A part of the General Plan Updates
Moving about the city is essential for us to carry out our daily tasks, such as getting to jobs, as well for businesses to function. The Transportation Element sets the policy foundation for achieving a transportation system that involve the movement of people and goods.
The Transportation Element policies will be centered on:
- Achieving equitable outcomes: How can we advance racial and social equity through transportation policies?
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: What types of transportation changes are needed for us to address climate change
- Integrating transportation and land use: What kinds of transportation improvements should the City be making to meet current and planned growth of housing and jobs?
Other than transportation, what will the Transportation Element focus on?
The Transportation Element will address all transportation modes, how those modes interact in our city, and how those modes will enhance access to where people need to go. It will also address some of the most pressing issues that we face today, including:
- Climate change – Transportation policies will be developed to help to the City reach its goal of 80% of all trips be taken on sustainable modes (such as transit and walking) and remaining trips be made entirely in electric-powered vehicles.
- Racial and social equity – The Transportation Element will include policies that will result in equitable outcomes for low-income communities and communities of color.
- Environmental justice – The Planning Department is developing an environmental justice framework for the General Plan, which will set the vision and guidance for environmental justice considerations that will be integrated into the Transportation Element.
- Housing, jobs, and economic vitality – The City needs a reliable and efficient transportation system that can get people to and from their homes to jobs, services, and school. The system must also support people’s movement within and around neighborhoods to experience the City’s rich array of amenities, and support housing and job growth for existing and future generations.
- Vision Zero and Transit First – Vision Zero aims to eliminate all traffic deaths and reduce severe injuries on city streets, which builds on the City’s historic commitment to promoting alternative modes to driving in the City. This commitment is rooted in San Francisco’s Transit First policy (1973) to provide safe and efficient movement of people.
- State of Good Repair – We need to invest resources to maintain and repair our aging infrastructure (including roads, bridges, subways, sidewalks, etc.) so that they reliably serve people and businesses and can withstand climate impacts and natural disasters.
Why are we updating the Transportation Element?
The Transportation Element was last prepared and adopted in 1995. Since then, there have been significant changes in land use, travel behaviors, and preferences, as well as the types of technologies we have access to, such as bike share, scooters, carshare. At the same time, San Francisco has experienced growth in the number of people who live and work in the City, putting strains on the existing transportation system.
Not all of the policies in the existing Transportation Element have kept up with our current reality, and investments have not always resulted in safer, convenient, and affordable transportation options for everyone. We need to develop new policies and transportation networks that are linked to land use, that help the City manage congestion on its streets, and that enable equitable access to transportation options for everyone.
The City has been engaging the public in a collaborative process called ConnectSF to build an effective, equitable, and sustainable transportation system. In 2018, staff collaborated with residents, community-based organizations, and agencies to create a vision of what they want San Francisco to look and feel like in 50 years, using ConnectSF’s goals as the foundation. These goals are equity, economic vitality, environmental sustainability, safety and livability, and accountability and engagement.
The vision that emerged from this yearlong effort was one of a growing, diverse, and equitable city. In the area of transportation, participants envisioned a multitude of reliable transportation options in San Francisco that are available and affordable to all. This multi-faceted transportation system would be planned and built in a timely manner – a result of strong civic and government engagement.
The ConnectSF vision and goals will be reflected in the Transportation Element.
- Informational Presentation (March 2021 virtual event)
- Summary of Round One Outreach (2023)
None at this time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the San Francisco General Plan?
The General Plan provides a comprehensive set of objectives and policies that influence how we live, work, and move about, as well as the quality and character of the City. It reflects community values and priorities through its public engagement and adoption process, ensuring both private development and public action conform to this vision. The General Plan helps shape our daily lives, respond to today’s big challenges, and lead us to a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy future that enables all San Franciscans to thrive.
What is the Transportation Element?
The Transportation Element is one component of San Francisco’s General Plan.
It lays out policies and transportation networks that City agencies (e.g., Muni) and private groups (e.g., developers) will follow when putting transportation plans, programs, and projects in place. It also lays out the City’s transportation priorities when it comes to building and paying for the infrastructure that residents, workers, and visitors need to get around. This includes streets, bus projects, bicycle routes, and other physical improvements that we all use for transportation. It also includes policies that will shape transportation in the years ahead.
San Francisco will need to make decisions about where to invest money for transportation. Our transportation needs are great, but our funding is limited. How will we make these investment decisions? What should we prioritize? It’s best to make these decisions in a way that meets the goals our community has set for our City and anticipates changes that may come up.
The new Transportation Element will need to:
- Advance racial and social equity
- Protect the environment
- Coordinate City’s growth with our transportation system
This update will integrate environmental justice considerations, consistent with SB 1000. It will also be coordinated with the Housing Element update.
You keep saying “policy.” What is that?
A policy is a statement that guides what decisions are made and how. The statement usually involves intent, direction, or strategy.
The Transportation Element will create policies that sets the direction for transportation decisions. For example, the Transportation Element may include policies supporting the provision of additional bicycle parking. In this example, developers would need to provide more bicycle parking than the currently do at new or remodeled shops, homes, and offices.
What does the Transportation Element not do?
The Transportation Element is not involved with providing transportation service, such as when or where buses and trains run. It does not involve the day-to-day operations of transportation. For example, it does not set parking prices, determine where colored curbs go, or sell transit passes. The Transportation Element will not amend the Zoning Map. It is a policy document that sets guidance on how transportation is designed, built, and maintained in San Francisco.
What content will be covered in the Transportation Element?
The Transportation Element will establish policies for all modes in San Francisco. How people move around the city is related to where they live and work and how they access jobs, school, shops, services, parks, and other important needs. What types of transportation is available and how our streets are used also affect the quality of life in San Francisco. Understanding the relationship between transportation and these other important topics is important to understanding the wide range of people’s mobility needs and how the Transportation Element will have to balance those needs while maintaining the City’s overall well-being. This is essential to create a functional, effective transportation system that works for everyone, especially underserved communities – and also help the City achieve racial and social equity and fight climate change. For more information, you can also consult the state’s Office of Planning and Research’s guidelines for the general plan, under “Circulation”.
Why is an update of the Transportation Element needed?
The current Transportation Element was written in 1995. Much has changed since then. This includes people’s traveling in different ways, with more people biking or using scooters; new transportation services, such as ride-hailing or app-based delivery options; and new technologies, such as electric cars and smartphones. In 2020 alone, many people’s travel patterns shifted as shelter-in-place orders were in place for more than a year. It is likely that more changes are on the horizon.
Another important change is the critical need to address racial and social inequities and to fight climate change. While these issues have long been with us, events in 2020 showed how ignoring them is no longer an option if we want San Francisco to be a truly inclusive city. Not working to make improvements only worsens the situation for our most vulnerable communities and eventually for all of us.
All these reasons call for new transportation policies and programs that can put San Francisco in a position to better face these changes and challenges as they arise.
How will COVID-19 affect the update of the Transportation Element?
Outreach to communities and stakeholders is very important to the Planning Department. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, all in-person meetings and events had to be discontinued. While it is not possible to substitute in-person conversations with online activities, we are increasing our efforts to involve community and business groups, advocacy organizations, and other stakeholders as we prepare content for the Transportation Element.
Why is it important that I participate in the update of the Transportation Element?
Transportation is a part of our everyday lives. Every person of every age and background needs transportation of some sort, whether they go to school, walk to a nearby park, get groceries delivered, or go out of town for the weekend. Get involved in helping us shape the policies that will set the stage for what those trips look like. Give us your feedback on the principles and policies that will be used to guide the decisions the City makes about transportation.
How can I participate in the update of the Transportation Element?
There are many ways to get involved! To learn more about the project and about engagement opportunities, please contact Tam Tran, Project Manager, Tam.Tran@sfgov.org