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Equitable Transportation                                                                                                              (Back to Top)

Chinatown CDC advocates for predominantly monolingual, immigrant, low-income seniors, and families who have historically experienced barriers to meaningful participation in transportation planning. The largest public transportation project in the next decade for San Francisco is the Central Subway. We also maintain the Chinatown Park and Ride program and provide technical assistance to the Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project.

Central Subway


For at least twenty years, Chinatown CDC has advocated for the Central Subway, which would extend the Third Street Light Rail into the heart of Chinatown.  The Central Subway project is the second phase of the Third Street Light Rail Project. The project promotes transit justice by providing reliable, efficient, and safe transit for those who live in Chinatown and those who want to visit Chinatown.  We will continue to work closely with the city and community members to advocate for the Central Subway until the Subway begins operation in 2018.

The Central Subway would:

  • Connect the city’s civic, business, and cultural centers with the diverse communities along the new line.
  • Provide transit connections in a corridor where the majority of residents do not have a vehicle.
  • Provide direct connections to Caltrain, BART, regional buses, cable cars, and other Muni lines.
  • Reduce passenger overcrowding on public transportation along the lines through the use of high capacity light rail vehicles.
  • Reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
  • Significantly improve travel times for both transit riders and motorists.

Click here for more information about Chinatown CDC's role for the Central Subway Project

Chinatown Park and Ride

The Chinatown Park and Ride Program began in 1998 to address a decrease in visitors to San Francisco’s Chinatown after the Embarcadero Freeway closed in 1991. To encourage more shoppers and diners to support Chinatown businesses the Park and Ride validation program provides affordable weekend parking at the Golden Gateway Garage located in the Financial District. The program also aims to reduce traffic congestion and the environmental impact of traffic and pollution in Chinatown. For more information, visit


Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project (TRIP)

During the 1976 San Francisco Bus Drivers Strike, many elderly in Chinatown still needed transportation to meet their daily needs such as getting to medical appointments. To support these residents, we developed the Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project. Chinatown TRIP continues today as a volunteer organization committed to improving transit service and pedestrian safety in Chinatown. We advocate for transportation improvements to enhance service and safety. We educate community members through public campaigns and lobby city agencies to take action on transit issues such as service reliability, sidewalk-widening along Stockton Street, improving the Stockton Tunnel for pedestrians, bilingual bus stop announcements and signage, and advocacy for the Central Subway.


Open Space                                                                                                                                    (Back to Top) 


Traditional open space is a scarce resource in Chinatown. In 1991 Reverend Norman Fong envisioned utilizing Chinatown’s forty-one alleyways as a source of open space for the community. He founded the Adopt-An-Alleyway Youth Empowerment Project, which has evolved into a grassroots empowerment youth program to clean and green alleyways. In addition, the San Francisco Planning Department adopted Chinatown CDC’s Chinatown Alleyway Master Plan in 1998 as a guide for the renovation of the core alleyways in Chinatown.


 To date, eleven alleyways have been renovated under the Chinatown Alleyways Master Plan: Hang Ah, Cordelia, Ross, Spofford, Commercial, John, Waverly, Jack Kerouac, Wentworth, Beckett, and Cooper alleys. We have installed new paving, pedestrian scale lighting, bronze decorations on the sidewalks, sewer and drainage replacements, bollards, and enlarged pedestrian right-of-way in many of these alleys.


Arts and Economic Development                                                                                               (Back to Top)  

Chinatown has a rich history and provides an authentic experience for visitors because of its thriving resident and merchant population. Throughout the year, numerous open-air street fairs and events take place such as the Chinese New Year Parade and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Art projects help enhance the neighborhood’s character, from murals like the one on the face of the International Hotel, to public art pieces like the Language of Birds installation at Columbus and Broadway.


Chinatown CDC also supports the neighborhood’s economic development. We track up-to-date information on all Chinatown businesses. We also organize neighborhood promotional events like the Noodle Fest—a partnership between Chinatown and North Beach food vendors. The arts, culture, history, and people who live and work here can bring investment into the community and provide a rich experience for visitors and locals alike.


Neighborhood Promotional Events


Chinatown CDC organizes several street fairs every year, including Arts in the Alley street fairs and the Noodle Fest. Chinatown CDC partners with the North Beach Merchants Association to put on Noodle Fest, an annual food festival showcasing local restaurants from Chinatown and North Beach. The event draws thousands of local SF and Bay Area residents who enjoy great food, music, and dancing. The first Noodle Fest took place in 2010 along Grant Avenue and attracted over 5,000 visitors.


Public Art


Chinatown CDC has worked to install many public art works in the Chinatown area. We have helped produce murals and installations at the International Hotel, the Chinese Recreation Center, and in Chinatown alleyways.


In 2007, with artist Johanna Poethig and advisor Nancy Hom, Chinatown CDC spearheaded a three-year project to create a mural for the International Hotel. We installed the mural in 2010 on the Kearny Street face of the building overlooking Chinatown.  Depicting Filipino and Chinese elders and community members who lived at the I-Hotel, the mural is a testament to the I-Hotel’s decades-long struggle for low-

income housing and the vibrant community life of what was once Manilatown.


In 2009 Chinatown CDC worked with the Chinese Culture Center, Kearny Street Workshop, and the Intersection for the Arts to develop a program to address a number of vacant storefronts in Chinatown using public artwork. To beautify the neighborhood, create a draw for visitors, and to attract potential commercial tenants, the Art in Storefronts program began to display the work of local artists in these storefronts. The program was expanded in 2010 to install murals and storefront installations in alleyways throughout Chinatown.


Livable Streets                                                                                                                               (Back to Top) 

The majority of Chinatown residents depend on safe streets and public transit to reach their daily destinations. Although Chinatown has the lowest rate of car ownership, it experiences the highest volume of traffic of any neighborhood in San Francisco. Chinatown CDC works with community partners to ensure a balance between the various modes of transportation that contribute to Chinatown’s vitality.

Broadway Streetscape


After the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 and the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway, residents and merchants saw an opportunity to revitalize Broadway from its economically depressed state. Working with local agencies and organizations, we started the Broadway Streetscape Improvement Envisioning Plan to transform the Broadway corridor from a highway into a neighborhood destination through quality streetscape improvements. Phases I and II of the Broadway Streetscape Improvement Project resulted from collaboration among city agencies and community groups. With successful community organizing, the project received a $1.8 million grant to

implement the streetscape improvements.  The last portion of the project covers improvements on Broadway from Grant Avenue to the Broadway Tunnel.


Pedestrian Safety Study and Plan

Chinatown CDC developed the Pedestrian Safety Plan following an in-depth study of Chinatown pedestrian safety. The plan prioritizes eight areas to direct future funding for pedestrian street improvements. Project areas of highest priority have high pedestrian volumes and poor pedestrian amenities. Rather than wait for another pedestrian fatality or accident to spur action, the Chinatown Pedestrian Safety Plan proactively offers design solutions that will increase safety and complement education and enforcement efforts. For each project area, recommendations suggest design improvements to reduce the speed of cars, enhance pedestrian visibility, safety and comfort, and improve the overall quality of life in Chinatown.

Building Community Leadership                                                                                                  (Back to Top) 

Chinatown CDC is invested in training youth and professionals in urban planning in order to develop grassroots community planning leaders. We believe the best way to learn planning is to actually go into the neighborhood to gather information, build relationships with stakeholders, and create plans in collaboration with the community.

Chinatown Community Urban Institute

Founded in 2010, the Chinatown Community Urban Institute is a youth empowerment and professional development program offered by Chinatown CDC.  The program aims to educate and empower San Francisco’s emerging young leaders and professionals to take action on urban planning issues, using San Francisco’s Chinatown as a living laboratory. Community Fellows learn the history, skills, and practical applications of the planning profession as tools for social justice and advocacy. Sessions feature seminars, walking or bike tours, and interactive fieldwork components to give participants hands-on experience in grassroots community planning.

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