Livable City > Campaigns > Livable neighborhoods > Market & Octavia
The Market & Octavia Neighborhood Plan
The Market and Octavia Plan, which has been in the works for almost a decade, was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on April 15. The plan area encompasses a half-mile radius around the Van Ness and Church Street Muni Metro stations, and includes Hayes Valley, Duboce Triangle, and portions of the Mission, Castro, and South of Market neighborhoods.
The plan focuses on creating compact, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods oriented to the neighborhood's numerous public transit lines. The plan integrates timeless ideas about how to grow great neighborhoods with new approaches that together begin to move San Francisco's increasingly anachronistic planning code into the age of sustainability.
Livable City has been attending each public hearing to keep the plan moving forward. For more information about the plan, see the Planning Department's Market & Octavia web site, and check here for updates.
Market & Octavia news
Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan approved
The Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, which began nearly eight years ago, passed the Board of Supervisors unanimously on its first reading on April 8, and is expected to be finally approved on its April 15 second reading.
The Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan will create San Francisco's first 21st-century plan for a more livable, sustainable urban neighborhood oriented to walking, bicyling, and public transit.
Livable City has been attending each public hearing to keep the plan moving forward, and to support the plan's many fine points. Unfortunately, several important elements of the 2002 draft plan were weakened last year. Livable City joined the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association and Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association in support of lower parking ratios, which increase housing affordability and decrease traffic. The legislation introduced by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi restores the lower parking ratios supported by the neighborhood.
The plan also includes a public benefits fee, to pay for a portion of the many transportation, open space, and streetscape improvements necessary to realize the plan, as well as fees to support construction of permanently affordable housing in the plan area necessary to house residents that will work at the many jobs created within the plan area.
In 2007, Livable City worked with neighbors, businesses, Walk SF, and the SF Bicycle Coalition to advocate for the restoration of two-way traffic on Hayes Street between Gough and Van Ness. For decades, city traffic engineers have channeled high-speed one-way traffic through the heart of Hayes Valley's neighborhood commercial district, endangering pedestrians and harming local businesses, especially those on the south side of the street.
Thanks to the work of our coalition, two-way Hayes was included in the Market & Octavia Neighborhood Plan, adopted in 2007, and a resolution calling for restored two-way traffic, along with wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety improvements, passed the Board of Supervisors unanimously in fall 2007 (see our Market & Octavia neighborhood page for more details)
On February 9, the Board of Supes got an update on the status of the Municipal Transportation Agency's restoration of Hayes Street to a two-way thoroughfare pursuant to Board of Supervisors Resolution. Two alternatives were presented; both include wider sidewalks, one with two lanes of one-way traffic, the other with one lane of traffic in each direction. These alternatives aren't perfect both include a tow-away zone in the afternoon peak on the north side of the street but both move us towards the goal of a safer, saner, more livable Hayes Street.
Livable City is working with neighbors and business to restore two-way flow and calm traffic on streets across the city; see our complete streets page for more details.
Market & Octavia plan elements
A key tool in creating the mixed-use, transit oriented neighborhood called for in the plan is to amend the current zoning. The plan creates two new zoning districts, the neighborhood commercial transit oriented (NC-T) and Residential transit-oriented (RTO), which are better suited to historic and transit intensive neighborhoods than the current zoning categories, which require one parking space per unit, and make it easier to build a 6000 square foot monster home than add a 400 square foot secondary unit. NCT and RTO do not require off-street parking, and allow a maximum of three parking spaces for every four units (with one space per unit allowed only for larger units). This change to parking requirements makes it far easier to create and retain affordable housing over shops and within existing buildings, and will ensure that a few car-free units are part of every new development, which increases housing affordability and expands sustainable housing options.
The Market & Octavia plan and its accompanying design guidelines require that buildings meet the street in ways that makes streets safer and more active. Garage doors are limited in width (to 10' in most cases), eliminating the ugly, double-wide garage doors that increasingly dominate San Francisco's residential districts. Active uses (shops, restaurants, and the like) are required on the ground floor of commercial districts, and parking must be hidden from view.
Smarter building height and bulk controls
The plan adjusts building height limits based on the width of the street, with buildings of 65-85' on the widest streets, and shorter buildings along narrow streets and alleyways. The plan adjusts building bulk controls to eliminate boxy buildings, requiring rear yard setbacks above the first floor in almost all cases. The plan does increase heights at the corners of Market and Van Ness to 400', but requires that towers be narrower than the massive and squat towers allowed under current controls.
Preserving historic buildings and streetscapes
As part of plan implementation, a new historic building survey will be completed for the whole area, and the Planning Commission will likely put controls on demolitions or alterations of older buildings until the survey is completed. The historic survey will look not only at which individual buildings to preserve, but at how the pattern of buildings create distinct streetscapes. This streetscape approach to preservation will encourage new development to respect the historic pattern of pedestrian-friendly buildings in the plan area.
Delivering public benefits
The Market & Octavia plan includes a public benefit ordinance, which will ask developers to pay fees that will build a range of public benefits in the neighborhood, from wider sidewalks and street trees to new parks, traffic calming projects, and transportation improvements.