An image of the Portsmouth Square garage

Photo: SFMTA Photography Department


San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department conducted a community-driven process to redesign and improve access to Portsmouth Square Park.

This Community Based Transportation Plan (CBTP) for Portsmouth square analyzed the new park design and explored existing transportation and circulation around the park. This study also examined circulation and access to the Portsmouth Square Garage and Chinatown. Adopted by the Transportation Authority Board on November 17, 2020, the Portsmouth Square CBTP Final Report developed the following set of recommendations to improve safety, access, and circulation for people walking:

  • Update the entry to the Portsmouth Square garage to reduce conflicts between automobiles and people walking
  • Update the traffic signal at Clay and Kearny streets to permit both scramble and two stage crossings 
  • Improve space for and visibility of people walking on Kearny Street in front of the garage, which is currently impeded by the plaza wing walls
  • Remove sidewalk pinch points and potentially add pedestrian-scale lighting
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and modernization improvements 
  • Improve curb use through additional loading zones and guidance/training around curb use for casino shuttles 

Project/Study Partners

Chinatown Community Development Center

Timeline and Status 

The Transportation Authority Board adopted the Portsmouth Square Community Based Transportation Plan Final Report in November 2020.

Cost and Funding 

The Transportation Authority provided Neighborhood Program funds to supplement the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's contribution of federal Community Based Transportation Funds. 


Planning Department Portsmouth Square Redesign Project

Prop K transportation sales tax funding request (PDF)


Rachel Hiatt, Deputy Director for Planning


Portsmouth Square is the “community bedroom” and an anchoring point for San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest and oldest Chinatown outside of Asia, a vibrant tourist attraction, a unique cultural and historic center, and the most densely populated urban area of San Francisco. Chinatown’s population is elderly and disabled, and 80% are low income, minority, and do not own a vehicle, qualifying this neighborhood as a Community of Concern.

From 1959 to 1963 Portsmouth Square was redesigned and constructed to become a park on top of a parking garage. In 1970 the Chinese Cultural Center Bridge, a pedestrian walkway, was built over Kearny Street to connect the park to the new Holiday Inn. Between 1987 to 2001 three phases of improvements occurred, including new restrooms, raised planting areas, and finally, a new community room and two play areas. Most recently, in 2016, the restroom was updated. For more information see the initial workshop presentation (PDF) for the Portsmouth Square Improvement Project.

Public engagement

This project was driven by District 3 Supervisor and Transportation Authority Chair Aaron Peskin and builds on the extensive recent community outreach and engagement for the park improvement project. Outreach efforts have engaged stakeholders including the Chinatown Community Development Center, Portsmouth Square garage management, Recreation and Parks Department, SFMTA, and others visiting and traveling to the vicinity of Portsmouth Square. The project will engage a steering committee to advise staff throughout the project and prioritization of recommendations.

Community meeting

On August 4, 2020, project staff presented a summary of community input and proposed recommendations. 
See a recording of the virtual meeting.
Download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation (PDF).

Reports & documents

Final report

The Transportation Authority Board adopted the Portsmouth Square Community Based Transportation Plan Final Report in November 2020.

Plan update

January 24, 2023 Transportation Authority Board 

January 24, 2023 slide presentation

Related programs


San Francisco has vowed to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by 2024 through education, enforcement, and road infrastructure redesign.

The SFMTA-led District 3 Pedestrian Safety Improvements project will focus on planning, design, and construction of pedestrian safety improvements on and near Kearny Street.

Our Neighborhood Program supports neighborhood-scale planning efforts and project implementation in each supervisorial district.