City to Expedite Two Blocks of Fisherman’s Wharf Redesign for Summer 2013

A "stripped down" version of the street plan showing the basic geometry of changes planned on Jefferson Street between Jones and Hyde. See ##http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2012/02/Jefferson-5-block-concept-render-2012-01-25.pdf##full PDF here##. Image: SF Planning Department

As the plan to revamp the public realm on Jefferson Street in Fisherman’s Wharf develops, planners recently announced that two blocks of the project could be brought to life by summer of 2013 in time for America’s Cup.

At a recent public meeting, staff from the San Francisco Planning Department’s City Design Group presented the latest designs for the Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan. Some changes have been made from concept designs presented as late as last year, including the decision to rescind a proposal for a curb-less “shared street” where cars are allowed, but people are granted priority. Instead, the project will feature curbs as conventional streets do, though it won’t include curbside car parking.

Despite the change, the project is still intended to transform Jefferson into a “beautiful, lively and memorable street that strengthens the identity of Fisherman’s Wharf,” planner Neil Hrushowy told the San Francisco Chronicle:

The work will include adding 15 feet to the sidewalk along the water side of the street, where visitors now must wend their way past crab stands, street vendors, entertainers and outdoor dining tables that take up much of the walkway.

On the other side of Jefferson Street, current plans call for the removal of parking meters, trees and other sidewalk obstacles.

The biggest changes will be to the street itself. The wider sidewalk will mean a narrower roadway, with no street parking and traffic limited to two 11-foot-wide lanes. For the first time in decades, Jefferson will be opened to two-way traffic, dramatically slowing the cars and trucks and making the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

“This is a way to show San Francisco as a model for a pedestrian-priority city,” said Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe. “I look forward to more projects like this throughout the city to benefit residents as well as visitors.”

Restoring two-way vehicle traffic on Jefferson and Hyde Streets is another one of the main differences compared to previous designs, along with maintaining the current streetcar turn onto Jones and shelving restrictions on private autos, according to the Planning Department’s presentation from the meeting [PDF].

The rationale for the changes, the department says, is to “simplify the design, improve bicycle safety, calm the street, increase [the] flexibility of circulation, minimize cost,” and speed up the timeline.

Construction is being expedited on the project’s first phase between Jones and Hyde Streets — two of the five blocks in the project scope — to greet the hundreds of thousands of additional visitors expected for the America’s Cup yacht races next summer. Work on those blocks doesn’t include the rail tracks and overhead wires for the F-Line streetcars, making it “the easiest, quickest way to get the project in the ground and demonstrate the plan to the community,” Hrushowy told the Chronicle.

“I think it’s important to have projects like this in extremely visible places,” noted Stampe, who said she hopes the city will also consider piloting wayfinding signs in the area to help visitors be aware of how quickly they can walk to various destinations.

As for the rest of the project, no timeline has been set yet, but it will require finding an additional $7.5 million in funding on top of the $5 million identified for the first phase, according to the Chronicle.

Planners are consulting with merchants as they finalize the plans for details like street furniture, pavement, and lighting. Those are set to be presented at another community meeting later this month. Construction is scheduled to begin in October.

Jefferson Street as it looks today. Photo: SF Planning Department
A rendering of a previous proposal for a "shared street". The project will still look similar this, but will include differences like curbs separating the roadway from the sidewalks. Image: SF Planning Department
  • mikesonn

    “Work on those blocks doesn’t involve work on the rail tracks and overhead wires for the F-Line streetcars”
    Though it should include the extension of the F-line to Ft Mason, but all thanks be to Alioto-Pier for being a stick in the mud on that one.

    But I am glad to see the city pushing forward on this. I think once it’s completed, the rest of Jefferson will be clamoring for their portion to be upgraded. #DontLetEdLeeFindOut

  • “The wider sidewalk will mean a narrower roadway, with no street parking and traffic limited to two 11-foot-wide lanes”

    No way this project gets through then, right?

  • mikesonn

    Jefferson from Hyde to Jones is SFPark metered. Wonder what will happen to those if this happens.

  • ubringliten

    Although I am happy about any street improvement, I don’t know why streets that are filled with pedestrians like these need to have car traffic?  They need to close off these streets and only allowed pedestrians and cyclists only.  It doesn’t make any sense for cars to go through.  What’s the point?

  • Anonymous

    Delivery truck, fire truck, disabled access, blah blah blah. I think this is great compromise. All those truck got their access and the plan can get through without too much problem. And if the street is filled with people like in the rendering, it will completely turn off to drivers who are trying to drive through.

    The golden gate park concourse should have been done this way. Remove the curb, let people walk on it and make it a real pedestrian heaven and let cars be there if it is really necessary.

  • Anonymous

    This would be amazing. I can think of things to complain about, but honestly, if we actually built a street like this, SF would be making huge progress in taking our city back from cars.

  • ” Work on those blocks doesn’t include the rail tracks and overhead wires
    for the F-Line streetcars, making it “the easiest, quickest way to get
    the project in the ground and demonstrate the plan to the community,”
    Hrushowy told the Chronicle.”

    So the e-line is dead…? Or do they really plan on rebuilding the street in 2013, and then ripping it up later to install the streetcar?

    Also, one major difference between a shared street and the proposed street is how pedestrians can cross. As long as pedestrians can cross at any point, at any time, then the new concept is fine. 

  • Davistrain

    As a long-time advocate of building more electric railways (in SF and everywhere else) I would hope that when the street is rebuilt for this project, the design includes removable sections to allow installation of tracks at a (not too much) later date.

  • mikesonn

    This stretch of road is west of the F-line (and future E-line) turn around. However, redoing this stretch without the addition of tracks negates the possible Ft Mason extension.

  • marcos

    @google-c1054b713ae4d63cc3ebaf620c20fb35:disqus when making a mega event successful for billionaires, the interest of the 1% trumps the interests of mere mortal 99% of San Franciscans.  All sorts of experiments that have been on hold for years are slated to be tried out, such as the 47L precursor to the 49L even though the 47 is a diesel line and the 49L is supposed to be an electric trolley coach.

  • TL

    Pedestrians can cross at any point as long as they’re not between two signalized intersections. Since Jefferson is controlled by stop signs along this stretch, it should be legal to cross anywhere, unless the city passes a law specifying otherwise.

  • TL

    …though one important caveat is that pedestrians will not have right-of-way if they cross midblock here, as they would under the original proposal. Still, 22 feet isn’t that far to cross, and this should be pretty nice. Compare this to 24th Street in Noe Valley, which is probably ~36 feet from curb to curb — much narrower.

  • TL

    I like this proposal still, but, I have a feeling Ed Lee already “found out” (i.e. nixed) the original proposal.

  • @c85acb5e016ebe79fb387718619cf335:disqus  from what I understand the finer details of jaywalking are lost on most. You are correct that a literal interpretation means the stop sign is not a traffic control signal, so you can cross anywhere. But not all cops know that, and not all judges agree.

    And the area is for tourists. Tourists dont know how strict local jaywalking laws are, or what they entail. Cops in LA are known for ticketing pedestrians for committing the heinous crime of beginning to cross while the red hand is flashing (regardless of how much time is left when they finish)

  • mikesonn

    #occupyJeffersonSt

  • JimBeam

    In NYC, they would do this using a “pilot” process with paint, planters, tables and chairs and have the whole 5 blocks done at once for far less cost and less disruption to merchants and visitors.  It could be ready in a few months, in time for AC events in 2012.  The permanent construction, if ever built, would benefit from what was learned during the pilot.  

    In Union Square NYC, the plans were unveiled on April 27, 2010 with completed installation Sep 16 of the same year.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/04/27/dot-unveils-union-square-upgrades-to-manhattan-cb-5/

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/09/16/eyes-on-the-street-union-square-chairs-slow-speed-zones-ps-36s-batcave/

    It is about time we had a large scale piloted street intervention here in SF.

  • Troytc

    The two blocks being worked on are between Hyde and Jones.  The F Line (and the E line when it begins) stop at Jones.  

  • Troytc

    FYI  –  This does not negate the future Fort Mason Extension that is being put together by the National Park Service.  That line would do as the F line does now, turn from Jefferson to Jones Street the right on Beach instead of left.  It would continue down beach, cross Hyde by the Buena Vista, in front of G. Sq then curve into the park and through the tunnel.

  • mikesonn

    Troytc, why would it take that route? Is there documentation on the plan? There are tracks on Jefferson, along the water, and follow the contour right into the tunnel. The turn off of Van Ness into the existing tunnel would be very sharp.

  • mikesonn

    Troytc, my apologies. I should of did some research first. You are correct.

    http://www.streetcar.org/blog/2009/06/reunifying-the-wharf.html 

    Also, looks like a better route and leaves the water front open to pedestrians and cyclists. Sadly, I usually bike to the Ft Mason hill using the route that the F-line would take because there is often less people. Wonder if that will still be an option once completed.

  • marcos

    @tungwaiyip:disqus  “The golden gate park concourse should have been done this way”

    The billionaires did not want it that way at the Concourse, but the billionaires did want it this way at the Wharf.  Get the common thread here?

  • It’s apparently going to replace 25 street trees on Jefferson with… lamp-posts.

  • mikesonn

    Where did you hear/see that?

  • Karen B.

     We heard this news from a woman who lives near there at a Sierra Club meeting last night. Even though the drawings show otherwise, the most recent
    plan is to remove 2 blocks worth of street trees and not replace them.
    She found out when she noticed a Tree Removal Notice attached to one of
    the trees. From DPW’s meeting agenda for Monday, 8/27 at 5:30pm: “Order No. 180,590 – To consider the removal without replacement of twenty-five
    (25) privately maintained street trees adjacent to
    multiple properties on Jefferson Street from Hyde to Jones.” (http://www.sfdpw.org/index.aspx?page=31) If they could keep the street trees when they widened the sidewalks on Valencia, I don’t understand why this is necessary.

  • There’s a hearing about it on Aug 27th  at 5.30 p.m, and a petition against the removal of the trees. Details here:
    http://jeffersonstreettrees.wordpress.com/

  •  Karen B’s link isn’t working, but here is one that should.
    http://www.sfdpw.org/index.aspx?page=31

  • The efforts to save the trees was largely successful. The project has been modified to preserve 21 of the 25 trees. 

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