The Valencia Streetscape Improvement Project will bring major enhancements to Valencia Street that will benefit all of its users. To get there though, bicyclists and businesses will have to weather a nine-month storm of construction, which began three weeks ago. At a press conference today at ArtZone 461 Gallery, Supervisor Chris Daly and the DPW’s Alex Murillo vowed to do everything possible to help make the process less painful, and business owners sought to remind residents that they will remain open throughout, even if work crews are right outside their door.
Businesses are "basically looking at a double-whammy over the next nine to twelve months," said Daly. "The double-whammy being, obviously, the economy that’s down, tough times for everybody here in San Francisco, and then looking forward to living through a construction project. So, I wanted to come here and help put this together to put the word out that Valencia Street is open for business, that you’re going to find no better commercial corridor in all of San Francisco."
The enhancements on Valencia, from 15th Street to 19th Street, will
include sidewalk widening, additional street trees, additional street
lighting, sidewalk bulb-outs, and art elements. While business owners
expressed concerns about maintaining access and parking during
construction, there was broad support for the project on the whole.
"Certainly any kind of disruption to the street affects us, but it’s
all the more reason to come out," said Deborah Cullinan, executive
director of Intersection for the Arts. "At the end of this process,
which is only about nine months, it’s going to be even more gorgeous.
There are going to be more trees, wider sidewalks, it’s just going to
be a better place to come to. So we hope that people continue to come
Sean Quigley, who owns Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids, also sought to remind people to shop the Valencia corridor during construction. "They’re going to do their best to not be disruptive, but we still people to come down and support the local businesses."
The DPW’s Murillo vowed that he would do everything in his power to respond to concerns. "We’re also going to be very, very aware during construction," said Murillo. "I want to let everyone know that we will be aware of the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists in the area. So if there are any concerns during construction, I’m your point of contact, reach out to me."
Murillo said the DPW has "a partnering session" tomorrow "where we’re meeting with the contractor, myself, other city officials, police captain [Stephen] Tacchini, Pedro Tuyub, who’s with the Mission Merchants Association," and Neal Patel of the SFBC.
"We’ve got a partnering session where we’re meeting with them, strategizing just how we can try to streamline the project and address any concerns. The reason I invited them out there is because I need them to add emphasis to what I’ve been saying, which is, keep the bike lanes open, keep the housekeeping tight, we don’t want any trash out there."
"The bicyclists have expressed concerns to me about insuring that the bike path is kept free of any work materials, and that will be the case," said Murillo. "We will maintain the bike lanes free of any work materials, and bicyclists will have a bike lane on the street. We will also maintain access to all businesses at all hours. All businesses will be open during construction, so please come out and visit Valencia anytime."
To minimize disruption, DPW will work on one block at a time, first on the west side of all the blocks, and then on the east side of each block. Work will also be suspended from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, so businesses will not be hit during the holiday season.
Supervisor Daly, who arrived by bicycle, said he was there "to do my part, bicycling up and down the corridor, frequenting the small business and the arts organizations, supporting the non-profits here over the next year of construction."
Bicyclists are encouraged to contact both DPW’s Alex Murillo and SFBC’s Neal Patel if they encounter an obstructed bike lane without proper signage during the nine months of construction. Murillo can be reached by phone at (415) 437-7009 or email at alex.m.murillo (at) sfdpw.org. Patel can be reached by phone at (415) 431-BIKE x312 or email at neal (at) sfbike.org.