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Planners seek input on La Playa Park transformation

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The Planning Department is looking to transform the La Playa Park area, where the N-Judah turns around. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

By the windy, oft-chilly Ocean Beach at the end of Judah Street is the La Playa Park area, where the N-Judah turns to stalk back toward downtown. Planners want to transform the intersection for pedestrian safety.

But before they put pen to paper, a number of open houses to gauge public interest on transforming the walkability of La Playa Park have been scheduled for next month, on April 3 and April 26.

The process of gauging public interest has been ongoing since 2013, but the San Francisco Planning Department took the lead on the project in 2016, according to a recent announcement.

The revitalization of La Playa Park is a bit more novel than most because of the Planning Department’s use of the Ground Play program, which aims to “build temporary installations that transform underused public spaces into community places.”

According to city planners, some short-term ideas to make public spaces include: converting a short stretch of La Playa Street into a one-way street, greening, outdoor seating, bike parking, surfboard storage, a ground mural and possibly signage to “celebrate the identity of the Outer Sunset neighborhood and create a gateway between The City and the Pacific Ocean.”

The temporary designs, whatever they may be, may inform creation of any permanent installations, according to planners.
Perhaps any beautification may distract from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s struggles with the N-Judah train, which finds its “end of the line” at La Playa Park.

One need only look as far as Yelp to see riders’ opinions of the N-Judah.

“Overcrowded, cramped, smelly (at peak hours), those are things you can expect on a daily basis riding the N-Judah,” wrote Yelp reviewer Junming G. in January. “Avoid this train at all times unless you are like me, stuck with it on a daily basis.”

For those “stuck” boarding the N-Judah every day at La Playa Park, at least they may soon have a lovely place to wait.

The two upcoming open houses are at Java Beach Cafe on April 3 and April 26, from 5 to 7 p.m.

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