The San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to table consideration for Yaron Milgrom’s proposed restaurant, Local’s Corner, for three more weeks so that he can do more outreach with neighbors.
Milgrom, the owner of Local: Mission Eatery on 24th Street, wants to open a 590-square-foot restaurant with outdoor seating at the corner of 23rd and Bryant streets. The project would serve a European-style breakfast and sustainable fish for dinner, along with beer and wine. It would be allowed to remain open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., though Milgrom said the restaurant would not open until 8 a.m.
The item was continued two weeks ago for the same reason, after supervisor David Campos asked local residents to hold a meeting. At a community meeting a week ago, Milgrom and some of his neighbors failed to come to an agreement. A three-hour mediation meeting at Campos’ office on Wednesday night also failed.
“I heard from sources there might be something gained with additional meetings,” said Commission President Ron Miguel. “Although everyone should understand that it doesn’t mean that there would be a total agreement about all of the things the neighbors are asking for, and vice versa.”
Currently Milgrom is organizing another community meeting through the Lower 24th Street Merchants Association. The time has not yet been set.
The restaurant would replace a former bodega, which the building owner was transforming into a deli. The owner, who also manages another restaurant nearby, decided to lease the building to Milgrom after Milgrom approached him with his idea.
Two neighbors at Thursday’s meeting said they would not oppose the project, but wanted more time for Milgrom to hear their concerns.
“We find it unacceptable that a business owner wants to come in and put a business on a quiet corner but is unwilling to take longtime residents’ concerns into account,” said Jennifer Jones, who currently lives in the flat upstairs from the proposed restaurant and has been in the neighborhood for 13 years. “We feel he has tried to bulldoze his way in.”
Neighbors were mainly concerned with the noise that is associated with outdoor seating and consumption of beer and wine in a residential neighborhood.
For his part, Milgrom said he understands their noise concerns, as he lives across the street from the restaurant.
“My wife and children sleep across the street, our quality of life at home is highly correlated to the collective sleep of my house,” he told the commission. “I do not want to disturb that.”
Commissioner Hisashi Sugaya said that for a restaurant as small as Local’s Corner, not having outdoor seating is “non-negotiable.”
Milgrom also pointed out that Asiento, which is two blocks away from the proposed restaurant, was approved without opposition and is allowed to be open until 2 a.m. The restaurant, which has a full liquor license, also has an entertainment permit that allows it to have DJ music until midnight on weekends.
As for the beer and wine license, being able to offer those beverages is part of running a restaurant, he said.
Three out of four of the speakers who attended said they want the conversation to continue.
“We absolutely do not want to stop this business, but we feel the community outreach has been insignificant thus far,” Jones said.
Commissioner Gwyneth Borden agreed.
“I know from very good authority he has not been respectful in doing outreach to the community,” she said. “It is all about allowing people to speak their opinions about things that are happening in their neighborhoods and listening to them and treating them with respect and dignity….”
The Planning Department requires community meetings for projects larger than Milgrom’s proposal. Milgrom said he did not hear a request for a community meeting until two days before the Planning Commission meeting two weeks ago. When it came up at that meeting, he agreed to have one.
“I don’t think I’ve done everything perfectly, but this is not a one-way issue,” he said. He noted that a few people at the neighborhood meeting last week accused him, at times discourteously and abrasively, of only being interested in profiting at the expense of the neighborhood.
Miguel suggested that both parties talk more.
“Try to get as close as you can,” he said. “I think this entire project is a good one.”