One half-block of Octavia Boulevard is going to become a pedestrian- and bike-only zone, once and for all cutting off the busy freeway-connected "boulevard" portion of Octavia from the quieter Octavia Street that continues north.
The SFMTA Board unanimously approved a plan Tuesday that will take the divided lanes of Octavia between Hayes and Linden Streets and remove car traffic from them, allowing cars traveling north on the street in the residential side lanes (not the central boulevard that ends at Fell, where Patricia's Green begins) only to go as far as Linden Street. As the Chronicle reports, the board directed agency staff to study taking a further step and removing cars from the block between Linden and Fell as well.
While this may impact parking for residents and visitors by removing a dozen or so street parking spaces in Hayes Valley, the breaking up of Octavia has been going on for decades. It's in fact one of the most discontinuous streets in the city, with the boulevard traffic separated from resident traffic for the four blocks between Market and Fell, no way for drivers on the boulevard to continue to Hayes without circling a block, a housing project interrupting the street again at Fulton, and then larger interruptions created by Jefferson Square Park, St. Mary's Cathedral, and more housing in Japantown.
The Examiner reminds us that the space currently occupied by Proxy, which includes the outdoor movie theater, Smitten Ice Cream, and Biergarten, is still slated for affordable housing development in "a few years." That plan has been put on hold several times, resulting in Biergarten — initially expected to only have a three- to five-year lifespan — ending up getting a lease extension through 2021, meaning it will have been there a decade before it's expected to make way for that housing. Making the street closure permanent means extending the footprint of Patricia's Green and guaranteeing this open space after Proxy is gone.
Residents remain concerned that blocking through traffic will lead to jams on Linden Street — which is all the more reason to close that second half-block between Linden and Fell on both sides of the park.