Mission Sunday Streets Will Showcase Merchants and Cultural Centers

SS_presser.jpgMission Cultural Center board member Eva Sandoval at a Sunday Streets press conference in the 24th and York Streets mini park in the Mission.  Photo: Matthew Roth

The first of two Mission Sunday Streets is this weekend, opening up wide swaths of car-free space away from the city’s edges and in busy neighborhood streets where businesses are excited about the prospects.

"This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the 24th Street neighborhood, its culture, restaurants, parks and murals," said Eric Arguello, director of the Lower 24th Merchant and Neighborhood Association. "In these rough economic times this event will bring in much needed economic activity to the corridor. It's also an opportunity for us to promote our community based organizations and their services, and to create activities for our youth."

The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts will be hosting various events, including Danzas Aztecas performances. "It's an opportunity for our families, the children, and the neighborhood to come out and enjoy the day, to have a safe place to have activities," said board member Eva Royale. "I know many children have bicycles  that they don't know how to ride because they never have a place to ride them, so this is an opportunity.  Bring the family and enjoy the day."

The route will connect Dolores Park with Rolph Playground via Valencia and 24th Streets, two of the most crowded and important arteries in San Francisco. With streets closed from 10 am until 2 pm, organizers anticipate drawing large crowds and more pedestrians than previous Sunday Streets.

Mayor Newsom's Climate Director Wade Crowfoot admitted that the Mission event has raised challenges that weren't present on previous routes. 

"There is a lot of through traffic that would normally cross the route," he said. "What we've tried to do is minimize the number of intermittent traffic control stops that allow traffic through to provide a good experience for the people using the route but provide enough of these intersections that allow through traffic to not inconvenience the neighborhood."

MTA's traffic chief Bond Yee urged participants to come to the event by BART or walking and cycling. "We're excited to be in the forefront of sustainability in San Francisco.  As you know, San Francisco continues to lead the nation in terms of per capita usage of bicycles, walking and also transit for cities of comparable size."

All the event's sponsors help defray the costs of deploying traffic control officers and SFPD, but the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQD) is also excited about the health and environmental benefits. BAAQMD's Ana Sandoval said, "We are committed to protecting public health in the Bay Area by providing a clean and healthy breathing environment for all Bay Area residents and that's exactly what Sunday Streets does.  It allows people to enjoy the outdoors without that vehicle exhaust for a few hours of the day. We want people to remember when they're riding their bicycle or sliding down on their roller blades, feeling that clean air, free of exhaust, brushing past their face, we want them to think about ways they can spare the air every day."

Crowfoot stressed that Mission Sunday Streets would not be like Carnaval or other parades in the area. "The difference between this and a parade is this is participatory," he said. "When you come to Sunday Streets, you are the parade. The idea is to get people actually active in the streets. It's really about allowing people to come out and do whatever they want to be doing."

Remember to upload your photos of the event to our flickr group page here. See you in the middle of the streets!