Japantown's street grid hasn't gotten much love since the 1960s, when cars were king and the city was busy removing pedestrian areas. But San Francisco's Planning Department is pushing for major upgrades: more parks, less freeway; more ground-floor retail, fewer blank walls.
Japantown's pretty, but its car-friendly, human-antagonistic design has turned it into a bit of a dead zone. The Planning Department's remedy calls for about $41 million in upgrades, raised from local taxes and developer fees.
The regular anxieties are popping up around the plan: some folks are afraid that fewer cars means fewer customers. Fortunately, that's simply not the case: as merchants are learning in Times Square, newly installed pedestrian amenities mean more customers hanging around, rather than motoring through.
Other concerns are harder to pin down with specifics: there's the regular OH NOES THINGS MIGHT CHANGE chatter, and then there's a claim that this is a battle between those who want to "preserve the community versus those who want to have economic development." Seems like a false dichotomy to us.
Big changes urged for Japantown [An Examiner]
· Economic Lights Burn Bright In Times Square
· The Gentrification of San Francisco’s Japantown [Nichi Bei Times]
· What to do with Japantown [Curbed SF]
· Jtown Conundrum: Love it or Fix it [Curbed SF]