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SF’s New Pedestrian Streets & Possible ‘Outdoor Dining’ Areas

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The Great Highway has been closed to cars and open for bikes and pedestrians for weeks now.  As car traffic around the city, the country, and the world has slowed down, the city is closing streets to cars in 20 different districts around San Francisco.

The SFMTA’s new ‘Slow Streets’ program is designed to limit through traffic on certain residential streets and allow them to be used more as a shared space for foot and bicycle traffic.  Throughout the city, 20 corridors have been planned or implemented as a ‘Slow Streets’.

Here is a map of all the slow streets currently implemented (red), along with the ones who will be slow streets soon (Blue), and the streets currently being studied and reviewed for outdoor seating areas for restaurants on the street, parking spots, and sidewalks (Purple).

Slow Streets Currently Implemented:

  • 41st Ave from Lincoln to Vicente
  • Excelsior between London and Prague
  • Kirkham from 18th to 7th ave
  • Lake from 28th Ave to Arguello
  • Lane between Oakdale and 3rd St
  • Page from Stanyan to Gough
  • Sanchez between 23rd St and 30th St
  • Shotwell between Cesar Chavez and 14th St

Slow Streets Planned:

  • 20th Ave from Lincoln to Ortega
  • 20th St between Valencia and Potrero
  • 23rd Ave between Lake and Cabrillo
  • Chenery between Elk and Brompton
  • Golden Gate between Masonic and Broderick
  • Jarboe between Moultrie and Peralta
  • Kirkham from Great Highway to 18th Ave
  • Lombard between Jones and Stockton
  • Mariposa between Kansas and Texas
  • Ortega from Great Highway to 15th Ave
  • Somerset between Silver and Woosley
  • Stockton between Bay and Lombard

In North Beach & Fisherman’s Wharf, where there are as many restaurants and bars per capita as anywhere in the state, the idea for closed streets is very popular.  Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s Office (D3 North Beach, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf) is currently working with city officials to close off Upper Grant Ave., for outdoor seating areas.  You know, the ‘Grant & Green’ corridor, where you may or may not have some fuzzy memories from your glory years outside The Saloon?

Small businesses like restaurants and bars desperately need to get back to serving, or perhaps they will have to close forever.  The city has allowed small businesses to defer their rent payments, just like private tenants, but it may not be enough to save many of them.  Rent deferral simply means small businesses are gathering large debts, to be paid back later, and restaurant margins are already razor thin in a healthy economy.

According to survey conducted by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association in May, the majority (60%) of eateries, who are open for takeout/curbside pickup are actively losing money.  If we want restaurants to stay alive, we as city have to help create safe spaces for them outdoors, where socially distant tables can be set up.

In Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s office has already submitted a ‘Berkeley Safe Open Air Dining’ proposal, and the issue is on the city council’s June 2 consent calendar.

In San Francisco, petitions from small businesses (like this one) call for the Mayor to allow business to erect their own parklets, and to remove street parking in popular corridors so businesses can expand outdoors, where social distancing is possible.

This Memorial Day Weekend street closures at Geary and Steiner will be in effect to remove the pedestrian bridge.  Beginning at 8:00 p.m. Friday evening on May 22, the area around Geary Boulevard and Steiner Street will be closed to traffic while crews work to demolish the bridge. Work will continue for 24 hours a day until the demolition is completed, which could continue as late as Monday evening.  This isn’t part of the ‘slow streets’ initiative, it’s a construction project.

Geary & Steiner plans, image: SFMTA

In June, if new COVID cases continue to stay manageable, we may just see outdoor eating areas opened in certain areas.  Of course, the logistics and safety measures for social distancing in outdoor dining areas, have to be worked out first.

In the meantime, enjoy the ‘slow streets’ near you!

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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