City Unveils ‘Greenest’ Residential Block in San Francisco

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
PRESS CONTACT: SF Redevelopment Agency, 415-749-2431
SFDPW, 415-554-6926

City Unveils ‘Greenest’ Residential Block in San Francisco

San Francisco, CA – Mayor Edwin M. Lee, city officials, community groups, neighbors and residents of the Bayview community came together to celebrate the completion of the 1700 Block (Phelps and Newhall) of Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project; which was transformed into one of the most sustainable streets in the City.
“The Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project created one of the greenest streets in San Francisco, representing our common unified desire to improve our communities and transform our neighborhoods," said Mayor Lee. "The Newcomb project leverages innovation to create a public space that minimizes environmental impact and is inclusive of the needs of the residents to help create a safer and more sustainable neighborhood."

The Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project includes a myriad of safety and greening features such as replacement of paved with landscaped areas, planting of 20 new street trees, and construction of raised crosswalks, corner bulb-outs, curb ramps, and mid-block chicanes to promote pedestrian safety. The project team also installed stormwater management facilities, such as biofiltration planters, and transformed 20,000 square feet of impermeable surfaces to permeable ones to minimize stormwater runoff into the combined sewer system. Also included was replacement of the main sewer line and installation of conduits for future improvements to street lighting. The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency is lead on this project.

“The Redevelopment Agency is pleased to collaborate with Bayview community members, who understand the fundamental principles of redevelopment. Through careful planning and design, it is possible to build and sustain healthy communities through protection and enhancement the environment, economic development and social benefits,” commented Tiffany Bohee, Executive Director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

In 2005, this innovative Model Block Program was established in the Bayview Hunters Point redevelopment project area to improve the quality of life of residents by identifying blighted or abandoned street blocks and transforming them into pedestrian friendly, park-like public spaces. In addition to streetscape reuse, design and improvements, the program provides low-interest loan funds for homeowners to make needed improvements such as exterior paint, façade improvements, and energy efficiency enhancements, such as lighting and window upgrading.

“The Newcomb Streetscape Improvement project sets the standard for how infrastructure improvements are planned, designed and constructed citywide,” said Mohammed Nuru, Interim Director of the Department of Public Works. “Our hope is this project will inspire residents throughout the Bayview, and in neighborhoods citywide, to engage with their neighbors and develop a vision that will provide long-term and sustainable improvements to their environment.”
The Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood has a high number of homeowners. In 2007, residents of Newcomb Avenue, in coordination with the SFRA, DPW, MTA, and the Planning Department, with help from One World Design, created a vision for the block between Phelps and Newhall. One World Design assisted with the design of the streetscape vision with funding from two Community Challenge Grants.

“The San Francisco Planning Department has been a proud and active partner in the completion of this ground-breaking community improvement. This project is a true demonstration of the recently adopted Better Streets Plan and we look forward to supporting additional streetscape improvement projects throughout the city,” said John Rahaim, Planning Department Director.

The unusual wide width of the street led to speeding, illegal dumping, and other quality of life nuisances. During the community process, residents felt they were secluded from one another because the design of the street did not make it amenable or welcoming for people to be ‘neighbors.’ However, through this process, residents were able to build a sense of community and get to know one another.

“It is absolutely beautiful. It changes the whole atmosphere in a positive and uplifting way. Residents are looking forward to the shared responsibility of landscape maintenance as a way to gather and unify the neighborhood,” said Newcomb Street resident Sandy Michelotti.

“This has been a unique experience. To see the finished project, something this great in the Bayview, is unbelievable! I have lived in the neighborhood all my life and have never seen anything like this before, perhaps in other neighborhoods yes, but not here,” said Newcomb Street resident Mardina Graham.

Residents will provide ongoing maintenance by organizing community clean up days to keep the street clean and green. The City will also monitor stormwater performance of the new streetscape improvements.

This $1.7 million project was made possible with the active participation of various City, regional and Federal agencies, including the SFRA, the Planning Department, DPW, the Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), and the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA), with assistance from the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and Community Challenge Grants. The SFPUC invested an additional $814,000 to replace the aging sewer line and sewer pipes leading to individual homes.

For more information on the Model Block Program and the Bayview Hunters Point redevelopment project area visit the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency For more information on the streetscape project, please visit DPW’s Great Streets Program web page at