As per the class workshop, write your overall assessment of Mission District Streetscape Plan. Use the questions presented in class for guidance but feel free to expand on them or use a different outline. Make sure to add the name of your group members in the blog text. Your submission shouldn’t exceed 5 pages and not less than 4. Feel free to use other sources to support your argument.
The Mission District has been the center of San Francisco throughout history. Before the Spanish took over it was inhabited by many people such as Europeans. The Europeans developed a path that was worn down by foot through the villages to the bay waterfront that is what we call 16th street today. The founders of Mission District, in San Francisco during the Hispanic colonial period were priests, settlers, and neophytes. They also established the first road known as “ El Camino Real”, called the “Royal Highway”, in Spanish. This highway connected the Mission District from 16th and Dolores Streets then lead out to Golden Gate. The “ Royal Highway, Dolores Street, and San Jose Avenue are designated as an Historical Landmark number 784 in California.
During the period of the Mexican governance, an area that was established by a wagon road also known as El Camino Real, between the harbor and Mission Dolores that established Mission Street that is today.
In 1850 the City of San Francisco established a U.S rule that spread during the Gold Rush. The time of agriculture an an recreational development was the main focus until the Mission District gave rise to farms, gardens, racetracks, and resorts. 16th Street previously known as Center Street became a commercial corridor. Horse-car lines and omnibuses ran on plank road on Mission Street and on Folsom Street. Mission Street extended to Precita Creek which is now called Cesar Chavez Street that is a major thoroughfare that connects to San Jose Road. Another major thoroughfare that resulted later is the San Bruno Turnpike that extended North and South that defines the boundary of the Mission District.
In 1870 the Mission District was taken over by urbanization. Because the population was growing so quickly and gardens were disappearing, homes and families were emerging. The City and County of San Francisco had developed a street grid in the Mission District. During the rise of development, private property owners created an unbalanced streets throughout the Mission District. Mission, Howard, Shotwell, Folsom, 16th and 17th Streets were one of the first streets to start grading and paving. Horse-car street car lines were created on North and South such as Valencia Street and Mission Street that shifted to become the major commercial corridor. Howard and Folsom Street became the connecting streets to downtown and the waterfront. The East and West areas, 24th street became the central and southern waterfront.
There was a major shift in the 20th century. As population grew, public areas were flourishing in the Mission District. Lighting, transportation,curbs , sidewalks and street paving were being created. In 1912- 1931, Sunny Jim, the Mayor of San Francisco was the one in charge to see the completion of these projects. During this time beautifying San Francisco was the goal. Dolores Street, one of the most beautiful Streets that is part of the Mission District runs a long strip covered of palm trees and flowers. Cars also had transformed the streets of San Francisco. More streets were being developed and widened such as Valencia. Just as the use of cars increased that created improvements so did pedestrians. Entertainment areas and fashion stores were starting to come to the forefront. Communities were starting getting together including parades and celebrations. In 1970 BART was born. It was one of the major construction of Bay Area. It was a major phase in developing the mission.
Nowadays, the Mission District presents of the most beloved areas in the city. For most people they hold the Mission District close to their hearts. With so much construction and development the it has become one of the most diverse areas in the city. It is the melting pot of San Francisco. It has become contemporary yet, so much historical content. It has maintained its urbanization in addition to giving it some flare with such a diverse community. There are many different cultures that create a wide range of what the Mission District is known for today.
The implementation of an optimally designed streetscape requires amenities which promote walking, biking, and transit use. Generally, the streetscape should be appealing, and encourage outdoor activity by including ample green spaces and gathering spaces for all local residents to enjoy. The Mission District Streetscape Plan coordinators asked locals the following question: What is your vision for Mission District Streets? They found that most participants requested the inclusion of these amenities within their neighborhood streetscape. Additionally, ecologically sustainable city planning strategies that promote urban habitats, and proper water runoff management are essential to keeping the urban ecosystem healthy.
Safe interactions between various modes of transport are necessary for a peaceful streetscape, thus there is heavy focus within this plan on coordinating a perfect network of pedestrian walkways and vehicular lanes. Particularly, the plan promotes ‘green alleys’, which will carry an abundance of wildlife for the benefit of the surrounding ecology, and for the enjoyment of Mission District residents. The plan is especially focused on supporting increased bicycle and public transit access, to decrease the impact that personal vehicles have in the neighborhood. It is important to make these modes of transit much more appealing than driving a personal vehicle, because they benefit both the environment as well as the atmosphere of the streetscape.
Green spaces will be implemented along all pedestrian walkways. Concrete pathways are laid over the surrounding natural landscape; so, any space covered in a sidewalk is space that is no longer providing any ecosystem services. Ensuring that there is a continuous ‘canopy’ of vegetation up and down the district’s sidewalks will ensure that the streetscape is useful to the residents, and ecologically mindful. Mission District residents are encouraged to plant and manage their own vegetation for the benefit of the entire streetscape. Local residents therefore provide a central service for the wellbeing of their own community.
The ‘Public Right of Way’ is a vital component of this implementation plan, especially because reliance upon Mission District resident’s services are so central to the success of this platform. The Mission District streetscape will see the greatest benefits from the implementation of plazas and green spaces which promote community cohesion. Sidewalks and public spaces should be inviting and spacious, to promote a lively environment within the streetscape.
Strategies to improve the streetscape will only succeed if they are well-maintained. Within the proposal, is a plan to ensure that the streetscape is maintained, clearly lit, and routinely cleaned. This aspect of the proposal is another that relies heavily on the local residents to provide the service of keeping their neighborhood in good shape.
Community involvement is very central to this proposal, thus, there must be a sense of ‘home’ or belonging to the community if the policy-proposal is to succeed. The Mission District Streetscape Plan includes a provision for the promotion of public art, and a unified design for the neighborhood. The proposal must do well to blend with the existing culture in the region, to ensure that locals feel they are active in improving and caring for their home.
The proposal relies heavily upon community engagement, which is not always guaranteed. The successes of such measures are completely dependent upon how the community reacts to the proposal, and whether they will accept it. If the locals do not see the plan as being of benefit to themselves and their neighborhood, then they will not participate in the central components of the plan. As a result the proposal will fall apart. What is the benefit of improving the streetscape if those who use it do not believe in its potential to bring about improvements to their community?
The proposed plan does not include strong measures to coordinate with San Francisco’s existing City Planning Committee, which may mean competition for funds between the two organizations in completing their projects. This plan would stand to benefit greatly from strengthening their relationship with existing City Planning services in San Francisco, to ensure that the two organizations don’t get in the way of each other.
There is unfortunately not enough funding to implement all the aspects of this plan, therefore, aspects of the plan must be selectively chosen to be either ‘near-term’ or ‘far-term’. The most sensible choice would be to make the most beneficial plans ‘near-term’ and the least beneficial ones ‘far-term’. Furthermore, the policymakers of this plan could benefit from prioritizing projects based on their proposed Return on Investment (ROI) period. Projects with a high, short-term ROI should be prioritized because the funds generated from these projects can then be used to fund projects without a good ROI.
If we were in charge of implementing this proposal, we would elect to delay it until we are able to mitigate the following issues:
-Traffic Congestion: The mission district is a central passageway from those traveling from the east side of SF to downtown. We are not certain that there are enough passages for traffic to effectively travel through this region, if the Mission District is made more unfriendly to personal vehicles. While the benefit of such aggressive tactics could be very beneficial ecologically, it could be very damaging to the district by already perturbing the existing congestion issues in the area
City Government Coordination: Those responsible for implementing this plan must do more to ensure that they will not end up in a bureaucratic tangle with the local City Planning Committees. If these agencies are competing for funds and resources, then any progress for the Mission District is slowed down.
Too Reliant on the Local Community: The proposed plan holds the community central to the success of the project, which is great. However, a large proportion of the burden is also placed on the residents. The Mission District draws in tourists and residents from other local municipalities because it is a lively space. Therefore, the district provides essential services beyond its own community. The plan could be made better by ensuring that the local residents have necessary access to the tools and services required to successfully implement it.
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Vincent Huynh, Lily Harmon, Raymond Avila
Mission District Streetscape Plan
The Mission District of San Francisco is an integral part of San Franciscan culture and productivity serving as an important landmark for many various peoples and places. Being one of the oldest locations found in the San Francisco area, the district features architectural groundwork and buildings dating back as far as the 18th century. Over the years, the Mission district has seen its fair share of necessary modern renovations and revisions as it has aged somewhat poorly through its long and seasoned history. Streetways and communal areas have seen great degradation with various cracks and uneven surfaces littered throughout the region accumulated over generations of use and natural erosion. Local buildings and public structures have become unpleasant or even unusable due to overuse, litter, and environmental erosion over many years. Outdated areas reflect the old style design choices seen in previous eras that demand for serious modernized design overhauls. Evidence of these old century design choices resides in the parking problem that the entire San Francisco area faces as streetways were initially never designed for the accomodation of countless cars, parking, and pedestrian traffic.
Although the Mission district represents an older and history rich part of the San Francisco area, its popularity is greater than ever before with culturally rich murals and eateries as well as the ever popular Mission Dolores park attracting both old and new members of the community daily. This great demand has caused a need for new updated development and space to accommodate the many people who wish to partake in what the Mission has to offer. Recently, the city of San Francisco compiled a plan in order to tackle some of the more urgent problems that the district is currently facing today. This initiative known as the Mission District Streetscape Plan was created as a community based project to reinvigorate preexisting structural and communal areas to better serve the community which utilizes these many amenities. The Mission District Streetscape Plan was created with several main points in mind when planning what changes should be implemented to the Mission district. These points serve as a basis of what the Mission district should represent which include multi-modal transportation, green infrastructure, community-focused development, safe and enjoyable environments, well-maintained streetways and public spaces, and memorable experiences through the rich culture of the Mission district.
Being the vital public space that it is, the Mission District sees use in various departments such as transportation, parks and recreation, shopping, and residential living all of which could be improved further to better serve the community. Various complaints from local community members have been evaluated as possible projects to undertake such as redesigning narrow sidewalks found in locations like Valencia, Capp, and Bartlett Street. Others have brought up poor lighting of alleyways and a need for better traffic regulation as many residential areas feel unsafe due to fast traffic. Some have requested more aesthetic improvements to streetways such as greenery and planting areas in conjunction with more available park space and practical bus routes. The most popular implementation demanded by community members is the need for prominent bike racks and bike accessible street and roadways to help reduce traffic congestion, increase personal mobility, and improve community health. Overall, there is a high demand among the Mission district community for redeveloping poor and degrading infrastructure found throughout the Mission district in order to raise overall community value of the area.
Hosting successful workshops were a key part in the design and overall development of the Mission District Streetscape Plan. These workshops addressed issues and concerns within the Mission community that helped bring the Mission District Streetscape Plan to fruition. The plan served as a blueprint and strategy to get the right people involved. This would require the participation of policy makers, city agencies, private property owners, business owners, and residents. Recognizing the community’s needs, creating a vision for that community, and designing policies to be set in place were all important ideas that made the Mission District Streetscape Plan possible. As a result, there are a lot of people who walk, shop, and interact in the area, but fast moving traffic makes it difficult for pedestrian crossing. This poses a problem for a community where most of its residents don’t drive. As mentioned in the Mission District Streetscape Plan, the vision is to provide a safe public space that encourages more walking, bicycling, support of transit use, greenery, and a more ecologically sustainable place overall.
Several prominent issues plague the Mission District such as the high demand for public space, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities. It is a dense area for housing and local businesses as well as a busy area for public transportation like Bart and Muni routes.
The main goal in any local project should be to improve the environment for the people who live and work there. The Mission District plan succeeds in making this a focus, with a few exceptions. Some residents have expressed concerns that the improvements being made will lead to higher rent and eventually force them out of their homes, which would make said improvements entirely counterproductive. Not to mention that any time a district is altered, there’s a risk of erasing culturally important parts of the environment, replacing them with obviously forced designs that fail to represent the people or their needs. Before a plan like this can be put into action, there should be ample reassurances to residents that improving their lives is the real goal. For example, although a significant number of residents of Mission District don’t use or own cars, sacrificing parking for other developments may not be fair to those people who do rely on cars. In fact, the entire plan is rather dismissive of private drivers’ needs, which is a way of promoting pedestrian and cyclist activity, but can cause traffic issues. One concerned resident mentioned that double-parking was an issue in the area, and suggested ten-minute parking spots as a solution. In re evaluating this plan, I would avoid prioritizing public and green spaces over vehicle traffic so heavily, as it may only create more problems as an immediate result.
Although this plan advertises itself as being helpful to bicycle traffic, it seems to make few improvements in possible bike routes. The main advantage would be the traffic calming caused by developing raised crosswalks and traffic circles, forcing cars to move slower and making cycling safer. More could probably done to make cycling a more attractive transportation option, such as making sure there are bike lanes on any streets undergoing reconfiguration. If possible, constructing a separate bike path would be ideal, preventing numerous collisions and providing a pleasant reward for choosing an eco-friendly and healthy alternative to cars and buses.
Overall, this project addresses an impressive number of problems with the Mission District. Especially the development of public green space, and the emphasis on improved conditions for pedestrians, make this a solid, undeniably beneficial project. I believe it deserves the funding it needs, and will lead to a more beautiful, healthy, enjoyable environment for everyone who lives there. Not only that, but it will reinvigorate an area that embodies such a large part of San Francisco’s unique cultural history, restoring local pride and strengthening community spirit.
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The Mission District of San Francisco has been around since the late 1800’s, it was established for the Spanish Catholic Missions which eventually lead to being a location with a population of predominantly hispanics. Today, it is a culturally diverse location with lower income residents compared to the rest of the city, and a popular entertainment and art community. Many individuals come to enjoy the food, music, parks, services, and nightlife. With the Mission being a popular destination with having two major BART stations, it is vital to have a acceptable street layout for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles. Important factors to consider in the layout are safety, efficiency, aesthetics, and a connecting community.
The history of the mission road layout had begun with only few major roads to connect the presidio to the missions and farms. As the Mission became urbanized, the demand for more roads to connect to the new markets and populated residential areas had risen. The rural lifestyle had begun to deplete, and the government pushed for a grid system but new property owners began to design the roads themselves to satisfy their needs. Not to mention San Francisco’s geography of hills and water fronts also purposed conflicts to planning. A reset of the layout was initiated by the great fire the took place in the early 20th century, which aloud for reconstruction of the district. Paved roads and sidewalks became in demand for the new construction by the citizens, this would eventually prove to be very useful as the automobile would soon be popularized. With electricity being more efficiently produced, street lighting became apart of the mission district. This made it much safer for citizens traveling at night. With all the amenities being installed in the Mission, along with new furniture and parks, it was able to host great social and artistic gatherings, and parades, which attracted more residents to the location.
As of today, the Mission District is densely populated, with much higher demand for public and pedestrian space. Automobiles have predominantly taken over the Mission making it more unsafe for others to navigate. Residents also wish to witness more foliage in their district for air quality, as well as aesthetic appearances.
With all these requests, a group had developed a draft in 2010 called “The Mission District Streetscape Plan,” which attempts to address and improve by creating a network of green streets that connects open spaces and improves the walkability, aesthetics and ecological sustainability of the neighborhood.
The different policies developed in this ambitious project are summarized into five big groups responding to the people’s demands: multimodal, green, community-focused, safe and enjoyable, well-maintained and memorable. The fact that these policies are named this way represents the very objective of the whole project, this is, to serve a specific community’s demands. This community is the one formed by the most culturally-diverse in the city and even maybe in the state. The project is aimed at fostering the creation of another life-style which reflects the values and customs of mainly Latin-American people in the city.
Now, all of these policies are tied to more concrete projects that actually specify the different elements in the landscape that will be affected. The resulting matches would be:
Multimodal — Plazas and Gateways
Green — Alleys and Small Streets
Community-focused — Traffic Calming
Safe and enjoyable — Throughways
Well-maintained — Mixed-Use Streets
Memorable — Public Life
The 1st Plazas and gateways proposal focuses on widening underused space in the streets and accommodating it for pedestrian joy. It includes changes in 24th Bart Plaza, San Jose-Guerrero Intersection, Dolores San Jose Intersection, Treat Plaza, Mission-Valencia Intersection, Mission Capp Intersection. The 24th street plaza project is actually in place and we could say it is successful. That spot in the city is very crowded at any point in the day in comparison with the surrounding, and it does provide safety at the entrance of the transportation hub. However, probably the Dolores Street Gateway created at the intersection of Dolores and San Jose Street is not as successful, considering the fact that it is reasonable to doubt pedestrians would walk as foreseen in those sidewalks, or occupy that little park created between the roads as much. It is still a really good sign advertising the entrance to the district, the vibes, as well as it improves considerably the beauty of the landscape. The 16th street project could provide the street with life and beauty, but maybe the location and the space available could be problems for gathering as much people. The San Jose’s in this respect is nonetheless a really good option, since it is a project for a residential area, so it is feasible that green spaces, walkable zones and commerces around would help gather the community.
Commenting on the 2nd, the focus on art and pedestrian admiration of culture while walking is really original, memorable and healthy. The list of projects includes Hoff Street, Cunningham Place at Valencia Street, Osage Street at 24th street, and others. The most successful in our opinion is the Cunningham Place.
The 3rd Policy about Traffic calming is a key one in the project given the objective. Nevertheless, it is clearly not a successful one, since there is not much attention given to it.
The 4th policy, throughways, is destined at giving more importance to people than cars in residential streets, since historically it has been the opposite, and that makes the traffic of pedestrians uncomfortable and dangerous. The list of changes applies to Folsom Street Road Diet, Bryant Street Road Diet, Crossing Improvements to Potrero Avenue, Crossing Improvements and Greening to Dolores, Guerrero, San Jose, and South Van Ness streets. The improvements at Dolores are visibly efficient, as loved the place is by everybody. Changes in Bryant Street are also very significant.
About the 5th strategy, we do not believe is very relevant for the overall effects of the project over the people’s quality of life, while the 6th could be one of the most important ones. What makes more attractive the main streets in the Mission are actually all the bars, littles cafes and stores that attract people and meetings all the time. Huge improvements are visible in all of the areas affected: Valencia Street between 15th and Cesar Chavez Street; 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Streets Between Valencia and Capp Street
The ideas proposed are only good on paper but fail to incorporate all perspectives in the district. The neighborly immigrants that dominate the population are the type to enjoy their surroundings and actively interact with the area itself, but there are also people that come from around the country that live there for the price range but spend most of their time outside of the neighborhood, not enjoying the public displays set for them. There are too many factors left out that come to creating the “perfect and safe” area for families and all others to come together, thriving in health, enjoying the amenities that are built for them.
For example, 24th and mission currently has a public area that is spacious and allows for the community to come together and interact. The only part that counts in this plan is the physical aspect, and although the plan has its idea for a more lively space for families, there are other factors of the area being in San Francisco. The plans for parks and plazas fail to invite the idea of homeless and people of poor circumstances. These are the type of people that hang out and live in the area throughout the day primarily and do not fit the description of their “ideal” neighborhood. This becomes a social issue because now the design is made to isolate a certain type of people and is now going to invite more of the negative safety aspects of having a community with more public spaces. It is nice that the city plans to spruce the area with green and benches but they are not really creating a safe environment for real families in this particular situation. There is no telling what kind of issues any certain plan can bring but if it is not including the current social environment, it will come to fall flat. There needs to be more specification for certain blocks and how they are designed because of the diversity that is “The Mission”.
Looking at the current nature of the infrastructure in the mission we can see that the extension of the sidewalks are creating a safer and more integrated space for people to congregate and interact. In that sense it is a great idea but the extension of the sidewalk integrates all areas of transportation into a smaller space, slowing the flow to meet less efficient needs. Some would say that because the Mission district thrives on art and independent retail, the slowing of traffic is what is needed because more or less people will be walking along the street to get to their short distant destinations. The other hand would say, they want the quickest route to get to their destination depending how they travel because some will be entering the mission by means of transportation, some will be going through by means of transportation and some already live in the city and are trying to leave. The other factor is the means of transportation themselves, you will have cyclists, commercial driver’s, public transportation and average drivers, making it highly congested and causing stress. I would implement these projects as soon as possible but it needs revision in who it is providing, what is the perspective between road and sidewalk. Otherwise I find it completely feasible.