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Streamlining the process for people-oriented streets

Kaid Benfield

Posted June 26, 2012 in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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  block party, Chicago (by: Eric Allix Rogers, creative commons)

The city of San Francisco has launched a new website to help residents take advantage of city resources and programs for neighborhood-scaled street improvements such as parklets, bike parking, plantings, art installations, sidewalk fixtures, green infrastructure, and permits for car-free events.   The site is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the city’s Planning Department, Department of Public Works, and Public Utilities Commission.

Writing in SF.Streetsblog, Aaron Bialick quotes Joana Linsangan of the Planning Department:

“Before this website was launched, this information wasn’t available. For someone to go through the process, someone would have to go and contact various departments around the city.  People may not think they have the ability to do so, but if they want to, they can apply for a parklet, put out bike racks or put out planters in their neighborhood, at their storefront, and we’re trying to give them all the information to make it happen.”

  24th St, San Francisco (by: throgers, creative commons)

  block party, Easton, PA (by: Lafayette College, creative commons)

Bialick writes that easier access to permits could smooth the process for neighborhood street fairs and “more regular, small-scale, car-free events in the style of Sunday Streets,” a version of which was highlighted in different cities in an article last week by my colleague Marissa Ramirez.  In San Francisco, the program seems large-scale and immensely popular, and the city also has a website dedicated to it with a schedule of which streets will be participating as the year goes on.

  website banner (by: San Francisco Better Streets)

Curb ramps, crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and outdoor café seating are among additional possibilities highlighted on the site.  There are sections of the site for residents, developers, and business owners.  As more cities come to recognize and enjoy the benefits of people-oriented streets, let’s hope San Francisco’s encouragement becomes a model.

  Sunday Streets, San Francisco (by: jeremyashaw, creative commons)

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Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.  Please also visit NRDC’s sustainable communities video channel.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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