After a year and a half of public outreach and study, city planners unveiled a set of goals for the future of several District 11 neighborhoods.
On Nov. 3, the Planning Department released a draft of the Excelsior-Outer Mission Neighborhood Strategy online, before gathering a final round of public comments at a Nov. 29 community meeting.
The Neighborhood Strategy process was started in May 2017 at the request of District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai as part of a campaign pledge to reinvigorate several commercial corridors bisecting the district.
Unlike an Area Plan, an in-depth Planning Department document that can take years to complete, the Neighborhood Strategy does not change zoning codes or prioritize building uses.
The Neighborhood Strategy, which the Planning Department has billed as “envisioning a future for more vibrant, inclusive and stronger neighborhoods,” is only a litmus test for determining what residents want the City Hall to do.
Creating the Neighborhood Strategy began with a community kickoff meeting and a survey of community desires. Afterward, four working groups — each focused on land use and housing; the public realm; mobility; and commerce and business support — were formed to discuss their vision for the Mission Street and Geneva Avenue commercial corridors and surrounding neighborhoods in three, five and ten years.
An initial section of the report outlining neighborhood demographics and housing stock serves as a reminder that the neighborhoods, at the southern edge of the city, are unique in many ways.
Single family homes dominate the area, making up 82.3 percent of the housing stock, a rate that is 31.9 percent citywide. However, households are likely to be larger in the study area than citywide, where the average household size is 2.3, compared to the Excelsior’s 3.6.
Excelsior residents are also more ethnically diverse, poorer and less educated than the citywide population.
Commerce and Business Support Goals
The business working group aspires to establish a thriving business corridor, a status unlike the current state of affairs. The neighborhood’s business owners often complain about a slow and complicated permitting process, a high number of vacant storefronts and dirty public spaces.
Solutions proposed in the Neighborhood Strategy include encouraging a better mixture of store types on the corridor, establishing a city “business concierge” to help business owners through the permit process and consideration of beautification measures such as increased street lighting and storefront redesigns.
In his introductory remarks at a May 2017 meeting, Supervisor Safai said that his ultimate goal is to create a Community Benefit District for the Excelsior corridor in order to invigorate the corridor. A CBD is an organization based around a commercial corridor and funded by an annual assessment on property owners tasked with maintenance and improvements.
The draft Neighborhood Strategy includes the possibility of creating a CBD.
Enhancing the Public Realm
The second category of the report, the public realm, refers to the design of local streets, parks and other public spaces as a indicator of neighborhood health.
Suggested improvements include fostering cleaner streets, reinforcing the neighborhood’s multicultural identity through public art projects and encouraging business owners to refurbish or repair the front of their stores.
Housing and Urban Development Priorities
In the housing and urban planning category, the report recommends building and maintaining a swath of housing options to save the neighborhood’s diverse population from displacement.
The section suggests developing a corridor-wide housing development plan, passing policies — likely citywide — to prevent the displacement of low and moderate-income residents, as well as laws that limit speculative real estate purchases.
The final section of the report, Mobility, refers to transportation options and street safety in the neighborhood.
The report showed that 49 percent of neighborhood residents drive alone to work, substantially higher than the 33 percent rate citywide. A nearly identical portion of residents in the neighborhood and citywide ride public transit to work.
Transit suggestions include continuing to complete pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, improving walkability on Mission Street by attempting to shift some North-South vehicle traffic to Alemany Boulevard and increasing public transit use in the neighborhood by improving service.
The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Planning Department will coordinate all city departments and agencies to focus on the goals outlined in the report.
OEWD will publish annual reports or host annual community meetings to evaluate progress and gather community feedback.