To accommodate new residents and jobs in an environmentally sustainable way, the Bay Area must grow inward, rather than outward; and we will need to focus dense development in nodes well-served by transit. Throughout the region, there are many planning efforts underway that aim to do exactly that, and we discuss those existing projects elsewhere. Those efforts are both necessary and beneficial, but will eventually be outpaced by the region’s projected growth. So you might think of this page as a catalog of visions for future neighborhoods, or you might think of them as fantasy land use maps. Basically, it’s our attempt to add to the conversation on Bay Area land use planning, by examining further opportunities to create dense, transit-oriented neighborhoods, beyond what cities are currently planning. The Bay Area is already a beautiful and vibrant place, but here is our two cents on how it could be even better.
Oakland: Broadway/Pleasant Valley Avenue
At the northeast corner of Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue in North Oakland lies an auto-oriented strip mall with a large, sprawling surface parking lot. The shopping center is a hub of retail that serves the surrounding neighborhoods, in a city that is starved for retail — but its suburban layout is ill-suited for its urban context. We sketched an alternative that eliminates the parking lot (replacing it with a small extension of the city street grid) and re-imagines this shopping center as a vibrant, urban mixed-use development that would strengthen the pedestrian realm, as well as provide more housing near employment, neighborhood services, and transit.
More Pleasant on Pleasant Valley, 30 Jun. 2009
San Francisco: Central Freeway
A comment on this blog once referred to the remaining stub of the Central Freeway as “the worst place in San Francisco” – and really, it is difficult to disagree with this assessment. A complicated interchange of overpasses occupy and deaden several city blocks, casting shadows upon adjacent neighborhoods and splitting the surrounding urban fabric in half. The time may finally have come to remove the remaining segment of Central Freeway, thereby continuing the good work we did when we removed the Embarcadero Freeway and the Central Freeway north of Market Street. How then might we mend the void that the missing freeway would leave behind? We’re glad you asked.
Bridging the Divide, 14 Apr. 2009