Market & Octavia Plan: Walking Tour

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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. A summary of the walking tour for the Market and Octavia project area is provided here.

On Wednesday, June 7, 2000, approximately 25 neighborhood residents joined Planning Department staff and Project Coordinator John Billovits for a two-hour evening walking tour of the Upper Market and Octavia Boulevard neighborhood. The following notes summarize points and questions raised by tour participants and Department staff at various locations.

At Octavia and Market
Octavia and MarketThe plan study area is centered on the intersection of Market and Octavia, as it is the area of the greatest change and potential opportunity.

The freeway across Market Street has divided the community and created a hostile hole in the urban fabric in the heart of this area. Removal of the freeway, and the elevated structure spanning Market Street creates a tremendous opportunity to heal the neighborhood and knit this urban fabric back together. It is an exciting prospect to envision, with the potential to serve as a gateway to the City where the freeway terminates into the new Octavia Boulevard. Exploring the possibility of constructing a new underground Muni station at Octavia Boulevard to help tie local neighborhoods together and enliven the street is one possibility. Anunderground Muni Metro station n would be wonderful here! Is it possible? As we walked up Market at start of tour, people commented frequently on how unsafe the crosswalks and intersections are for pedestrians.

At Market and Laguna
The character of the pedestrian zone (or sidewalk environment) varies greatly along Upper Market. Good examples abound, with open active storefronts, sidewalk cafes, mature street trees, distinctive coherent paving and street fixtures all at a scale that is comfortable and understandable to the strolling person. There are also bad examples, where low-rise buildings are setback from the street by an expanse of surface parking lot, leaving a hole in the street wall, or a dead wall space that is both visually uninteresting and inactive.

Market and LagunaMarket Street is the most important street in the City, around which much of the built environment orients itself. It functions both as a divider of two distinct street grid patterns and an organizing element through its own grandness. There are many large, confusing and dangerous intersections where three or four streets converge that are particularly hazardous for pedestrians. Auto traffic is very busy as many people pass through and visit the area on a daily basis. The Upper Market area is wonderfully connected to public transit, both Muni and regional systems via Muni. "Barren Wasteland" (referring to sidewalk in front of Safeway). I want them to get rid of the huge Safeway sign - it's ugly and you can see it for miles. We should underground the parking. Large nice sidewalk on Dolores-but people park on the sidewalk, and it's really bad when the businesses do it too. When I call the City about it, they say it's far down on their priority list, and they'll get to it when they can. Something needs to be done about this.

At Pearl and Pink off of Market
A terrific example of a small-scale residential street, just steps from a busy and noisy corridor, which is a very safe, quiet, intimate and comfortable place to live. The small scale of the street, relative lack of auto traffic and human scale makes this area interesting and appealing. There are too many cars on this little one-way street, especially on the weekends. At Brady off of Market Behind the buildings fronting on Market Street are a number of large vacant lots used for surface parking. A good example of the types of opportunities that exist in the area for new housing would help meet the City's needs and enliven the neighborhood. We should put parks where the parking lots are now.

At Fell and Gough
This intersection exhibits a few relatively recent new developments. They illustrate the difficulty of accommodating both parking and retail storefronts within the same building. Given that the Planning Code currently requires one parking space per dwelling unit, active commercial space along the sidewalks is often displaced, particularly in smaller projects. The net effect can be a degradation of the pedestrian experience.

There was discussion about the opportunities to reduce the parking requirement and the need for automobiles in urban areas that are well-served by public transit, and that provide for residents basic daily needs within a walkable distance. Does the City create financial incentives for building owners to put in mixed-use/retail space on the ground floor? They need to do that.

Near Hayes Street
The Hayes Street neighborhood commercial area has a very attractive pedestrian character which is typified by an interesting variety of accessible small-scale shops, interesting architecture, buffering from street traffic and a concentration of people and activity on the street. There have not been many changes on this block of Hayes: this contributes to the feel of this neighborhood.

Near Octavia and Hayes
Near Octavia and HayesThere are many parcels of various sizes in the path of the former Central Freeway which will become available for development in the near future. The new Octavia Boulevard will cover most of the southern portion, and several large lots are located to the north of Hayes Street towards the Civic Center. These lots provide tremendous opportunities for infill development of housing and mixed-use housing and retail commercial that both fits into and enhances the strengths of the neighborhood. The form and character of this infill development is a part of this planning process.

There was a suggestion to consider the small residual lots along the east side of the new Octavia Boulevard as a site for an architectural competition and a showcase for contemporary design as a distinct identifying element. Is the City going to make sure services (grocery stores, police, post office) go in there? (referring to the parking lots area and future development plans).