S.F. streets may be overhauled

In a decade, The City’s streets will be more beautiful, provide more spots for socializing and be more functional than today — that’s if a plan to improve The City’s streets gets the green light, city officials say.

Part of the goal of the so-called Streetscape Master Plan is to make the streets drain better, allow sidewalks to get fixed faster and allow trees to grow where before there was only concrete.

Top brass from four city agencies Tuesday promised to band together in an effort to make the vision for a more walkable city a reality. The plan — pertaining to the sewers below city streets to the trains roaring above — also calls for sidewalks wide enough for strolling pedestrians.

“We have to think of streets differently,” Planning Director Dean Macris said. “There should be recreation and entertainment in the public sphere.”

The planning director said the idea was initiated by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office. The mayor and Board of Supervisors are slated to consider a proposed plan and a capital program to implement it in about a year.

Director of Public Works Fred Abadi, Municipal Transportation Agency Director Nathaniel Ford and Tom Franza, assistant general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Wastewater, joined Macris to talk about the plan during a noontime forum.

The panel discussion at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association turned into a standing-room affair due to the high turnout.

A master plan is needed since The City lacks consistency and standards when it comes to its streets, said Tom Radulovich, executive director of the nonprofit Livable City.

Often when work is done to a street — the laying of new pavement or changes to a storm drain — it isn’t done at the same time or in conjunction with other related projects, Radulovich said.

“We need better designs, better pedestrian safety and lighting standards,” Radulovich said. “They [city agencies] are finally pulling together.”

The Planning Department, the Department of Public Works, the MTA and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will work together over the next nine months to one year to come up with the plan and how to pay for it.

“We’re talking millions and millions of dollars,” Macris said.

In 10 years, city residents will see streets that drain better than they do today, Franza said.

“We can rebuild the infrastructure to eliminate flooding,” Franza said.

Meanwhile, traffic will flow better once the plan is put into action, Ford said.

“It will be a much more harmonious environment” for bikes, cars, buses and pedestrians, Ford said.

“They won’t be impeding each other,” he said.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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