Imagine Irving Street between 9th and 10th Avenues (map) in the Inner Sunset neighborhood, San Francisco, as a pedestrian plaza, a space where people can gather, as they have throughout history, to socialize, share culture, exchange goods, and live life to the fullest.
The Irving Commons is a project, lead by local neighbors, businesses, and organizations, to investigate the possibility of this one block of Irving Street becoming a pedestrian plaza.
"Investigating the possibility" means that we don't yet know if this idea should be implemented. We need to make a careful and thorough investigation to see if it could work.
(Note: The rendering on the right is just for inspiration; it's not intended as a serious design proposal.)
What is a pedestrian plaza?
A pedestrian plaza is an area, blocked off from automobile traffic, reserved for walking, sitting, and activities. Such spaces usually feature a combination of benches and other kinds of seats, trees, art installations, children's play infrastructure, and so on. Pedestrian plazas are most often located in commercial areas and are usually bordered by shops.
For more information, explore the following pages:
Why a pedestrian plaza on Irving Street?
There are compelling reasons why Irving Street between 9th and 10th Avenues could be a great location for a pedestrian plaza.
This block is:
- Highly visible and centrally located in the Inner Sunset
- Next to a high pedestrian density area
- Is next to prominent public transportation lines, including the N Judah and the 44, 43, 6, and 66 bus lines
- Home to a diverse array of businesses – including a bar, restaurants, a grocery store, and a post office – that keeps this street active for many hours of the day
- Close to many homes and key attractions, such as UCSF and Golden Gate Park
- If pedestrianized, would interfere with no public transportation lines
- Free of private driveways or garages
- A proven gathering space. The popular Inner Sunset Sundays events, held on this block since 2010, have shown how well this space works as a pedestrian plaza
For more information on how this location fits the qualities required for a great public space, see here.
Our arguments for why this is the best location in the Inner Sunset for a pedestrian plaza can be found here.
We are NOT yet advocating for a plaza
Isn't this website pushing to put in a pedestrian plaza? NO! At this stage, we are pushing for a study to see if this is a good idea. It may be a good idea, it may not be.
We hope this approach will be welcomed by both those who like the idea of a plaza and those who do not. Our argument is: What is there to lose by doing a study? Just a little time and resources, at most. But by not doing a study, we risk losing out on something that could make a hugely positive impact on the Inner Sunset.
Such a study may involve issues that include the following:
- What would be the impact on traffic congestion?
- How could we make sure people can easily drive east-west?
- Could we make up for the loss of parking?
- How important are different forms of transportation (walking, driving, public transportation, bicycling, etc.) to local businesses?
- How might we address antisocial behavior on the Commons?
The Irving Commons idea was first brought up during planning meetings for the Inner Sunset Sundays (ISS) events. ISS began in 2010 as a grassroots-organized street fair on the block of Irving now considered for the Commons and featured entertainment, food, activities, and so on. A strong emphasis was placed at the events on community-building and celebrating local assets.
However, in 2012 the ISS team decided to organize four events that year, rather than the usual one, feeling that once a year wasn't often enough to really build community. But then, the group started to think, "Why couldn't this space be a place for gathering all year round?" The Irving Commons idea was born.
In 2013, the team, having built good relationships with local businesses and organizations, decided to start talking publicly about the Commons concept. And here we are!