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Posts from the "Hayes Valley" Category

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SFPD Cites Light-Running Driver in Crash at Speed-Plagued Oak and Octavia

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The SFPD cited a driver for running a red light at Oak Street and Octavia Boulevard on Tuesday night, then crashing into a van and sending three vehicle occupants to the hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the blue Infiniti was traveling north on Octavia when he broadsided the van and sent it into a utility pole, which flipped the van over onto its side.

The intersection is known for high-speed vehicle crashes and light-running drivers, and neighbors have been asking the SFMTA for years to re-configure it and other Hayes Valley intersections to reduce the danger posed by high-volume, high-speed motor traffic. Just last month, a Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association meeting focused on street safety fixes, where D5 Supervisor London Breed told Hoodline that she “got an earful about some of the challenges around traffic in the area,” noting that “we’re hoping to implement some changes sooner rather than later.”

Much of the discussion at the meeting “centered around the contrast of drivers’ freeway on- and off-ramp mentality with the residential nature of the neighborhood,” Hoodline reported. “One concerned mother noted that children play at Patricia’s Green while drivers barrel north up Octavia.”

Oak and Octavia saw a particularly horrific crash in 2011, when a car-carrier truck hit a UCSF shuttle van — the driver of which reportedly ran a red light while traveling eastbound on Oak. Dr. Kevin Mack was ejected from the UCSF van and killed.

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Haight-Market Contra-Flow Bus Lane, Ped Upgrades Coming Next Summer

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The intersection of Market, Gough, and Haight Streets. Images courtesy of the SFMTA and the SF Planning Department

Construction of a red contra-flow bus-only lane and pedestrian safety upgrades at the hairy intersection of Market, Haight, and Gough Streets is on track to begin in January and be completed next summer, according to the SFMTA. The plan to create a more direct route for riders on Muni’s 71-Haight/Noriega and 6-Parnassus lines, approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors two years ago, is expected to come along with sidewalk bulb-outs, pedestrian refuges, and new greenery.

Currently, standing on the intersection’s northern pedestrian island to cross makes you “feel like a total loser,” said neighborhood advocate Robin Levitt at a meeting last night of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, where residents seemed to welcome the project.

The pedestrian safety improvements were rolled into the two-way Haight project along with sewer work, which adds to the seven-month construction period. SFMTA staffers said the 71, 6, and F-Market lines are expected to be temporarily re-routed during that time.

HVNA also suggested some adjustments to the plans to expand sidewalks and pedestrian islands, such as adding a bulb-out on the narrow east corner of Gough instead of the west corner, and moving the car parking lane to the east side to add protection for pedestrians. An HVNA sketch submitted to the SFMTA also included shifting the pedestrian island further to the west to make more room for passing buses. SFMTA staff said that bulb-out adjustments could be made with approval at a public hearing.

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Planning Department Sets Out to Create “Living Alleys” Around Hayes Valley

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An example alley from Copenhagen. Image: Planning Department

The Planning Department held a community workshop yesterday to field ideas on how to turn the numerous alleyways in and around Hayes Valley into calmer, greener, more inviting respites from the major traffic-heavy streets.

The “Living Alley Project” is an effort conceived in the Market Octavia Area Plan to re-think the neighborhood’s alleys as people-oriented gathering spaces, where cars are allowed at low speeds, but street life comes first.

“We need more community spaces,” said Robin Levitt, an architect who lives on one of the alleyways and advocated for the removal of the Central Freeway. Patricia’s Green, the park that replaced a block of space formerly occupied by the highway structure, is often overwhelmed with demand, he said. “More than most neighborhoods in the city, we have a lot of through traffic on very busy streets like Gough and Franklin, Oak and Fell, which were once neighborhood streets.”

“The alleys can serve as a shared space, where traffic is calm,” he added. “It’s a great opportunity to re-envision what a street can be — a public space, where children feel like playing, rather than as something to just move through.”

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Planning Commission OKs Car-Free Housing at Fulton and Gough

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A rendering of the new project approved for Gough and Fulton Streets. Image: David Baker + Partners Architects

A massive Hayes Valley parking lot, formerly occupied by the Central Freeway, will be developed into a car-free apartment building and Boys and Girls Club after the project was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission last week.

The six-story apartment building at Fulton and Gough will include 69 rental units, eight of them available at subsidized below-market rates, all without car parking. The adjacent Boys and Girls Club will include parking — six tandem spaces which drivers will access via Ash Street, an alleyway, where the project developer will add a raised crosswalk along Gough. Pedestrian improvements like sidewalk seating and bulb-outs at Fulton and Gough will also be added as part of the agreement, and the site will include 70 indoor bike parking spaces.

Occupying a corner just two blocks from City Hall, the project “continues the reparation of the neighborhood damage caused by the collapse and removal of the Central Freeway,” notes project architects David Baker + Partners on the firm’s website.

Jason Henderson of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association called the project “a key precedent” for the integrity of the Market-Octavia Area Plan, which sets limits on new parking to make room for people, not cars.

The project also marks what could be an upward trend of car-free housing being built in the city. In September, the Planning Commission approved a project with 12 car-free condos at 1050 Valencia Street.

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Despite Skewed Parking Math, Planning Commission Approves 55 Laguna

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Image: Woods LLC

The SF Planning Commission unanimously approved a major housing development at 55 Laguna Street yesterday, despite an excessive amount of car parking that livable streets advocates say should be lowered under stricter parking maximums.

The development would include two housing projects: one with 330 apartments, and another with 110 affordable apartments for an LGBT senior community. They would share a block at Laguna and Waller with existing buildings owned by the University of California, filling in what is currently mostly a parking lot, used primarily for the UC Dental School. All told, 310 underground parking spaces would be built on the site.

But the developers and Planning Department staff used misleading calculations and inappropriate zoning requirements to build a number of parking spaces that falls within parking maximums, say members of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association. As Streetsblog has written, more car parking generally means residents are more likely to own and drive cars.

In a letter to the Planning Commission [PDF], HVNA Transportation and Planning Committee Chair Jason Henderson claimed that developer Woods LLC is skewing the number of parking spaces by claiming that 51 of the 310 parking spaces will be used by the UC Dental School (even though the public can use 15 of them), and incorporating the 110 affordable housing units into the ratio, which HVNA doesn’t think should be counted. HVNA says the developers have refused the organization’s requests to reduce the number of residential parking spaces from 249 to 165, which would include only one parking space for every two market-rate housing units, or 0.5:1.

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After Delay, SFCTA Board Approves Van Ness BRT Design

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Image: SFCTA

A preferred design for Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit was approved unanimously today by the Board of Supervisors, acting as the SF County Transportation Authority Board. Supervisor Mark Farrell, who delayed approval of the proposal a month ago after complaining that he “hadn’t been briefed” on it, said he now stands behind the project after SFCTA staff brought him up to speed.

The project proposal received broad praise from the board and transit advocates as an “elegant solution” to combine the best features of two design options.

“This project is an example of what is critical to the future of transportation in the city,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener. “We have a growing population… and if we don’t start beefing up our transit capacity, we’re going to have a big problem.”

SFCTA Executive Director José Luis Moscovitch pointed out that the project, along with Geary BRT, will go a long way toward reducing car trips as new development arrives along the Van Ness corridor — namely, California Pacific Medical Center’s Cathedral Hill project at Van Ness and Geary.

Brett Thomas of the SF Transit Riders Union emphasized the need to physically separate the bus lanes from car traffic to keep drivers from encroaching on them and delaying transit. Wiener echoed the sentiment, citing his experience on the J-Church this morning, in which “a delivery truck was parked a little too far from the curb, and literally shut down the entire J-Church inbound line.”

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Two-Way Hayes Street Proposal Wins Approval at SFMTA Hearing

Image: SFMTA

Image: SFMTA

A plan to restore two-way traffic on several blocks of Hayes and Fell Streets in Hayes Valley that were converted to one-way streets in the 1950s was approved at an SFMTA hearing today following a strong show of support from residents, merchants and neighborhood associations. It now goes to the SFMTA Board for approval.

The proposal [pdf] follows the spirit of the Market-Octavia Plan, which recommends converting Hayes Street to “a two-way local street, which is best suited to its commercial nature and role as the heart of Hayes Valley.”

It would affect Hayes Street from Van Ness to Gough and Fell Street from Van Ness to Franklin, which residents described as multi-lane, one-way arterials that “inundate” the commercial district with “walls of cars.”

“We want our streets to be safer, calmer, and less like freeways. These changes would be a big move in that direction,” said one 15-year resident who described how he’s forced to “zigzag” down Hayes Street to avoid dangerous crossings.

Noise, air pollution, and the threats imposed by motor vehicle traffic have long made the neighborhood uninviting and dangerous for walking, cycling, and shopping. Closed crosswalks and double-vehicle turn lanes create difficulty for many in crossing the street safely.

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800-Seat Performance Space in Hayes Valley Approved with No Parking

SF_Jazz_2.jpgA sketch of the proposed SF Jazz building and with performance auditorium. Image: SF Jazz.
The same neighborhood organizations and community advocates that routinely lobby to prevent the San Francisco Planning Department from granting parking exceptions in excess of progressive neighborhood plans were thrilled with a new project to build a 3-story building in the heart of Hayes Valley, the future home of SF Jazz, a non-profit arts organization. The primary reason the neighbors were so excited was because the project sponsors are building an 800-seat auditorium, with office and rehearsal space, but they aren't adding a single new parking space.

The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association wrote a glowing letter of support to the Planning Commission, detailing how SF Jazz had met with the HVNA transportation committee ten times and with the entire group four times in the past year, working to address community concerns and become a valuable neighbor before even breaking ground. Planning commissioners voted unanimously to support the project at the commission meeting yesterday, wrapping up a number of conditional use requests for the building architecture in less than an hour, a relatively short process for them.

From the HVNA letter:

The SF Jazz organization found an excellent location for their project. It is in the heart of an already established performing arts district, allowing the type of agglomeration economies that make talent and creativity thrive. It is easily accessible to the BART Station at the Civic Center, and to the Muni Metro Lines on Market Street, as well as the Hayes Street bus line. It is also in the center of a dense, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood with many dining and entertainment opportunities.

The proposed development will replace an existing auto repair and office building and will host a ground‐floor restaurant, a small ground‐floor retail sales area, and a loading aisle on the westerly portion of the site. The project will be at 205 Franklin Street at the Corner of Fell street and measure approximately 38,600 square feet. If all goes according to schedule, the project would break ground in the spring of 2011 and be open in fall of 2012.

Randall Kline, the co-founder and executive director of SF Jazz, said locating in Hayes Valley was all about transit access, which he rattled away in an interview, giving walking times from BART and Muni Metro stations off the top of his head.

"We knew from the beginning in designing this project that transit was a key component. That was the primary reason for selecting the site," he said.

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San Francisco is Sinking!

un_plaza_fountain_1639.jpgUN Plaza, Market and 7th, the waters from the subterranean "Mighty Hayes River"!!

Famously, we live on a crack in the earth. The San Andreas Fault gets most of our attention, followed not too far behind these days by the equally ominous Hayward Fault. A major earthquake on either of these could alter local landscapes forever, and will certainly damage or destroy freeways, bridges, and the water system. That's one of our catastrophes waiting in the wings, and it's good think about preparing for such eventualities.

Less obvious, but just as much a part of our local natural landscape (largely obscured by asphalt and buildings), are the old waterways on which the city is built. The evidence for these underground waterways is in plain view as well as being represented in various public documents. Joel Pomerantz wrote "San Francisco's Clean Little Secret" a few years ago (first appearing in a book I edited "The Political Edge" City Lights: 2004) wherein he found in SF Water Dept. official reports the saga of the "Mighty Hayes River." Starting deep underground somewhere near Lone Mountain, the subterranean river flows southeast under Civic Center, and as you can see on this map, once surfaced around 7th and Mission.

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