Report recommends radical street changes 

A new vision for San Francisco’s streets proposes sweeping pedestrian-friendly changes at the expense of cars and motorists.

The 249-page draft Better Streets Plan, released by the San Francisco Planning Department on Tuesday, includes a raft of recommendations to help meet street design policies adopted in early 2006 by the Board of Supervisors.

Under the draft plan, crosswalks would become more prolific; parking lanes would be replaced with benches and gardens; traffic would be slowed and squeezed into narrower streets; concrete footpaths would be replaced with rainwaterabsorbing dirt, plants and trees; and "generous" sidewalks would be built with plenty of curb ramps.

Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner on Monday that design principles in the draft plan, which were based on similar guidelines adopted by Chicago, would lead to a more beautiful, more liveable and greener city.

"This is about creating a dramatically different pedestrian environment," Newsom said. "I don’t think it’s an anti-car initiative — it’s just not a car-only initiative."

Newsom’s proposed budget, released Monday, included $10.2 million for new roadside features such as curbs, tunnels, trees and medians.

It also includes $38.7 million for street resurfacing — up from $36 million last year.

"The business community really embraced Chicago’s efforts on this, and they put up a lot of the capital money in and around their commercial districts," Newsom said. "We’re going to be rolling this out to the private sector and we want them to fund a good portion of it."

Streets in San Francisco are already being rebuilt following many of the principles included in the new draft plan, including portions of Geary Street and San Bruno Avenue, according to Newsom.

The plan may see certain streets overhauled as pilot projects if specific funding is secured, but most of The City’s streets won’t be affected until they need major repairs, according to City Planning Director John Rahaim.

"It’s meant to be a framework and a policy guide for looking differently at how we design streets when they need to be redesigned or rebuilt," Rahaim said.

The Planning Department will gather feedback from the public on the draft plan over the coming months, according to senior city planner David Alumbaugh.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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