City Hall: Supervisor Eric Mar

Safer, greener streets

In the aftermath of the tragic October Muni accident on Sixth Avenue and Clement Street, which killed 22-year-old bicyclist Derek Allen, my office has been focused on a thorough investigation and immediate safety efforts in the Inner Richmond and creating a longer term better streets planning process for the future.

As a top priority for the Richmond, I have been "digging in" to create safer and greener streets for our neighborhood.  From planting trees along Geary Boulevard to joining families restoring the crumbling Lincoln Park steps with new art and vibrant community involvement, and passing a new comprehensive SF Better Streets Plan, I have been busy throughout the district and at City Hall.

Better Streets Plan

I am working with the SF Planning Department and the mayor's staff to pass a comprehensive Better Streets Plan for our City, which sets standards and guidelines for the design of all city streets. When fully implemented, it will enhance pedestrian safety. The goal is to make our streets greener, more beautiful and convenient, and safe for pedestrians. It will add trees, grass, benches, lights, curb bulb-outs and other pedestrian improvements to make our streets a more social place for people to enjoy, not just for cars to zoom by.

We have made tremendous progress redesigning street lanes to accommodate not only cars but to make bicycling safer and to improve efficiency on our transit routes. Future "better streets" design must acknowledge that pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and merchants all share the same streets.

Additionally, we must change the way the City is set up to deliver these street improvements with a stronger community voice. We are looking for ways to streamline the approval process to make it easier for community members to build and maintain streetscape improvements. Homeowners interested in street improvements through the Better Street Plan will agree to maintain street trees and developers will be required to include streetscape improvements on newly-created streets and for any new projects.

This plan is necessary for the Richmond District, as well as for entire City, to make our streets safer, to increase accessibility for all street users, provide more open space and support public transportation, while minimizing local air pollution and storm water overflows into the bay.

Lincoln Park steps

Please join me in Lincoln Park for a ribbon cutting celebration to mark the completion of the first phase of the California Street steps on Friday, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m. Located at the end of California Street, west of 32nd Avenue, this is the first phase of an overall project that hopes to transform the area into a beacon of art and community involvement.

The steps, likely built in the early 1900s, lead to Lincoln Park and boast a unique and sweeping view of San Francisco. The Beaux Arts design reflects the time period when the stairs were built and are an elegant reminder of San Francisco's earlier days. They are a gateway from the surrounding urban neighborhood to the open space of Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park Playground, the golf course, Palace of the Legion of Honor and Lands End.

The artist, Aileen Barr, has done many public tile projects, including the beautifully redone Alta Plaza Playground and the San Francisco Beautiful award-winning 16th Avenue Stairs in the Sunset District. The Friends of Lincoln Park obtained fiscal sponsorship through the San Francisco Parks Trust and the concept was approved by the SF Recreation and Park Commission and the SF Arts Commission.

Anna Yastroussis and Meg Autry and Friends of Lincoln Park have built a base of supporters from various neighborhood organizations and our community. The idea for the California Street steps tiling project came as Yastroussis, a lifetime resident, walked her children to school via the steps every day and was struck by the need to restore what was once a beautiful respite. Both have worked tirelessly shepherding this project through grant processing and neighborhood committees.

I hope to see you at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the top of the stairs on Nov. 12. Friends of Lincoln Park will be there accepting donations to help complete the next phase of renovations. For more information about the project or to make an online donation, please visit the website at www.sfpt.org.

A greener Geary Blvd.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, I had the pleasure of planting eight trees in the Geary Boulevard median, between 14th and 15th avenues, with other Richmond District residents. Born out of the organization Keep our Neighborhood Clean (KONC), in an effort to restore Geary Boulevard, district residents Jean Barish, Catherine Robyns and Cherly Shultz, with help from Susan Fry, came together to restore parts of Geary Boulevard. The group worked closely with Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Ed Reskin and Deputy Director of Operations Mohammed Nuru and Friends of the Urban Forest. The eight trees, Eucalyptus Ficifolia and Pittosporum Undulatum, were provided by DPW. Food was graciously provided by the House of Bagels and John Campbell's Irish Bakery with coffee provided by Starbucks.

The project will serve to help reduce traffic speeds and increase pedestrian walking, friendliness and shopping on Geary Boulevard while improving the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood. From the number of friendly honks and people that dropped by to give a "thumbs up," we know we have strong neighbor, merchant and community enthusiasm for the project. I anticipate that support and interest will grow as the project moves forward and the benefits become apparent. The hope is that this median planting will serve to promote even more street tree plantings and a more livable Geary Boulevard.

Louis' will live on!

Great news, the GGNRA has awarded a new 10-year lease to the Hontalas family to operate Louis' at Lands End.

I look forward to breakfast with supporters soon to celebrate our efforts to save Louis'.

Coffee with Eric

Please join me for coffee on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. I will be at the Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California St., between 21st and 22nd avenues. Come meet with me and other Richmond District residents and share what's on your mind.

Supervisor Eric Mar represents District 1.