On Monday afternoon, a vehicle heading southbound on South Van Ness Avenue collided with a parklet on the corner of 24th Street, according to a San Francisco Police Department spokesman.
The driver struck two people, who were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, according to SFPD Public Information Officer Robert Rueca. Responding officers did not detect any impairment from drugs or alcohol in the driver, issued them a traffic citation for not keeping the vehicle in the lane and released the driver at the site.
Photos posted to Reddit taken just after the crash show the vehicle, which appears to be a red Toyota Avalon, stopped halfway through the parklet, with some of the structure’s walls under the car.
The parklet, which belonged to The Napper Tandy, a 16-year-old Irish bar, was gone by Wednesday afternoon.
The speed limit on that section of South Van Ness Avenue is 25 miles per hour, but vehicles traveling down the street often exceed 35.
Napper Tandy owner Marissa McGarr told Mission Local via text that she has been on vacation and did not see the collision occur, and declined to comment further.
This will be my last comment here on this matter since I’ve made my point – a point that most responders have refused to look at, choosing instead to make false accusations and (deliberate?) misreadings. What I say below should demonstrate my actual thoughts on “shared” spaces parklets, especially going forward. The following is the full unedited text of an email I sent in mid-March to Supervisors Ronen, Mandelman and Preston, the three members of the BoS Government Audit and Oversight Committee.
The COVID-19-era parklets that many local restaurants have built to help them survive continue to be erroneously referred to as “shared spaces.” Far from being shared, they are in fact public spaces that have in effect been deeded to businesses for private commercial use.
Thus far, there have been a number of issues in the programs implementation: at least three parklets on Polk Street have been built in the north-bound bike lane (one in the 1400 block and two in the 1700 block); at least one restaurant violated policy by removing a bike rack installed by SFMTA (The Progress at 1525 Fillmore Street); and there is a parklet on the eastside of Gough Street just south of Fell Street that occupies the rush-hour tow-away lane. These issues need to be addressed but should not prevent the program from continuing.
The bigger issue is to whom the entitlement to install a parklet belongs. I understand on Thursday the three of you will be holding a hearing on “the economic and neighborhood impacts of commercial landlords failure to grant rent relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It is no secret that landlords are generally hostile to the idea of reducing rent, and that is especially the case for large commercial landlords. Prior to COVID-19, it happened rather frequently that a restaurant was forced out of business because the landlord demanded a significant rent increase when the lease was being renegotiated. In the absence of commercial rent control, the landlord has the “right” to make that demand.
While currently the issue is commercial landlords being unwilling to offer their tenants some amount of rent relief, in the future landlords will use the existence of a parklet to justify their demands for an even greater rent increase. I would urge that the “right” to a parklet be revocable and remain solely with the current tenant unless there is an open public hearing to discuss the transfer of the right including the added value of the parklet on public space. Without such a restriction, landlords will both be able to constructively evict their tenants through significant rent increases and profit from that cost-free annexation of public space. Any loan of public space to a current business needs to remain fully distinct from the real private property it is associated with.
Just so there are some comments to counter the NIMBY ones, I love the Parklet program and I hope we do everything we can in order to make Parklets safe for the people who are using them, as opposed to prioritizing the needs of people speeding through our city.
This sucks. If they need money to rebuild, can we get a followup?
I am always willing to donate money to take parking away from my neighbors.
The city failed at any kind of regulation of and explicitly disclaims liability for these structures. The “sharing” of public space in such a way as to make it private for the sole benefit of an individual business means that individual business is responsible.
If the business forgot to get insurance, that’s pretty much their problem. Also, the unimpaired driver is the party responsible for the damage. The current Google street view shows the structure did have the required reflective tape to increase visibility. That same image, however, also shows that the structure does not have the storefront’s address on the street-facing side that the owner committed to when signing the application. Funny, too, is all the graffiti on it. DPW loves to issue notices of violations for graffiti, but I guess they don’t mind as long as it is on a structure the city has treated as something that doesn’t need oversight or review.
Perhaps the city should reduce the charge to drivers of private vehicles as they reduce access to the streets. SFMTA is already cutting its parking revenue by eliminating public parking space and making parking garages off-limits to the public. Is the plan to charge higher sales tax as the cars contribute less?
Yes, it amuses me whenever I see defunct parking meters tucked behind a parklet. I wonder if the city factors in the lost revenue and extra congestion these things cost?
And pity all the tenants who live in the flats above these restaurants and bars, who have to suffer noise every night.
It might be worth noting that the only reason a lot of restaurants in the city made it through the pandemic was through access to parklets and the revenue generated therein. And I’m sure the city would prefer having their tax base employed over collecting meter money while doling out UI.
And the defunct bike racks that SFMTA has spent time and money (and ostensibly good will) that are “in the way” of the “sharing” process, so either have structures and/or seating that make them unusable or, as is the case with The Progress/State Bird Provisions, the business just cuts off the bolts and throws thing away. My 311 report for that generate this: “Case Resolved No Action Described.” My response would be: “Case Not Resolved No Action Taken Restaurant Still Sharing Space by Not Sharing Space Bike Rack Not Replaced.”
This is bound to happen again and again and again. At least this particular instance did not involve the illegal storage of liquid propane gas directly adjacent to the structure, as is the case with Dunya Bistro at 1609 Polk Street. I first noticed the problem a week ago and alerted SFPD and SFFD about it. I have now spoken twice to SFFD, made a 311 request, informed both SFMTA and Public Works (two of the primary departments involved in the multi-agency “shared” spaces program). As of yesterday, the LPG tanks were still being stored in violation of local and state fire codes. At the end of this, I have included a link to a Google document that includes photos of the above.
I also emailed the entire Board of Supervisors about that specific hazard and the overall failure of the program’s Wild West libertarian approach to seizing public space and giving it to private enterprise and then taking an entirely hands-off approach to management, inspection or anything else that shows the city was acting responsibly.
Last night, realizing I would not be able to attend the SFMTA Director’s meeting and raise the issue there, I sent an email highlighting significant lapses in the program. I specifically mentioned the LPG use and storage problems at State Bird Provisions/The Progress and Dunya Bistro.
So far no one from any city agency has responded meaningfully (i.e., with a specific plan of action) to my phone calls, emails or 311 complaints, except for SFFD who called back last Thursday. The person I spoke with said that he would file a complaint but was not sure who would respond since the “shared” spaces program is complicated and everyone has been lax with inspection and enforcement.
To give another example of irresponsibility: Manny’s (owned by SFMTA Director Manny Yekutiel) is now on its second “shared” space structure. The current one did not have the address visible on the street-facing side nor did it have the required reflectors or reflective tape on the corners and edges. I emailed him and he did write back, but he falsely claimed he had “just” finished the current structure and had been closed for Passover. The structure has been there for a couple of months as I recall. I also told him that his previous structure had those and additional violations. He lied and said that structure had been fully compliant. I had included a Google street view image in which four of the five violations I pointed out were visible. Feel free to check. The image I showed him was from November 2020.
There are also three “shared” spaces structures standing on the northbound Polk Street bike lane. SFMTA, SF Bicycle Coalition and Supervisor Peskin’s office are so unconcerned with that that they couldn’t even be bothered to reply to several inquiries that I’ve made starting last September. I find SFMTA’s take back of the limited hours bike lane to be obnoxious, arrogant, extraordinarily shady and antithetical to SFMTA and city policy about safe streets, climate change, vision zero, open government, etc., etc. Perhaps even worse, that part-time bike lane was SFMTA’s “compromise” after Ed Lee, doing the bidding of Drs. Hiura and Hiura, tried to kill the project entirely.
To be clear, these are not shared spaces. Sharing sounds nice, but as we know from Uber, Airbnb and others, rhetoric alone does not change reality. That does not mean there might not be value to the program – it just strips away the warm and cuddly Kumbaya feeling we are supposed to get by pretending it is sharing.
SFMTA, Public Works, and SFFD have been quite generous with the giveaway of public space to support restaurants. Their generosity and lack of concern about literally thousands of code violations at these “shared” spaces around the city stands in marked contrast to their extremely petty bureaucratic nuance that since early last summer has prevented the creation of Covid emergency outdoor recreation spaces for kids in the Tenderloin. I’ll leave out the details, but that is something I have been working on since May 2020, and repeatedly SFMTA has has displayed a lack of initiative, commitment, and a plan for equity. Those overlapping failures to serve the young residents of the neighborhood is particularly stunning in light of Director Tumlin’s tweet in late May asking how he can help deliver transit and street use justice to communities who have been on the losing end of virtually every land use decision ever made in the United States, including in “the City that Knows How.”
Well written note about your efforts.
However, I for one didn’t receive it in the best light considering you seem to be blaming the loss of property and limb in this situation on how a government program is administrated. Maybe if the Napper had failed to build their parklet to spec, but I’ve driven by that structure quite a few times and don’t recall there being any shortcomings. I kept wondering why you felt the impetus to write your comment besides to vent.
And then you begin to argue that parklets shouldn’t exist at all with the salient example of ride-sharing companies. So maybe your goal is not to ensure this program is effectively managed, but just shut down for the good of …limiting private use of a public good?
I in fact did not argue they should not exist. What I wrote is: That does not mean there might not be value to the program – it just strips away the warm and cuddly Kumbaya feeling we are supposed to get by pretending it is sharing.
I do think there needs to be responsible management by the city and the property and business owner(s), and I think there needs to be a better way to describe the privatization of public space than simply pretend it’s sharing.
I was not blaming the “government” for this accident. That does not mean, however, that there is no government responsibility for the safe design, construction and maintenance of “shared” spaces parklets. (In fact, unlike many, this structure had reflective tape to increase visibility.) The program was rolled out very quickly, and ensuring public safety appears to have been an afterthought that, once thought, was forgotten. Regardless of who deserves “blame” for the accident, I do think the city should respond more quickly to legitimate concerns about, let’s say, more than one hundred pounds of flammable and explosive material stored improperly and only a few feet from a busy commercial street with a lot of delivery trucks and a Muni route.
This morning Supervisor Preston responded to my concern and emailed Joel Ramos at SFMTA: “Has that the safety situation posed by the street storage of these propane containers been addressed? Can you confirm that this is under MTA jurisdiction, or let me know if another department is in charge of this?”
Shortly after receiving the email, I confirmed that the LPG storage issues had not been corrected as of 9:00 am. It is still on the city. I think we would all benefit from responsible stewardship of what really are shared spaces.
you must be the most popular guy at any party.
I’ve never aspired to that, though once I think I almost was – at least for an hour or two. You see, I had a fistful of cocaine that I gave away freely. Everyone who did lines said it was the best high they’d ever had. … Wind went out of my sail when I told them it was actually aspirin.
You just want your streets back for cars and parking. How was that ever shared space or for the public? Parklets, even for a private institution, is 10x more a shared space than a parking space for a vehicle. Stop trying to call out the process just because what in fact you hate is parklets themselves and you want street parking access for your very individual and non-shared private motor vehicle.
I don’t know how you came up with that. I was able to get a driver’s license in 1980, but I have never had one. So, no, I don’t want streets back for cars. I have been more than happy to support parklets – the original kind that actually are shared space. The new pretend shared spaces have some merit (as I have said at least twice already), but I don’t think they should be considered shared. That shouldn’t really be an issue but apparently misreading is just how some people read.
The most interesting thing to me about the “shared” spaces craze is how many small businesses seem to think they are the best thing ever. It wasn’t that long ago that a parking space directly in front of a fifteen foot wide storefront was the only thing a lot of business owners thought would keep them afloat. Certainly, that is why SFMTA gave us the Ed Lee Memorial Failed Bicycle Infrastructure Project on Polk Street. No, really: his optometrist didn’t want a bike lane, so Lee fought to defend their parking spot. SFMTA “compromised” and gave us a bike lane for three hours each weekday morning. The remaining 153 hours a week are for parking. Well, it used to be that way.
As you were misreading what I wrote above, you must have entirely skipped over the part where I discussed the issue of Polk St. Since last fall, there have been three of these “shared” spaces structures “sharing” the bike lane. By which I mean, they were built in the bike lane. If you look over what you skipped before, you’ll notice that I referred to the SFMTA take back of that bike lane as “obnoxious, arrogant, extraordinarily shady and antithetical to SFMTA and city policy about safe streets, climate change, vision zero, open government, etc., etc.”
Because there are now “shared” spaces structures in three locations, the rest of the bike lane is now parking instead of what it was intended for … well, for 15/168 of each week. I’ve even been yelled at by people trying to park when I stop my bike in the bike lane to take photos of what SFMTA has allowed to happen to something they were so proud of themselves for “achieving.”
You might also have missed the part that my issue was (primarily) the unsafe storage of highly flammable and explosive material directly adjacent to a commercial street, and that no one with city employment has taken that concern seriously. The fact that someone crashed into a parklet suggests (to me at least) that maybe there should be some actual code enforcement – like if someone commits to using and storing LPG correctly they should actually have to do that. I can’t make you understand it differently, but not wanting someone to crash and blow up/burn down a block or more of San Francisco in no way means I want the city to subsidize parking on public streets.
The main argument with the city that I have been having is that “shared” spaces parklets can go in almost anywhere (as can street and alley closures) , but when I have been part of a group effort to get both food and recreation space in the Tenderloin, SFMTA and SFFD have been unhelpful, resistant, and completely willing to make up excuses and fake code requirements to prevent that work. Our first success is still being installed nearly a year after we started advocating for space (you are welcome to go see the 200 block of Turk Street where Safe Passage Park is being built). That seems pretty slow for what was expected to be an emergency response to the public health crisis of 3,500 kids being stuck inside for months on end.
It took five months for the SF Marin Food Bank to be allowed to open a pantry in the TL. Our first Zoom meeting was in April. The pantry opened at the end of September – after an additional delay because someone higher up decided it couldn’t be on UN Plaza. The city did not recognize food scarcity as an emergency.
Pointing out the inconsistencies between the city’s “emergency” response to restaurants and the crumbs they given the TL is something I will do as long as it is necessary. I’m not trying to make friends with that. I’m trying to support my many little friends (and their siblings, cousins and neighbors) who live in the TL and have been mistreated by one of the richest cities in the world. If that upsets you or makes you imagine that I am an entitled automobile driver, I really I don’t care.
Scott has made several false statements ..
i walked by manny’s this morning, and the parklet DID have reflectors.
and Manny correctly said this structure was new; he tore down his original, and this one is less than, what, six weeks old. and YES, he was closed during Passover.
the parklet program is a huge success. people realize that enjoying the outdoor air with drinks and food is wonderful. kind European..
scott’s enemy should be the embodiment of selfishness: the privately-owned automobile.
Angel M Mayorga accuses me of having “made several false statement.”
Angel wrote “I walked by manny’s this morning, and the parklet DID have reflectors.”
What I wrote: “The current one did not have the address visible on the street-facing side nor did it have the required reflectors or reflective tape on the corners and edges.” After I emailed him, he added the reflectors. Correcting a problem or mistake is not the same thing as the problem or mistake never existed. Also, the first structure had multiple violations, and as I wrote some of those are visible on Google street view. Manny insisted the first structure was fully compliant but did not acknowledge the four (of five) violations that were visible in the image I sent to him. Mistakes and oversights happen, and this has been an incredibly hard year for pretty much everyone. Nonetheless, I expected better of an SFMTA Director. The presence or absence of reflectors on Manny’s structure is the only example (though an inaccurate one) of the “several false statement[s]” he accused me of making.
Angel wrote: “and Manny correctly said this structure was new; he tore down his original, and this one is less than, what, six weeks old. and YES, he was closed during Passover.”
I don’t doubt that the cafe was closed for a religious holiday, but the structure had been there for a couple of months (Angel said six weeks or so) without the reflectors and without the address visible on the street-facing side. Reflectors and address probably should be some of the first parts of the structure, rather than something someone gets around to eventually. We can disagree about that, and perhaps Manny and everyone else who has a professional role in relationship to street use and public safety might think that it is okay to wait a while. I mean, I’m sure some people would get on an airplane that doesn’t yet have all of its safety features installed and inspected (seat belts, exterior lights, back up power, functioning oxygen system, smoke detectors), but I wouldn’t.
Angel wrote: “the parklet program is a huge success. people realize that enjoying the outdoor air with drinks and food is wonderful. kind European..”
I never made any claim about the “success” of the program, either as a way of helping businesses survive the pandemic or in term of changing outdoor life. I did distinguish between “parklets” and the new “shared spaces program.” The former has been around for years and all parklets are required to be open to the public and smoking is prohibited. I believe alcohol consumption is also prohibited at parklets but it is possible that Senator Wiener has fast-tracked legislation to make parklet booze sale and consumption a priority. The newer structures that look just like parklets are governed by a different set of rules that follow from the city’s decision to let businesses annex that space for their private use. Even if they might look similar, there is a significant difference between the two forms of outdoor seating.
Regardless of form and right of access, however, I think it is more than reasonable to expect both general types of structures to meet fire and other safety codes. Because they have been around longer and the program was rolled more slowly, it is likely that relatively more parklets are in (near) complete compliance. I mean, really, if you lived above (let’s say) Dunya Bistro (1609 Polk Street), would you actually be okay with the restaurant storing a significant quantity of flammable and explosive material in front of your building – especially now that you’ve seen it’s quite possible for a car to plow into a structure at pretty much the exact same location as the LPG is being stored? And if you are, do you think all the other residents and business on that block, not to mention people walking by or even dining at the restaurant, feel the same way?
Angel wrote: “scott’s enemy should be the embodiment of selfishness: the privately-owned automobile.”
I have no interest in defending the privately-owned automobile. That should already be clear from my comments about SFMTA allowing people to park their privately-owned automobiles (as well as City Car Share-owned automobiles and City and County of San Francisco-owned vehicles) to park in the bike lane on Polk Street. I have never had a driver’s license and am more than happy to bike and walk to wherever I go, or perhaps take the bus. At the same time, though, I recognize that insufficient public services, complex schedules, regional planning, and low wages combined with high housing costs make private vehicle ownership a “better” even if regrettable choice for a lot of people.
In any event, none of this is about me. People are allowed to misrepresent what I’ve said and to make ad hominen attacks based on those misrepresentations. That does not change the value of public safety measures, like proper storage of explosives, not hanging electrical cords across the sidewalk (and in some cases, directly above the open flame of an LPG heater), and making sure that emergency access points and reflectors are included to reduce the likelihood of collision. Finally, since some commenters keep missing it, my point in all this is the city has been lax in any sort of traffic or fire safety enforcement for these structures but has gone out of its way to prevent street closures (including loss of parking) and other reimaginings of public space for the public health needs of the 3,500 kids in the Tenderloin. I have hundreds of emails and notes from meetings dating back to last spring, and I’m happy to make them available to anyone who is interested in the city’s failure rather than simply making inaccurate claims about my politics, my “greenness,” or my desire to make a better world at the local level.