Valencia Businesses Hope Customers Keep Shopping During Construction

3834539087_dd4b695d92.jpgAt 16th Street and Valencia, the first signs of streetscape improvement work. Photo: Bryan Goebel

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.

IMG_4561.jpgWith Supervisor Chris Daly and business owners looking on, the DPW’s Alex Murillo vowed to keep access to businesses open, and bike lanes clear of work materials. Photo: Michael Rhodes

"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
out."

IMG_4552.jpgSupervisor Chris Daly. Photo: Michael Rhodes

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."

IMG_4563_1.jpgSean Quigley, owner of Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids. Photo: Michael Rhodes

"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.

  • Peter Smith

    dang — impressed that the city seems to be making the right noises.

  • Gerrard

    Why do some people act as though the only way to support one’s city is by promoting small business and beautification projects? I mean, of course it’s no accident that districts with lots of merchants or with capital intensive development projects get primary access to money and services. No one on this blog has confronted John Ross’s observation that SF has become a “sanctuary city for the rich.” Is this what the readers of streetsblog want? How many of these readers have lived here long enough to see how much vitality and real artfulness has been lost in the city due to this official city policy of kicking out the poor? I don’t care how many bike lanes we got now, if SF-style gentrification continues we will all suffer the cultural homogeneity that it inevitably brings, and all the well-heeled or working hipsters who have migrated here because they thought it was an interesting place to live will have to go seek greener pastures.

  • marcos – is that you?

  • SFResident

    Gerrard, building a livable city that can be enjoyed by all San Franciscians and creating a walkable, bikeable, vibrant city are not mutually exclusive.

    Indeed, I would argue that promoting small businesses and comprehensive transit solutions are two issues at the heart of urban social justice.

    Unless you really think that poor people enjoy living in ugly areas with nothing but big-box stores and no access to affordable public transit. . .

    It’s not the “only way” to build a better and more just city but it’s certainly one piece in the puzzle. . . .

  • The thing is… there basically *are* no greener pastures. You can argue the exact rankings, but San Francisco is something like the fourth most interesting place in the world (behind New York, London, and Paris). Nowhere else within hundreds of miles comes close. If new residents are in fact dragging it down, it still has a long, long way to fall (or Berkeley has a long way to rise) before people looking for an interesting life in the area would choose to go anywhere else instead. Where would you tell them to go?

  • Aaron B.

    All I know is less cars and more people definitely means more interesting…

    And ideally, these projects should be done in commercial districts everywhere regardless of class, so that they would no longer be viewed in such a light. Everyone in any city should have the right to safe, welcoming streets. This is a beginning, and I couldn’t be happier for it.

  • And note – they aren’t doing this on Union, Lombard, Chestnut. They are doing it on Valencia – which services a much wider spectrum of people. Spectrum includes ALL sectors.

  • Look at this video of a recently renovated street in Holland.

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/08/evolution-of-one-dutch-road-over-200.html

    Note how many bikes are parked outside shops. Note how few cars. Note the physically separated bike lanes! Note the wonderful, beautifully smooth pavement in the bike lanes. (Before I started riding my bike in the city, I never realized smooth pavement could make a person drool, or at least sigh helplessly and hopelessly, as one does over young love.)

    Though I realize the comparisons with Valencia Street are limited, it’s good to see how a country that really knows what it’s doing with bikes does it. I have to say though that that place is flat–really, really flat.

  • Pat

    Small business owners are not “the rich.” Small businesses actually provide a sort of growing medium or foundation for human activity that encourages your “artful poor” that provide vitality to the city to come and make a community. Small business-rich areas getting beautification also makes sense because they are high traffic areas so the greatest number of people will benefit from them.

  • soylatte

    Maybe the construction hazards will make the biker in the pic invest in some brakes! :p

  • Kevin

    Got to admit, I am a little bummed to see Valencia go under the knife yet again after all the repaving/pluming/random projects over the last few years. You can finally ride down Valencia without hitting a huge metal plate on the ground or dodging a cement truck…However I think the project will be amazing once completed and fully support it!

  • Gerrard

    Well, I guess this is the closest thing this blog gets to a debate about what REALLY makes a place a “livable city.” So here’s a few responses:

    SFResident? If you think that promoting small business is a “social justice issue” I’m sorry but you’re kind of out to lunch. Sure it’s nice if we could all somehow benefit from the wealth of these businesses, but Mom and Pop ain’t who they used to be, in case you didn’t notice. And of course I don’t think poor people want to live in “ugly areas”. But our first priority, of course, is to live anywhere at all…

    Eric Fischer? If you’re criteria for what is or is not interesting comes from some magazine poll then you’re probably one of the people who are making this city decidedly more BORING…

    Aaron B.? If you think less cars and more people = more interesting you obviously have never visited a shopping mall.

    John Murphy, those upscale neighborhoods you mentioned have long received their injections of city money, and in any case, except for some stretches of Lombard, it’s been a long time since those areas had anything near the diversity of the mission. And c’mon, do you really think the “spectrum of people” that traverses Valencia street is more important to the city than the $$ that the increasingly upscale shopping district brings in? If that were the case, I can think of a good number of other SF neighborhoods with such “spectrums” that might be getting more than the dregs that they currently get…

    Pat, see above. And p.s.? You can take your “foundation for human activity” and stick it someplace nice and shady. That way all your nice active humans won’t get too sunburned .

  • No, I have no faith in magazine polls, which tend to have crazy results like ranking Fremont one of the 10 most walkable places in the country.

    My place-ranking methodology is based on what clusters of places people take pictures of and post to Flickr or Picasa, on the assumption that if they are taking pictures they are finding interesting things and enjoying themselves. I know there are all kinds of problems with this, but it’s the most geographically-detailed data source that I know of, and the results for places that I know personally seem to match my intuitions pretty well.

    If you have a better way to rank places, I would be eager to know what you consider the most interesting ones.

  • Richard

    I used to go to Valencia St., but the down economy means thinking twice now about paying more for muni (and dealing with the lousy service) to get there and back. I’m staying in my own neighborhood now (Haight) and planning a move to Europe! SF was SUCH a better city 20 years ago!!