Ridge Lane, SF’s Newest Street Park

New benches on the first block of Rdige Lane

New benches on the first block of Ridge Lane

On Saturday June 18, neighbors and city officials dedicated the first block of a new street park on Ridge Lane in the City’s Ocean View neighborhood. The project transformed a dirt path on a narrow public right-of-way into a linear park, with an accessible path, new lighting, benches, and landscaping. It was designed by Nahal Sohbati and Eric Arneson, landscape design students at Academy of Art.

Ridge Lane Neighbors have been working for over four years to improve Ridge Lane, and intend for this to be the first block of four, extending from Howth Street to San Jose Avenue. At the dedication, Mohammed Nuru, director of the Department of Public Works, committed to completing a second block in the coming year. When complete, the street park will provide a green connection to the Balboa Park Station, allowing neighbors and visitors to enjoy public gardens, places to sit, and vista spots with expansive views on the way to the station.

Ridge Lane is the newest of over 130 street parks in San Francisco. Street parks are public open spaces located in street rights-of-way. Many street parks are on rights-of-way too narrow or too steep for autos, and include San Francisco’s famous public stairways. The street parks program, a joint effort of San Francisco’s Department of Public Works and the Parks Alliance, assisted the Ridge Lane Neighbors, and Supervisor John Avalos secured funding in the City budget.

Street rights-of-way cover a quarter of San Francisco’s land area, and have huge potential to become public open spaces. Transforming just one-tenth of San Francisco’s street right-of-way could create a square mile of open space.

Ridge Lane is also an example of San Franciscan’s growing interest in walkability. The area around Balboa Park Station is slowly becoming more walkable, as projects by the City and BART improve pedestrian connections to the surrounding neighborhoods, and new transit-oriented mixed-use buildings on Ocean Avenue have extended the commercial district closer to the Station. In March, the City completed the Ocean and Geneva Corridor Design, a plan for transforming Ocean and Geneva Avenues into better streets for walking and cycling. This fall, the City and BART will conduct a public workshop to plan affordable housing, retail, and street and transit station improvements at San Jose and Geneva avenues.

Map of Ridge Lane. The first block to become a Street Park is in green; future street park blocks are in blue.

Map of Ridge Lane. The block in green is now a street park; future street park blocks are in blue.

Ridge Lane at Howth before improvements.

Ridge Lane at Howth Street before improvements

Ridge lane dedication Ceremony, June 17 2016

Ridge Lane dedication ceremony, June 18 2016

First block of Ridge Lane street park on opening day

First block of Ridge Lane street park on opening day