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Citywide Home > Better Neighborhoods > Neighborhoods > Market St. & Octavia Blvd. > Past Events > Walking Tour
Following the first community workshop in each of the three pilot neighborhoods, the Planning Department hosted bus and walking tours to explore specific issues in each study area. Summaries of the bus tour for the Market and Octavia project area are provided here.
The three-hour morning bus tour for the Upper Market neighborhood was led by Project Coordinator John Billovits on Saturday, June 17, 2000. The intention of the bus tour was to consider the elements which make up a great neighborhood, and to look at various relevant locations around the City to see how they functioned, or not. The approximately 30 participants stopped and looked at the following neighborhoods:
Van Ness Avenue
Embarcadero and the Ferry Building
The following notes summarize points and questions raised by tour participants and Department staff at various locations:
Van Ness Avenue
The tour considered building forms, street functions and treatments on Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street. Van Ness Avenue is an example of an area which already has its own specific plan which guides infill development and encourages a scale and type of architecture that supports the significance of this primary street. It also includes specific guidelines for such things as median and street tree landscaping, lighting fixtures, street furniture and historic preservation of significant architectural buildings which form the character base upon which the plan is built.
Van Ness, much like Market Street, serves as one of San Francisco's principle roadways. Its design reflects this fact, with large retail buildings and auto showrooms clearly oriented to vehicular traffic, while newer residential buildings are mid-rise towers set back from the street.
Participants liked the cornices and ornamentation associated with older architecture. At the same time, they enjoyed the mix of old and new designs. The plastic signs were not well-received. The long "dead" walls of larger buildings were hardly pedestrian friendly, while it was very noisy on the sidewalk.
Next on the tour was Lombard Street, in the Marina/Cow Hollow neighborhood. Participants talked about Caltrans jurisdiction over this street as it is part of Highway 101. The area reflected its tourist orientation, with chain restaurants and hotels.
The lack of pedestrian activity seems to be causing vacancies in shops, in turn encouraging greater auto-oriented facilities as fewer shops survive. The resulting auto-orientation and negative cycle presents a major obstacle to neighborhood-oriented land use.
Parking structures here seem to serve as incentives to drive by providing extra space for vehicles. However, many of the residents in the Upper Market neighborhood feel they do not need additional parking, and that parking lots like these serve only people from outside the community, such as tourists. If parking were to be placed, then underground lots are far better.
The Foot of Market, Embarcadero and Ferry Building
The tour visited the newly-opened Ferry Building Plaza at the foot of Market Street on the waterfront. The Embarcadero is a terrific example of the positive impacts associated with the removal of an elevated freeway. The City has now connected to the Bay here, and new transit and public space improvements are enlivening the bay front in a very attractive way.
The importance of Market Street becomes very apparent when considered from this new plaza. The Upper Market can be seen in the distance framed by a strong street wall of major buildings which denote this as the spine of the City. The width of the street, transit centers, bustling activity all convey that one is at the center of a thriving, exciting place.
South Beach was visited as a different sort of newly-developing area. South Beach looks much better since the freeway came down. However, the area offers little affordable housing, and functions as a transient neighborhood (in that people don't work where they live).
Looking at some of the residences along Brannon Street, Bayside Village appears disconnected from the public street as it presents a screened parking garage to the sidewalk. The shrubs and plants are nice, though the sidewalks are narrow. Conversely, the setback storefronts of the Delancy Street project across the street provide an inviting, pleasant pedestrian environment.
It is surprising that Delancey Street, with the apparent quality of design and materials, is a non-profit housing complex. The market-rate Bayside Village, by contrast, appears to somewhat shoddy and poorly designed. Storefronts at street level are better than parking, while the diagonally placed parking spots make it quieter. Bulbed corners have the positive effect of slowing traffic and decreasing illegal parking.
The last neighborhood visited, South Park appears as a "mini Panhandle." A two blockpark at Octavia would be nice, especially if there were daycare facilities. South Park offers a private feel despite being public space. The mix of park users (e.g., families, those with pets, etc...) adds to the character. Architecturally, the building scale adds to the intimacy of the park.
The tour concluded upon returning to Market and Octavia. Participants were provided with contact information, and encouraged to incorporate the concepts and experiences of the tours into their ideas for the Upper Market neighborhood.
* photos this page by Eric P. Scott