Inner Sunset first to benefit from fresh take on city curbs

Irving Street business corridor to get new commercial loading zones, short-term parking

Trucks loading merchant goods and drivers seeking a parking spot may soon find a legal space to stop in the Inner Sunset, thanks to a relatively new group within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Curb Management Team.

The team, which was formed in early 2018 to provide citywide guidelines and holistic solutions for traffic flow and parking challenges, cut its teeth shaping streets around the new Chase Center Arena.

But on Tuesday, the SMFTA board gave final approval to its first effort to aid a merchant corridor on Irving Street by increasing commercial loading zones and short-term parking.

The project, which includes additional loading spaces along Irving Street and Ninth Avenue and minor changes to bus stops and tow-away zones on Lincoln Way by Golden Gate Park, was approved unanimously.

Residents, merchants and Muni service planners took issue with curb space allocation in the Inner Sunset commercial core, where double-parking, transit delays, and blocked driveways have become commonplace.

Before the Curb Management Team was formed, curb regulations were issued on an individual application basis in response to complaints. Now it will be based on citywide planning.

“Simple, basic solutions like color zone changes can have a dramatic impact on the safety of our streets,” SFMTA Parking Policy and Planning Manager Hank Willson said Tuesday.

Patchwork regulations resulted in blocks with similar needs having completely different curb makeups. But the Curb Management Team’s broader, more collaborative approach has resulted in better traffic flow in places like Chase Center.

“We want to include signage, we want to streamline regulations, we want to put zones in places where they’re more likely to be used,” Willson said. “It’s the kinds of things you wouldn’t notice but would make it easier for you to get around and do what you need to do, find a space to pull over, pick up your dry cleaning, whatever it is you need to do without having to double park.”

Inner Sunset businesses will be the first to benefit from this broader approach. Soon the area will gain more green and yellow zone parking spaces in busier parts of the neighborhood in an effort to draw in more customers.

The broader project to refashion these Inner Sunset streets was approved in December, but additional changes came to the SFMTA board Tuesday.

To improve traffic flow and increase turnover of parking spaces along Lincoln Way, two 7-Haight/Noriega Muni bus stops will be removed, the tow-away zone between Sixth and 14th avenues will be extended an additional two hours, and a two-hour parking time limit between Seventh and 11th avenues will be implemented.

Residents complained about losing an hour of evening parking due to the tow-away zone extension, but Inner Sunset Curb Management Project Manager Alex Jonlin said those losses are outweighed by hundreds of bus commuters who will experience fewer delays with a third lane along Lincoln Way until 7 p.m.

After these changes are put into place, SFMTA plans to hold an evaluation to inform future curb management strategy and understand if the project was effective or if more changes are necessary.

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