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February 29, 2008


Media watch — "Divisadero Street overhaul planned"


Don’t reporters read what they write?

Today’s complaint is directed toward an old story, but it’s been bothering me ever I read it. On January 7, the Examiner ran a piece describing DPW’s plans to spruce up Divisadero from Geary to Waller, which included the following statement:

Armstrong maples, Mexican fan palms and lemon-scented eucalyptus will be planted in rebuilt 6-foot, 6-inch medians that run down the middle of the street, and sidewalks will be widened and planted with new trees and shrubs.

Leaving aside the fact that Armstrong maples are problematic in this area — DPW itself describes them as requiring “wet to moist soil” — is there anything wrong with this sentence?

No? Read it again.

The medians will be rebuilt to 6 feet, 6 inches (they’re now about 3 feet wide), and the sidewalks will be widened. Today traffic occupies two lanes in each direction, with another lane set aside for parking. Where will the extra space come from? Is DPW planning to tear down the houses that line the sidewalk, or take over a lane of traffic? What’s going to happen to the cars that presently traverse the corridor? Didn’t the Examiner reporter wonder why the neighborhood residents, who participated in numerous communities to discuss the plans, aren’t up in arms over the cuts in road space that will have to be made to accommodate the wider medians and sidewalks?

It turns out that the residents aren’t incensed because there isn’t a problem. In an email, Kris Opbroek, DPW Project Manager for the Divisadero Streetscape Improvement Project, explains:

there will not be sidewalk widening along the entire corridor. There will, however, be bus bulb-outs at several locations, which are extensions of the sidewalk at bus stops.

A bus bulb-out, by now a familiar sight in San Francisco’s street beautification program, does not, never has, and never will equal a widening of the sidewalk. Except in the Examiner.

       — Coppyright Betsey Culp 2008