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Why the Presidio shouldn’t close Battery Caulfield road at the 15th Ave. gate

A lot of activity is happening in the Public Health Service District in the Presidio, more commonly known as the part of the Presidio just inside the 15th Avenue gate off Lake Street. It includes the new 154-unit Presidio Landmark apartment building (formerly a hospital), the Wyman Avenue historic homes, and a building occupied by businesses.

With the influx of Landmark and Wyman residents into this area, there are concerns about how the traffic will impact the Presidio as well as the surrounding arteries of the Richmond District, specifically along 14th and 15th Avenues. For the last decade or so, the gate at 14th Avenue has been closed, so all traffic in and out of the district has gone through the 15th Avenue gate.

But that will change in September, when the Presidio Trust plans to re-open the 14th Avenue gate, allowing one-way traffic inbound to the Presidio. They’ll also modify access on 15th Avenue, changing it to only allow one-way traffic out of the Presidio. So to get into the Presdio, you’ll only be able to use 14th Avenue. To exit it, you’ll use 15th Avenue (traffic on the actual city blocks of 14th and 15th Avenue will remain two-way).

Another change up for debate is how to temper traffic along two-way Battery Caulfield Road, which runs alongside the Presidio Landmark building, allowing traffic to reach the other side of the Presidio. Similarly, it is the only outlet that runs to the 15th Avenue gate, allowing for traffic to exit the Presidio (see map).

The Presidio Trust is considering two options to reduce vehicle traffic on Battery Caulfield Road (read the full proposal here):

1) Limiting vehicle usage during weekday peak AM and PM hours, 7 to 9am and 5 to 7pm, as well as on weekends. How the traffic would actually be controlled has not yet been decided.

OR

2) Limit vehicular use at all times, e.g. closing the road completely, in both directions, to cars.

However the issue is not just about what happens within the Presidio. The Battery Caulfield changes are also meant to appease residents on 14th and 15th Avenues who will contend with traffic that goes in and out of the Public Health Service District. At a recent neighborhood meeting, these residents challenged representatives from the Landmark, claiming that to NOT close Battery Caulfield Road completely would be a violation of a previous agreement they had made with the Presidio Trust in 2007.

As a resident of the Central Richmond District, I believe it’s a huge, short-sighted mistake to close Battery Caulfield Road (B.C.R.) completely for a few reasons:

1) This would cause an unnecessarily heavy burden of traffic on 14th Avenue. Closing B.C.R. would force any and all inbound traffic to the District through 14th Avenue. Returning Landmark residents and any others accessing the Public Health Service District from the north would always have to enter in 14th Avenue. Imagine you live at the Landmark and are returning from Marin. Rather than exiting at the toll plaza and winding through the Presidio and down B.C.R. to get home, you’d have to go to Highway 1, turn right on Lake and come in 14th Avenue.

2) The Central Richmond District would lose in an important alternate route through the Presidio and to the Golden Gate Bridge. At this point, no one has taken the Doyle Drive construction into account. As construction on the new roadway progresses, there will be more closures, slowdowns and residents looking for alternate ways to reach the Golden Gate Bridge and the north side of San Francisco. By closing B.C.R., you cut off an important artery for the Central Richmond District. This will drive more traffic onto Arguello and 25th Avenue when residents are looking for alternate routes through the Presidio.

3) Closing B.C.R. would be an overreaction to a situation that has not been thoroughly studied. The Presidio Trust did one traffic study in March 2009, counting cars during the week and on Saturdays that qualified as “cut-through traffic” at the 15th Avenue gate. But this was before the Presidio Landmark opened and before any Doyle Drive construction began.

It’s too early to tell how the Presidio Landmark will affect traffic patterns; the Landmark’s own staff says traffic will ramp up slowly over time as they are nowhere near full occupancy. Nor has the 14th Avenue gate been open the last 10 years. Re-opening it may be more than enough to alleviate traffic issues on 15th Avenue which neighbors are so concerned about.

The Presidio Trust is taking comments and feedback on the Battery Caulfield Road proposal until September 1 October 15 (the deadline was extended). To send in your comments, email batterycaulfield@presidiotrust.gov or mail a letter to: Planning Department, Presidio Trust, 34 Graham Street, P.O. Box 29052, San Francisco, CA 94129-0052 by October 15.

What would you like to see happen with Battery Caulfield Road?

Sarah B.

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34 Comments

  1. I just received an update email from the Presidio Trust, confirming the extension of the deadline to October 15 for the public to send in comments on the proposal. Note that the email address in this latest update for public comments is:

    batterycaulfield@presidiotrust.gov

    That was not the email I was given back when I inquired, they had provided me with jfa@presidiotrust.gov. So for those of you who already wrote into the jfa@ address, I encourage you to resend your email to batterycaulfield@presidiotrust.gov. I assume they would honor emails sent into jfa@ but better safe than sorry.

    The update also said there will be a public meeting the first week of October. As soon as I have when and where, I will post to the blog.

    Sarah B.

  2. With all due respect to the residents near the 14th and 15th Avenue gates, this is a divisive issue because a small but very vocal group of residents have been working with the Trust on this issue for some time apparently, while the majority of us (who will be inconvenienced) were not really a part of that process. The bottom line is that it would appear that there are more people who would prefer more open access to BCR than there are those who prefer to see it closed. In addition to all of us who lose a scenic and peaceful route to Crissy Field or the Main Post, ask the residents on Arguello and 25th Avenue which alternative they prefer.

    Sorry, but I don’t buy the argument that Alternate 1 (partial closure) is un-enforcable. A card-key controlled gate would provide full access to PHSH residents and could be programmed to remain open during unrestricted hours. With appropriate signage and traffic calming measures, public safety could be ensured while providing public access.

    The one argument I haven’t heard yet for complete closure (which I actually think is a valid one) is it is aligned with the Trust’s stated goal of limiting vehicular traffic within the park for ALL visitors. Perhaps those on the side of full closure should be highlighting these benefits to the general public instead of their localized traffic concerns.

  3. A graph is a graphical depiction, e.g. a chart. It expresses data. A PARAGRAPH is something entirely different and writing “graph” when you mean “paragraph” only creates confusion. Even using an apostrophe to indicate that you have omitted letters — ‘graph — doesn’t do much to ease the confusion. And Lord knows, with so many people here who are not native speakers of English, we should all be striving for clarity!

  4. While I am very concerned about pedestrian safety (and cyclists and motorists, too) here in the Richmond, I’m getting a bit annoyed that the response always seems to be to SLOW traffic down and put up speed bumps, etc., etc.

    We are way out here at the NW edge of the City. We need to be able to get to the opposite side of town — and it seems that every proposal just makes that more difficult. Sup. Mar’s idea in response to complaints about Fulton was this: put in speed bumps!

    For God’s sake — Fulton is one of the only streets that offers a way to get out of the Richmond in any kind of reasonable amount of time — slowing it down hardly seems the answer. I’d like to propose that people who do traffic planning for the Richmond plan to have a couple of streets as “thoroughfares” and others for bicycle lanes, and as “slower” streets. For example,I think it would be a good idea to see California Streets have its lights “timed” during peak hours — yes, still 25mph, but have it flow, so you could actually MOVE…

    I’m starting to feel like I’m being imprisoned here!

  5. the photo shows just about where the cemetery used to be…on the right, just past the buildings…

  6. PLEASE leave this road open. The outer richmond residents see more and more of their access out or around the city being cut. These roads are not overused– I can attest to that but are a GODSEND with all of the other closures occuring. I’m just a normal taxpayer trying to get to work so I can live and enjoy the city and still pay taxes and be a calm citizen. But more and more roads are being closed and are getting clogged with other city traffic– Such as the great highway going south at Sloat, the 19th ave exits going east to doyle drive, as well as occasional interuptions like Sunday Streets and Outerlands, movie/museum closures along Camino Del Mar and Lincoln Hwy.

  7. Why doesn’t the Presidio Trust take a “Wait and see” attitude about whether to close the road or not? Right now, as many people have said, Battery Caufield Road is acting to relieve some of the traffic due to the Doyle Drive construction. 20% of the time, when I try to get from Crissey Field to Park Presidio by going up the hill to Lincoln to the toll plaza, there is some kind of traffic backup. Having BCR open allows an escape hatch to come into Park Presidio Blvd. at Lake St.without having to go all the way out to 25th Ave., or up and out Arguello Blvd. and down through all the stop signs on Lake St.

    I don’t live on 15th Ave. outside the gate, so I can’t put myself in their shoes. But I grew up on Lake St. and road my bike all over the Presidio. I don’t remember there being lots of traffic using the 15th Ave gate when the hospital was operating, but then 14th Ave was open as well so it might have helped. Like any place in the City, there will most likely be more traffic in the mornings and evenings as people go to and from work. At least if both gates (14th and 15th Ave) are open, it might divide the traffic load.When the Public Health. I do have a little problem though with the people on 15th Ave. insisting that the Presidio MUST close BCR. As someone mentioned, look at Lake Street now. People have to deal with the higher traffic flows than there used to be. Look, why not leave the gate open, AND open 14th Ave. and see how things work out? You can always change things later without spending a lot of money AFTER you see how it actually does unfold. Having fewer roads open means the ones that do remain will have to carry more cars.

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