Monday, October 05, 2009

"Improving" Divisadero: an interim report

Take a look at one of the blocks on Divisadero that the city has completed in its first phase of "improving" Diviz: between McAllister and Fulton. The new pavement is long overdue and is a great improvement. There are new, snazzier curb cuts, which is good. And the sidewalk on the Southwest corner of Divisadero, where the #24 bus stops, has been widened to accomodate people waiting for the bus. But the dangerous phase of the so-called improvements is yet to come: the landscaping, new "street furniture," and new light fixtures. The city knows how to pave streets, but not how to "improve" the look of our streets with its suburban sense of what a neighborhood street should look like. The city should stop "improving" Divisadero once it has finished repaving it.



At 10:14 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Why "dangerous"?

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's an aesthetic danger, as the post made clear. See Octavia Blvd. for the tacky street furniture and the faux-antique light fixtures. This is where the "improvements" can go badly wrong, an attempt to make Divisadero look like suburban cul-de-sac.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Hire some Punks with Spray Cans to put graffiti on the street furniture. Then it will look like Divisadero again!

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous goodplanner said...

Things I've learned from different neighborhood professionals are the unintended consequences of "aesthetic improvements".

1. Planter boxes and large tree pots make excellent drug drop locations.
2. Decaying plants bring insects, which in turn attract pigeons.
3. Muggers have an easier time when they can approach victims unnoticed, and additional street features like benches, plants and garbage cans help potential muggers (and keep in mind people get mugged during the day as well as when it is dark out).
4. Waiting in some bus shelters is really hard, because you can still be blown away by the wind (and the noise level from cars is higher) if it is designed badly.

San Francisco has done a great deal of street planting in recent years. Some trees have done wonderfully, and others look really bad.

I think it would be wise for the City to step back a bit and assess hasn't really worked before spending any more many on any more. In particular:

1. Is there a pronounced increase in street crime as a result of the improvements, or less? Are there any design "dos and don'ts" that the latest round can shed any light on?
2. Are there places where the wrong tree type was used?
3. What trees work better in windy areas, and wouldn't using those be better than tying unsuitable trees to wooden poles so that they don't fall over?
4. How best can we provide a bus shelter for the prevailing wind pattern at that exact location, so that passengers aren't blasted by cold air while they wait?

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Interesting that San Francisco's #1 advocate of the private car is worried about "suburbanizing" Divisadero.

No amount of chintzy street furniture will suburbanize a street. Enough free parking probably will, though.

I have to admit, the new pavement is lovely. Feels so good on my bike... OH YEAHHHHH

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't "advocate" cars; I just think it's stupid to make city traffic worse than it has to be for cars, trucks, buses, and emergency vehicles. Maybe crappy street furniture and light standards won't "suburbanize" Diviz, but they will make it look crappy.

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't "advocate" cars; I just think it's stupid to make city traffic worse than it has to be for cars, trucks, buses, and emergency vehicles."

It's already worse than it has to be.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Divis already "looks crappy"...some trees and a few benches are hardly about to change that.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I disagree. Once all the "improvements" are in place, Diviz will look crappy in a phony way, with the faux-antique street lights, and the excessive planting in the median and at the intersections, as if planting a bunch of trees can substitute for a real sense of what the street is about. The city has repaved the street, and now it should leave it alone.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

So basically you don't like trees.


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