Mayor Lee Breaks Ground on Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Model Block Improvement Project

05/11/11— Mayor Edwin M. Lee today broke ground on the Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Model Block Improvement Project, a first of its kind project on the 1700 block of Newcomb Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood to transform the street into one of the most sustainable streets in the City. The pilot streetscape improvement project will replace significant areas of concrete with new landscaping, street trees, introduce stormwater planters and permeable pavers on this flood prone street to allow rainwater to permeate into the ground.

“San Francisco continues to be at the forefront with innovative projects and programs that are transforming our streets and public spaces,” said Mayor Lee. “The Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Model Block Improvement Project is an investment that will transform and create one of the greenest and most sustainable streets in San Francisco and provide us with information and feedback we will need to help us improve streets citywide.”

The Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Model Block Improvement Project, which will also improve pedestrian safety and calm traffic, is part of a larger effort by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) to promote neighborhood stewardship to improve and beautify public spaces. The Model Block was established in 2005 from the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Project Area with the goal of improving the quality of life for residents of the neighborhood. This street was selected as a pilot area because it lacked green space, experienced flooding, and was unsafe for pedestrians because of speeding cars.

“The Model Block Program is demonstrative of the mindset of the Redevelopment Agency of today, one that improves existing homes and neighborhoods by empowering the residents to play an active role in designing and implementing projects in their community,” said SFRA Executive Director Fred Blackwell.

When completed, Newcomb Avenue between Phelps and Newhall streets will be one of the greenest streets in San Francisco. The streetscape design will replace significant areas of impervious sidewalk with new planting and parking lanes will be replaced with pavers that absorb rainwater. These elements, combined with new planted corner bulb-outs and mid-block islands, will provide both stormwater management benefits as well as traffic calming. More than 20 trees will be planted to dramatically enhance the aesthetic character of the street while providing additional environmental benefits. These improvements will enhance the community’s identity, appearance and improve pedestrian safety.

“These improvements will enhance and beautify the block, create a safe gathering public space for residents, and transform concrete into an urban oasis that functions with the natural systems of the landscape,” said DPW Director Ed Reiskin. “This is project is part of our Great Streets Program which transforms neighborhood streets across the city through best practices in design, landscaping, lighting and pedestrian safety; an initiative DPW is proud to support.”

Once the four-month construction project is complete, residents will provide ongoing maintenance by organizing community clean up days to keep the street clean and green. The City will also monitor the stormwater performance of the new streetscape improvements.

“The Newcomb Streetscape Improvement Project is a great example of collaborative planning with the neighborhood,” said San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim. “The residents have organized themselves, have helped articulate their vision for improvements, and are now working with the City to make that vision a reality.  We look forward to continuing this important work along other blocks in the Bayview.”

This project was made possible with the active participation of various City agencies, including the SFRA, the Planning Department, DPW, the Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and with assistance from the San Francisco Estuary Partnership. The $1.6 million project is funded through grants from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Community Challenge grants, in addition to an appropriation from the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

“EPA is delighted to support another San Francisco green street project to create a natural system that not only reduces stormwater to the Bay, but also improves the Bayview-Hunters Point community,” said EPA Region IX Administrator Jared Blumenfeld. “This low impact development, using natural processes to treat polluted urban runoff, is a model for other cities.”

Funding from the U.S. EPA in the amount of $492,500 for this project is being provided under the San Francisco Bay water quality competitive grant program. The EPA SF Bay grant program is currently supporting 31 projects, involving 37 partners and leveraging nearly $20 million. Low impact development tools mimic natural hydrologic conditions, and include increasing permeable, vegetated areas to assist the infiltration and evapotranspiration of stormwater, in turn minimizing the volume of stormwater discharges. By using low impact development tools, pollutant flows are reduced and the need for more expensive traditional treatment is minimized.

In addition to the streetscape improvements, the Model Block Project includes a program of low interest loans for homeowners to make improvements to their homes, such as exterior painting, façade improvements, and energy efficiency enhancements. 

“Through the process of building the Model Block we have come to know our block members, as community activists,” said Michelle Mouton, a resident on Newcomb Avenue. “The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s initiative has facilitated neighbors modeling community involvement and city partnerships, toward the creation of a better quality of life for our own and future generations.”

For more information, visit For more information on project and the construction schedule, please visit DPW’s Great Streets Program web page at