If a meeting scheduled for next Monday goes well, the Mission will get four consecutive Sunday Streets in 2012, on the first Sundays in May, June, July and August. That is double the number held in previous years.
The pilot program will allow organizers to study the possibility of holding more frequent Sunday Street events on an established route. The events will be held on the first Sunday of the month for consistency, to see where challenges exist and how the community responds.
An economic analysis will also be conducted, with consultants gathering input from neighbors, business owners, local employees and religious institutions to determine the impact of having a regular Sunday Street route in the neighborhood.
If deemed a success, organizers will consider holding more regular Sunday Streets here and in other neighborhoods. The big issue, however, would be increasing funding, said Susan King, the Sunday Streets project director for Livable City, a nonprofit organization that is one of the events’ sponsors.
“After we finish the pilot and the economic analysis, we will meet with the public [and] stakeholders to determine the best way to move the program forward in the Mission in 2013 and beyond,” King said in an e-mail.
Sunday Streets are events sponsored by the city that temporarily close off a stretch of a neighborhood street to automobile traffic, opening it up to pedestrians, bicyclists and other activities, such as tai chi, yoga and aerobics. The event is also intended as a model of how cities can provide healthy, friendly and environmental outdoor activities for residents.
The Mission events will be held along Valencia Street from 14th to 24th streets, and on 24th from Valencia to Hampshire. Those blocks will be car-free from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The events have strong support from the community and nearby merchants, according to King.
“Sunday Streets add economic vitality because it’s so good for business,” said King. “Our goal is to create open space in the neighborhood that lacks economic vitality and support local businesses.”
According to King, Sunday Streets is not set to be a regular thing. Before organizers could even toy with that idea, consultants need to collect data and analyze the events’ economic impacts.
Dr. Susan Zieff, professor of kinesiology at San Francisco State University, is leading extensive research into public policies that involve physical activity and the socio-cultural aspects of sports and exercise, including San Francisco’s Sunday Streets program.
The only concern King has heard so far is the lack of parking. To address this, flat-rate parking will be offered in two Mission area garages during Sunday Streets.
The Mission Bartlett garage will charge $10 and the garage at SF General Hospital will charge $7 for all vehicles entering between 6 a.m. and noon. The flat rate will cover parking until 6 p.m. Vehicles entering after noon will pay the normal hourly rate.
Towing for Sunday Streets will start at 7 a.m., and in order to accommodate drivers, the garages will open an hour early, at 6 a.m.
Sunday Streets was founded in 2008 and has grown from two events per year to 10. San Francisco was the third city in the United States to hold this type of community-oriented event.
The community meeting will include senior staff from Sunday Streets, Livable City and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, who will present and answer questions, address concerns and take input from attendees.
The Sunday Streets Mission community meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Brava Theater on 24th Street.