Mission District Streetscape Plan Project Example
With amendments emphasizing pedestrian safety and comfort, usable public space, and public transportation, this afternoon San Francisco’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee will likely vote on an ordinance amending San Francisco’s General Plan to adopt, and set the shovels in motion for, the Mission District Streetscape Plan.
General Plan Amendment – Mission District Streetscape Plan [sfbos.org]
Mission District Streetscape Project: Final Plan And Declaration [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by VancouverJones

    Really hoping that this will pass!!!! If this amendement is adopted, it will represent another small (very positive) step toward transforming SF into a livable city.

  2. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Glad they kept the A-Team van in the rendering.

  3. Posted by stucco-sux

    If you look at the plan, its a mess. Its mostly alley changes, and changes to major streets like Folsom and Potrero that will just make traffic on other streets (Like Harrison) even worse.
    These planning people are all nuts.

  4. Posted by sfnative

    Though, with well intention, the plan is an expensive bandage for the constant social decay of this area that is only “gentrified” by its local bars, restaurants, and shops. Having owned and lived in a loft on this block for 2 years (moving out in 2006), the main problem of this area is the substance abusers/dealers that loiter, defecate, and urinate everywhere. I’ve called the police (just 1/2 a block away) many, many times to help keep this area safer for my wife and neighbors but they rarely come by to patrol. The cops only come in throngs when one of their own calls for back up. Knowing that they are busy, and have bigger fish to fry when it comes to policing (like giving tickets, hanging out in the Marina/Cow Hollow, Noe Valley, and other neighborhoods with a Starbucks), I find the local police completely useless in areas that need it. When we got the place, we knew what we were getting ourselves into…and when we left the area, we decided to go where the police frequented-which is not where they really are needed most.
    Where should the money go? It should go to education and socially responsible community group efforts. The drug addicts are mortal and should die off within our lifetime, what we need to do is prevent more of this drug/social crap from spawning over and over. If we keep feeding into social decay by ignoring it like that 20 year old deck with rot by painting it with a pretty color, it is bound to collapse our little barbeque of social rejoice. But, at least it looked pretty.
    I know what your thinking, my thoughts are not anything new. But, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? Because, fixing a huge rotting deck is a daunting, expensive task that can be full of paperwork, hard labor, and man hours that no one really “wants” to do.

  5. Posted by Mole Man

    Blame shifting isn’t working. Many of the crimes are quality of life crimes that are not being prosecuted. Unplug the justice system somehow and that might be fixed. Blaming cops doesn’t make sense because anyone they apprehend is likely to be back on the street in short order.

  6. Posted by sfnative

    @mole- i am not blame shifting, i am just making observations. conclude what you want though.

  7. Posted by noearch

    @sfnative: totally agree with you and great analogy about the “rotting deck” issue. Most people, including The City, would rather just paint that rotting deck and make it look “nice” and hope it won’t collapse too soon.
    Same thing here that many realtors do, and sellers as well: they throw a coat of paint on house, stage it to the nines, and hope no one will notice the brick foundations or the low ceilings, or the bedroom without the window. Same kind of lies.
    It’s refreshing to hear someone like yourself talk honestly about the drug problem here and the city only trying to “fix” it with cute landscaping, or more bike lanes. Waste of money.
    Address the problem head on, and stop the band-aid approach.

  8. Posted by lyqwyd

    While I certainly agree that given the choice between cleaning up the drug problem and prettying up the streets, I’ll take the former over the latter, even at 10 or 100 times the cost. But that’s not really the choice being presented, and it’s not a reason to bash the streetscape improvements. It’s certainly debatable, but there is plenty of evidence that making a place look better actually does improve a neighborhood in more “real” terms.
    Yes, absolutely get rid of the drugs and druggies! But improve the streetscape as well. It’s not an either/or situation.

  9. Posted by [anon.ed]

    The city is trying to fix an ugly streets problem with prettier streets. What it has to do with what the one guy said and what others have complimented him for saying I don’t know. I used to live/own on an alley in that neighborhood too. And these are separate issues. Educating people about alcohol abuse does not beautify concrete jungles. Trees and landscaping beautify concrete jungles.

  10. Posted by halpern

    once mexican bosses move into the area (so far only lower level operatives) they won’t tolerate the urban jungle look. it is wise for the city to be prettifying this in preparation for the transition – the bosses will look kindly on the planning commission.

  11. Posted by [anon.ed]

    uh huh. That’s why Tijuana is such a beaut, is it? Between that and the 1000 per househould protection money on Fair Oaks you’re batting a scorching goose egg this Mission bashing season.

  12. Posted by EH

    well it took a few days, but it looks like i finally got my “fair oaks is a gang war” comment. thanks!

  13. Posted by haha

    Lipstick on a pig. The area will be trashed in less than 3 weeks. As long as crime OF ANY KIND is tolerated or dismissed as quality of life crime and not prosecuted it sends a message that The City is open for crime. I live in SOMA and even catching criminal red handed, seeing them arrested and then having the City DA not prosecute or plea out…nothing will change. Change will come when the public is sick and tired of the elected officials (District supervisors) who turn a blind eye to crime…

  14. Posted by NoeNeighbor

    This “plan” is just a hodge podge of separate projects. Some are designed to prettify streets others are intended to make life difficult for drivers. The Planning Department packaged them all together, held a few meetings, ignored any negative comments and then presented them to the Planning Department. No traffic analysis was done and, despite the fact that Dolores St. is being revamped, the views of Noe Valley residents were never solicited. The Planning Department has its own agenda and does not really care about what citizens really think.

  15. Posted by noearch

    Good points Noeneighbor.
    The planning dept. tried those same tricks when they attempted to ram that dumb Noe St. plaza on us, without notification or meetings.
    It would have been one big disaster had that gone thru.

  16. Posted by [anon.ed]

    Uh huh. People really covered themselves in glory during that bit of NIMBY outrage. What dignity. And what a wonderful 4-way stop it remains. Horn blasts forever!
    Bring on the Mission Streetscape plan. Bring on the Folsom street changes in particular. It’s too narrow for 4 lanes as is.

  17. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “The Planning Department has its own agenda and does not really care about what citizens really think.”
    Well that’s a rather broad statement. I wasn’t aware that citizens shared a single mind.

  18. Posted by noearch

    Love your sarcasm anon.ed. I mean fluj.
    Let’s be clear on one thing, which you seem to neglect:
    The Mission Streetscape plan and the Folsom changes are NOT going to close off a public street, unlike the stupid Noe Plaza would have done.
    Big difference. Just to clarify that for you, and others.

  19. Posted by anonconfused

    I would be curious if anyone could direct me to a book or site that would offer more information about whether or not the most desirable neighborhoods in this city had ANY planning when they were first built? Why do I feel the current San Francisco planning fetish is to make the city less urban and less creative?
    I find this scheme surburban and banal.

  20. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Why do I feel the current San Francisco planning fetish is to make the city less urban and less creative? ”
    The NIMBYs here make it that way. The strong desire seems to be to keep single family homes many places, for example, instead of allowing lot mergers.
    If you are interested in historical planning, you can read about Daniel Burnham’s plan which was never implemented — there’s a short description here:
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma03/holmgren/ppie/sf.html

  21. Posted by noearch

    oh, please sfren: tell me how so called Nimbys make are making the city less urban and less creative.
    Really? The City is already extremely urban, walkable, and liveable.
    And what do lot mergers have to do with single family homes? Are you suggesting we start tearing down single family homes in say Noe Valley and merging lots? For what?
    Please clarify. Expand your thoughts.

  22. Posted by anon.ed

    Nobody said they were the same thing, obviously.
    Why you read a need to point out something that wasn’t there is unknown.
    You pretty much said a bunch of NIMBY loudmouths who just loooooove their Noe to Market straightshot were good news. I disagreed. Honk honk.

  23. Posted by noearch

    And it shall remain a nice 4 way stop too, fluj.
    Both the Mission and Folsom streetscape plans and changes are basically good things. They add greenery and pedestrian elements, but they do NOT,in all their glory, close off a street.
    That’s why they are good. That’s why the Noe St. proposed closure was:
    NOT.

  24. Posted by anon.ed.

    OK Nimbyarch. You like your straight shot to Market street. Got it. Excellent points. Real dignified colleagues, there. Great job. Great resulut. Wonderful intersection! It puts everyone at ease, daily.
    LOL.

  25. Posted by JM

    “With amendments emphasizing pedestrian safety and comfort, usable public space, and public transportation…” Read: Homeowners and businesses will pick-up the expense for keeping the area free of the homeless, garbage, urine and feces.
    Example of “…comfort, and usable public space…”: 16th & 24th Street Bart Station entrances. They’re only comfortable and usable for the homeless. The “public space” around those entrances are biohazards.
    These projects are built with lofty intentions and then forgotten.

  26. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “Read: Homeowners and businesses will pick-up the expense for keeping the area free of the homeless, garbage, urine and feces”
    Homeowners and businesses already pick up expense, or at least put in effort, to keep areas in front of their properties free of those things. The BART plazas aren’t the same thing. They are larger public spaces on large corners, and yes, they were design mistakes. They are going to be addressed in the streetscape plan too. I’ll hold out judgment until I see what goes in. So should anybody who actually cares.

  27. Posted by curmudgeon

    anon.ed…I would argue a bit about the BART plazas. Yes, the initial plazas were unfortunate, but the 16th ones were redone in the last decade. They’ve got lots of good design ideas (not perfect, but better than what was there). But they are usually still places to walk through quickly due to the near permanent residency of some pretty shady characters. (24th has never had the same kind of problems).
    I’m not arguing against Mission Streetscape improvements at all. We are going in the right direction with things like the Valencia Streetscape project, and anything that greens the street and makes it more attractive to peds and bikes is a long term positive for the hood. I just don’t want to discount that some locations in the Mission are troubled and have no easy “design solutions”.

  28. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “I just don’t want to discount that some locations in the Mission are troubled and have no easy “design solutions”.”
    Nor do I? The extent to which people insert words into other people’s mouths on here is a seriously flawed SS meme. “Parse. Insert black and white meaning.” — not having that. Understanding a problem is not the same as espousing panacea. Yes, they were remodelled eight or nine years ago. And yes, 16th is still a problem

  29. Posted by [anon.ed]

    Anyway, the chief “problem” in the area is a known fact for anybody truly familiar with the Mission. And that is the sheer volume of SRO hotels in and around Mission and 16th. The day the city addresses that will be the day that Mission and 16th stops being what it currently is.

  30. Posted by sfrenegade

    “And what do lot mergers have to do with single family homes? Are you suggesting we start tearing down single family homes in say Noe Valley and merging lots?”
    Sure, this is how you make real density and make a real urban environment. This isn’t overly complicated. I’m not suggesting a particular neighborhood to start with necessarily.
    Much of San Francisco outside downtown and the fake luxury condos South of Market is basically suburban single-family home development masquerading as a real city. Build anything taller than a Victorian and somehow we’re Hong Kong. Yeah, right.
    In addition, NIMBYs in San Francisco are ubiquitous and basically stop plenty of good things from happening. Design by committee will never be creative, as one example. NIMBYs also try to block any real development here. We could have plenty of green space here and still serve the same number of people if you tore down some of the houses and put up multi-family housing. It’s not that there’s no new land — it’s that we can use the existing land well.

  31. Posted by curmudgeon

    Yes, I wasn’t really disagreeing with you, just elaborating. And yes, it is the concentration of SRO’s in the area that really makes it an extension of the Tenderloin in those few blocks.

  32. Posted by sfrenegade

    ^can’t, not can in that last sentence

  33. Posted by noearch

    @sfrenegade: I think you’re starting to smoke the same thing as anon.
    The “basic suburban single-family home development” you describe is an integral part of San Francisco history, small working class homes on small lots. For many thousands of families and individuals it works very well, and has for over 100 years.
    So called lot mergers are not the answer to density and future growth. Careful placement of high housing is the answer. For some that is a solution. For others the single family home works best. I’m all for high rise housing, say 20-40 stories in the right locations, near transit and retail.
    With your absolutely insane solution of tearing down EXISTING houses, just how is that going to work? Suddenly good families in Glen Park or Potrero or Noe are going to tear down their home, only to live in a denser unit?
    Seriously? This is pure wacko.

  34. Posted by lyqwyd

    “Suddenly good families in Glen Park or Potrero or Noe are going to tear down their home, only to live in a denser unit?”
    I don’t believe that’s what he’s suggesting, I think it’s that when a property sells, it can be purchased by a person who wants to tear it down and build something else. Right now that is nearly impossible.

  35. Posted by tc_sf

    Note that what is often being inserted in your mouth appears to be your own foot.
    Consider that a mere minute after writing a post complaining that you were being “parsed” as proposing a panacea.
    “Nor do I? The extent to which people insert words into other people’s mouths on here is a seriously flawed SS meme. “Parse. Insert black and white meaning.” — not having that. Understanding a problem is not the same as espousing panacea. ”
    You then immediately proceed to propose a panacea:
    “Anyway, the chief “problem” in the area is a known fact for anybody truly familiar with the Mission. And that is the sheer volume of SRO hotels in and around Mission and 16th. The day the city addresses that will be the day that Mission and 16th stops being what it currently is.”

  36. Posted by noearch

    Uh, huh.
    But I do believe somebody (nameless) here suggested “tearing down some houses..”
    Just wanted to check and make sure I read that correctly.

  37. Posted by [anon.ed]

    No, that was a misread. There you go again with that precise brand of gotcha, parsing, black and white mentality, looking silly. Since when does “chief” mean “sole”? Secondly what I “propose” was meant to be understood along the lines of “and that’ll be the day.” Those SROs are cash cows full of at-risk people. They pose a double whammy when it comes to being able to get rid of them. The rich people who own them have clout, and they’re full of the people who the city “cares” about. If you had an understanding, you’d have known that. But you don’t. You’re a novice who takes words too literally without knowing the broad context, and instead of sitting back, reading, and growing understanding, you challenge your knowledge superiors. It’s a lame SS meme, and you’re its posterboy nowadays.

  38. Posted by sfrenegade

    noearch, lyqwyd has the method correct. It’s what ordinarily gets done in real cities in dense areas and to some extent has happened a bit in downtown/North Beach. It just needs to happen a bit more. We could have tons of green space if people gave up their individual yards, like in a real city. The biggest failure in your statement is saying the SF is somehow still about working class families (or even middle class ones) — it’s not, and it’s actually actively hostile to them.
    noearch’s proposed method doesn’t work because NIMBYs fight tooth and nail to prevent any densification here (oh noez, it’s Hong Kong now because we have 5 story buildings!).

  39. Posted by noearch

    anon.ed (fluj) is no longer worth responding to.
    I’ve always supported density, in selected areas zoned for it. I’ve always been an advocate of high rise housing, say 20-40 stories, again, where it’s zoned for it; and where the scale is appropriate to existing housing stock.
    I’d love to see more One Rincons and Millenium Tower projects in Sf, probably located near downtown, or Mission Bay. Perfect setting for that type of very dense housing.
    But seriously, sfrenegade! Asking people to “give up” their individual yards? huh? Those individual yards are what give our city the great character and open space and plenty of green space that makes living here special.
    NOT giving up your own rear yard is hardly nimbyism. It’s more like being intelligent. You would do well to explain, in detail, your plan for replacing fine single family homes with high rise buildings. Tell us how that would work.

  40. Posted by [anon.ed]

    ha. Go Pack go!

  41. Posted by sfrenegade

    It’s actually quite simple, noearch. If lot mergers were allowed, a developer could combine two or more lots to make denser buildings. This has happened in certain downtown areas already, as it does in most denser areas of most cities. Done properly, there can still be sufficient open space (not that there aren’t significant land use restrictions in the Bay Area in general to ensure plenty of open space). Last I checked, SF tries to be a city — if people want individual yards, they can move to the ‘burbs. Cities can and should evolve, and SF risks becoming Disneyland for Adults if it doesn’t follow.

  42. Posted by [anon.ed]

    Is London not a city? Lots of people have wonderful and huge back gardens there, and it is still dense.

  43. Posted by noearch

    With that last comment, sfrenegade:
    You have seriously lost touch with reality. You really have.
    You really don’t have a CLUE as to what you are talking about.
    Give it up.
    Please.
    Now.

  44. Posted by sfrenegade

    Depends on what part of London, no? What part are you thinking of, fluj? Is it one of the parts where the London Underground is the London Overground?

  45. Posted by sfrenegade

    Chill out, noearch. Not everyone needs to think like you. To some extent, I’m presenting a real solution to all those people who say SF needs fewer cars and more transit. Making the city more dense and into a real city is a good way to achieve that. Lots of cities had single family homes in dense downtown areas back in the day — many of them don’t now.

  46. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “At Home With the London Underground”
    http://www.skysaw.org/onu/artists/londonunderground.html
    Very cool record. I’ve got it the vinyl.

  47. Posted by noearch

    ok, sfrenegade have it your way. You can pump your crazy ideas all you want here on SS. They are unintelligent and uneducated thoughts about density and urban living. Please start talking like a smart person.
    I support responsible growth and dense urban living where it aligns with long term master planning and transit villages.
    Your absolutely INSANE idea of getting one single property owner in SF to “give up” (your words) their privately owned piece of land for a lot merger in order to build dense high rise housing is..probably..
    One of the seriously nutty ideas to hit SS yet.
    My only redemption is that you might be pulling our legs. Please tell me it’s a joke.

  48. Posted by anon

    Good lord noearch, are you that dense? sfrenegade isn’t talking about anyone “giving up” or being forced to lose their property.
    He’s talking about people actually being able to use their property rights by, you know, selling the property to someone who could combine multiple properties (from other parties willing to sell) and build something larger.
    You keep trying to attach something sinister to an obviously not (at least to most of us) sinister idea.

  49. Posted by sfrenegade

    Just because you don’t understand, noearch, doesn’t mean other people are stupid. lyqwyd already described the process earlier, and anon elaborated on it, and you’re the one who doesn’t get it.

  50. Posted by Kenz

    Taking noearch’s (possibly strawman) idea at face value, isn’t “getting a property owner to give up his land to build high rise housing” exactly what sometimes happens in eminent domain cases?
    I was actually wondering that the other day as I drove through Cathedral Hill — what was there before all those high rises went up, and did it go willingly?

  51. Posted by A.T.

    “isn’t ‘getting a property owner to give up his land to build high rise housing’ exactly what sometimes happens in eminent domain cases?”
    Yes! But after Prop 99 passed a couple years ago, this is now much harder to do as the eminent domain power is restricted to purely public health and safety needs where condemnation of housing is at stake. A bad law, but the law nonetheless.

  52. Posted by sfrenegade

    Find us an example, Kenz, and we can discuss it. Eminent domain has a number of purposes, and people often tend to get worked up over it depending on the purpose.

  53. Posted by Kenz

    @sfrenegade: Take the redevelopment of the Fillmore, for example (link in my name below).

    In 1948, city officials declared the Fillmore, an ethnically diverse but largely African American neighborhood, to be “blighted” under the California Redevelopment Act of 1945. Over the next few decades, and with the help of eminent domain and federal funding, 4,729 businesses were forced to close, 2,500 households were pushed out of the neighborhood, and 883 Victorian houses were demolished. What the Fillmore got in return for its troubles—a high-rise residential project, some fast-food restaurants, and, late last year, a posh jazz nightclub—was too little, too late.

    Now the consensus, in hindsight, is that this was a bad idea. But I’m merely pointing out that it’s not “insane” to suggest such a thing.

  54. Posted by sfrenegade

    Kenz — that’s what happened in that case, yes. But that’s not what happens in all cases. It would be pretty difficult for that to happen in SF in 2011, however, with all the favored non-profits, special interests, and NIMBYs getting involved.
    noearch’s statement actually isn’t worth taking at face value because nothing of that sort was suggested. Rather, private property owners would sell their properties to developers who could build more dense buildings. A libertarian group, such as you linked to, would actually be quite happy with the method I’m describing.

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