Market & Octavia Plan: Bus 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
The following notes summarize points and questions raised by tour participants and Department staff at various locations:
Van Ness Avenue
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.
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 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.
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 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