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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?