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Hayes Valley Bulbout, Median Plan Approved; Will Eliminate Parking Spots [Updated]

Fell and Laguna (via Google Maps)
By Nuala Sawyer - Published on June 17, 2015.

At yesterday's SFMTA Board meeting at City Hall, one big issue stood out: the Safer Market Street plan, which would restrict cars from turning onto a stretch of Market Street and was unanimously approved.

But also on the agenda were proposals to add seven new bulb-outs and two median islands. Combined with other changes legislated at a May 22nd Traffic Engineering public hearing, the city will remove between 24-30 parking spots.

The so-called daylighting plans approved at last month's hearing are part of the city's Vision Zero campaign, which aims to improve safety and eliminate traffic-related fatalities by 2024.

The theory is that removing the visual obstacle of parked cars at intersections will help drivers see pedestrians who are about to cross the street, as well as help pedestrians see if a car is coming before they step out into traffic.

Daylighting has already taken place in the Tenderloin at the sacrifice of 170 parking spots. Plans are in motion to institute the practice in SoMa as well. 

In Hayes Valley, the SFMTA had proposed establishing "Tow Away, No Stopping Anytime" zones at the intersections of Oak and Laguna and Fell and Laguna. Each newly-marked no-parking zone would extend about 20-25 feet from the intersections in each direction.

Parts of the broad plan to improve safety passed yesterday, with the following changes approved

Tow away, no stopping anytime

- Oak Street, south side, from Laguna Street to 20 feet westerly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening)

- Oak Street, north side, from Laguna Street to 20 feet westerly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening)

- Laguna Street, east side, from Oak Street to 20 feet southerly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening)

- Laguna Street, west side, from Fell Street to 20 feet northerly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening)

- Fell Street, north side, from Laguna Street to 20 feet westerly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening)

- Fell Street, north side, from Laguna Street to 25 feet easterly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening)

- Fell Street, south side, from Laguna Street to 25 feet easterly (for 6-foot sidewalk widening). 

Pedestrian refuge island

- Octavia Boulevard, northbound and southbound, at Oak Street (6-foot wide on south side, 10-foot wide on north side). 

Not everyone is happy about the new plan. In anticipation of yesterday's SFMTA Board meeting, bright pink flyers were posted around Hayes Valley, calling for residents to "Stop The Elimination Of 30+ Parking Spots In Hayes Valley." "Once these spaces are gone, they'll be gone forever!" the anonymous flyer warned. 

Despite a large number of flyers posted around the neighborhood, only three local residents showed up to speak against the plan at yesterday's meeting. One called it "a hardship on the community." Another voiced concerns about the rapid residential growth Hayes Valley is experiencing as new condos are built, and stated that more residents mean more cars circling the neighborhood in search of parking. "It's a river of cars we're drowning in," she stated.

Jim Johnson, the former Executive Director of retirement community AgeSong, pointed out that parking spaces in the neighborhood are an integral part of providing services to his residents. There are currently 90 residents at AgeSong, which is located at Hayes and Laguna. To cater to that population, there are between 120-140 workers employed by the facility, many of whom live elsewhere, carpool in, and require parking in the neighborhood. Visiting family and caretakers are also in need of spaces to park their cars. "Eliminating parking will be a serious concern for our workers and visitors," Johnson said.

The one speaker at the Board meeting who voiced support for the project was Nicole Ferrarra of WalkSF, who said that daylighting intersections is an integral part of walking safety, and a key part of the Vision Zero mission. 

The daylighting proposal is currently under environmental review, but according to SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose, it "had technically already been legislated, pending environmental clearance." In other words, while those speaking at the SFMTA meeting yesterday were heard and put on record, the project is most likely moving forward despite any opposition from residents.

Update: The article originally didn't differentiate the plans approved at this meeting versus the May 22nd meeting. The new version explains that and details the most recent changes.

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