This afternoon I encountered a group of people watching traffic on South Van Ness Avenue. I though they were there to check out condos but turns out they were city planners nerding out about traffic calming methods. This is your afternoon report:

“We can make signal changes without environmental review,” said Cameron Beck, an engineer with the SFMTA, as he addressed a group of city planners who were touring the Mission.

“We’re glad we don’t have [environmental review],” said one about the state law which requires a lengthy review process for most infrastructure projects.

When he explained that some projects could take 4 to 6 months just for them to be looked at by planners a table full of planners from Seattle and Minneapolis reacted with a collective “wow.”

Welcome to San Francisco.

The bureaucrats are here for the third annual Designing Cities conference and made it to the Mission to check out the traffic calming methods implemented by the city on Capp, Natoma and Minna streets near 16th and Mission.

The city recently implemented speed bumps and edge lines that reduced speeds on the streets. On Natoma Street, between 14th and 15th streets, the speed bumps reduced speeds from 21 mph to 14 mph; On Minna Street it went from 22 mph to 12; and Capp Street, between 15th and 16th, it went from 26 mph to 17 mph.

More than dozen of these tours groups are currently roaming San Francisco.

And as it turns out the bureaucratic nightmare we have here are not that much different in other cities.

“I can explain to you Seattle, but it will be a 30 minute rant,” a planner said as he gulped his beer at a nearby pub.

This has been your Afternoon Report—a new series we’re trying out in which we offer a quickie post-meridian rundown of some minor developments in the always-happening streets of the Mission District. Got ideas or suggestions? Let us know what you think by sending an email to