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Valencia Street Park – Alternative St. Luke’s Plan

March 30, 2009

Mission Loc@l and SF FYI net reports that there are several rather unpublicized meetings this week — St. Luke’s and El Tonayense.

Tuesday, 2 PM

Wednesday, 5 PM

  • El Tonayense (19th and Harrison) public hearing
  • UPDATE: City Hall, Room 416, 5PM – agenda
  • Mission Loc@l will be tweeting (guys, will this be on the MLnow account or another?)

Wednesday, 6:30-8 PM –

  • Mission District Community Task Force Meeting – St. Luke’s Hospital
  • When: April 1, 2009 – Wednesday, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

(Ed: This particular task force meeting was last year.)

More on Tonayense later. Re St. Luke’s – remember that the favored plan is a souless, two-story blank wall along Cesar Chavez, with the service “ass-end” of the hospital overbearing the houses on Guerrero.

Current layout – translucent red is 1970s tower that is too expensive to retrofit, blue are existing hospital buildings, green are houses at the corner of Cesar Chavez on the left and Guerrero on the right.


CPMC proposal – solid red is suggested replacement building, solid blue is future expansion building, no windows on the first two stories. Both are flush with the sidewalk on Cesar Chavez with no street access. Loading and garbage is between existing green houses and red replacement building.


This does not seem to be the neighborhood’s favored solution — feedback from the March 4th Community Workshop available for download from CPMC. (Strange how there is littel to no mention of the strong opposition to the new building on the doctor’s parking lot and over San Jose Ave, or the poor integration with the Cesar Chavez street improvement plan.) Secret CMPC plan to enrage neighbors, or just lazy? Regardless, a better plan is in order.

We here at the BJPLC (Burrito Justice Planning and Landscape Committee) have decided on a different approach for St. Luke’s. Instead of what we have now — a block on Valencia with no residences and stairs to nowhere:

1 - current st. luke's

We create Valencia Street Park, and build the replacement hospital across the street:

2 - St. Lukes - Valencia Street Park

Details of our modest proposal:

  • Close down Valencia between Cesar Chavez and Mission to auto traffic and create a park greenery, with bike access (and bus access?)
  • Build the replacement building (green) across Valencia on the old Sears parking lot, not on the doctor’s parking lot.
  • Expansion (yellow) can still happen across the park on the 1970 tower site.
  • Make a cul-de-sac off of Cesar Chavez as the primary access point to St. Luke’s.
  • Free the 1912 steps (brown/orange) which would now lead from the historic building down to our new and glorious Valencia Street Park green belt.

Unreasonable? No less so than the current CPMC plan. This alternative lets St. Luke’s rebuild, expand and improve the neighborhood at the same time. There are surprisingly few parks in the area — Precita and Garfield Parks aren’t exactly close, and Bernal is a different case. There are surprisingly few parks and playgrounds in Noe Valley — in fact, other than Juri, is there another park within 23rd, Diamond, 29th and Mission?

So what about the doctor’s parking lot? CPMC could sell the doctor’s parking lot for reasonable height mixed residential-retail development, or use it for new medical offices as was the original plan.

Most importantly, we can let the El Tonayense truck sit in front of the 1912 steps! Magic Curry Kart and other vendors are also welcome.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Hayduke permalink
    March 31, 2009 8:26 am

    Brilliant. Not unreasonable at all. It could be the next Octavia Blvd.

  2. Gillian Gillett permalink
    March 31, 2009 10:54 am

    Hi, BurritoJustice. The meeting notice you quote from SF FYI net is incorrect. There was such a meeting – in 2008, but not this year. Lovely plan. At Cathedral Hill, CPMC is proposing an underground tunnel (under Van Ness Avenue)between the hospital and medical office building proposed there.

  3. Taylor permalink
    March 31, 2009 11:22 am

    I would have to say “ney” to your plan as you’re fancy new hospital building would be a little to close for comfort to my house in the Old Sears building. Oh, you’d also be building over my parking space, which would suck as it has taken me years of living in this town to acquire one.

    I like the idea of a park, but please, keep the hospital across the street. However, if you insist on expanding, take over that shitty used car lot catty corner to the existing St. Lukes.

  4. Gillian Gillett permalink
    March 31, 2009 11:38 am


    What if CPMC, or someone else were to build underground parking, and to replace the existing spots, including yours? That’s a really important corner to be used as surface-level parking. The Salvation Army ARC corner building is a parking lot, too. 3/4 corners of Valencia/Chavez devoted to surface-level parking. It’s like a little bit of Houston, right here in SF!

  5. Neo Displacer permalink
    March 31, 2009 11:59 am

    I work with a lot of architects in my job. I can tell you that even though working in a creative discipline the practitioners are not very creative. There is a mindlessness to the process of building design and urban planning in the folks I’ve worked with. They’ll spout some archispeak to describe the garbage they’re creating as if that’s enough to make it right. Now add a layer of politics to the process. It’s a recipe for an ugly fixture.

  6. marge permalink
    March 31, 2009 1:52 pm

    none of this hoop-jumping would be necessary if the neighborhood stopped being unreasonable and let the right thing happen — shut down the down damn hospital and re-build it on the exact same spot as the existing hospital. The neighbors are so shrill about keeping a hospital on the site in operation without ceasing for even a single day that it’s forcing all of these ridiculously bad propsals. You can’t blame CPMC. They realize that the best solution is to rebuild the hospital on the footprint of the existing one. The neighborhood needs to wisen up — they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Either they get a new well-designed hospital in an appropriate place (on the site of the current one) or they can force the hospital never to close and get a half-baked piece of crap shoved into an awkward place.

  7. Arlo permalink
    March 31, 2009 2:16 pm

    Gillian- It’s as much about not adding huge buildings to the landscape- that intersection has a nice open space break from the abutted buildings stringing Valencia and Cesar Chavez in either direction. Putting a giant hospital would just block out light and sky in that entire surrounding area.

  8. redbearded permalink
    March 31, 2009 4:00 pm

    Hey Neo Displacer… All of us archispeaking urban planning creative discipline architect types think you’re pretty stupid too… generally speaking of course.

  9. March 31, 2009 4:06 pm

    @ Marge, if you think that they’ll rebuild St. Lukes after closing it, I want that you’re on.

    I love the idea of turning that stretch of Valencia into a park, it’s definitely a good candidate for closure. There are some issues of access to the hospital (emergency vehicles coming north from Mission and 30th area will be delayed) but those could be worked out.

    The biggest obstacle is that CPMC doesn’t own the parking lot you propose building on. I think the parking lot across San Jose makes the most sense, but care should be taken to build a good building, any anything without windows on the first two floors is emphatically not a good building.

  10. March 31, 2009 4:58 pm

    hey johnny0, you can follow my account, @emamd on Twitter.

  11. marge permalink
    March 31, 2009 5:41 pm

    and why exactly is it a good thing to make sure there is a hospital here to begin with? So that a small number of people can walk to their neighborhood hospital? As if that ever happens. Very few neighborhoods actually have emergency and in-patient hospitals in their midst. The vast majority of people go to one of the bigger hospitals in town when need to go to the hospital. Most people don’t even go to the closest hosptial to them. For instance, the tens of thousands of Kaiser members who live in the city go the Kaiser hospital in the center of the city on Geary. It’s not like I can go around the corner to the hospital that happens to be in my backyard, or that people who live next to UCSF go to UCSF or that people who live next to SF General go to General. The whole premise is kind of silly. The kinds of services — pharmacy, out-patient medical services, etc. — that the neighbors want here probably don’t even require a hospital per se. It seems more like an emotional attachment. CPMC hasn’t said they would abandon the site, for goodness sakes. How often do you need to go have surgery or a major procedure? Why is it a burden to go an extra mile or two to a bigger hosptial?

    • TommyWillB permalink
      August 10, 2013 9:07 am

      marge, on Christmas eve 2012 my appendix burst. I live 3 block from St. Lukes, and YES I did walk to the emergency room!

  12. March 31, 2009 7:34 pm

    marge, so we should just have one giant hospital then? Reductio ad absurdum, yes, but where does it stop?

    Frankly, in earthquake country, the more newly constructed hospitals the better.

    Also, I predict dramatic changes in health insurance over the next decade — maybe even universal insurance of some sort. Then the whole ‘drive across town’ idea will be what seems silly.

  13. April 1, 2009 8:48 am

    @Josh — I like your Treat Park idea. Some nice historical context too since Treat used to be the edge of the Mission Creek. (Also, it might appease the Mission Lagoon Monsters.)

    I figure CPMC could sell or trade the San Jose parking lot for the Valencia/Sears lot.

    @Taylor, the #1 request at the St. Luke’s meetings was underground parking.

  14. TommyWillB permalink
    August 10, 2013 9:04 am

    If the goal is to expand and also have park space, there are so many other ways to do that without blocking car/bus/bike traffic on Valencia… not to mention Ambulance/car access to the Emergency room.

    Why not put the new hospital across Valencia on the big parking lot, with a loading area. Similar to your cul-de-sac, but off-street. The big doctors parking lot in back could then be turned into a nice secluded park.


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