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Lions Roar : November 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2011 47 the projects that Rahaim is excited about is the redevelopment of Cesar Chavez Street, a famous thoroughfare that marks the dividing line between the Mission and Bernal Heights neigh- borhoods. “Cesar Chavez,” Rahaim says, “is a six-lane road with parking on both sides leading to a freeway interchange. It cuts right through the heart of some lower-income neighborhoods. It’s pretty unsightly. It’s really suffered over the years.” Various departments were slated to do maintenance and upgrading. Rather than approaching it piecemeal, however, the planning department consulted the residents to find out what they thought about the way it was now and how they would like it to change. The residents told them it was a noisy, industrial, unpleasant place to be—lots of traffic but little city life. Top: A vision map used in the community planning process for the Cesar Chavez East community design plan. Lower left: the Cesar Chavez East project map; lower right: the intersection of Cesar Chavez Street and U.S . Route 101. “The resulting plan will reduce the road from six lanes to four,” Rahaim says. “There will be a median with greenery and a bike road on either side going in opposite directions. Six lanes of nothing but concrete will be transformed into a much more gracious boulevard.” Some will undoubtedly complain that the project is slowing traffic on a major thoroughfare, but that’s a change the city wants to make. “We think differently about our streets now,” he says. “They’re not just about moving cars. They’re really part of the public environment. At 25 percent of the city, our streets are more than all of the park space combined. We want to make them as amenable to walking and biking and living as possible.” To find the new Cesar Chavez Street, consult your “we map.” ♦ PHOTOCOURTESYOFSANFRANCISCOPLANNINGDEPARTMENT