing before a crowd of more than 100 people, many of them city staff who had worked to realize the transformation of an underutilized street into a "Pavement to Parks" pedestrian refuge, Mayor Gavin Newsom dedicated the first of […]

17th St and Market St Plaza Opens Next Wednesday

Site of the trial 17th Street closure and pedestrian plaza. Photo: Matthew Roth The trial street closure for a pedestrian plaza at the corner of Market Street, 17th Street, and Castro Street will kick off next Wednesday, May 13th with a press conference with Mayor Gavin Newsom.  As we wrote about here, the trial closure […]