Balboa Park Station: Workshop #4, Summary of Proposed Plan Concepts and Public Input

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Balboa Park Station Area Plan



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Planning Process

Workshop 4, September, 2001
Summary of Proposed Plan Concepts and Public Input

Streets and Open Space: Design Ocean, Geneva, and San Jose Avenues so they gracefully accommodate all ways of moving about, placing special emphasis on pedestrians, transit and street life& Encourage the development of new public open spaces in the neighborhood&

There was general support for improvements to streets and sidewalks, especially in the immediate area of the station. There was considerable concern from community members living east of San Jose Avenue that the plan wasn't proposing improvements in those areas. There was slightly more disagreement about where to locate new open space, particularly with respect to the Phelan Loop.

FOLLOW UP: Planning staff will work on including in the plan streetscape improvement proposals for east of San Jose Avenue; these will be part of the draft plan when it is released for public comment. See below for follow-up with regard to open space at the Phelan Loop.

Transit Station: Reconfigure the station to allow easy transfers between BART, streetcars and buses. Provide waiting space, shelter, light and information for passengers. Redesign streets and intersections to be pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

Virtually all participants were enthusiastic about making improvements to the station area. The planners cautioned everyone that many of the proposed improvements are very expensive and will take time.

FOLLOW UP: We will continue work on defining improvements to the transit station and framing a basic plan for implementing these improvements in stages over the coming years. It is important to remember that the "operating agencies," such a Muni, BART and Caltrans will need to play a major role, with Planning Department support, in making this vision for the Station Area become a reality.

Station Neighborhood: Take advantage of opportunities to develop housing, shops and services around the transit station. Renovate the historic Geneva Office Building and use it as a focus for the new neighborhood.

Participants generally liked the idea of adding more housing and retail around the station. There was considerable concern about how much new housing would be developed and about the height and bulk of the buildings as well as traffic and parking impacts. In general, there was less concern about development on Muni's "Upper Yard," and somewhat more concern about a larger development that might occur in the future over the large Muni yard and the BART station.

FOLLOW UP: We will hold specialized workshops on the height, bulk and design of new buildings, as well as on traffic and parking.

Parking: Make parking work for everyone: Around the station, only allow on-street parking for short-term users of BART and Muni& .In the commercial district only allow on-street parking for shoppers& .Help merchants locate parking off the commercial street for employees& .Avoid building dedicated off-street parking lots or structures& .Work with residents to manage parking in residential neighborhoods with innovative permit programs and other measures& .include appropriate amounts of garage parking in new developments.

This issue was a major source of controversy among workshop participants. Many people feel that parking is already tight in this neighborhood and that new development will only make things worse. Others feel strongly that the neighborhood is already too car-oriented, at the expense of pedestrians, and that a lot of new parking will only make things worse. At the workshops planning staff presented several detailed strategies for addressing parking issues. These ideas were well-received, but there is still room for discussion before everyone feels comfortable. Merchants, in particular, are concerned about parking.

FOLLOW UP: We will hold another specialized workshop on parking issues. We will work closely with the OMI Business League to understand and respond to its members' concerns about parking for businesses. Planning staff will continue to work with the Department of Parking and Traffic to address proposed changes to the Residential Parking Permit Program.

Housing: Take advantage of a number of publicly and privately owned opportunity sites around the transit station and along Ocean Avenue to develop new housing. Plan in a way that encourages development of housing that is affordable to people with a wide range of incomes.

Most workshop participants recognized the city's critical need for new housing, and believed that there were opportunities to develop new housing in ways that would improve their neighborhood. However there was significant concern about how much new housing should be developed, as well as the impacts of new housing development and how those would be managed. Major potential impacts cited by community members were increased traffic, decreased parking availability and the height and bulk of new buildings.

FOLLOW UP: We will hold specialized workshops to discuss parking, traffic and building design and try to address community members' concerns in these areas.

Phelan Loop: Integrate Phelan Loop and environs into the neighborhood: Infill the area along Ocean Avenue between Plymouth and Phelan Avenues with housing over ground-floor retail. Create well-designed open spaces connecting Ocean Avenue with future development on the reservoir. Create an attractive station platform for the Muni streetcar that fits with the design of the street.

This item produced some controversy. Planning staff presented a design proposal for the Phelan Loop which accommodated both a mixed-use building (housing above retail) and a well-designed public open space on the Phelan Loop parcel. (This would be accomplished by moving the buses so that they loop behind the adjacent fire station.) This solution seemed to satisfy the majority of participants, but some remained concerned about having development (particularly housing) occur on this piece of land. Faculty and staff from City College are particularly concerned about this proposal, although this land is owned by the city and not the college.

FOLLOW UP: Desires for this critical, publicly-owned parcel of land include open space, affordable housing and creation of a gateway from Ocean Avenue to the future expanded City College campus. At the September workshops, we presented a solution which we believed accommodated all of these desires for the space in a graceful way. But not everyone is satisfied yet and more conversation is needed around this issue. We will schedule a focused community meeting around this issue.

Ocean Avenue: Assist the merchants' association and other neighborhood groups in working together to improve the economic vitality of the Ocean Avenue Commercial District. Develop guidelines for improving existing buildings and storefronts in the commercial district. Develop design guidelines for new development in the commercial district and elsewhere along the major streets and around the transit station.

Business revitalization concepts were discussed briefly at the workshops but there was not much discussion because Ocean Avenue merchants were not able to attend the session.

FOLLOW UP: We will continue to work with merchants individually and through the merchants' association on these issues.

City College: Work with the College to better integrate it into the neighborhood. Focus new facilities as much as possible at the eastern end of campus, along Ocean Avenue near the BART station, forming a new east entrance to the campus and a true "urban" campus. If the campus extends onto the eastern side of the Balboa Reservoir, ensure that it does so in a way that brings it into closer connection with the neighborhoods surrounding it.

Most agreed that focusing new facilities closer to the BART station was a good idea. The major point of contention was over the use of the eastern half of the Balboa Reservoir, which City College would own under its proposed agreement with the Public Utilities Commission. College faculty who participated in the September workshops felt very strongly that the reservoir land should be used only for college facilities, as did some community members. Others thought that there was an opportunity for a "campus-village" type development on the reservoirs, which would include some housing.

FOLLOW UP: The plan will take a neutral position with respect to the type of development that occurs on the reservoir, but will recommend strongly that whatever development does occur be designed so that it helps integrate the college into the neighborhood and connect it with the Ocean Avenue Neighborhood Commercial District. We will work closely with City College as it begins to develop its campus master plan.

Neighborhoods: Ensure that all proposals in the plan enhance the residential character of the surrounding neighborhoods. Ensure that walking to transit is safe, convenient and enjoyable. Ensure that neighborhood services are adequate and conveniently accessible.

Participants generally accepted the plan's proposed focus on major streets and publicly-owned parcels, leaving the surrounding neighborhoods basically unchanged. Residents in the areas east of San Jose Avenue were concerned that the plan did not contain proposals for streetscape improvements and traffic calming for their neighborhoods.

FOLLOW UP: Planning staff will work on including in the plan streetscape improvement proposals for east of San Jose Avenue; these will be part of the draft plan when it is released for public comment.

Session 3: 9/19/01

Session 2: 9/8/01

Session 1: 9/5/01

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