It could be Sunday Streets every day on the 100 block of Golden Gate Avenue, as a coalition of volunteer groups and nonprofits continues pushing for a plan to close that street to car traffic and make it a permanent playground.
Yesterday was Sunday Streets’ 11-location finale Phoenix Day, so the Sunday Streets calendar is now done for the year, presumably to return around April 2023 or so. But the Sunday Streets concept is not content to fade from the headlines for the next six months. A sort of permanent Sundays Streets is being proposed for the 100 block of Golden Gate Avenue, as KPIX reports reports the group Livable Streets, who are behind the Sunday Streets program, has joined with a few Tenderloin nonprofits in hopes of establishing a permanently car-free block of Golden Gate Avenue that would be called the Golden Gate Greenway.
You can see the area for which this is proposed above, it’s the one block of Golden Gate Avenue between Jones and Leavenworth Streets that is home to Larkin Street Youth Services and St. Anthony's Free Clothing Program. The website for the proposed Golden Gate Greenway describes it as “a permanent street closure” and “an oasis in the heart of the Tenderloin that would benefit the community physically, mentally, and spiritually,” and you can see their rendering of this “oasis” below.
"Creating an entire block's worth of open space exponentially expands that opportunity for everybody here," Livable City's Sunday Streets director Katy Birnbaum tells KPIX . "So, it's going to be a game-changer, a complete game-changer to have the Golden Gate Greenway."
But a permanent version of the program is a heck of a lot more complicated than a one-day pop-up. Every business and nonprofit on the blocks supports the idea, as do Mayor Breed and the district’s supervisor Dean Preston. But the Chronicle reported in May that “the San Francisco Fire Department has been unwilling to sign off on the concept, although the department has not provided any rationale in writing or made any formal decisions. The hang-up seems to be the width of the proposed greenway. Golden Gate Avenue is 49 feet wide. The current proposal is for the parklet to take up about 29 feet, allowing 20 feet for emergency vehicles and deliveries.”
People will (perhaps correctly) complain that it’s the Tenderloin, so the park would automatically just get trashed. And any proposal with “car-free” in its name is certain to bring out big-money opponents in this town — also, Golden Gate Avenue is the quickest route from the Anza Vista/Nopa area to get to SoMa and the freeways, with all the timed lights and connection to Sixth Street, so there's that. But as the Chronicle pointed out in May, “When the pandemic hit and St. Anthony’s needed to move its services outside, the city closed the block to through traffic between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.” So the fact that is has been iterated upon semi-permanently before provides some hope the idea could become a truly permanent reality.
Image: Golden Gate Greenway