Better Neighborhoods on the Way:

The Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan is Here!

The San Francisco Planning Department's Better Neighborhoods Program presented the first public review draft of the Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan in December. Much anticipated, the plan presents a bold vision for the future of the Market and Octavia neighborhood, based on a holistic approach to providing new housing that responds to human needs, creating a public realm of the highest quality that supports travel by foot, bicycle, and transit as well as by automobile, and building "whole" neighborhoods with a range of services and amenities close to where people live and work.

The plan proposes new zoning and planning controls as well as extensive improvements to streets and open spaces that build on the area's strengths as an urban neighborhood. Because cycling, walking, and public transit are already relatively safe and attractive ways to get around the Market and Octavia area, the plan aims to restore balance in how street space is provided for pedestrians, transit, bicycles, and autos-supporting a lifestyle less dependent on automobiles. New land use, housing, and parking policies value housing and active, neighborhood-serving uses over auto parking. The speed, reliability, and overall dignity of transit service are vastly improved via a dedicated transitway on Van Ness Avenue, and new, enforceable transit-only lanes on Market and Mission Streets. Improvements to streets and open spaces reclaim streets for pedestrian use, make sidewalks more comfortable and inviting, and address critical safety issues at crosswalks.

The plan proposes extensive improvements to the area's bicycle network, including a dedicated bike path connecting Valencia Street to the new Octavia Boulevard, a true "bike boulevard" on Page Street, consistent bike lanes on Market Street from Church Street to 9th Street, extending the Howard Street bike lanes to Division Street, and a host of bicycle safety improvements to dangerous intersections along Market Street, Division Street, and South Van Ness Avenue.

WHAT YOU CAN DO With the release of this draft, a fresh round of public review and comment is underway. Neighborhood walking tours, staff open office hours, and a draft plan workshop were held in January. A Planning Commission briefing and comment meeting will take place on February 13 (12:30 pm at City Hall, Room 400). Check out the plan and let the Planning Department know what you think. Ask your Supervisor to support funding the full range of bicycle, pedestrian, and transit improvements it envisions.

Remember, the plan is still in draft form and significant public support will be needed to keep intact the progressive parking and land-use policies it proposes.

For more information and to review the plan online, visit the Better Neighborhoods Program at www.betterneighborhoods.org.

By Marshall Foster

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