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City and County of San Francisco

Eight Elements of a Great Neighborhood

 


Better Neighborhoods Program

About the Program

The Neighborhoods

Market & Octavia

Central Waterfront

Balboa Park Station

Glen Plark

Japantown



Element 1
 Element 2 Element 3 Element 4  Element 5 Element 6 Element 7 Element 8

Over the years, thousands of San Franciscans have told us the things they love about their neighborhoods and the City, from the corner market to the neighborhood park. We have gathered their comments into what we call the eight key elements of a great urban neighborhood.

Certainly, there are other more particular day-to-day concerns facing the neighborhood, and they need to be addressed. Before we address these concerns, however, it will be most helpful if we begin first to think broadly about--to imagine--what qualities good urban neighborhoods should have, what a neighborhood might be and should be, and how it can be the best possible neighborhood for those who live in it. We will address most of the day-to-day concerns as we work through what it takes to be a great urban neighborhood.

Click on the areas below to read more about them and to ponder what they might mean to you.

 

Walk to Shops

  Walk to Shops
   

A great neighborhood has everyday stores and services within an easy walk from home.

A great neighborhood has stores and shops that satisfy everyday needs within an easy walk from home. Everyday shops and services include corner groceries, day care, cafes and restaurants, banks, dry cleaners, bakeries and the like. An easy walk is about five to ten minutes.


Questions to ponder:

In considering this element of a great neighborhood, some questions to ponder might include these:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood have shops and services within an easy walk from home?
  • What neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) can you think of that have a good variety of shops and services within an easy walk?
  • What is the range of retail goods and services provided near your home? Do they serve your everyday needs?
  • What other retail goods and services would you like to be available within an easy walk from your home?

 

Safe Streets

  Safe Streets
   

A great neighborhood has safe and friendly streets.

A great neighborhood has safe and friendly streets. In a great neighborhood people can walk without fear of crime, being threatened by traffic, or being disturbed by excessive noise. People feel like they "belong" on neighborhood streets. Residential streets feel public, and more like open space than trafficways. Streets are a pleasant part of the neighborhood.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood have safe and friendly streets?
  • Can you think of neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) where streets feel particularly safe and welcoming?
  • Which of your neighborhood's streets make you feel safe? Which make you feel insecure? What makes these streets feel safe or unsafe?

 

Get Around Easily

  Get Around Easily
   

A great neighborhood has many ways to get around.

A great neighborhood has many choices for moving to, from, and within it. Great neighborhoods make it easy to move about on foot, by bicycle, transit, and auto. They accommodate the car, but allow people to live easily without one.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood offer a variety of ways to get around?
  • What neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) can you think of that offer a variety of effective ways to get around?
  • What are the different ways of getting into, out of and around your neighborhood? (Note bus lines, bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly streets.)
  • Are walking or bicycling practical alternatives to getting around your neighborhood? Why or why not?

 

Housing Choices

  Housing Choices
   

A great neighborhood has a variety of housing types.

A great neighborhood has a variety of housing types. A mix of houses, flats and apartments of various sizes to meet different needs and preferences.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood offer a variety of housing types and sizes?
  • What neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) offer a good variety of housing choices?
  • What types of housing do you think would blend in well in your neighborhood. Which types would not fit well?

 

Gathering Places

  Gathering Places
   

A great neighborhood has places for people to meet and talk.

A great neighborhood has places for people to meet, talk and be neighborly. Public gathering places include parks, plazas, sidewalks, and shops.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood have places for people to meet and talk?
  • Can you think of neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) that have good gathering places?
  • Are there public places where people in your neighborhood find it pleasant to meet and talk?

 

City Services

  City Services
   

A great neighborhood has a full range of public services for residents.

A great neighborhood has a full range of public services for residents. Public services include parks, schools, police and fire stations, libraries and other amenities.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood have a full range of public services?
  • Can you think of neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) which offer a full range of services?
  • Are public services such as parks, schools, libraries and community centers easily accessible in your neighborhood?
  • What other public services would do you think are needed in your neighborhood?

 

Special Character

  Special Character
   

A great neighborhood has its own character.

A great neighborhood has its own special character. All neighborhoods are shaped by their physical setting, streets, buildings, open spaces, history, culture and the people who live in them. In great neighborhoods these attributes combine in unique and memorable ways.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood have a distinct character or quality?
  • What neighborhoods in San Francisco (or elsewhere) have a memorable character or quality?
  • What really constitues a neighborhood? What is your neighborhood? How do you identify it (what is its name) and what are its borders?
  • What gives your neighborhood its special character?

 

Part of the Whole

  Part of the Whole
   

Great neighborhoods make great cities.

Great Neighborhoods Make Great Cities. Great neighborhoods stand out on their own, yet are connected to the City. They can be a refuge for their residents, but also a part of the city's wider community.


Questions to ponder:

  • How important is it that a neighborhood function as part of the City?
  • What role does your neighborhood play in the City? What connects it to the City? What separates it?

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Last updated: 4/27/2011 6:39:19 PM