Car-Free Living

Our culture’s reliance on the automobile has compromised our personal health, community cohesion, and the local and global environment. San Francisco’s compact and walkable scale, its dense, urbane, and mixed-use neighborhoods, and its extensive public transit allow one-third of San Francisco households to live without an automobile. Livable City is dedicated to making San Francisco a better city to live in without a car by prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders, making San Francisco’s dense and transit-oriented neighborhoods greener and safer from traffic, and supporting the creation and revitalization of walkable neighborhoods with good public transit service, a range of housing choices that includes car-free housing, and neighborhood-serving businesses and services.

Critical Mass San Francisco 2005

Critical Mass San Francisco 2005

Past Successes

Downtown: In 2006 Livable City sponsored a groundbreaking Downtown planning reform that allows car-free housing, requires that downtown buildings line streets with active, pedestrian-oriented uses, and protected important pedestrian, bicycle, and transit streets in the downtown, including Market Street, from new driveways.

Bicycle parking and car sharing: Livable City sponsored legislation in 2006 that requires that all new residential buildings provide secure bicycle parking, and that all residential buildings over a certain size provide spaces for car-sharing.

Transbay and Rincon Hill: In 2005, The city adopted the Transbay and Rincon Hill plans, the first neighborhood plans no minimum parking requirements, provisions for bicycle parking and car-sharing in every large project, and plans bicycle-and pedestrian-friendly streets.

Support exemplary car-free projects: Livable City has supported car-free exemplary car-free projects, like 333 Grant Street and 25 Lusk Street, at the Planning Commission.

Current Campaigns

Complete neighborhoods
Livable City is engaged with planning efforts across the city, working to ensure that these plans include improved public transit, complete streets that support walking and cycling, parks, open spaces, and community facilities like schools, libraries, and childcare, and that they allow a range of affordable housing choices, including car-free housing.

  • Downtown: In 2006, Livable City’s Downtown Initiative focused on a groundbreaking planning reform to allow car-free housing, require that downtown buildings line streets with active uses, and provide car-sharing and bicycle parking in new residential buildings. In 2007, the downtown initiative will work on enhancing downtown streets for walking and cycling, revitalizing and expanding downtown’s parks, plazas, and public spaces, and improving public transit.
  • Visitacion Valley: The mayor appointed Livable City to the citizen’s advisory committee for the Visitacion Valley redevelopment survey area, which is seeking to create a vital, mixed use town center on disused industrial properties around a regional transit hub at the Bayshore Caltrain station.
  • Market & Octavia: Livable City is advocating for official adoption of the Market and Octavia Better Neigborhoods Plan, a comprehensive plan to create a vital, livable, and sustainable urban neighborhood in the heart of the City.
  • South of Market: Livable City is working on numerous planning efforts in the South of Market, to create new opportunities for housing while preserving SoMa’s rich mix of jobs, arts, and entertainment, and to improve public transit and conditions for walking and cycling on SoMa’s heavily-trafficked streets. Livable City was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the West SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force, and has been active in East SoMa and Mid-Market planning efforts. We are working with the Planning Department to create a comprehensive transportation and streetscape plan for the entire South of Market area.
  • Mission: Livable City has been active in the Mission District Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, and worked with the Planning Department to secure funding for a comprehensive transportation and streetscape plan for the Mission District. We are also working to improve specific Mission District streets, including Valencia, Cesar Chavez, and Potrero Avenue, for walking, cycling, and transit.

Car-Free Spaces

  • Pedestrianized streets:  support efforts to create pedestrianized, pedestrian-priority, and traffic calmed streets and public spaces. Livable City supported creation of Jessie Square, and is supporting efforts to create more car-free alleyways, iike Jack Kerouac and Vallejo between Broadway and Grant in North Beach.
  • Healthy Saturdays: Livable City is working with San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and others to advance Healthy Saturdays in Golden Gate Park, which would open John F. Kennedy Drive to walking, jogging, cycling, and skating on Saturdays as well as Sundays.

Car-Free Culture

  • Social/cultural events: support Livable City with social and cultural events that help coalesce a culture of car-free living, like the Livable City literary evening.
  • Create a car-free blog: real stories of diverse San Franciscans who either don’t own a car or use it very rarely (car-reduced or car-lite).
  • Car-free tourism project: promote San Francisco as a great place to visit without a car, and expand walking, cycling, and transit access to visitor destinations around San Francisco and the region.

Join the Discussion

The CarFreeLiving listserv: We sponsor this unmoderated email discussion list to foster creative discussion and debate about the movement to reduce our dependence on cars. Email us to subscribe.

Future campaigns

Car-free living guide: Develop resource guide, online or in print, to promote car-free living, and emphasize benefits (health, environment, financial).