22nd Street Green Connection Project Underway

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In January, Bauman Landscape and Construction, Inc., a contractor for the Department of Public Works (DPW), began work on the “22nd Street Green Connection” project, a collection of improvements intended to enhance pedestrian traffic in the area. The undertaking is expected to be completed by the end of this summer.

The work currently focuses on the areas between Pennsylvania Street and the Caltrain bridge, and from Illinois to Third streets. “Once each of these segments is complete, (Bauman) plans to move to the next block. We estimate approximately two months per block for the major work; sidewalk, bulb-outs, street base, sewer work. Above-ground elements of the streetscape – planting, irrigation, pavers – would follow afterwards. Finally, the roadway,” said Kelli Rudnick, DPW project manager.

According to Rudnick, the goal of the 22nd Street Green Connection project is to create environmentally-friendly links between Illinois Street and the Blue Greenway, San Francisco Bay Trail, and future development and open space to the 22nd Street Caltrain station at Iowa Street, up the hill to the Potrero Hill Recreation Center. 

The Blue Greenway is an emerging network of parks, trails, beaches, and Bay access points along 13 miles of the City’s southeastern waterfront. The San Francisco Bay Trail is a bicycle and pedestrian track that’ll provide uninterrupted travel around the Bay’s coastline; 354 miles have been completed so far. Future parks in the area include the eventual opening of Crane Cove Park, between 19th and Mariposa streets; renovation of Shoreview Park, at 1 Lillian Court between Beatrice and Rosie Lee lanes; and modifications to India Basin Shoreline Park, located between Hunters Point Boulevard and Hawes Street.  Expected development consists of housing and commercial space at Mission Rock, Pier 70, India Basin, the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point.

“All of these elements are designed to enhance this vibrant Dogpatch commercial corridor and strengthen the connection for people walking, cycling and taking transit,” said Rudnick.

Planned changes include roadway repair and restriping, asphalt repaving, and new curb ramps. Bulb-outs will be installed at 22nd and Pennsylvania street’s northwest and southeast corners, 22nd and Minnesota street’s northwest corner, 22nd and Tennessee street’s southwest and northeast corners, and 22nd and Third street’s northwest, southwest, northeast, and southeast corners. The City will also be relocating catch basins –  which collect storm water sediment to prevent it from entering the storm pipe system – associated with the bulb-outs.

New sidewalks, custom decorative crosswalks, and pedestrian lighting will be installed, with bus stops, trash receptacles, and bike racks. The streets will have painted green sharrows –street markings – of bicycles to indicate bike routes. The roads will also have seating elements and unit pavers – concrete blocks not more than 0.1 square meters – at the sidewalks’ edge.

Landscape elements will include trees, “understory” – vegetation inside planters – concrete sidewalk planter edging, and an irrigation system. Twenty-second Street already has many existing mature street trees; DPW wants to establish an additional 15 infill plants.  These will “include specimens that are currently along or near the corridor and doing well,” such as red horse chestnut, gold medallion tree, gingko, jacaranda, magnolia, and London planetree, said Rudnick.

The understory plants will include a variety of shrubs, perennials, grasses, and succulents, such as willow herb, Festuca, Mendocino reed grass, agaves, and rock purslane. “The palette theme includes lots of native, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, low-water use, habitat-friendly plants. Silver and blue plants with pops of color were the design theme,” said Rudnick.

“The project is funded entirely through Eastern Neighborhoods development impact fees and City General Fund Paving Program,” said Rudnick.  “The total project budget was $3.6 million, with $600,000 in paving program funding. As has been common over the past few years during the construction boom, the construction contractor bids came in high. We received an additional $650,000 from Eastern Neighborhoods development impact fees to cover the overage.”

The idea for the 22nd Street improvements emerged from Dogpatch residents who formed GreenTrustSF – Central Waterfront, a community-based nonprofit organization working to green the Central Waterfront and improve the area’s social and ecological health. The organization hired Fletcher Studio Landscape Architecture and Urban Design to develop a master plan in 2011. DPW used the strategy as their starting point to undertake a feasibility study.

We “…started outreach in 2015, presenting and gathering early input from community members at the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, the Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefits District Board and Services Committee, the Eastern Neighborhoods Community Advisory Committee, the Potrero Boosters and the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association,” said Rudnick. 

In 2016, DPW held a community workshop, collecting input at that gathering as well as through two online surveys. The Green Benefits District, Bureau of Urban Forestry, and residents reviewed the planting plan.

“Dogpatch for so many years has been a hidden, industrial, afterthought. Now the investment and money is coming in,” said David Fletcher, owner of Fletcher Studio, though he believes the project still needs “more parklets and less parking. You can’t really change the width of the sidewalk. The way to transform the street is by occupying more of the vehicular realm for the public. When we did the master plan in 2011, we went out and hand-measured the entire street. At that time there was no money for greening and lighting. We empowered people to do that themselves.”  When Fletcher showed early designs to residential and commercial property owners, some were inspired to install landscaping and illumination.

GBD will assume responsibility for long-term landscaping upkeep.  DPW worked closely with GBD “because of their partnership in maintenance of the elements needing additional care above the City baseline.  GBD is a partner in this project; we can include a lush understory planting beneath the urban forest canopy,” said Rudnick.

“The project’s contractor will be responsible for establishing the plants and new trees,” said Julie Christensen, GBD executive director. “After that establishment period, the GBD will take over maintenance of the sidewalk gardens and supplement the City’s baseline care of the corridor. I think Dogpatch is undergoing a lot of change. For every one person walking on the street, there’s going to be three to four more people by 2025. Over 50 percent of the green spaces in Dogpatch are maintained by the GBD. One of the goals of the GBD is to make Dogpatch more walkable. We want it to be a safe and pleasant experience to walk from Point A to Point B.”

Janet Carpinelli, a GBD board member, said the organization has been meeting with DPW regularly for more than a year.  “The greening must be something GBD can maintain without too much expense. We also didn’t want to put benches installed where 22nd Street property owners, business owners and residents do not want them. There are already concerns with people hanging out and talking loudly and littering late at night near food and drink establishments. Lighting was a big issue. DPW was to speak with property owners on 22nd Street about lighting the outside of their buildings,” she said.

Overall, Carpinelli believes the changes will be “good and positive. They will create a safer and more inviting environment.”

“I’m really excited to see it.  Right now 22nd Street is a series of undeveloped streets and large condominium buildings. (The plan) looks wonderful. I hope it can be extended up to Potrero Hill and public housing. I think it’s going to help businesses,” said Keith Goldstein, past president of the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association, and a candidate for GBD’s board of directors. 

J.R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president, and a candidate for District 10 Supervisor, is also enthusiastic about the plan, which he said acknowledges 22nd Street as Dogpatch’s center. “From a business standpoint, it will create calmer walking and better accessibility for pedestrians. I think that it adds more sense of locality to the street, gives it more of a sense of character. In addition, it’s good that it will be completed prior to the major work at Pier 70 being kicked off,” said Eppler.

“I’m in favor of the improvements,” said Edward Elhauge, who lives on the 1100 block of Tennessee Street and owns a building on the corner of 22nd and Tennessee streets that houses theLab. “In particular, I really like the bulb-outs. It might take away half a parking spot per bulb-out, but it won’t narrow the street. It’ll slow down people from speeding around so much. It’s going to create a more pedestrian-friendly corridor.”

As the project proceeds GBD is looking to enhance other parts of 22nd Street. According to Christensen and Carpinelli, one goal is to improve Woods Yard mini-park on 22nd Street between Minnesota and Indiana streets. The park, originally developed in the early-1970s, is owned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

“We are also interested in putting in scooter and bicycle parking at Iowa Street,” said Christensen. “In addition, we want to improve the station entrance to the Caltrain station. We’d like to make the street-level approaches to stairways that go down to the platform more visible and more appealing…to create a continuous stair along the three blocks of the 22nd Street right-of-way between Texas and Arkansas. The adjacent developer is doing the block between Texas and Missouri. Rec and Parks is doing the stretch between Connecticut and Arkansas. UCSF contributed funds for the center portion to help complete the connection. This would create a continuous pedestrian connection from Potrero Hill to the waterfront. Potrero Hill and Dogpatch’s version of the Lyon Street stairs would be a nice connection and a built-in exercise facility.”