Transportation and Planning Committee Update
HVNA’s Transportation & Planning Committee (T & P) has been busy lately, despite the continued economic downturn that has stifled financing for construction of new housing. Several proposed developments are seeking their approvals from the planning commission in anticipation of a recovery. While project sponsors are moving through the entitlement process, most have not arranged financing and so their construction will still be several years off (this is why you see temporary uses on some of the freeway parcels, like the farm on Oak and Laguna). Here is a quick summary of some key issues the T & P committee has been involved with lately.
HVNA enthusiastically supports the infill project at 1 Franklin Street (corner of Page, Franklin and Market). The project sponsor has met all of the criteria of the Market and Octavia plan and has been a model citizen in that respect. The project is moving through the permit process this spring. 1 Franklin will include 35 housing units (15% of them affordable) and a small corner commercial space on the ground floor. We’d like to thank a developer for following the Market and Octavia Plan, which we worked on getting implemented for 8 years. No construction date has been set.
Many long-time HVNA members remember a lot of enthusiasm about the redevelopment potential of 555 Fulton (aka Christopher Dairy) – which is one block north of Patricia’s Green bounded by Octavia, Fulton, Laguna, and Birch Streets. Some detail can be found at: http://sf-planning.org/ftp/files/ mea/2005.1085E_555_Fulton_PMND.pdf
The redevelopment of this site was proposed in 2005 and reviewed by HVNA; but the project then went dormant. It has resurfaced this spring, and the proposal remains (as it was in 2005) a complete transformation of the site, with 136 residential units (32 studio, 48 onebedroom, 56 two bedroom) and a large ground floor retail space targeted for a grocery store. Advocacy from HVNA helped in stepping down heights along Birch Street, and HVNA has been actively encouraging a “living street” treatment on Birch. We expressed our concern at losing small businesses currently housed on the site during the original review, and are gratified that they have been able to remain Transportation and Planning Committee Update since that time; but they are not a part of the final development plan.
For this development to move forward it still needs some approvals from the planning commission because the developer is asking for more parking than is allowed in the Market and Octavia Plan. There is also going to be a lively debate about the design of the project. HVNA stands by the progressive parking policies of the Market and Octavia Plan and will work with the planning department to ensure the project meets the plan’s goals of a truly walkable urban infill project. Too much parking will ruin Octavia Street one block from Patricia’s Green. The T & P committee also recently met with the architect of the project and the consensus of the T & P committee is that the original designs are preferable to the newer iterations. An appeal to this project was just filed. As this project moves through the planning process we’ll follow parking and architecture very closely.
On the transportation front, the T & P committee wrote a letter supporting a grant application by the city to return two-way bus service onto Haight Street from Laguna to Market. HVNA has a long history of supporting the reintroduction of two-way bus service and advocated for this idea multiple times during Muni’s Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) public input process, and we endorsed the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhood Plan, which includes this proposal. The return to two-way will substantially improve travel times for buses and the city also proposes major pedestrian improvements at the intersection of Gough, Haight, and Market Street. But reintroducing the overhead wiring is expensive, and so this application seeks a federally-funded “livable cities” grant that covers all costs. We will keep you posted on the awarding of the grant and hope for the best.
Lastly, everyone has heard by now that Muni faces incredible challenges and is discussing service cuts again. This is very disturbing because a key component of HVNA’s enthusiasm for infill housing is that there is transit capacity to absorb new growth. Muni needs to be expanding, not contracting. There are a couple of things in the works to help staveoff the worst of Muni cuts. One is “SF Park,” a program to make parking meters smarter by bringing them into the electronic age. (See http://sfpark.org/). Parts of Hayes Valley will be in SF Park’s pilot project and we expect this to be a boon for merchants because it will actually lead to more parking turnover – improving access to businesses. In the meantime we are also optimistic about the expansion of parking meter hours to Sundays and evenings, and Hayes Valley as also been identified as one of the city’s pilot projects for the expansion. On-street parking management in San Francisco is archaic and a give-away of valuable public space. HVNA seeks to make the space of parking a true community benefit and supports the expansion of meter hours as a first step in helping Muni become more fiscally solvent and better-managing the public realm. Additionally, we are very excited that grassroots organizing is happening in response to Muni cuts. A new organization, the Transit Riders Union, is seeking to address Muni’s long term problems from a riders perspective. We’ll make sure Hayes Valley is part of that movement.
There are many other projects HVNA is following. The Living Alleyway on Linden is moving forward. The T & P committee continues to follow the proposal for a Whole Foods on the old S & C Ford site on Market Street and Dolores, and recently a group of us walked around 55 Laguna to document the negligence and damage occurring to that site. A new residential tower is proposed at the intersection of Van Ness and Market Street (where the doughnut shop is located). As you can see, there is a lot going on. We strongly encourage you to contact us if you would like to get more involved – contact Jason Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org