Wednesday: Cesar Chavez Ribbon-Cutting to Celebrate Our Sexy New Infrastructure

Chavez Nuevo


It took two and a half years, a lot of dirt-digging, and plenty of construction-related delays, but at long last, the Cesar Chavez Improvement Project is nearing completion.

Frankly, I think it looks vastly better than it did before, and way better than Army Street ever looked in it’s long history of arterial awfulness. We also got some sexy new sewer pipes out of the deal, and a dedicated (though unseparated) bike lane. Yet I confess: I’m a sucker for long overdue infrastructure projects and decorative palm trees.

Now that we’ve endured several years of congestion in the cause of  building of a better future, we’re all invited to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow, Wednesday January 29, at the new (and newly named) Si Se Pueda Plaza in front of The Palace restaurant, at the intersection of Mission, Chavez, and Capp Streets:

DPW will host a ribbon cutting for the completion of the Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement Project on Wednesday, January 29th, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. Please see the attached flyer and below for more information.

The newly designed corridor improves safety for people walking, taking transit, and biking on the street. The project also added greening, stormwater-management features and road repaving. Together, these improvements will enhance the neighborhood for many years to come.

Thank you,

DPW Project Team

Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement Project Ribbon Cutting

Date: Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Si Se Puede Plaza, 3047 Mission Street (NE Corner at Mission & Capp streets)

chavezribbonPHOTOS: Top, by Telstar Logistics

46 thoughts on “Wednesday: Cesar Chavez Ribbon-Cutting to Celebrate Our Sexy New Infrastructure

  1. I know there were many doubters, but I think it looks much better (and will continue to improve over time as the trees grow).

  2. Anything is an improvement. It’s amazing to watch how long public works projects take. I guess most of it was the sewer work.
    Wonder if there are any plans to pave Cesar Chavez from 101 to 3’rd St. It’s a total wreck and there are a lot of cyclists that go from Bernal/Noe/Mission to the Caltrain station. I don’t do the ride, but it looks hairball.
    In the original link it shows renderings that don’t really look like the final project. Todd also mentions that it will look like Octavia in Hayes Valley. Were there any cutbacks? It doesn’t really have that super greening project feel. (yet?)

  3. It is absolutely beautiful, but as I feared when I saw the plans, the congestion is permanent (at least until everyone rides a bike or we’re all using hovercraft). I find myself avoiding the snails’ pace of eastbound Cesar Chavez to get to work in the morning—and I am not alone. I feel bad for the residents of those smaller streets in the Mission. And coming back home I’m stuck in the eastbound traffic backed up all the way to Folsom and beyond waiting to enter the freeway—this happens not just at rush hour but at other times during the day.

    Does anyone know if they plan to re-post the freeway signs so people know how to get to freeway south, Bayshore, freeway north? It’s very confusing for many people.

    • Yeah, as someone that lives right off Cesar Chavez on Florida St, the new congestion is particularly aggravating. I take the 27 to work regularly and while it used to reliably show up at the time indicated by nextmuni, it has now become much less predictable due to that congestion.

      I also don’t think the city has bothered to do a traffic study to optimize the timing of those lights for commuting hours, or at least it doesn’t feel like the lights have changed their timing since the 3rd lane went away, and they certainly don’t have time of day settings. I suspect that the congestion could be lessoned quite a bit with some timing tweaks.

  4. It’s clearly a cosmetic improvement, which is a benefit, but I don’t know what it has done or will do for the “real issues” along CC: traffic congestion and high speeds. People don’t slow down and sing Pete Seeger songs (unfortunately) just because they see trees in the median and really bright yellow paint. We don’t have to ask Where Have All the Flowers Gone?–because they are right here after being Knee Deep in the Big Muddy of construction for so long. Now, people just want to get off of CC in order to Turn, Turn, Turn onto some artery with fewer cars. But If I Had a Hammer, I don’t know if I would do anything too differently…

    I drive part of this stretch every day, and it feels even more congested–in part due to the reasonable/good addition of a bike lane. I also agree that it has not helped traffic flow to have the lanes dissected toward the highway and Bayshore. Navigating that area has gotten more confusing. With time, such issues may go away as people become used to the newer look and feel of the area. At least in the mornings, one would figure that nearly everyone going in that direction is a local who will get used to it (as they like to say in Bernalwood comments).

    But something that does not change so easily is that people want to get to work (and home) as fast as possible. Diverted traffic, like along Precita, is a testament that cars are just being “displaced” onto streets that are not equipped to handle folks who are in a hurry. I think I can count on one hand the number of cars that actually stop at a stop sign near Precita Park each month, but that looks like a serious hazard that we will have to live (or die) with. When it comes to NIMBY, what I don’t want to see in my backyard (or anywhere) is a traffic fatality.

      • Well, it is WAIST Deep in the Big Muddy, but thanks…My labor attorney father would be a little disappointed…

  5. It seems like ages since the meetings about this in the Flynn cafeteria!

    The dedicated turn lanes are a nice addition, as is the prohibition on left turns onto some of the smaller cross streets. My perception is that traffic flows better than it used to (apparently a minority perception!).

    BUT. Why palm trees? Blech.

    • Brandon, I agree that the turn lanes are an improvement. Thanks for pointing that out. They are something that can guide traffic somewhat “organically” away from CC (and generally onto other “busy” streets, like Bryant) without someone behind a turner needing to slam on the breaks or attempt a very abrupt lane change. Indeed, I think they are the most congestion-saving step that has been taken with the project.

      I wonder if palm trees were chosen since they won’t grow out (and thus into traffic lanes) so much that they would require a lot of trimming…? Even if a little out of context, they are better than what was there, even if they just remind Giants fans that they want to “Beat LA” only for the sake of these “foreign” trees.

    • When people plant palm trees in the middle of freeways, or the Bay Bridge(!) for that matter, I think “What were they thinking!?!” I think it must have gone something like this:

      “Hmmm…I hate raking leaves. Lets get plants with big ass leaves that blow off in high winds. Getting hit by a giant palm frond from outta nowhere oughta show those pesky motorcyclists who’s boss! Maybe next time they’ll take the bus! Muhahhahh!!!!”

      • I’m pretty sure their thoughts are more like “Palm trees! People like green things, and these ones grow straight up so we won’t have to prune them to keep them out of the way of tall vehicles!” Honestly, the median is so thin they don’t really have a lot of options that wouldn’t be a pain.

        And having had a mirror knocked off my motorcycle and my shoulder bruised through my leathers by a flying chunk of cardboard, a palm frond at speed would be terrifying.

    • Palm trees aren’t native to LA either. (I think there might be one native California species that originates near LA though.) Palm trees are native to other regions of the world at our latitude, though.

      • Exactly. Why are non-native palms okay in one city, and not here? SF is a melting pot of exotic people — let’s have our plants and trees reflect a fun, playful diversity too.

  6. I think it looks terrific. Love the palm trees as well as the 3 other types of tree that make up the majority of the plantings. Give it a year or two to let them grow in.

    My only complaint is that reducing the number of lanes on Bryant Street from 3 to 1, taking out both left and right turn lanes, was pointless and has created a major back up crossing Chavez that affects the #27 bus and also cars.

    • Agreed about Bryant. Especially because it backs up Bryant for cars turning West on CC, when all the traffic is going East on CC. I feel sorry for the folks living on the stretch of Bryant between 26th and CC now, as around 4:30-6pm the block is totally gridlocked.

  7. Looks terrific! Absolutely a great improvement. Until they decide to lay a new set of trolley tracks down Cesar Chavez to link the J and the T, this’ll have to do!

  8. We suffered through the 2 and a half years of work but now we have electricity and water improvements. I especially appreciate the palm trees, as Dolores is my favorite SF street, and now we are competition. The new lighting is a plus. Cesar Chavez is looking like a great boulevard now…can it be true?

  9. I’m a fan! When I’m on food, the bulbouts and “median refuges” are a big improvement. When I’m driving, I think it actually works better with the left-turn pockets- with the old layout, being in the left lane and (generally) needing to go straight, it was always frustrating to get stuck behind a left turner who hadn’t signaled in advance. I know many bike advocates wanted physically-separated bicycle lanes/tracks, but that’s part of living in a diverse city- balancing interests and weighing the trade-offs. Drivers who think 1950s-style streets are awesome didn’t get everything they wanted, but neither did the bicyclists or Muni advocates. Good to see it move forward!

    • Huzzah for mediocrity! Huzzah for ‘please double-park in me’ bike lanes! Huzzah for planners who want to protect drivers in opposing directions from one another but not cyclists or people parking in front of their homes!

      Tom, this is a really disappointing comment and I’d think you would offer a more informed opinion.

      • Well, you’re welcome to your opinion, although I don’t necessarily see the benefit in the sarcasm. Do you have evidence as to “bicycle lanes” not being a significant upgrade over “no bicycle lanes whatsoever?” Are these particular bicycle lanes not meeting relevant design standards? Did you go to the workshops and offer your views?

        I also don’t know why you’re disappointed in me, personally- does that mean you had a previous expectation of how I might comment? Aside from a few people I went to college with 15+ years ago, no one calls me “Tom,” so it’s possible you are confusing me with someone else.

  10. In honor of the ribbon cutting and Pete Seeger- This land is your land, this land is my land.
    And now, this doc is your doc, this doc is my doc…

    I’m streaming my doc, PEOPLE LIVE HERE , online this week! It premiered at the 2013 Bernal Heights Outdoor Film Festival, and I’m working on organizing a screening and discussion in the next few months. If you care about Cesar Chavez St, livable streets, and gentrification please take a look, share and discuss.

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  12. Army Street looks terrific! Who would have thought it; the street had been a dump for such a long time! Looks just as good as the stretch from Dolores St going into Noe Valley.The palm trees are beautiful. Much easier to get around now that it is not an extension of the freeway. Drivers are forced to slow down & watch what they are doing. The new lighting is a vast improvement over the dimness that was before. Another upgrade would be to add more sidewalk trees.

  13. I love the trees, but there’s way more traffic and parking has gotten way more difficult on Precita Park where I live. I don’t understand why they put bike lanes on Cesar Chavez. When I bike I avoid Cesar Chavez- I value my life.

    • Is the parking issues on Precita related to this though? There was very little reduction in parking on CC. The parking on Precita could simply be related to the good weather and people driving to the park. I know my street (Treat) gets a lot of people parking on it and walking down to the park now, more than normal in winter.

  14. I for one value the bike lanes as this street is pretty much the only way to get to the east from the mission. there was car congestion before the bike lanes! So tired of bike lanes getting the blame for traffic. sorry honey, congestion is from too many people driving! you should thank the people who bike to work because they equal less cars.

    • Love the palm trees. What’s all the hate over them? Oh, I know: it’s because people think it reminds them of LA. Seriously? Get over it.
      As for the bike lanes, I feel it’s a mistake. Traffic congestion is MUCH worse because of the lane reductions. And honestly, how many cyclists have you seen riding CC? I have seen none yet. Waste of money for the bike lanes, and dangerous as hell for a cyclist to be riding there. Other routes were possible and much safer.

    • I like the palm trees…high canopy makes it easier for buses and trucks to see. What I would like to know is who is the genius who authorized the planting of a palm tree underneath (near) the pedestrian walkway.
      I am a multitransporter (cars, bikes, buses, pads) and I do agree, these bike lanes have significantly increased the auto congestion and pollution in the City. The Bayshore cycling lanes are unnecessary. Big trucks idling at traffic lights creates too much pollution. And if you’re on a bike, it’s tough to catch a breath of fresh air on Bayshore.
      Does Jack-in-the-Box really need to have their own left hand turn signal?

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  16. Because palm trees don’t offer shade. Which might be OK if they were native, but they’re not. Nonetheless a significant improvement.

    And I ride Cesar Chavez. There’s no other realistic way to cross 101. Whenever I hear people ask “Why do cyclists ride on X street?” it just makes it apparent that they have no concept of what it’s like to depend on bicycling as one’s primary form of transportation. The answer is, almost without exception, “for the same reason that people drive on X street”.

    • So the trees don’t offer shade, but that’s not really important in a street median. What is important is low maintenance — compact roots that don’t buckle the streets, low watering and pruning requirements. They work well for that.

  17. I like the palm trees…high canopy makes it easier for buses and trucks to see. What I would like to know is who is the genius who authorized the planting of a palm tree underneath (near) the pedestrian walkway.
    I am a multitransporter (cars, bikes, buses, pads) and I do agree, these bike lanes have significantly increased the auto congestion and pollution in the City. The Bayshore cycling lanes are unnecessary. Big trucks idling at traffic lights creates too much pollution. And if you’re on a bike, it’s tough to catch a breath of fresh air on Bayshore.
    Does Jack-in-the-Box really need to have their own left hand turn signal?

  18. Just in time for the drought…28 MILLION dollars…really? For one mile of road..I think a trolly down the middle (like the N train in NYC) would have been a greener option for the city.We could have connected the J to the T. More public transportation is the answer not planters that gather trash.

    • Didn’t the 28 million include the new sewer and storm water systems? It wasn’t just the streets cape?

      Agree that we could really use some transit either down CC or following the same path, connecting the J to the T. Unfortunately in the past at meetings about this there were lots of technical issues brought up as to why there can’t be a trolley down the middle of it. (Not that I agreed with them, but I remember it coming up with the planners and being squashed for technical reasons).

      Even now, we don’t have a BUS that goes that connects them, or gets down to Third.

      I’m hoping for a monorail-like solution going down CC personally.

      • Somewhat related: When will city planners wake the fuck up and start treating/planning for 22nd St Caltrain to be the major transit hub that it really wants to be? Muni service to there sucks, and there’s little provision for all the people who drive there. My theory is that Muni should park its buses elsewhere, and that parking lot should be converted into a parking facility for commuters. Also: create a streetcar loop from 3rd Street that stops at the 22nd Street station.

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  22. I love how engaged people get about trees in our city. We need more excitement and debate about trees, and we need more trees, shrubs, and plants of all kinds in our built urban habitats.
    The only trees that were native to San Francisco before people starting planting trees here were the coast live oak, the buckeye, willows, and a minimal scattering of madrone, big-leaf maple, venerable toyons, and Douglas fir.
    Any other tree choice here is exotic, more or less. The Guadalupe palms in the Chavez median are less exotic than the sycamore trees and silk-floss trees along Chavez, and nearly as native as the ironwood trees:
    There’s a Guadalupe palm blooming outside my office window, and the bees that are visiting its thousands of flowers are native bumblebees.

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