City eyes 21st century Fisherman's Wharf

July 5, 2010 7:50:09 PM PDT
San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf could be getting a dramatic facelift in the next couple of years. The city has released a detailed plan to move one of California's top tourist attractions into the 21st century. They do not have the money yet, but they do have a lot of ideas.

Fisherman's Wharf is one of the top tourist attractions in California. Fishing boats take tourists out on the water, and you can buy freshly cooked crab right on the street. But in many spots traffic jams, crowded sidewalks and a mish-mash of tourist shops dominate the experience.

"Right now, if you wander around Fisherman's Wharf, it's often hard to actually even see the bay through the parking lots, through all of the various tourist attractions that we have," says Supervisor David Chiu who represents the area.

For three years the city planning department has worked with local businesses on a plan for the future. Even David Johnson, "The Bush Man" who makes money startling tourists, told us he wants change.

"I think if they had less cars out here then it would be a lot better," he said.

He may get his wish. The draft of the new plan has been released and one big change is to take the emphasis off of cars. Currently fewer than 35 percent of visitors to Fisherman's Wharf actually get there by car, yet cars dominate the area.

"We would really be trying to encourage cars to not really come into this part of Fisherman's Wharf, really redesign the directions of where cars would go," said Chiu.

Jefferson Street is the focus of Fisherman's Wharf.

"We would eliminate the distinction between sidewalks and the streets," said Chiu. "So it would be one pedestrian corridor and provide much more accessibility for pedestrians and for cyclists."

The plan also includes more places to get close to the water. Frank Rescino, a third generation fisherman with a tourist boat at the wharf, says a lot of businesses were skeptical, but they are coming around.

"Change is good, but it's hard," he said. "You've got people that have been doing the same thing for a hundred years."

The proposed plan would cost about $12 million. It would be funded with both public and private money. The city is looking for feedback this summer. Ideas on the table range from limiting truck deliveries in the morning hours to putting a walkway in along the bay. If you'd like to weigh in, visit the plan's website Fisherman's Wharf Public Realm Plan.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.


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