Skip to content

Posts from the "Sunday Streets" Category

5 Comments

Inner Richmond’s First Sunday Streets Lively With Llamas and Humans

This post supported by

Despite the cloudy weather, Clement and Arguello Streets were bustling yesterday during the first Sunday Streets in the Inner Richmond — the first Sunday Streets to come to the west side’s neighborhood streets. (The other events have all been in Golden Gate Park and on the Great Highway.)

With the event tied in with Clement’s on-street farmer’s market, which launched a few months ago, the throngs of humans were no surprise. Less expected were the llamas.

Arguello, a residential street, wasn’t quite as lively as Clement, though removing the cars certainly made it more kid-friendly and provided a much quieter, safer connection to walk and bike between the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.

More photos after the break.

Read more…

2 Comments

Despite Broad Support, Sunday Streets Berkeley Can’t Grow Without Funding

In its second iteration, Sunday Streets Berkeley flooded Shattuck Avenue with an estimated 50,000 people last weekend in an even more powerful demonstration of the draw of closing streets to cars and opening them up to people.

Since the first event one year ago, political support seems to have only grown, and attendance once again exceeded expectations despite the challenges organizers continue to face in receiving financial support from the city.

“It really is a very important event now in Berkeley,” said Mayor Tom Bates. ”People all want to extend it to have it be more than once a year, and I would certainly be in favor of it.”

Sunday Streets Berkeley received support from the City Council, which set aside nearly $60,000 to help finance one event for 2013 and another in 2014 (each event requires about $50,000 total). While some council members had initially expressed hesitance to approve those funds, the majority were apparently won over.

“There were lots of people with kids, which was wonderful to see,” noted Berkeley Council Member Laurie Capitelli, who championed the city’s grant to help support the program. “I really believe in the concept of Sunday Streets.”

“Open streets don’t survive [without] the city — the minimal level of support is that the city covers traffic, police, etc.,” said Emunah Hauser, Sunday Streets director for Livable Berkeley.

John Caner, the chief executive officer of the Downtown Berkeley Association, remembers being “dumbfounded by the outpouring” when over 40,000 people turned out for the first event last October, where just 5,000 were expected. The Downtown Berkeley Association helped fund this year’s event along with the North Shattuck Association.

As with the launch of Sunday Streets San Francisco in 2008, merchants who initially opposed the events based on fears that removing car traffic would hurt their businesses were quickly won over after witnessing the opposite result.

Read more…

3 Comments

This Weekend: Sunday Streets Returns to the Tenderloin and Civic Center

This post supported by

Jones Street. Photo: Sirgious/Flickr

It’s been a while, but the Tenderloin and Civic Center will be graced once again with Sunday Streets this weekend. Get out and enjoy this rare opportunity to play on the normally speed-dominated streets of one of the city’s densest neighborhoods.

3 Comments

Eyes on the Street: Lounging on a Reclaimed Valencia Street

This post supported by

Photos: Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

Swinging through SF for a few days, Streetfilms producer Clarence spotted a nice setup at yesterday’s Sunday Streets in the Mission. Harrington’s, an antique furniture store, used some of  its sofa inventory to create a comfortable little music venue on Valencia Street.

“People were encouraged to just sit in it,” said Clarence, noting that “tons of music” on SF’s streets “provided a nice laid back vibe we don’t see nearly as much in NYC.”

It’s always great to see the creative ways merchants find to embrace Sunday Streets — it’s good for business, good for health, and good for building community.

3 Comments

City’s First “Play Streets” Event Kicks Off in the Western Addition

Photos: Aaron Bialick

Two blocks in the Western Addition were closed to cars and turned into a neighborhood gathering space Saturday for the city’s first “Play Streets” event. The program is an effort to build on the success of Sunday Streets and provide smaller-scale car-free spaces where people can play and socialize on a more frequent basis.

“This is an attempt to do all the great things that we do on Sunday Streets — creating a place for outdoor recreation, for neighbors to gather, for people to connect — but to do it on a small scale, and allow communities to self-start,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, which organizes Sunday Streets. “Sunday Streets is a big operation, and can be complicated. With Play Streets, we want it to scale down so any neighborhood can take back their streets for a day, or part of a day, and make them community space where kids can play and neighbors can be together.”

Supervisor London Breed with community activist Meaghan Mitchell (right) and Plaza East residents.

D5 Supervisor London Breed, who grew up in the immediate neighborhood, spoke at the event along with organizers from Sunday Streets and agencies that helped coordinate the program. In addition to providing a space that’s safe from car traffic, organizers said the aim was to invite residents to participate in community life with a space that feels safer from crime.

“Part of the challenge that we’ve come to face in this community has been kids not feeling comfortable and free to come outside and just enjoy themselves and be themselves,” said Breed. “I believe that we need to block off more streets to allow families and kids to play and be free.”

Read more…

16 Comments

New Stats on the Health and Business Benefits of Sunday Streets

This post supported by

Sunday Streets on outer Mission Street in the Excelsior last October. Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr

When San Francisco streets are opened up to people for Sunday Streets, the influx of foot traffic brings a host of health and economic benefits to the city’s neighborhoods, according to findings presented by Dr. Susan Zieff, a professor of kinesiology at SF State University, at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing yesterday.

Zieff and her team surveyed 600 Sunday Streets participants at events 2010 and 2011, collecting data that makes a strong case for investing in open streets events. One of the data points we reported in late 2011, for instance, is that every dollar spent on running Sunday Streets yields an estimated savings of $2.32 in medical costs.

The studies “have been really invaluable to us,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, which organizes Sunday Streets with help from city agencies.

The top reason people come to Sunday Streets, said Zieff, is to enjoy the city’s streets in a way that’s impossible at nearly any other time, when the space is primarily reserved for traffic and parking.

“Over and over again, people talk about being able to walk down the middle of the street with their families, do physical activity in a safe environment, not to worry about vehicle traffic, and generally be around people who are having a good time,” said Zieff.

In Zieff’s survey, 51 percent of participants reported coming from outside the neighborhood, and the average participant traveled 3.25 miles, round trip, to the event. Among those who had attended Sunday Streets more than once, 25 percent reported an overall increase in physical activity since they began participating in the events. And, Zieff noted, the ethnic demographics at Sunday Streets are generally representative of the city as a whole, meaning the events appear to be effective at increasing physical activity among African-American and Latino residents, who tend to suffer the highest rates of cardiovascular disease.

Read more…

4 Comments

Sunday Streets Coming to the Richmond in October

This post supported by

Clement Street will finally be opened up to people instead of cars. Photo: musicsack/Flickr

Later this year, for the first time, the Richmond District will be graced with Sunday Streets. The event in late October will run from inner Clement Street all the way out to Ocean Beach, D1 Supervisor Eric Mar announced at a Board of Supervisors meeting this week.

Organizers haven’t established the details of the route or the exact date, but an aide from Mar’s office said it will likely include inner Clement’s commercial strip and a major section of Balboa Street, running out to the Great Highway and including connections into Golden Gate Park, where eastern John F. Kennedy Drive is already car-free every Sunday.

Sunday Streets events in the western neighborhoods thus far have been limited to extensions of Golden Gate Park’s regular car-free route out to the Great Highway, and the Richmond event would be the first time it comes to the area’s neighborhood and commercial streets. Inner Sunset residents have made strides in establishing regular street openings, but the city’s sky-high fees have forced organizers to commercialize the event and limit it to one block.

Noting how much he enjoyed the Sunday Streets 2013 kick-off on the Embarcadero last Sunday, Mar said he hopes “people take the chance to explore other neighborhoods like the Richmond.”

While three other dates have been announced for this year, Sunday Streets organizers say they’re still finalizing the rest of the schedule before it’s released.

9 Comments

Berkeley City Council Hesitates to Fund More Sunday Streets Events

Berkeley residents are clamoring for more street openings following the city’s first Sunday Streets event last October, where an estimated 43,000 people enjoyed 17 car-free blocks of Shattuck Avenue. But the Berkeley City Council has been hesitant to make a full commitment to bring back the events on a regular basis.

Photo: Judy Silber

Livable Berkeley, the sponsor of Sunday Streets Berkeley, has asked the City Council to set aside $59,098 for two more events in fiscal year 2013-2014 (which begins this July). On Tuesday, when the council considered the grant, council members approved only an initial $7,500, with the rest to be considered along with a vote on the entire city budget in June.

Council members roundly agreed the event was a huge success, and acknowledged the health and economic benefits such open streets events bring to the city. But some were reluctant to approve such a large grant just yet, citing the need to fund other city programs.

Sunday Streets Berkeley Director Emunah Hauser said organizers are “very encouraged by the Berkeley City Council’s unanimous praise for the success of our first event, and appreciative of individual councilmember pledges of discretionary funds.”

Read more…

10 Comments

Sunday Streets to Expand With Neighborhood-Oriented “Play Streets for All”

This post supported by

San Francisco’s Sunday Streets will continue to grow next year with a new program designed to bring more neighborhood-oriented car-free street events to places that lack park space.

Kids playing at a Sunday Streets event in the Tenderloin. Photo: Bryan Goebel

“Play Streets For All,” a collaboration between Livable City, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, and public health organizations, will introduce a smaller-scale version of Sunday Streets, making it easier for residents to close a block or two to cars and open them up for play and community-building.

The pilot program, which will be held in addition to regular Sunday Streets events, will target neighborhoods that suffer from high rates of childhood obesity and lack safe places for kids to play.

“We need to remember that keeping kids active isn’t a secret — sometimes the answer is simply providing places for kids to be kids,” said Mayor Ed Lee in a statement. “Play Streets for All will build on our Sunday Street resources and organizing expertise to create family-friendly, safe recreational space in neighborhoods that need it most.”

Sunday Streets organizer Susan King said four neighborhoods are set to see Play Streets next year: the Tenderloin, Chinatown, Bayview, and the Western Addition. The exact dates and locations, along with the rest of the Sunday Streets schedule, will be announced by early January, she said.

“Due to its great success, the current demand for Sunday Streets outpaces our capacity to reach every community that wants to host these events,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin in a statement. “Play Streets for All is a simple, straightforward solution that will help make more of our streets available for kids of all ages to enjoy in safe, fun and healthy ways.”

The program should provide an easier channel for residents to hold smaller, community-based car-free street events, which have been tough to organize because of an arduous bureaucratic process and a host of questionably high fees levied by city agencies. By minimizing city staffing costs and simplifying the process, the Play Streets program “presents a nimble and inexpensive approach for creating temporary open space,” a news release said. The effort will include local workshops, led by Sunday Streets and the non-profit organization SF Beautiful, to get neighborhood organizers up to speed on “best practices” for holding successful events, said King.

“The idea behind Play Streets for All,” she said, ”is to provide support for neighborhood activists to produce and manage their own car-free streets events on a smaller scale to make the opportunities provided by neighborhood open streets events (like Sunday Streets) happen more often in areas that lack open space and recreational resources.”

Play Streets will have a stronger emphasis on improving public health than the regular Sunday Streets program — it’s funded in part by a $50,000 grant from California Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Shield, and one of the organizers is the Partnership for a Healthier America — created in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign – which is launching Play Streets programs in ten cities.

“We can’t wait to see the initiative in action,” said PHA President Lawrence Soler, ”to see kids running around these new spaces and to hear sounds of traffic replaced by sounds of kids at play.”

No Comments

Enjoy the First Sunday Streets in the Excelsior, the Last One of the Year

The Excelsior Arts and Music Festival. Photo: excelsiorfestival.org

This weekend is your last chance in 2012 to enjoy Sunday Streets, with a new route in the Excelsior along outer Mission Street and Seneca Avenue. The event will be held in conjunction with the Excelsior Arts and Music Festival, where Mission meets Ocean and Persia Avenues — a confluence of car-free streets for walking, bicycling, music and community gathering.

It’ll also be the first time Sunday Streets comes to the city’s southern central neighborhoods. If you’re coming by transit, the event will be right next to Balboa Park BART.

Note: I’ll be on break for the next two weeks. In the meantime, our always-dependable Robert Prinz will keep you updated with the daily headlines, and we’ll have some great guest posts from other writers. See you back here in November, Streetsblog readers.