City Agencies Unveil Final Design for Bartlett “Mercado Plaza”

Images: Planning Department

The final designs for a people-friendly block of Bartlett Street in the Mission were presented [PDF] last week by the Planning Department, Department of Public Works, the SFMTA, and the design firm Rebar. The plan retains the sidewalk extensions that are key to calming traffic and inviting social activity outside of events like the weekly Mission Community Market, when the block is closed to cars.

The project still depends, however, on the SF Fire Department’s approval of the 14-foot roadway. SFFD has opposed narrowing the road below the state Fire Code minimum of 20 feet of unobstructed roadway. Department officials say it could inhibit emergency vehicle access, even though a number of other states and cities use 12-foot minimums without problems. The curbs on the lightly-trafficked block would also be less than six inches high — easily mountable by emergency vehicles — which will no longer be considered an obstruction by the city under legislation recently passed by the Board of Supervisors, set to go into effect at an unknown date.

A few residents at last week’s meeting re-stated their complaints about the plan’s removal of 21 on-street parking spaces on Bartlett to make room for more public space. City staffers, however, displayed a chart showing that the 350-space garage and parking spots on Bartlett are rarely full. A few other residents voiced continued support for the replacement of car parking with pedestrian space.

A future Barlett Street on a regular day.

An overview of the street plan, seen on a regular day (top) and an event day (bottom). Click to enlarge.

“We think that the trade-offs are well worth it to have a complete street that is safe, inviting, and fun to use,” said DPW planner John Dennis.

The project is set to be constructed from April 2014 through the end of the year, while temporary pilot treatments will be installed this year as part of the city’s Pavement to Parks program. City planners said they will aim to create a “gateway” feel at the block’s entrance at Bartlett and 22nd Streets by designing a graphic to cover the roadway at the intersection. The preliminary design will be installed using temporary materials before a final design, including raised crosswalks, is installed.

Other improvements set for this year include a marquee sign hanging over the entrance, temporary seating installations, and an on-street stage. The Planning Department, DPW, and Mission Community Market organizers also plan to develop a slate of public events on the block in the coming months.

Bartlett during a market night.