Castro decorative crosswalks: And the winner is…

Final selection: Rainbow crosswalks at 18th and Castro (photo: Roy McKenzie)
Final selection: Rainbow crosswalks at 18th and Castro (photo: Roy McKenzie)
Rainbow Crosswalk Design

Rainbow Crosswalk Design

Andrea Aiello of the Castro Community Benefit District announced at the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project groundbreaking this morning that over 4,500 voters and Castro area residents chose decorative rainbow sidewalks to be located at all four crosswalks at the intersection of Castro and 18th Street.

The CBD voted to make up the difference of the budget shortfall for the project in February which included decorative crosswalks and street lighting, and pavement stamped with Castro facts.

Andrea Aiello of the Castro CBD shows decorative crosswalk design options (photo: Roy McKenzie)

Andrea Aiello of the Castro CBD shows decorative crosswalk design options (photo: Roy McKenzie)

The CBD had an online survey open to the public for the past several weeks that allowed folks to vote for their favorite of four decorative crosswalk designs which included rainbow stripes, rainbow handkerchief paisley, a design inspired by the Castro Theatre foyer tiles, and a design inspired by the Muni overhead catenary wires. The survey also allowed voters to decide whether the four decorative crosswalks should all be placed at the intersection of 18th and Castro or divided evenly at 19th and Castro and 18th and Castro.

There was a lot of concern, at least in the comments  section of this blog, that if either rainbow design was picked it would look too cartoonish. It looks like readers are going to be a little disappointed with the design choice, but it’s difficult to make everyone happy.

Construction is set to wrap up on the street improvements and sidewalk widening before the Castro Street Fair the first Sunday in October. Just in case improvements are not completed by then, construction workers have been told they will need to clean up construction during Pride in June and the Castro Street Fair in October. Mike Ghilotti of Ghilotti Brothers Construction, the contractors working on the bulk of the project, mentioned during the groundbreaking that if all goes to plan they hope to be out of the Castro several months before schedule. We’ll see.

And it begins!

And it begins!

As I walked down to Reveille Coffee to finish up this post, construction workers on the westside of Castro were already potholing outside of Rossi’s Deli. An employee over at Lisa Hair Design closed the front door to the shop to keep out the noise.

Here we go!

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about politics, camping, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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75 Responses

  1. Matthew says:

    NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DEMAND A RECOUNT!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 8

    • Chachito415 says:

      I knew the modern/conformist look would win. I was hoping for the bandana rainbow pattern, because the name Castro is Californio like that.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. rblack says:

    If they are only at 18th and Castro I can live with that. It is “the gayest corner in America” after all.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

    • Matthew says:

      Nothing screams gay like a Walgreens, a Bank of America, a space where no business lasts more than a year. But wait… Harvey’s!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

    • Frank says:

      I think the gayest corner in the world set up shop elsewhere. Have you looked around lately?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

    • rblack says:

      Boy you lot are a literal bunch.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  3. Brian K says:

    Welcome to “The Castro Street Circus”,,,, I am all for change. , but this whole thing is starting to look really gimmicky and touristy, I can’t wait to see what stores are going to fill in the high rent spaces that seem to be growing on the street….

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

  4. Sheila says:

    Ugh, we are officially Fisherman’s wharf.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 10

  5. John says:

    I am concerned with safety. I slid a week ago on the painted “STOP” in the street and broke my clavicle! They use these thing but they are slippery. There is no grip like a stoned road!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 22

    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      Breederville? Good thing they don’t let gays adopt.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      • ZekeBlog says:

        As if they are anywhere /near/ the majority of baby-strolling pedestrians here in the Castro. What gay parents exist simply provide cover for all the self-serving breeders who so enjoy taking over and occupying our turf. After all, mimicking our hetero overlords serves their arrogant purposes quite neatly, don’t you agree? There is /no/ gay neighborhood anywhere in the US that /doesn’t/ retain a str8 preponderance. And our own gay bars play almost exclusively hetero themed music! We don’t need our own ‘hoods, we need our own nation, free of breeder dogma (infiltrating our culture 24/7 w/o exception) at last.

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        • Mitch Mansfield says:

          I didn’t know there was a plot to get rid of homosexual themed music. No wonder you are so upset!

          Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

          • ZekeBlog says:

            This “plot” as you call it has always existed in our culture. Heterosexism is so deeply embedded and enforced, most gays don’t care if even in our gay venues we’re bombarded with uber-glorification of the vagina, and macho supremacy. There has never been a serious project to create a vast library of LGBT themed music, in spite of all our supposed “talent” and “creative genius.” As for being “upset”: not at all. I am simply stating the case as it exists, removing the blinders from your narrow line of sight. To call me upset, is to trivialize a vital perspective that might, perhaps, upset your little applecart of queer wealthy elitism. So long as /rich/ LGBT’s have it good here in SF, why complain, eh? Who gives a flying fuk about the truly suffering/terrorized low-income and homeless queers…most of whom have been driven out long ago, and the rest can not even /dream/ of moving here for a bit of sanctuary. Which sanctuary I might add, is soon to end, even for the most financially privileged among us. The price you pay for mocking our progressive activists over the decades…just because they are poor or lower middle class and not part of your self-adoring clique of Richie Rich pals. These same activists who, BTW, took great risks many times over (some even sacrificing their lives) that /you/ may enjoy what limited freedoms we’ve so painfully gained.

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    • An almost former reader says:

      Comments like these that try to ostracize anyone who lives in or visits our neighborhood make me want to read this blog less and less.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

      • ZekeBlog says:

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Matthew says:

    True story. This morning in fact.

    I was driving down Castro from 19th to Market. One delivery truck on one side of the street delivering to Cliff’s Variety. One delivery truck on the other side of the street delivering to Walgreen’s.

    The delivery truck for Cliff’s was not only blocking it’s 1/2 lane it was also partially blocking the full street. The same for the Walgreen’s delivery truck. It was a cluster and a bus was stuck behind the Walgreen’s truck because there was no room. Traffic was backed up to Market.

    Have the planning people thought of this? When we are down to one lane on both sides, these delivery trucks will cause NO traffic to move.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 13

    • This has been discussed ad nauseum. The planning department worked with merchants to schedule deliveries at low traffic times (very early morning and very late night).

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      The same issue came up when Bi-Rite opened up on Dividadero. In the beginning the trucks were blocking lanes early in the morning, but now they don’t. It takes the merchant to make sure it doesn’t happen.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  8. Frank says:

    So which design was chosen..I can’t tell from the picture. Is it just the plain rainbow or the bandana rainbow?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. Mitch Mansfield says:

    Nice to see so many people voted.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. rblack says:

    I wish the Castro CBD and the City could have spent this money and more on HMP. It seems a waste to do a revamp of Castro St and not include it.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    • This was also discussed at the workshops to some length. The DPW said the cost to revamp HMP greatly exceeds the cost of these small additions that the CBD agreed to cover. HMP is also partly the responsibility of the SFMTA as it is attached to the underground Muni. You’ve brought this up before and I agree that HMP could use a makeover too, but I don’t think it’s fair to lump these two projects together.

      Patience…

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

      • rblack says:

        I’m all for this revamp, I think with rainbow crosswalks or not, the neighborhood needs it and deserves it. I think it’s going to be a huge success and will look amazing.

        Still though we are talking about a revamp of Castro St which HMP sits. It’s not completely out of left field to bring it up in this context.

        The city found a bunch of money to give 24th St a park, it could have found some money to sort out a monument to arguably the most important figure in LGBT history.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

        • Are we talking about a revamp of HMP or a monument?

          Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

          • rblack says:

            Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

            Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

          • Whoa there rblack! I’m not trying being pedantic. I am just trying to make it clear that a revamp of HMP is a completely separate project that would cost a lot of serious money. When people bring up the issue of HMP not getting any attention in the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project it’s framed as if Harvey Milk himself is getting snubbed and that is not the reality of things. I look forward to the day when the city or community can afford to give the Plaza the revamp it deserves, but I think it’s unfair to tie the two projects together. You’re always more than welcome to express your opinion on here as is everyone else, and that includes myself! I don’t censor anyone (unless they are making threats and calling names) and I certainly haven’t spent all day challenging everyone as you suggest. Thanks for reading!

            Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

          • rblack says:

            Jeeze lol okay!

            Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      • Castro Resident says:

        In my view the problem is that HMP is not a park or a plaza at all. It is the entrance to a subway station that is controlled by a perpetually cash-strapped transit system. The SFMTA has MUCH bigger problems. One suggestion would be to try to have it moved to another agency (Parks and Rec?). Plazas that are depressed below grade are really hard to make work.

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  11. Antonio says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Frank says:

      Wow! We are reduced to throwing up rainbow flags and sprinkling sparkles to send a message.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  12. Brian K says:

    Hmmm, not sure where my original post went….thought it was the second one…will wait before reporting….

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Icarus says:

    I voted for the rainbow crosswalks. Yeah, they are a little cartoony and silly, but a lot of LGBTs are getting priced out of the neighborhood and I’d like to preserve as much “gay” as we can.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 11

  14. Those rainbow crosswalks have potential to be really cheesy.

    Maybe they’ll be great…but feels like trying to hard. Not necessary.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  15. Tacky doesn’t even begin to describe that design monstrosity…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 9

    • ZekeBlog says:

      Brightly painted 2-dimensional rainbows make me dizzy, like an optical illusion. I will finally be forced to use a walker w/tennis balls stuck to the front legs, just to get across.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  16. Castro Resident says:

    Unfortunate choice. The rainbow crosswalks would be fun and festive a couple of times a year…Castro Street Fair, etc. But all year long, it is going to get old.

    The voting might have been restricted to residents of the Castro – those of us that have to live with these crosswalks everyday My guess is that the outcome would have been entirely different.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

    • I wondered about the “out of area” vote too. It would have been interesting to see what adding a zip code field to the survey would have done to break apart the results.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  17. Kirk Linn-DeGrassi says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      It doesn’t take a street project to make Castro business close up these days…….

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  18. Area resident says:

    I work in the creative and usability fields. You know what will ruin any project no matter how perfect everything else is? Design by committee. That’s exactly what us who live in the neighborhood just got.

    In addition, I am going to suggest the setup of the survey may have been skewed and would love to see the results made open to do a data analysis. (The survey was setup with the selected crosswalk design as option “A” in the survey. It was also setup with ranked balloting. The problem is that with auto-population of the remaining choices, option “A” was automatically ranked second if the user only changed the first choice. Thus, it was given undue weight in comparison to the other designs. Depending on the data, it could be the case that randomizing the crosswalk options could have had a significant impact on the results.) If we’re going to play design by survey, let’s at least make sure we’re setting up the data research correctly.

    Finally, do us in the neighborhood with a strong desire to see this decision reevaluated have any recourse?

    I love my neighborhood. I’m very disappointed in this decision and how the entire process was handled.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

    • sjg says:

      You said it perfectly!!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

    • Matthew says:

      I too would like to see the voting results. I concur with your assessment that the voting was stacked already in A’s favor. Many (approx 20) people that I have spoken with did not know there were any other options than the Rainbow.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  19. Ramón says:

    My first thought was, how well will such vibrant colours hold up over an extended time? It’s undeniable that that intersection sees a lot of traffic, and that at certain times of year when it closed to vehicular traffic it experiences even more pedestrians, due to special events. If the lines at nearby intersections are an indicator, it’s going to look grubby – soon.
    Also, there was a time when it seems as though the Castro was striving for some manner of architectural cohesion; along with the Castro Theatre, the apartment building at 16th & Market, the building next to the ARCO station, the building which now houses Pottery Barn and a few others were in Spanish/Mexican style that perhaps wanted to make a visual connection with Misión Dolores and the fact that the area belonged to the Castro family.
    I think that a giant rainbow flag and seasonal rainbow flags attached to posts give our neighborhood just enough colour punch to let people know where they are standing. But, the majority has opined (didn’t we recently have a debate about the dangers of majority rulings?).
    Still, I don’t believe rainbows or no-rainbows are going to define the character of our neighborhood; I think the definition is already caught up in a maelstrom of change that will be a tipping point in the evolution of the Castro.
    If the plan is rainbow crosswalks, then I want disco globes and the Muzak version of Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel – Mighty Real” piped in via discrete speakers, you know, in Quadraphonic….to keep it authentic.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  20. Don says:

    As I said in my last “unpopular” post, the popular vote was somewhat obvious. If you’re going to go through the needless trouble of painting the crosswalk, your not going to choose something that artfully references the Castro Theater, The Golden Gate Bridge or a Cable Car, your going to choose something (however annoyingly tacky) that is easily recognizable by insiders and outsiders even if it is wince-inducing to a minority. The provincial attitude about something going on cement needing to reference and promote an iconic building seems pointless to me. Just go to the Castro theater and enjoy the real thing if its ornate aesthetic pleases you (as it does me).

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

  21. Don says:

    I prefer the rainbows. If your going to bother to paint the cross-walks in a manner that will be wince-inducing to some, it should be something with a political message that says: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to us” ‘ cause we refuse to keep getting priced out of our own neighborhood. A rainbow stamp comes closer to delivering that message.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 12

  22. An almost former reader says:

    Who are you insinuating is pricing you out of the neighborhood?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

    • ZekeBlog says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • sjg says:

        Good think you don’t dwell on stereotypes.
        My profile: I’m an 18 year Castro resident, worked my ass off to buy the small apartment building I live in currently. I borrowed and begged in the beginning to make the mortgage at times. I support tenant rights, have three tenants on rent control. I m an unapologetic liberal (not “progressive”) and the CASTRO WAS NEVER CHEAP…even then.

        You carry a heavy chip on your shoulder

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        • sjg says:

          PS.- i didn’t live in the Castro when I couldn’t afford. I lived in Lower Haight when it was still rather “rough”. Perhaps, if you work hard you won’t be priced out someday.

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        • ZekeBlog says:

          Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  23. Don says:

    Younger queers, non-professionals, single income earners and non-privileged/non-affluent folks come to mind. I don’t fall into any of these categories btw and live in an adjoining neighborhood but frequent nearby Castro establishments. I’ve lived in SF since ’98 and was a former resident back when I fell into some of those aforementioned categories.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  24. Don says:

    Sometimes the things people say aren’t completely self-serving. I grant you that it is a rarity though.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  25. Frank says:

    Next Controversy: Should the Walgreen’s at 15/Market be allowed to sell liquor.Yes,if they agree to put rainbow striping on their floors and set up an artisnal coffee bar..

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  26. Mitch Mansfield says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  27. History is definitely on your side on the sunken plazas, well sunken anything really. What was up with that weird 1960-70s obsession?

    Castro Station (the entire Market Street Subway) actually belongs to the BART District. In order for the City to put Harvey Milk Plaza in any agency’s hands would mean first purchasing the station from BART. Because we’re talking about a subway station entrance, not just a plaza, any changes start triggering legally required studies and changes to conform to current planning and safety codes. Someone who was involved with the redesign exploration about a decade ago said any changes, are going to come with a minimum around $500,000.

    It’s slow going, but BART is working on station area updates. Both 16th & Mission plazas have been redone, 24th & Mission is in the works, along with raising up Hallidie Plaza (the sunken plaza between Powell Station and the Cable Car turn around) and sooner or later Castro Station and Harvey Milk Plaza’s turn will come up.

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  28. Don says:

    Sorry, but Rainbow flag = Gay pride,
    Rainbow flag on road = Tacky
    Just like American flag = National pride
    American flag on road = Tacky

    Not saying tacky isn’t kitschy fun though…

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  29. Mitch Mansfield says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  30. ZekeBlog says:

    I’m a rainbow hater from way back in the day…perhaps even the first! In fact I may have started the trend:

    Down with the Rainbow Flag
    http://gay-bible.org/write/3_downflag.htm

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  31. ZekeBlog says:

    Mitch: while you strongly disagree with my point of view, I greatly appreciate that you took the time to read my article. For that alone, I’d enjoy meeting you and treating you to a cup of java or whatever (maybe a well drink). I’d buy you a dinner, but for my very limited funds, still struggling on a disability stipend as has been my lot for more than 30 years.

    I just found Mr. Baker’s claim that he /could/ have copyrighted the rainbow flag–a simple collection of colored stripes–if he so desired. But that his supposed “generosity” inspired him to freely present it as a gift to our community. After researching a bit, his involvement in this matter, I only discovered further absurd evidence that eventually inspired me to write that piece, followed by another.

    Which is a parody whereby an artist really /does/ copyright the rainbow, thus forbidding its view except by first paying for the privilege to buy a copy, or examine it at this or that museum:

    The Future Belongs to “Moi”
    http://www.gay-bible.org/write/2_moi.htm

    Again, thanks for reading my tale, opinion notwithstanding. Please realize I wrote both stories with a robust sense of humor, and tremendous gratitude for our diverse (and often dysfunctional) queer family. I certainly appreciate Castro Biscuit’s inclusion of even our more radical contributions to its comments section, such as mine.

    Best to you, Mitch. Contact me if it’s your pleasure.

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    • ZekeBlog says:

      ERRATA: my sentence that read:

      “I just found Mr. Baker’s claim that he /could/ have copyrighted the rainbow flag–a simple collection of colored stripes–if he so desired.”

      Should have been:

      “I just found Mr. Baker’s claim that he /could/ have copyrighted the rainbow flag–a simple collection of colored stripes–if he so desired, as totally absurd.”

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  1. March 13, 2014

    […] The design of the rainbow crosswalks, largely funded by the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefits District, was selected through an online poll of over 4,500 Castro residents and visitors conducted by the CBD, the Castro Biscuit wrote today. […]

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. March 15, 2014

    […] the community website, says the Castro Streetscape Improvement District has announced the results of an online poll in which 4,500 people chose the LGBT equality symbol as the design they’d like to see on […]

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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