Friday, May 08, 2009

Acknowledging the Octavia Blvd. disaster

Nice to see that Jim Herd at SFCitizen recognizes how horrific the new Octavia Blvd. has been for the Hayes Valley. Until now District 5 Diary has been the only media entity in San Francisco to question the goofy "boulevard of dreams" label pinned on that perpetual traffic jam that's been the result of tearing down the Central Freeway overpass. 

The anti-freeway activists have been so busy congratulating themselves for getting rid of the freeway that apparently they've been unable to comprehend what's been created to take its place.

Herd links some scathing reviews of the awful Octavia Blvd. on Yelp ("Who's the dip-shit that designed this Octavia Street nightmare between Market St and Fell St?").

Way back in December, 2004, in my second post on this blog, I wrote this after Joanne Minsky found Octavia Blvd. lovable before it even opened to traffic:

I hope she's right about Octavia Blvd, but that seems unlikely. When I was down there recently, I saw a lot of pavement, with six lanes being readied to handle a lot of traffic, since the freeway entrance/exit has been relocated to the south side of Market St. Minsky and others---like the SF Chronicle's John King---clearly want to believe that Octavia is going to be a great boulevard. 

Alas, love is often blind. We'll see what happens next summer when the project is finished, even though the neighborhood as a whole won't really be finished---finished off?---until the housing units are built on the old freeway parcels (see The Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, a document that tells that neighborhood what city planners have in store for it).

So who's responsible for the Octavia Blvd. fiasco? To be fair, something like Octavia Blvd. was bound to be a consequence of taking down the Central Freeway overpass, since all the east-west traffic on Oak St. and Fell St. had to go somewhere. 

But the list of accomplices to this planning crime must include Chronicle writer John King, who was rhapsodizing about Octavia Blvd. when it was still in the architectural drawing stage. The Bicycle Coalition supported it, because, well, anything that followed the Central Freeway had to be better, right? Wrong! Supervisor Mirkarimi---who's spent his career as a supervisor being led around by the nose by the Planning Dept. and the Bicycle Coalition---opined on the day Octavia Blvd. opened to traffic that it was "a gateway to a new template"!

So now what? Obviously the freeway overpass isn't going to be reconstructed to take all that traffic---45,000 cars a day on Octavia Blvd. according to DPT---off the surface streets of the neighborhood. But the very least we can do is recognize the problem and not make it any worse.

But again with the support of John King, the Bicycle Coalition, and Mirkarimi, that's exactly what's going to happen next in that unfortunate part of town, with the Market/Octavia Plan (6,000 new housing units and 10,000 new residents) and UC's massive housing project (450 housing units and 1,000 new residents) planned for the old extension property a block off Octavia Blvd.

For past posts on the Octavia Blvd. disaster, click on the topics below.

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