photo by Martha Bridegam
Planning Director John Rahaim prevailed in the contest between where driveways should go for the 1140 Folsom Street project. The community didn’t want 84 additional cars dumped into their already crowded Residential Enclave District and the Planning Department did. The seven members of the Planning Commission accepted a handful of traffic-calming mitigations and Rahaim’s “Driveway Location Policy” became the Commission’s unofficial policy.
Rahaim’s policies focused on “transit preferential Streets,” which includes Folsom Street. They ignore the neighborhood commercial district designation. That’s understandable. The Planning Department has no track record for developing functional NCDs. They do harm to existing neighborhood-serving streets with their rigid orthodoxy. Thank God they didn’t ruin Castro Street.
The Western SoMa Plan strongly disagreed with the Planning Department’s tendency to dump everything ugly and disruptive into the alleys because that’s where many SoMa residents live. In fact, the Board of Supervisors specifically told the Task Force that new developments should not lessen the quality of life in the alleys.
No word yet whether Rahaim’s policies will be applied to other projects in the neighborhood. 1174 Folsom would dump traffic into tiny Sumner Street, 1228 Folsom would consolidate three lots into one large project and exit traffic onto Clementina Street and the large project at 9th and Howard Street would endanger seniors at one of the most dangerous intersections in South of Market in order to direct their cars onto Natoma Alley. A traffic analysis found the alley location to be the least efficient use of the surrounding streets but that doesn’t seem to matter.