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Politics & Policy

San Francisco looks to create a green oasis in the city’s troubled Tenderloin neighborhood

Viewed from above eye level, a rendering of a future pedestrian plaza shows grass, landscaping and people on a busy city street.
In a rendering of the proposed Golden Gate Greenway, a busy block of San Francisco’s Tenderloin is partially pedestrianized. | Source: Courtesy Office of Sup. Dean Preston

A San Francisco supervisor has worked with city transit leaders to install a block of green space in the Tenderloin, a densely populated neighborhood with few public gathering places.

Supervisor Dean Preston’s office and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency have used more than $1 million to create the “Golden Gate Greenway,” narrowing a busy block of Golden Gate Avenue and installing green space and sitting areas. Funding comes in part from San Francisco’s Proposition L, a 2022 measure that allocated money from a half-cent sales tax increase toward transit improvements.

In a release, Preston’s office cited a few grim statistics, namely that the Tenderloin has fewer parks and more traffic injuries than anywhere else in the city.

“The Golden Gate Greenway is a true community effort to transform a congested street into a safe recreation space in the heart of the Tenderloin for children, seniors, and people of all ages and abilities,” Preston said. “I am proud of all the neighbors and community leaders that came together with the vision, collaborative spirit and hard work to move this forward.”

His office put forward a rendering of the proposed streetscape, which shows a partially pedestrianized Golden Gate Avenue reduced from two vehicle lanes to one between Jones and Leavenworth streets.

No specific timeline for implementation was given, but this version of the Golden Gate Greenway builds on an earlier proposal spearheaded by the St. Anthony Foundation, a nonprofit and safety-net service center on the same block of Golden Gate Avenue. That project is aimed for completion by the end of 2024.

“The Golden Gate Greenway serves as a best practice demonstration of what is possible in the Tenderloin when neighbors can reliably enjoy a safe space: a pop-up food pantry that serves 500 people weekly, free bicycle-riding classes for kids, and a daily drop-in welcome center for those seeking to exit homelessness,” St. Anthony Foundation CEO Nils Behnke said in the news release.

This is not the first time that lawmakers have tackled the problems of insufficient green space and pedestrian safety in the Tenderloin. In 2021, as part of the city’s Vision Zero goals, former Supervisor Matt Haney successfully got the city to reduce speed limits to 20 mph across the neighborhood while eliminating the ability of drivers to make a right turn on red. Across San Francisco, there were 39 traffic fatalities in 2022, up from 27 in 2021.