Category Archives: Streetscape

News About Town

Photo Credit: Reuters/Kyodo via Burrito Justice & The Atlantic

Some frightening photos of the post-earthquake tsunami in Japan (Burrito Justice)

Tsunami waves wreak havoc on Santa Cruz, Crescent City Harbors (SFist)

Rachel Levin considers the true cost of shopping at Whole Foods Haight (The Bold Italic)

Matt Baume also examines the Haight Street “Supermarket Wars” (NBC Bay Area)

Rec & Park moving forward with Haight-Ashbury Recycling Center eviction despite Board of Supes vote (Bay Citizen)

Major transit/bike/ped improvements on the way for Church & Duboce (Streetsblog SF)

Hop on board the magic school… TRAIN?! (Telstar Logistics)

Mayor Bloomberg, meet Mayor Lee (SFGate)

Get your Irish on! St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival TOMORROW (Bay Area On The Cheap)


Filed under Events, General, Local Business, Muni, Politics, Streetscape

Lots of Love for Proposed 9th Ave Parklet

Image rendering by architect Jack Verdon

Per Streetsblog & The N Judah Chronicles, Inner Sunset neighbors are overwhelmingly in support of a new parklet planned for the space in front of Arizmendi Bakery.

Wouldn’t a similar parklet be a great addition to Cole Valley? How about right in front of Zazie, where large crowds often fill the sidewalk awaiting seats for brunch; or maybe outside the planned Ice Cream Bar?

Lets start the discussion with Cole Valley business owners to get them on board.


Filed under Local Business, Streetscape

Recycling Center To Be Recycled Into Community Garden

Haight-Ashbury Recycling Center and Native Plant Nursery

Haight-Ashbury Recycling Center

Whether or not you agree with Danny Glover about the Haight-Ashbury Recycling Center at 780 Frederick Street, plans are rapidly moving forward for a new community garden slated to take its place.

One of the first public meetings regarding the organization of the nascent garden convened January 31st at McLaren Lodge, and was facilitated by the prolific park advocate, Isabel Wade. Many were present, including representatives from other SF community gardens as well as Hayes Valley Farm, to hear about the plans and offer their two cents. Marvin Yee, from the Recreation and Park Department (RPD), gave an informative presentation covering everything from the general structure and policies of San Francisco Community Gardens to the specific proposal for this garden that was approved by the Rec and Parks Commission in December.

GG Park Community Garden - Preliminary Plan

As can be seen in the provided diagram, there are already many intriguing ideas built into the initial plan, including a tool lending library (set to be a partnership with DPW) and large material bins of soil and mulch which might be open not only to those with a plot in the garden, but the rest of the community as well. In addition, the RPD has invited Greg Gaar to continue operating the Native Plant Nursery in the new garden (number 9 on the map). The current proposal makes space for approximately 40 community plots that will each be around 40-60 sq ft. Seventy five percent of the plots will be designated for individual use while the remaining twenty-five percent will be group plots for schools and other organizations.

Due to the availability of funds and to provide an extra level of flexibility, the 0.66 acre garden is set to be developed in two phases. The first phase contains those aspects that are most vital, such as the community plots, compost bins, and a greenhouse. The future phase is mostly up in the air, but could possibly include a small fruit orchard, demonstration gardens, an outdoor classroom, or even more community garden plots depending on demand.

The construction of phase 1 and initial plot assignments are to be administered jointly by SFGro and RPD, while future major maintenance endeavors (such as repairing beds or other structures) will fall under the purview of RPD. Day to day upkeep and management will be provided by volunteers and a soon to be established steering committee.

As is always true of any government undertaking, the budget was a point of contention for some meeting attendees. The seemingly exorbitant amount of $250K has been allocated for the initial construction, and even Yee seemed skeptical whether that would be sufficient to complete everything proposed in phase one. Many ideas to minimize the initial costs of construction were mentioned, including using recycled materials and garnering the potentially significant input of volunteer labor. Yee himself proposed a workday/fundraiser, where members of the community could stop by and donate their time, money or both. Similar workdays have been very successful at various locations around the city such as the Hayes Valley Farm and the Garden for the Environment in the Inner Sunset.

With construction green-lighted to begin as early as March 1st, community outreach needs to get itself in gear if they wish to amass enough volunteer labor to substantially affect initial costs. For those who wish to be involved in the planning process or volunteer their time and energy, the next meeting is scheduled for February 14th 5:30-7pm at McLaren Lodge in GG Park. Or if you’re simply interested in obtaining a plot at the garden, send an email to


Filed under Gardens, Streetscape

Cole Valley Transit Bulb Proposal On Its Way To SFMTA Board

Outbound N-Judah Stop at Carl & Cole as it appears today. Image: Google

UPDATE 1/18/11: Good news! Per Bryan Goebel of Streetsblog: “The SFMTA Board unanimously approved this proposal at its meeting this afternoon. Only one person testified against it. One member of the board, Bruce Oka, called it a “no brainer.”” Yay! Thanks to everyone who spoke up.

As reported today by Streetsblog and The N Judah Chronicles, there will be a hearing on Tuesday, January 18th, at 1 PM in Room 400 at City Hall for the proposed transit bulbs on Carl St (at Stanyan & Cole).

The much needed sidewalk extensions at these heavily used stops will finally provide a dignified way for riders to board/de-board N-Judah trains without having to squeeze between parked cars, and should also reduce conflict between trains and autos.

Although very popular overall, the proposal is opposed by a few merchants & residents who are upset at the loss of a handful of parking spaces.

What those in opposition fail to realize (or decide to ignore) is the fact that there are a substantial amount of people living in this neighborhood that regularly use those stops, and that removing some parking spaces, although slightly inconvenient for a few drivers, will greatly benefit thousands of riders & pedestrians.

The argument that removing the parking spaces will hurt local business is especially ridiculous. The majority of people that patronize Cole Valley stores, including myself, live in the neighborhood and get to said stores via foot or bike, not to mention all the people from other neighborhoods that get to Cole Valley via transit.

If those opposed to the proposal really want to improve the parking situation in Cole Valley, they ought to support the expansion of the SF Park demand-based parking meter program to Cole St, between Frederick & Parnassus. They should also support extending meters to evenings and Sundays, as doing so increases parking space turnover, which increases automobile access to local businesses.

The proposal is more than fair to drivers (two of the three bulbs don’t even run the full length of the trains) and a small, but necessary improvement on the long road to making SF a truly Transit First city.

If you’re not able to make it to the meeting next Tuesday, you can e-mail your comments to the SFMTA board at

Inbound N-Judah Stop at Carl & Cole as it appears today. Image: Google

Rendering of Carl & Cole sidewalk extension. Image: SF Planning Department, City Design Group


Filed under Muni, Streetscape

Secret of the Stones

Whenever I ride my bike to work, I come across a semi-circle of what appear to be old cobblestones at the intersection of Frederick & Shrader Streets.

Frederick & Shrader Stones

Frederick & Shrader Stones

I never thought much of it until I noticed a full circle of similar stones on 13th Street, at Folsom, near Rainbow Grocery.

13th & Folsom Stones

13th & Folsom Stones

13th & Folsom Stones

My curiosity was piqued. What do they mean? Why are they there? Are they the remnants of an ancient civilization, a decorative flare from a bygone era of well funded city government, or simply the remains of an old cobblestone street?

An e-mail to the San Francisco Department of Public Works solved the mystery. Chris McDaniels of the DPW quickly responded to my query:

“The cobblestone circle in the roadway is there to identify an underground San Francisco Fire Department water storage tank or cisterns. In emergencies, the SFFD rely on these indicator to assist in fire fighting when hydrant are non operational. The tank hold several thousand gallons of water and are installed at various location around the City. Modern cisterns use brick instead of cobblestones.”

As to the cistern at Frederick & Shrader, DPW Mechanical Engineer Michael B. Smith went on to say:

“Our records indicate it was constructed in 1908 of reinforced concrete and has a capacity of 75,000 gallons.”

He also sent me these fascinating DPW cistern construction drawings:

Frederick & Shrader Cistern Plans

Cistern Ring Construction Guidlines

The first document appears to be the original plans/work order for the Frederick & Shrader cistern dating back to 1909/1910.  The second is a somewhat more recent diagram from 2007 outlining basic cistern construction guidelines.

So there you have it! The Secret of the Stones. Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but it’s good to know they’re there.

Many thanks to Chris & Michael of the SFDPW for making this post possible.


Filed under General, History, Streetscape

Still to come…

Carl and Cole

Will be away for the holidays, but here’s some of what’s to come later this month and into the new year on Cole Valley Alley:

Grocery Store Wars (The Rebellion vs. The Empire): I’ll be speaking to local grocers (Real Foods, Frederick Street Super Market, Alpha Market, and others) about their reaction to the impending opening of the new Whole Foods at Haight & Stanyan, and what their plans are to stay competitive/afloat.  We’ll also look at their histories and contributions to the community.

Stonehenge: We’ll be investigating the old circle of stones imbedded in the street at Frederick & Shrader (and other locations throughout the City). Are they the location of an ancient worshiping site, a new form of urban crop circle, or maybe just an old cable car turn around?

Bulbs!: We’ll take a look at the proposed sidewalk/N-Judah stop bulbouts on Carl at Stanyan and Cole.

Happy Solstice!


Filed under General, Local Business, Streetscape