Courtesy city of South San Francisco

Courtesy city of South San Francisco

South San Francisco lays out plan to revitalize downtown

South San Francisco city officials have unveiled a new plan to revitalize the downtown area with improvements to sidewalks and bike paths, the addition of new green spaces and revamped streetscapes.

The city’s proposal envisions the downtown area becoming “the centerpiece of the city” with a mix of plazas, parks and paths. The area within a half-mile of the Grand Avenue Caltrain station will undergo the various upgrades, pending plan approval from various departments and groups.

“While our downtown has notably improved, we’ve still got a way to go,” South San Francisco Mayor Karyl Matsumoto said in a statement.

Matsumoto said the new plan encompasses both the “big picture goals and the nitty-gritty details” that would be necessary to transform the South City downtown corridor into its ideal state.

One of the goals is to provide transit connectivity to the downtown and Caltrain station area for bicyclists, pedestrians and cars without favoring one form of transit over another.

The city also intends that the plan include new green spaces and plazas that will “support civic life” and encourage residents to spend time in the city’s center.

Maria Martinucci, the CEO of the South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, chose to withhold commenting on the plan specifics until she attends the public meeting to be held Thursday, but noted she is pleased with the current state of downtown South City.

“With what we have now, we see a lot of people interested in coming into downtown,” she said, adding that some local companies help promote the use of the downtown. Biotech firm Genentech, which is headquartered in South San Francisco, makes an effort to encourage its employees to frequent the restaurants and businesses downtown, Martinucci said.

“We are expanding; we have a lot of great restaurants, lots of new retail coming in. I’m very optimistic,” she said.

Grand Avenue, the city’s “Main Street,” acts as a connector between the downtown area and the neighborhoods east of U.S. Highway 101 where many residents work. Through the proposed improvements, city officials hope to better connect those areas and provide expanded access for residents to walk or bike from one part of town to the other.

A plaza is planned on the southeast corner of the busy intersection of Grand Avenue and Airport Boulevard, and a new pedestrian and bicycle under-crossing will help make the plaza the “primary gateway” to the Caltrain station, according to the plan.

Safety for bicyclists is also a key issue the city hopes to address through the plan. A buffer would be added to an on-ramp at Airport Boulevard to create space between a bicycle lane and the on-ramp lane.

The project, initiated in 2012, is funded by a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The City Council and the South San Francisco Planning Commission hope to have the plan adopted by the end of this year.

A public forum for comment is scheduled Thursday at 6 p.m. at a former Ford dealership at the corner of Miller Avenue and Airport Boulevard. Residents can also submit comments online to: Area NewsGrand AvenueMayor Karyl MatsumotoPeninsulaSouth San Francisco

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