The Planning Department is preparing to release the final environmental review for the soon to be remodeled Safeway on Monterey Blvd. The grocer hopes to begin a ten month renovation in the next year. Safeway has posted a new web site with details on the planned renovation including a driver’s eye video of the store from the street and inside the rooftop parking lot.
The upgrade is sorely needed in the neighborhood but we wish Safeway had spent more effort looking at the project from a pedestrian’s point of view. Seen from the sidewalk instead of from behind the wheel, a big issue is the removal of a large portion of the median along with three palm trees in front of the current parking lot to accomodate round the clock deliveries. The plan calls for trucks to back into the enclosed loading dock across all four lanes of Monterey from the westbound side of the street.
A small island will remain at the crosswalk at Foerster where slow pedestrians will be able to find shelter at this busy school crossing. FoMB feels the effect of removing the median will open the street up to faster traffic – the opposite of what we have been working toward for the last few years.
FoMB has several proposals for ways Safeway can ameliorate this situation. We want to “bulb out” the sidewalk at Foerster, reducing the distance pedestrians have to walk when crossing Monterey. We also want a bus bulb at the westbound Muni stop to provide
more room for bus riders and to calm the traffic. In addition, we request that Safeway fund a permanent radar speed detector at Detroit, as well as in-pavement warning lights that alert drivers to pedestrians in this mid-block crosswalk. Another request is to fill in the missing median west of Foerster.
Another controversial issue is Safeway’s request for a variance to allow a third lane from the roof-top parking lot. The planning Department’s traffic study counted cars
crossing the sidewalk into the parking lot during its busiest times– Sunday and Monday evenings between four and seven o’clock. They counted 288 cars per hour on Sundays and 300 on Mondays. Planning projects these numbers will increase fifty percent after the renovation to 525 per hour. That’s one car crossing pedestrian space every seven seconds!
Safeway’s thinking is that a third lane will speed up traffic in and out of the lot. That is the precise reason we oppose it! We want to calm traffic, not speed it up, especially when it intrudes into the pedestrian realm! Our solution is for Planning to deny the variance from the Planning Code and allow just one lane in and one lane out. Several parking spots should also be removed in front of the store to allow for a wider sidewalk that will compensate for the extra traffic by expanding pedestrian space. This will allow room for landscaping and street seating, allowing for a neighborhood meeting place.
The Friends of Monterey Boulevard welcomes this positive improvement to our neighborhood and we hope these suggestions will help to make our main drag a safe and convivial place. We wil be submitting a letter to the Planning Department with our suggestions in the nest week. Do you have additional ideas? Leave them in the comments!
The Planning Department is asking for input from the community. Letters about the environmental effect of this project are due no later than Nov. 14 and should be sent to:
San Francisco Planning Dept.
1650 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Refer to Case #2010.0401E