Planning Unveils Street Design Toolkit in the Mission

Parking_Day_Ritual.jpgFlexible parking during Park(ing) Day in front of Ritual Coffee on Valencia Street

At a well-attended community workshop in the Women’s Center auditorium on Wednesday night, the Planning Department presented the Mission Streetscape Plan (MSP), a set of tools for transforming streets in the Mission (large PDF).  Some of the proposed concepts are tried and true traffic calming, like bollards, neckdowns, and speed tables, while some are far more innovative and reflective of work that many Mission neighbors have initiated on their own, such as the planted medians of the Greening Guerrero project and the permeable driveways and sidewalk gardens in Jane Martin’s PlantSF projects

Planning discussed several locations where they hope to push for pedestrian improvements, such as the 24th Street BART station, where they are working with BART to possibly remove the large fence at Osage Street, improve gateway treatments, and install raised crosswalks.  At the Marshall School at Capp and 15th Streets, they presented options for pedestrian improvements and traffic calming and they discussed entrance treatments for Ames and Quane Alleys. 

In addition to larger projects that already have funding, such as Cesar Chavez, Planning presented options for a new plaza at Guerrero and San Jose streets as well as a call for a new design for Mission Street sidewalks, street furniture, and street treatments reflecting the special character of the commercial corridor between 14th and 26th Streets.

One of the most interesting concepts of the evening, and one Planning officials hope to pilot very quickly, is flexible parking in commercial districts.  Inspired by Park(ing) Day and by several commercial districts around California that have installed cafe seating where cars used to park, Planning hopes to swap several car-parking spaces for cafe-seating, bike parking, and expanded public seating.  Given that businesses such as Ritual Coffee have already approached SFBC requesting help flipping the car parking spaces in front of their business into bicycle corrals, these pilots could be actionable in short order.

One of the challenges Planning acknowledged to questioners from the audience is that the Mission is breaking new ground citywide with these street and sidewalk treatments, so permitting and regulating the new uses will need to be codified.  Planning is the lead agency pushing through the Better Streets Plan (BSP), which should serve as the handboook for new street uses, though insiders in the process have told Streetsblog that some of the more traditional agencies, like MTA, DPW and Caltrans (on state routes like Van Ness and 19th Avenue), have been slow to reform standard traffic engineering guidelines to meet BSP objectives.

Planning will likely have one more public meeting to present final recommendations, though MSP project leader Lisa Bender said that they are now focusing their energies on finding grant money for the identified projects.

Flickr photo: Laughing Squid

  • Always wonderful to see Planning discussing the block adjacent to our home without soliciting any input from residents around the Marshall School. When were the multilingual outreach sessions scheduled for our corner of the North Mission? Half of Marshall School parents are monolingual not English.

    Where is the concern for public safety on that unit block of Crapp Street? Does it make sense to allow parallel parking behind which people can engage in all sorts of conduct that you don’t want near a school?

    In fact, Planning has condemned Marshall School to a future in a canyon of 50′ and 85′ buildings, with an extra special gift of continuing the 105′ heights directly to the south of the Marshall School’s asphalt open space.

    In 2007, as Eastern Neighborhoods was publishing their faulty “final” maps, I asked Ken Rich where he got input for planning this niche of the N. Mission, he responded that he spoke with the developer lobbyists at SPUR.

    Any thoughts by Planning about making 15th Street 2 way?

    We walked through our residential enclave knot of alleys and I explained how his zoning proposals would make our neighborhood less livable. Since the median income of our area is like $23K, and since the population is a majority non white, you can guess how valued the input of existing sims, er, I mean residents was by the planning department.


  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    On page 22 of the slideshow they propose perpendicular parking. This seems like a step backwards. A street with perpendicular or angle parking and two through lanes must be very wide. See Clement St for example. Even the proposal’s own example photographs show cars with their noses intruding into the sidewalk area. Perpendicular parking is also very dangerous for bicyclists. I’m not sure what problem this solves, except that it increases parking capacity.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    For reference the area considered to be suitable for perpendicular parking or angle parking is everything bounded by Folsom, 101, 20th, and the Central Freeway, plus elements of 14th, 15th, and Shotwell.

  • m

    actually, back-in angle parking is substantially safer for cyclists than parallel parking (or regular pependicular or angled parking), because the driver is actually staring directly at oncoming cyclists, rather than looking back over their shoulders or in their mirrors. Additionally, there is no risk of dooring, far and away the most common threat to cyclists, by angle or perpendicular parking. The other advantage of angled or perpendicular parking is that it creates space for big fat plaza-sized bulbouts (see Noe, Sanchez in Duboce Triangle area) without much or any net loss of parking.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    In my experience even with back-in parking or any other kind of non-parallel parking is that you’re likely to be staring at the ass-end of the Canyonero parked next to you, rather than having a clear view down the street.

  • MrMission

    A lot of the proposed street designs looked really good and would improve the pedestrian experience in the Mission. It is too bad that they aren’t spending any time thinking about an overall plan for vehicle traffic in the Mission. With proper planning, it would be possible to better segregate vehicle traffic from pedestrians and bicycles, improving things for everyone. Unfortunately, it sounded like they are going to traffic analysis on a project by project basis which is unlikely to improve the situation. While it is not PC to look at the needs of vehicles, the fact is that the majority of Mission residents have cars, many others ride buses and many local business rely on trucks etc.. So it would make sense to spend some time thinking about how to accomodate the needs of those people.

  • “the fact is that the majority of Mission residents have cars”

    I don’t believe this to be the case.

    Do you have evidence to substantiate this claim?


  • Unfortunately, Marcos, if by ‘Mission residents have cars’ he means ‘households with at least one vehicle available,’ the number is 62% (

    But that statistic can be misleading, since household size and definition of ‘access’ varies. It is worth noting, I think, that regardless of access to vehicles, Mission residents disproportionately don’t use them. They use transit:

    Proportion of commute trips made by car, truck, or van driving alone 28% vs. 40% (city average)

    Proportion of commute trips made by public transit 42% vs. 33% (city average)


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