Bay Area/ San Francisco
Published on February 22, 2015
Living Alleys Program To Release Toolkit At Upcoming Meeting

Photo: Market Octavia Living Alleys Project

Plans have been in place for over two years to create "Living Alleys" in Hayes Valley, and now we're finally seeing some traction. At an upcoming meeting on February 25th, put on by The SF Planning Department, Caltrans, SFMTA, and SF Public Work, a toolkit will be released, outlining some key steps to creating one's own living alley in their neighborhood.

Defined as a "a narrow, low-volume traffic street that is designed to focus on livability," Living Alleys consist of turning unused alleyways into mini parks that will increase more public space and reduce traffic in congested neighborhoods. 

One such example of a Hayes Valley Living Alley is the one on Linden Street, created by Winslow Architecture. The alley includes drought-resistant plans, seating, and has removed three parking spots to create more room for a community space. The project took five years to plan and two weeks to construct, costing a total of $275,000. 

With that timeline and cost in mind, the construction of a Living Alley is not always simple. Although the city supports them, it's not easy for individual property owners or business to get approval for a Living Alley. Instead, the city is targeting community groups or private developers who can navigate the design, financing and construction of each alley. Aspects such as drainage, parking, accessibility and lighting all have to be considered, meaning that those with Living Alley ambitions must be willing to navigate San Francisco's notoriously tricky Planning department. 

In acknowledgement of the challenges, The SF Planning Department, Caltrans, SFMTA, and SF Public Works have created a toolkit for those interested in creating Living Alleys, outlining the advantages of the program and what steps should be taken to get started. 

The last meeting about the project was held in November of 2013, so this update is long overdue. The meeting will be held in the Rainbow Room of the San Francisco LGBT Center at 1800 Market Street on February 25th, from 6 - 7:30pm. We'll keep you updated on any Living Alley plans in Hayes Valley down the line.