Neglected alleyways in Hayes Valley could be transformed into livable communities under proposed projects in the Market and Octavia Area Plan.
"There are a lot of heavily used arterials," said Jessica Look of the Planning Department. "We want to capitalize on alleys so pedestrians can walk within calmer areas as opposed to heavily trafficked areas. The alley can be more usable for neighbors for recreation and socializing."
Hayes Valley, where these transformed alleys would be located, has several major thoroughfares — Market, Octavia, Fell and Oak streets — running through its core. Planners hope to work with the community to create more neighborhood destinations on side streets, which currently are primarily used for parking.
Though still in the planning phase, Look said The City, along with neighbors, would like to see alleys converted into a place for socializing or networking. Traffic-calming effects, such as extended sidewalks or benches and plants, are envisioned.
William Bulkley, president of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, said some alleys could even be used as community gardens or centers for neighbors to meet one another. He said many residents are excited to see the plan move forward.
"People are fighting for all kinds of public open space," Bulkley said "It's a very progressive environmental treatment of streets. It's a progressive attitude, and Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association is very strongly in favor of looking at alleys as a livable space for everyone."
Designs have not been determined but there is one example in the heart of Hayes Valley that was completed in 2011. Linden Alley at Gough Street narrowed the roadway slightly and removed some parking to allow for benches and planters.
There are several alleyways that cross Octavia Boulevard within Hayes Valley that could become new living spaces. But there are dozens of streets in the Market and Octavia Area Plan — which stretches along Market Street from Van Ness Avenue to Church Street, then along Octavia Street from Market Street through Hayes Valley to Turk Street, and several surrounding streets — that could be candidates as well.
Planning officials said they want to get the community's input on how these alleys should look before moving forward with any design.
The Market and Octavia Area Plan, approved in 2007, is intended to improve Hayes Valley where the Central Freeway was damaged following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.