Bean to bar
Hello. Again, I got the tea (chai, this time). I was invited into a secret passageway at Cafe La Taza, and I can tell you behind closed doors — and a graffitied wooden structure — something’s brewing.
That’s right, the owners of Cafe La Taza on 2475 Mission St. have resumed plans to open an adjoining bar, dubbed Bar TZA, management confirmed. The two establishments, though branded and named differently, will be connected by a door on a shared wall.
Carlos Martinez, a manager at La Taza, showed me around the not-quite-ready space. There will be a full bar and a large, mounted flat-screen TVs that show “whatever sports games are on. Probably a lot of soccer, ‘cause we’re in the Mission,” Martinez said. Soon tables will go “here, here, and here,” he said, motioning toward the empty floor.
Part of the reason to keep the bar an extension of La Taza is so the building owners, Noel Sr. Martinez and Mayra Martinez, also Carlos’ parents, can launch their new venture more easily, he said. The idea for a bar emerged long ago, in part to ensure some income for Martinez’s parents as they seek to retire, but the pandemic stunted any progress.
Other perks include shifting La Taza staff to Bar TZA. Still, “we’re looking to hire. We’re shorthanded,” Martinez noted.
Back in the day, this space used to be the pharmacy La Internacional, which moved a few doors down. Soon, it’ll invite dancing. An “excellent sound system” is prepped, evidenced by the huge speakers installed.
It’s unclear exactly when Bar TZA will open; the fire code inspection is still needed, and construction needs to finish up. Martinez hopes it’ll launch by the end of the summer. (Me, too! A bar right next to my office? I’m sure someone here owes me a beer.)
But when it does, Bar TZA will put out a brand new menu, courtesy of La Taza’s star cook, Chef Boris. Details are still being ironed out, but Martinez imagines small plates he likened to tapas: “fish fillet, steak. Pretty much no sides,” he said. If you’re still peckish, when La Taza opens for dinner service again, you can always go there (which too, has a full bar).
And just because this development is still developing, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been christened. Two of Martinez’s friends — one a current (and one of my favorite) member of La Taza staff, and one a former staffer — got married there just last weekend. They cleaned up the dust and added flowers, decorations, and offered champagne, cheese plates, tequila. A friend officiated. The celebration was attended by most of La Taza’s staff and a crowd of family members from Honduras.
That’s the type of good time the bar is aiming for, Martinez said. “It’ll be a lively spot at night. Just a place where people can enjoy themselves.”
Slimming South Van Ness
Perhaps there’s finally a diet you can get behind.
Among other changes, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Vision Zero San Francisco are proposing a “road diet” to make South Van Ness Avenue safer.
This “road diet” will slim South Van Ness from four lanes into three wider ones. This means instead of two lanes in each direction, there will be a single wider one, and a new middle lane that allows a two-way left turn. Despite the avenue’s emaciation, it should still be able to stomach high levels of traffic, the agency stated on its site.
This is a part of the larger plan, “South Van Ness Avenue Quick-Build Project,” which responds to South Van Ness’s bad rep as having one of the highest rates of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists getting killed or seriously injured.
Let me say it again for the people in the back: One of the worst rates for being killed.
The top three causes for accidents on South Van Ness are drivers who run reds, speed, and violate left-turn right-of-way. In other words, perps equate themselves to stars in Fast and Furious flicks.
Enter the South Van Ness Avenue Quick-Build Project, which will encompass South Van Ness from Cesar Chavez to 14th Street.
The Transit Agency thinks the project, which includes the aforementioned “road diet,” may prevent these types of accidents. In addition, traffic signals may be timed to give pedestrians a head start. “Curb management,” which means potentially adding loading zones to decrease double-parking, is also proposed.
A lot of this is still in the works though. “We’re still engaging in outreach w/community members, businesses, and other stakeholders for the South Van Ness quick build project,” a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson wrote in an email.
Sure enough, Mission Local learned about this project via its agency’s mailed-in survey and flyer. Kudos. On our version, information is offered in both English and Spanish, and a QR code brings one to the agency’s survey.
Considering it’s such a dangerous and well-trafficked avenue, feedback would be useful. Past solutions, like painting curbs red at intersections to increase visibility, don’t necessarily immunize the avenue from danger. Anyone remember when the parklet at Napper Tandy got rammed not quite two months ago?
If not, maybe this will stick in your brain: there have been 190 reported collisions on South Van Ness from 2015 to 2020. While only 17 percent of these collisions involved pedestrians, two died. Let’s not add any more.
Dreaming SF’s Housing Future
Um, helloooo, anybody out there?
On Tuesday, the Planning Department hosted a meeting regarding the San Francisco 2022 Housing Element. This very important state-directed document dictates how much housing each region needs to plan for, and comes only once every eight years.
Specifically, Tuesday’s meeting was a public scoping meeting regarding environmental review. There, planners presented the proposal and community members aired out environmental concerns.
Unlike other planning public comment sessions, Tuesday’s elicited a low turnout:four callers, to be exact. The person facilitating public comment ended up spending the majority of the meeting urging these non-existent callers to drop a line. Think a slow speaking auctioneer: “I’m looking for a raised hand … Checking the language rooms to see if we have any commenters there … ”
Okay, so we’re early in the Housing Element process. The first draft was released in April. But the Planning Department desperately seeks feedback. After all, the city’s current proposal is no joke: it asks San Francisco to add 5,000 housing units every year until 2050.
By 2050, the city should have 150,000 more units, which is plenty for the pandemic-born babies who will be ready to settle down by then.
If all goes according to plan, pandemic babies will live in a much more equitable San Francisco housing scene, too. This is the first Housing Element to include racial and socioeconomic goals and policies. Current proposals to ensure this include increasing grant funding for Cultural Districts and adding more affordable units near transit and public schools. These numerous policies gained a mix of support and opposition, according to the plan’s feedback, which again, was minimal.
But back to the point, of which the people who did call in on Tuesday had plenty.
Ingleside resident Steve Marzo implored officials to review how housing shortages may bring in more commuters, thus driving up car use and pollution. He asked them to consider building housing near transportation.
“I would hope this environmental review would include not only the conventional efficiency that you could get from, you know, more public transit, but also reducing the vehicle miles,” Marzo said.
District 2 resident Jonathan Buenemann added, “I would love if the environmental review would reflect the climate impact of not building the housing units in San Francisco, but instead building them in outlying, more car-dependent areas.”
Member of the Racial Equity in All Planning Coalition, Anastasia Yovanopoulos, asked that people of color continue to be looped into the process.
Indeed, a Planning Department planner, Elizabeth White, noted in her presentation that the majority of the 1,631 survey respondents were low-income people of color.
It’s not too late to comment, but it will be soon. July 16, 2021, is when input for this section closes. Brush up on the Housing Element and the presentation from Tuesday here.
Housekeeping: What you missed and what I’m reading
From us, to you, with love:
I believe they call it a “one-two-punch.” In a recent column, Joe Eskenazi points out, “San Francisco building officials buried their heads in the concrete — along with gas lines.” If all that concrete sounds like quite a weight on officials’ shoulders, it’s because it should be, Eskenazi reminds us. The dangerous consequences are exactly why Los Angeles enforces this more seriously. “I mean, Miami,” he declared to me, while animatedly throwing up his hands.
Thus, true to his word, Eskenazi follows this up with “Miami building disaster: SF has completed 4K mandatory retrofits. Quality control is in question. Here’s what needs to happen.”
What I’m reading:
Let’s look local.
I would recap the eviction moratorium “he said, she said” between local officials and Gov. Gavin Newsom, but I’ll pass it over to San Francisco Public Press’s Noah Arroyo, who’s had his finger on that AB 832 pulse for quite some time now. Turns out the state’s eviction protections not only trump local eviction protections, but also expire months earlier than local ones would’ve. All you need to know is in Arroyo’s article “State Extension of Eviction Moratorium Could Kill Local Tenant Protections” and his Twitter thread, which by the way, expertly uses the Charlie Kelly conspiracy meme.
I’d be remiss in discussing Miami without giving The Herald its moment. I implore you to do the same with this feature by fellow Report for America member Syra Ortiz-Blanes, “College student came to Surfside with her boyfriend for a funeral. They are both missing.” It reels you back in from the rubbernecking and reminds us that behind the headlines are stories of real people and mourning. The death toll has risen to 20.
Still can’t get enough of this Miami heat? Then breeze through “See where the Miami-area building collapse began,” which offers theories and an interactive building model that explains how the collapse may’ve started.