This Is The City’s Plan for New Crosswalks and Stop Signs on Bernal Hill (and How It Could Be Improved)

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Do you remember that City meeting a few weeks back to review the proposed pedestrian-safety changes to the intersection of Bernal Heights Boulevard and Bernal Heights Boulevard at the southeastern side of the hill, near the glamorous Vista Pointe Minipark? Well, Neighbor Tom attended the meeting, and took great notes, and made some spiffy diagrams of new crosswalks and new stop signs, and he thinks the current proposal needs revision. Neighbor Tom says:

First, the facts:

Three Bernal residents spoke, of which I was one. No diagrams were presented or handed out, but two of us were able to look at a diagram (by request) before the meeting started.

Of the three that spoke, all approved of making some improvements. Two of us approved of the stop signs, one felt it unnecessary, but the crosswalk is good. As far as I could tell, there was no resolution on this, just the hearing of opinions.

I created a sketch of the plans from memory. (I don’t like recreating drawings from memory, because it’s inaccurate, but if they’re not going to give handouts, then…)

The yellow parts are roughly what their plans showed. Here’s a version of the diagram with other colors added by me to illustrate my personal opinion.

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My opinion is:

1. Locating the crossing at C will encourage people to walk the red path, with leads to a tricky crossing of Bradford (where a stop cannot be added, due to the #67 bus).

2. Locating the crossing at B instead would encourage the green route, which benefits from the pre-existing ‘stop’ on Bradford, and could be further improved by a cross walk.

The MTA say that the crossing must be located at C, since that’s where Parks and Rec have decided to put stairs.

Yes, stairs! I’m opposed to the stairs, since they will lead users to further steep loose ground, which they then have to ascend (or turn back). They therefore violate the principle of “don’t trick people into thinking they’re safe.”  I’m informed that the stairs will help reduce erosion. I suspect they’ll do the opposite – they’ll encourage more people to take the route.

ILLUSTRATIONS: Neighbor Tom

New Pedestrian Crossing, Stop Signs Proposed for Eastern End of Bernal Heights Park

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Tomorrow morning, March 6, at 10 am, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will solicit input on proposed changes to the intersection of Bernal Heights Boulevard and Bernal Heights Boulevard at the eastern side of the park.

Wait, what? No, that’s not a typo:

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This is the spot.

The hearing happens at 10 am on Friday in Room 416 at City Hall. Here’s the announcement in situ:

Public Hearing

Three years ago, your Eastern Bureau correspondent attended a Rec and Parks meeting about trail restoration on Bernal Hill, where neighbors discussed the safety of the ‘undefined’ eastern entrances to the park. At the time, someone from the City mentioned that there was “lots you can do with paint.”

Now, the moment is at hand to perhaps do something with some paint. And a few stop signs.

PHOTOS: Joe Thomas

New Urban Agriculture Project Coming to College Hill Reservoir Site

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The Examiner recently brought news that the land next to the College Hill reservoir near Holly Park will soon become the pilot site for a new urban agriculture initiative. Reporter Mike Koozmin writes:

San Francisco residents four years ago called for more urban agriculture space in The City, prompting a pilot program that is now beginning to bear fruit.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission announced Tuesday that a new garden site is expected to open this summer in Bernal Heights and another site in Crocker-Amazon could be built out late next year. A planned community garden in Bayview-Hunters Point at the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant was scrapped and instead gardening supplies were offered there and other locations.

Urban agriculture supporters in San Francisco have long looked to the SFPUC to show more leadership on the issue given its vast open-space portfolio.

Interest in the cultivation of land by residents is evident by at least one measurement. Last year, there were 750 people on a waiting list to use community gardens in the Recreation and Park Department’s portfolio. The department oversees 38 community gardens, which average about a quarter of an acre in size. It also has 33 garden plots and serves 53 gardeners. The SFPUC set timelines for when the Bernal Heights and Crocker-Amazon space will become active agriculture sites. The sites were selected in 2012 for an urban agriculture pilot program, which relates to broader issues of food security and climate change.

The College Hill Learning Garden in Bernal Heights is out for competitive bidding and is expected to become operational in the summer. In partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, the 6,000-square-foot site will provide lessons for kindergarteners through fifth-graders. The site will include a bioinfiltration basin, rain gardens, green roofs and a composting toilet.

IMAGE: Google Earth

Precita Park Playground to Close for Repair, Repainting, and Reglamorization

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Sorry, pre-literate Bernal kids. The big sign in front of the Precita Park Playground says the playground will be closed beginning today, February 17, until March 6.

That’s a long time! So what’s the fuss all about?

Neighbor Demece, the hgh priestess of the dashingly effective Prectia Valley Neighbors group, says it’ll be worth the wait:

The Childrens’ Playground is finally getting repainted and repaired!  For the next three weeks from 2/17 – 3/6, the Recreation and Parks Department has listened to our requests and has closed the Children’s Playground so they can do their much appreciated painting and repair magic.

Please visit Garfield Playground in the meantime or the many other fantastic parks we are so lucky to enjoy!

PHOTO: Precita Park Playground, Feb 16, 2015 by Telstar Logistics. Hat tip: Neighbor Linda

Remember That Rainy Day When Cesar Chavez Boulevard Was Surfable?

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While doing some digital archaeology on an old hard drive recently, I re-discovered an image I took during a very rainy day at the corner of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Shotwell on February 25, 2004 — almost exactly 11 years ago. Since it’s raining today, this seems like a good time to look back.

Of course, the 2004 image was captured a decade before the installation of all the sexy infrastructure upgrades that gave us a brand new sewer main beneath Cesar Chavez, as well as a tropical-themed median strip. But on that wet February morning in 2004, the old Army Street sewer pipes were overwhelmed, filling the street with so much riverine water that the old concrete medians were completely submerged.

I crossed Cesar Chavez in four-wheel-drive on that day — nervously but successfully.

Later that morning, when I showed my photo to a graphic designer I worked with at the time, she decided to have some fun with the image. Let the Cesar Chavez Surf Competition Begin!

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PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

 

Fabulous 331 Cortland Getting an Indoor Seating Upgrade

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Are you sitting down right now? Because as you read this, the fabulous food marketplace at 331 Cortland is getting a major upgrade, in the form of an indoor seating area. It’s also getting a new mission statement. 331 Cortland owner Debra Resnik brings the tell:

What: 331 Cortland Marketplace remodel to result in 10 seats at the formerly seatless kiosk shop.
When: Shops close for remodel Feb. 1-5 and reopen Feb. 6 with new daily opening hour of 8 a.m.
Who: Anda Piroshki, Paulie’s Pickling, and Mae Krua food kiosks
Why: To give customers exactly what they’ve asked for.

Visitors to the “three shops in one” at 331 Cortland in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood pretty much all say the same thing: “This place is amazing!” They also ask the same question: “Is there anywhere to sit?” The shop is pleased to announce that the answer is about to change to “Yes.”

In a total redefinition of purpose, the storefront is set to transform itself from small-business incubator into microcafé. Although the incubator model has been spectacularly successful, launching Ichi Sushi and Bernal Cutlery into their own storefronts (and other businesses into wholesale and retail,) property owner and in-house theoretician Debra Resnik has worked hard to give customers what they want: seating. Resnik and 331 Cortland residents Anda Piroshki, Paulie’s Pickling, and Mae Krua Thai food are excited about the forthcoming seating and remodel: Kiosk chefs Anna Tvelova, Liz Ashby, and Anucha Kongthavorn hint at expanded menus in the near future, thanks to the improved space. Paulie’s will continue to carry favorite retail items from 331 alum and friends in the new configuration as well — including Suite Foods waffles.

Locals Paul Ashby of Paulie’s Pickling and recent Russian transplant and Anda Piroshki cook Roman Ugrimov will do the construction, while a bittersweet note comes from the decision of waffle shop Suite Foods to change focus to wholesale and catering work. Their presence in the shop will be missed. However, Deb and the team look forward to giving customers from Bernal and beyond exactly what they want: seats!

PHOTO: 331 Cortland time capsule, circa 2011; by Telstar Logistics

Did You Know? The Board of Supervisors Eliminated Off-Street Parking Requirements

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EDITOR’S NOTE 8 Jan., 2014: This article and its headline has been revised to reflect updated information provided by the San Francisco Planning Department. Writer Brandon Powell reached out to the Planning Department several times while reporting, but the Department provided clarification only after the original article was published.

There are two topics about which many Bernalese — nay, many San Franciscans — tend to have very strong opinions: parking and housing.

Neighbor Brandon Powell calls our attention to a change that was recently made to planning requirements here in Bernal Heights — a change which will impact both the design of new housing and the inventory of on-street parking here. Neighbor Brandon sits on the Northwest Bernal Heights Design Review Board, and in that capacity he shares these details about changes to the City’s planning requirements that have come to his attention. Neighbor Brandon reports:

This is the language establishing the planning rules that govern the Bernal Heights Special Use District:

“In order to reflect the special characteristics and hillside topography of an area of the City that has a collection of older buildings situated on lots generally smaller than the lot patterns in other low-density areas of the City, and to encourage development in context and scale with the established character, there shall be a Bernal Heights Special Use District.”

Since January 1991, new construction in Bernal, or alterations to existing structures which expand the building’s envelope, are subject to the restrictions of the Bernal Heights Special Use District outlined in Section 242 of the planning code. One of the key elements of Section 242 is the requirement to provide off-street parking, with the number of off-street spaces tied to the square footage of the building.

The City’s approach to parking—and the philosophy behind that approach—has evolved since 1991, and today Transit First is the order of the day. Rather than enshrining the automobile and its use in the Planning Code, the City has progressively scaled back parking requirements for new developments, especially for multi-unit buildings near transit nodes.

In July 2013, the Board of Supervisors approved the addition Section 150(e) to the Planning Code which allows for the substitution of permanent bicycle parking for off-street automobile parking:

(e) Reduction and Replacement of Off-Street Parking Spaces. Notwithstanding subsection (d) above, off-street parking spaces may be reduced and replaced by bicycle parking spaces based on standards provided in Section 155.1(d) of this Code. Once bicycle parking spaces replace an automobile parking space, such bicycle parking shall not be reduced or eliminated. Such bicycle parking spaces may be converted back to automobile parking space, provided that the required numbers of bicycle parking spaces subject to Sections 155.2 and 155.3 of this Code are still met after removal of bicycle parking spaces.

In practical terms, the City no longer requires that new construction (or substantial additions to existing homes) include off-street car parking. This is a fairly radical change to the Planning Code, but there are strong arguments in favor of having market forces determine the demand for car parking and letting developers figure out how best to satisfy that demand.

A holistic approach, however, demands that the City simultaneously address the issue of free street parking. If there is no longer a requirement for property owners to provide car parking, there likely will be increased demand for the limited number of street-parking spaces and more conflict between neighbors.

PHOTO: Folsom Street in Bernal Heights, by Telstar Logistics