Thursday, March 8, 2012

Newcomb residents enjoy their Model Block

The Newcomb Model Block project, between Phelps and Newhall, was completed at the end of 2011. Chicane parking and plantscapes are among the improvements

by Elizabeth Skow

The quality of life results of the Newcomb Avenue Model Block Project are beginning to be felt as neighbors enjoy stronger social connections, and as young trees and a variety of plants begin to establish themselves. 

The Model Block showcases some of the most promising urban planning practices such as chicane parking (parallel parking on one side of the street, perpendicular on the other), and permeable pavement and sidewalks that filter rainwater.

"Working on this project together made us all realize the wealth of skills and resources we had right on this block," said resident and organizer Michelle Mouton. "This project really brought the people on the block together, and I got to know my neighbors."

Mouton said that traffic is much slower, though double parking continues to be a problem. 

According to Vanessa Dandridge who worked on the project from its conception in 2004 through 2009, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency "wanted to complete a project that helped Bayview residents who already had housing, as well as create new housing opportunities."

The Model Block Project had a total price tag of $1.5 million with one-third of that funding coming from the US Environmental Protection Agency, about $600,000 from the SF Redevelopment Agency, and the remainder from the SF Community Challenge Grant program.  

The SF Redevelopment Agency's housing division created the project to accompany several new buildings planned for Third Street such as the completed 4800 Third and 5800 Third projects.

The main goals of the project were greening the area, a waste water solution, traffic calming, and community improvement and ongoing care through community stewardship.

While the long-term effects of the physical improvements are difficult to predict, the effects of an improved social environment are evident.  People on the block have agreed to keep organizing to control trash dumping that remains a problem, and to replace dead plants when needed.

"They just finished the project, so it might take some time to measure the overall success of the project," Dandridge said. "I'm glad I was involved. It will be nice to drive down the block later and see the work that was done."

The curbs curve out at the ends of the street, adding visual interest while forcing cars to slow down.
Past coverage of the Newcomb Model Block Project

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