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Transit agency approves plan to close Octavia Street to vehicles around park

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Open space at Patricia’s Green park in the Hayes Valley neighborhood is expanding to accommodate people who walk and bike.

Emergency vehicles will maintain access to the area by way of collapsible bollards.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved a plan Tuesday to close Octavia Street to vehicle traffic around the park, between Linden and Hayes streets.

An SFMTA staff report said the intersection of Hayes and Octavia streets experiences a high volume of pedestrians. One of the agency’s project goals is to improve safety for those who walk, take Muni and drive.

Derek Remski, Supervisor Vallie Brown legislative aide, said the supervisor supports the project and noted that neighbors have asked for these improvements.

Remski said:

“Patrica’s Green has become the heart of Hayes Valley neighborhood where you meet your neighbors, or your friends, walk your dog, play with your kids. Just hangout.”

Mark Dreger, SFMTA transportation planner, said the transit agency ran tests by closing the street around the park in a one-day closure, eight-day closure and 17-day closure between 2015 and 2018. The public provided feedback to the transit agency during those closures.

Dreger added that the car-free space will benefit the area further as another space opposite the park will eventually become affordable housing.

Jason Henderson, Hayes Valley Neighbor Association Transportation Planning Committee chair, said he was glad to see the transit agency taking this car-free step as the neighborhood has been plagued with transportation network vehicles.

Henderson did say he wanted to see the project go further than just closing Linden and Hayes streets:

“Some of us like myself don’t think this is enough. We believe this should have gone a lot further, but there’s compromise.”

While directors approved the project in its current state, directors expressed interest in closing off vehicle traffic on Fell Street, south of Linden Street and asked staff to explore the idea as a second phase of the project.

Director Cheryl Brinkman also asked staff to explore add a transit-only lane on Hayes Street near the park, explaining that riders are often stuck in traffic on the 21-Hayes in the outbound direction on Gough, Octavia and Laguna streets.

Brinkman said:

“It can take my bus six or seven minutes, it feels like, to get through there on a crowded Friday or Saturday evening.”

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