Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.
Art beneath the freeway
Keeping Alemany Island beautiful is an uphill battle. Located in the area beneath where the 101 and 280 freeways meet in San Francisco, you might expect it to look like most beneath-freeway areas look in the city, with encampments, illegal dumping, and worse.
Since 2013, however, it’s been home to public art, first with a remarkable pillar installation by (then) 19-year-old Mission High School student Cory Ferris, then “the first time Caltrans has permitted an artistic interpretation on one of its freeway supports,” the SF Chronicle reported at the time.
The beautification project also included a community garden and a fence mural of “48 plywood art panels” to cover the Caltrans-installed “cyclone fence topped with rolls of razor wire.”
According to a Portola Planet report from 2013, “These works of art were designed by Kate Connell and Oscar Melara. Volunteers from the Portola then spent many nights painting the pieces...Each panel has some reference to the Portola and Kate tells me a lot of research went into the designs.”
The elements and other strains of city life left the area in need of some cleanup, and after a year of planning a “month-long project to bring the neighborhood gateway back to life” kicked off this spring, the Portola Planet reported this week. “15 or so volunteers dedicated three weekends to weed, mulch and plant the island’s overgrown garden. A final weekend was needed to clean and apply three protective coatings to the murals resulting in the vibrant and gleaming panels you see today.”
The cleaned up area, which you can see photos of here, is a night-and-day change from how things looked just a few months ago. It’s a testament to what can be accomplished by people who, instead of complaining about the state of the city over drinks or on the internet, put their time and hard work into making things better.
A tough price to pay for roomier transit
The San Francisco Giants’ dismal season has made a lot of fans miserable. And the pain their performance causes goes beyond the ballpark, transit planners learned Thursday.
The team, which pundits say is on track to be the worst in San Francisco, has depressed fans so that they’ve stopped going to games, causing a remarkable decrease in riders on the Golden Gate Transit ferry service.
In a presentation on bus and ferry ridership to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors on Thursday, Director of Planning Ron Downing says that “the special ferry service to AT&T Park had fallen ‘generally flat,’ while in past years the ferry would ‘sell out,’” the SF Examiner reports.
“If they win, people fall out of the [ferry] windows,” said Downing, an announcement we hope is a figure of speech. Fortunately, the drop isn’t significant enough to make a major impact on the ferry system’s budget, says Downing, but it certainly does nothing to debunk the worst stereotypes about certain Giants fans as reprehensible bandwagoners.
Shaming transit lane violators (among others)
KRON 4’s Stanley Roberts is a Bay Area treasure, a camera-toting vigilante out to document the many rule-breakers plaguing our streets, parks, and more. In his People Behaving Badly series for KRON 4, for over a decade Roberts has been taking on scofflaws without any agenda other than that of any good hall monitor—to restore order.
Rule-breaking cyclists are just as much a target for Roberts as bike lane violators, and cops who park at fire hydrants get as much of his ire as people pulled over by those same cops for various transgressions.
SF Weekly did a great profile of Roberts in 2013, just a few years before the reporter suffered a series of strokes that put him on the disabled list, but only for a few months, as Bay Area’s rule-breakers were certainly not taking a break during his convalescence.
In a segment this week, Roberts tackles drivers who don’t know/don’t care that they’re passing up traffic they should actually be sitting by illicitly using a bus-only entrance to the Bay Bridge. It’s a classic Stanley piece: a couple puns, lots of footage of rule-breakers, and a sweet ambush slash interview with one of the rule breakers.
In this case, the interview was plum get, as the lane violator was a hapless Postmate who was also screwing around on his cell phone when Roberts approached. Yes, that feeling you’re experiencing right now is schadenfreude. Doesn’t it feel good?
Here’s Roberts’ archive page with all his glorious, shameful segments. If you’re one of those people who can still bear Twitter, you can follow Roberts there for new content. He’s also very active on Facebook, if that’s more your jam.