Market & Octavia Plan: Workshop #1

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Citywide Home > Better Neighborhoods > Neighborhoods > Market St. & Octavia Blvd. > Past Events > Workshop #1

On May 2, 2000, the San Francisco Planning Department hosted the first community workshop at the First Baptist Church for the Upper Market area neighborhoods centered around the corner of Market and Octavia. The workshop had three primary goals:

  • Introduce the community to the Better Neighborhoods 2002 project
  • Begin to discuss some ideas of what makes a great neighborhood with participants and to gather their thoughts about them.
  • Begin to discuss how we can help make the neighborhood the best place it can be.

About 80 local residents attended, in addition to project staff. The workshop began with refreshments and an informal discussion of eight elements that help make a neighborhood great:

  • Its own Special Character.
  • Being its own special place, while also Part of the Whole.
  • The ability to Get Around Easily by a variety of transportation choices.
  • The ability to Walk to Shops for your everyday needs.
  • Safe Streets, with low crime and appropriate traffic levels.
  • Gathering Places for people to meet one another.
  • A variety of Housing Choices for a variety of different people.
  • Good City Services such as libraries, parks and street maintenance.

Peopla MeetingFollowing the informal discussion, Planning Department staff described the Better Neighborhoods 2002 process and provided their thoughts about the eight elements. Then, participants assembled into five small groups to discuss how the elements related to them.

The following summary attempts to capture the essence of workshop participants' ideas, describing major themes that emerged in the discussions. These summaries do not represent the consensus of the neighborhood nor direction for planners, but are a starting point for further discussion and refinement at the next workshops. A detailed transcript of all the workshop notes is available by emailing us or by calling Project Coordinator John Billovits at 558-6390.

Special Character
Residents in the Market and Octavia study area feel like they live in several different neighborhoods rather than a single neighborhood. Participants felt that the special character of each area varies. Some places are characterized by great Victorian architecture, others by more modern architecture. Some places have great views, others are down in the valley. Some places have wide sidewalks with trees, others do not. Most people enjoy their central location and the fact that most of the stores in the area are not controlled by nationwide chains. Almost everyone would like to see how the neighborhood will change once the freeway comes down. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Special Character include :

  • Removing the freeway has been a great improvement.
  • The Hayes Valley neighborhood has greatly improved without much City interference.
  • Lower Haight has a mix of Victorian housing, nice corner stores and restaurants.
  • The area is centrally located, has great access to the rest of the City, is very diverse and is a mix of cultures.
  • Market, Franklin and Gough have a lot of antique stores.
  • Locally owned "Mom & Pop" shops. Interesting architectural heritage .
  • Admire South Park, Bernal Heights, West Portal, Marina districts .
  • Geary/Fillmore too dense, not walkable .
  • 1906 fire stopped at Octavia, affecting form and architecture of neighborhoods on either side.
  • Keep granite curb stones.
  • Alley streets are a unique asset.
  • Great scale and intimacy.
  • Crime on streets can kill special characteristics .
  • Small residential gardens and unique stairways.
  • Not a lot of through traffic.
  • "Artsy," funky and bohemian.
  • Why would anyone want to live any other place?

Part of the Whole
Most participants felt like they were definitely a part of the City, and they like the easy access they have to other places. They were concerned, however, about the traffic impacts cause by being so much "in the center of things." Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Part of the Whole include :

  • Remove rest of freeway to integrate neighborhood back into City.
  • Retain cultural mix and identity.
  • Keep mix of commercial activities and public & private housing.
  • Landscape design is important – trees on all streets.
  • Use space left by removal of freeway creatively.
  • Create lots of activity on sidewalks.
  • Houses right on Duboce Park make it feel safe.
  • Market Street has lots of different people without much conflict.
  • There are connections to lots of neighborhoods, but it is difficult to cross streets.
  • People can come here from all over.
  • Could design an art/tree/greenway network to connect Hayes, Octavia and Market.

Getting Around Easily
Most participants felt that transit access is generally good, although north-south services might be improved. Bicycle and pedestrian access, however, was often poor at particular locations. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Getting Around Easily include:

  • Build the Boulevard.
  • Parking not easy if you don't have a garage.
  • Great transit access.
  • Need MUNI underground station at Octavia.
  • Too many cars!
  • Need more bike lanes and paths.
  • Need more curb cuts for wheelchairs.
  • Crossing the street is dangerous for pedestrians at many intersections.
  • Widen sidewalks where possible.
  • Extend BART hours, especially late at night.
  • Duboce Triangle has great pedestrian access.
  • One-way streets are bad.
  • Hayes Valley is an excellent area, with wide sidewalks and excellent public transportation.
  • Walking is easier and nicer than it used to be.
  • Enforce parking regulations and don't allow sidewalks to be blocked.
  • Garages should be underground.

Walk to Shops
People living near the Hayes Street commercial area or 16th and Valencia generally felt like they could walk to most services they needed. Others did not. Many participants wanted to see more neighborhood-serving uses throughout the area. People also wanted to see a variety of pedestrian improvements to make walking easier, including tearing down the freeway. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Walking to Shops include:

  • Not enough shops open after 7:00 p.m.
  • Keep more local/neighborhood type business.
  • Find a way to incorporate nightlife on Market St.
  • Limits on size of stores.
  • Stores should not encourage shoppers to drive.
  • Insure affordability and incentives for neighborhood serving stores, i.e. grocery stores, shoe repair, laundromats, etc. (like 24th St.)
  • Underground utilities.
  • More street trees.
  • Satellite Police Station.
  • Slow down light timing on Oak & Fell to help slow traffic and ease pedestrian access.
  • Stores that provide things we need, e.g. 24th Street or 16th between Valencia and Guerrero.
  • Cinemas, grocery stores, book stores.

Safe Streets
Participants felt that the streets in the study area vary dramatically in terms of how safe they feel as pedestrians, with the character changing from one block to the next. Many participants were concerned with high traffic volumes and speed on Oak, Fell and other streets. Many people wanted more pedestrians on the street in order to feel safer. Several pointed to the Duboce Triangle area as feeling very safe, especially Noe Street. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Safe Streets include :

  • Expanded neighborhood watch.
  • More vibrant commercial streets.
  • Increase police and law enforcement.
  • More trees on residential streets.
  • Lighting effects safety.
  • Mixing commercial and residential activities can add to safety.
  • Human scale of Noe Street can serve as a model.
  • Trees add to streets but can make them darker and less safe at night.
  • Design affects safety.
  • Garages should be underground.
  • Active people sidewalks.
  • Shops instead of garages.
  • Van Ness and Market corner is very nasty.

Gathering Places
Participants identified small gathering spaces throughout the study area, but expressed a desire for more open spaces and cafés in the area. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Gathering Places include:

  • More police patrol in gathering places.
  • Outdoor cafes with adequate sidewalks.
  • Dog running parks.
  • Playgrounds for younger children.
  • Public plazas with benches.
  • Wider sidewalks.
  • Make underutilized private spaces available to the public.
  • Libraries could functions as meeting places.
  • Haight near Fillmore has lots of people hanging around.

Housing Choices
Most participants would like to see more housing in their neighborhood, especially on the vacant freeway parcels and along Market Street. They want to make sure that any new housing supports the character of the neighborhood, unlike the Fox Plaza project. Many were supportive of innovative housing arrangements such as co-housing. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about Housing Choices include:

  • Co-op housing like at Geary and Laguna.
  • Affordable middle class housing.
  • Rear yard requirements reduced& for some areas.
  • Use Presidio for housing.
  • Tearing down the freeway is key.
  • Moratorium on all other city business to concentrate on housing.
  • If you live in a transit corridor agree to posses no more than 2 cars.
  • Higher density along Market Street.
  • Formalize group roommate situations.
  • Condo development in some areas.
  • More of it appropriate to this neighborhood.
  • Affordable component.
  • Co-housing.
  • Not requiring parking in all housing.
  • Offer common shared spaces, such as gardens.

City Services
Participants felt they needed improvements in the full range of city services, including a big park, police station, undergrounded utilities, new street trees and so on. Some of the specific points that were mentioned about City Services include:

  • No big parks in the neighborhood.
  • No neighborhood police station.
  • No neighborhood banks.
  • Daycare – the City could provide space.
  • More utility undergrounding.
  • Improved street trees create a unifying characteristic for neighborhood.
  • Don't eliminate the neighborhood's unique features, e.g. granite curb stones.
  • This area encompasses many mini neighborhoods, with each needing its own services.
  • Preserve and/or transplant trees of the Octavia corridor during implementation of Octavia Street corridor plan.