The neighborhood Public Realm Plan news keeps pouring in. First, the Planning Department announced the final draft of the long-awaited Haight Ashbury Public Realm Plan, eliciting, among other things, a flare-up of the age-old Haight Street parking wars. Now, the city is having trouble funding the project, and specifically the additional pedestrian lighting proposed in the final draft of the plan.
The lighting, as you might recall, was ranked during surveys as one of the highest priority items in the plan. A combination of modern and traditional pedestrian-scale lighting was proposed to make the neighborhood feel safer and more inviting, and to generally spruce things up.
Funding, however, is turning out to be an issue. We spoke to Conor Johnston in Supervisor Breed's office, and Lily Langlois in the Planning Department, and they told us that there are currently three plans under consideration:
- A full-scale implementation of the lighting proposed in the Public Realm Plan would cost the city $2.4 million. This would include removal of existing roadway lighting and full replacement with pedestrian scale lighting along Haight from Stanyan to Masonic.
- A partial implementation of the lighting proposed in the Public Realm Plan would cost the city $1.5 million. This would include leaving existing street lighting in place and supplementing it with additional pedestrian-scale lighting. The new lighting would be LED lamps (the existing roadway lights are High Pressure Sodium), so this “partial install” would result in two different types of light along the corridor.
- The last option is a $1 million conduit-only install, which would bring the street up to capacity to install the lighting at a later date. There is currently no timeline on when the additional lighting would be installed.
Johnston went on to explain:
"Everybody wants the lighting, especially Supervisor Breed. And they are the neighborhood’s top priority. The question is where we find the funds. We have already started meeting with the departments involved and will be meeting with PUC, MTA, and DPW again shortly.
"We have a unique opportunity here where a Public Realm process is happening in conjunction with a significant Muni Forward project. The ped lights are not currently funded by either project, though. So we are trying to find the funds so the ped lights or at least the ground work for them can be installed at the same time as the other work, and thus minimize construction disruption to the neighborhood and merchants. At the moment, no one is jumping forward with a million dollars, much less 2.4. We are looking at every possible source or combination of sources."
It's unclear why the full lighting plan is on the chopping block, as opposed to some of the plan's other features, like wayfinding signs and neighborhood identity markers.
The Haight Ashbury Merchants Association has sent letters to Supervisor Breed and Mayor Lee to express support for pedestrian-scale lighting in the neighborhood, and urging the city to come up with funding. We'll keep an eye on the issue and report back.