A red Honda is parked in a damaged parklet with plywood hanging onto it.
Car crashed into a parklet after a hit and run at 20th and San Carlos Streets. Photo by Lamont Bransford-Young

Witnesses watched late Friday as a car speeding west on 20th Street crashed into another car heading north on San Carlos Street and slammed it into the Yoji Sushi House parklet. 

The speeding car raced off toward Valencia Street, witnesses said.  

This all happened after 10 p.m. on the so-called Slow Street of 20th Street that spans most of the Mission District. Police said the 20-year-old driver of the second car was uninjured, and the restaurant was closed, so no one was eating in the parklet when the collision occurred. 

This was the second parklet in the Mission to be impacted by a car accident within the past year. The first happened in October at the Bender’s parklet on South Van Ness Avenue. 

Witnesses on the scene Friday said the passenger from the car that was hit remained on the scene with her friends as the fire and police departments arrived. 

Lamont Bransford-Young, who runs Fingersnaps Media Arts on that corner, said he was just leaving for the night when he heard the screeching and speeding cars. 

“I heard it before I saw it,” said Bransford-Young, who had reached  the Mission Street intersection when the crash happened. “I saw the red Honda spin a couple times.” The other car, he said, took off immediately. 

Car crashed into a parklet at 20th and San Carlos Streets. Photo by William McLeod.

According to Brandsford-Young, the police located a license plate that was believed to have dislodged from the car that caused the crash. 

An employee at Yoji Sushi House said Saturday that part of the restaurant’s parklet was destroyed, but that employees had gone home for the night and hadn’t witnessed the incident. 

Bransford-Young said that he watches the intersection through the big windows of his corner business, and sees near-accidents every day. “It’s like watching the Hollywood movies all day long,” he chuckled. “​​On Friday and Saturday,, it’s on a different level of recklessness.” 

Twentieth Street is one of the city’s designated “Slow Streets” and has signage to discourage driving and promote other forms of transportation. But residents and business owners worry that it’s having the opposite effect on the street.  

Car crashed into a parklet at 20th and San Carlos Streets. Photo by Lamont Bransford-Young.

 “All they do is cause havoc because people swerve around them,” said Bransford-Young. He said that, instead of conducting surveys, the SFMTA should come sit in his studio with him for a day. “One would not believe what happens on that little block.” 

“Twentieth is kind of questionable,” said nearby resident Bill McLeod, who happened upon the scene on Friday night. McLeod said he has advocated for decades for small changes to slow traffic on the residential streets he’s lived on in the Mission, such as adding speed humps or lowering the speed limits. 

While some “Slow Streets” like Shotwell and Sanchez stay quiet, and people even walk or jog in the street on Lake Street in the Richmond District, 20th Street is different, McLeod said. He noted that the obstructions on 20th make people veer into oncoming traffic, and said he wasn’t convinced that they had any effect on slowing traffic. 

Update: this story was updated to include information provided by the SFPD about the victim.

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. Slow street and bunch of hindrance to smooth driving have caused more issues in getting around SF. Oakland to Berkeley is pretty bad too. All these new halfbaked ideas for trying to change traffic should be scrapped.

  2. Thanks for letting us know what is going on. Perhaps something to limit the speed of people driving cars is needed beyond what is currently employed on a ‘slow’ street that encourages people to walk and children to play in or on a street that employs parklets. Barriers and diverters would not be out of question, particularly if the cops can’t be bothered to write tickets and people can’t be expected to be responsible.

    I also want to thank Mr. Eskenazi for his comments responses and his reporting in general.

  3. I thought parklets would lead to some tragedies by putting people sitting at tables close to traffic but so far it hasn’t happened, thank goodness. Even still, it’s worth analyzing if some are sitting in a danger zone like this one and perhaps taking it down if the risk is too high.

    1. It already happened, a woman was killed in San Jose : “A tragic incident last Friday outside a sports bar in San Jose, in which a woman at the bar was killed when a pickup truck crashed into an outdoor dining area, apparently involved oral sex and an intoxicated patron”, on June 11th, 2021

  4. I would be interested to learn of SFPD’s follow up. If they actually have a license plate are they going to make an arrest? Will they really do something (anything) or will they just make some excuse for why they won’t?

  5. Does Yoji Sushi House plan to rebuild the parklet? Are they looking for help from the community?

    20th Street is a bit of a joke as a Slow Street, because there’s no signage, barriers, or any indication at all that through traffic should not use it, at the major signalized intersections (Valencia, Mission, South Van Ness, Folsom). Instead, SFMTA has put signs only at the minor cross streets: San Carlos, Capp, Shotwell, Treat. These are not the streets most drivers use to turn onto 20th.

    Many of us have given this feedback to SFMTA many times, that they need to put something at the main cross streets. I don’t know why Slow 20th Street is stuck on this halfhearted implementation. Like Slow Shotwell—which isn’t perfect, but works fairly well—Slow 20th Street could be successful, but the team at SFMTA needs to take it seriously.

    1. I often come across knocked down signs for the 20th St. corridor Slow Street. This Slow Street needs to have proper signage/barriers from both directions at each intersection. Page Street and Lake Street also have additional signage beyond that from neighborhood residents. No reason a neighborhood project couldn’t help for 20th St as well if SFMTA takes the first step by implementing signage at all intersections.

    2. 20th St and Shotwell functions differently. 20th St is one of the crucial connector from Mission to Castro. Shotwell in comparison has always been a side street, unlike Mission, So VanNess or Valencia that handles volume of traffic.

  6. 20th St Slow St is a joke in itself.
    Drivers race up and down this street from Potrero to Valencia all day and night.
    why are there not officers on motorcyles to give tix every day here?

    1. They might inadvertently target the “marginalized” or “disenfranchised” and we can’t have that.

  7. The “slow street” near my home is useless. We didn’t even have that much traffic before to warrant this pandemic-inspired BS, but now the blockade at each intersection invites near-accidents daily with cars trying to squeeze by each other. They also speed up now in some act of desperation and I’ve almost been run over several times when not walking on the sidewalk (the sidewalk that was already there for pedestrians with plenty of room by the way). I agree we should vote on this stuff regarding closing streets down. Otherwise it’s like we’re living in some weird Tumlin fiefdom.

  8. I’ve always thought that slow streets work best on residential streets. That area of 20th was a bad choice for a slow street. No one abides by it. Not since it opened. I live just up from it and walk it everyday. Real waste of a slow street.

  9. The contributing factor to the people driving recklessly on 20th Street is not that it’s a designated slow street but that Valencia is closed on Friday and Saturday nights and drivers who turn into 20th Street are already frustrated — although in this case the driver fled the scene so he was probably already in panic mode for whatever reason before he crashed.

  10. I’m not surprised to see the “humble narrator” miss the point of the slow streets. They work everywhere else in the city and the world; pedestrianizing streets are a good thing. This should be an expose of how horrible drivers in the mission are, and why we don’t have street cameras or more traffic cops to combat reckless driving. Never fear though, I’m sure Joe and ML can tell us how slow streets are “colonization” and gentrification and the fault of the tech industry.

    1. Sir or madam —

      This is a breaking news story that I did not write. This story recounts what happened; it is not meant to editorialize on the worth of slow streets. Mission Local has never editorialized on the worth of slow streets. I have never done so. Your snide comment about how we’d describe them as “‘colonization’ and gentrification and the fault of the tech industry” isn’t something we’d write because it’s crassly stupid. As is your comment writ large.

      Enjoy the weekend.


        1. Sir or madam — 

          I haven’t forgotten a thing. Rather, you seem to be incapable of discerning boosterism and straightforward reporting. You may not like the response and rationale of the community organizations, but that’s what they said and that’s what they did. Like the story about the crash, this is a straightforward news article.

          You’ll forgive me, but this inability to parse boosterism from reporting from a reported column is a symptom of pervasive media illiteracy and it has long since grown tiresome.


  11. Parklets are a danger to everyone. The city should widen sidewalks in areas to permit Paris style outside dining on a portion of the sidewalk. Parklets are going to be deadly.

    And for that matter, slow streets were a giveaway to certain home owners at the expense of others.

    All of this should’ve been up to a vote by the people.

  12. Pretty sure Mission Local wrote an article about how the city put up some safety barriers in the Mission on one of the slow streets, and it was called “gentrification” and said it caused “trauma.” The safety barrier was then taken down.

    In a not-at-all surprising twist, ML didn’t interview anyone who likes walking and biking on slow streets and supports safety barriers. Maybe they’ll be able to find one after this crash! But maybe we’re all just colonizers not worth talking to.

    1. Mike — 

      Just an amazing job of making a breaking news story about a car driving into a parklet about yourself.


    2. I like the idea behind Slow Streets, and it works great on Sanchez, Page, and Lake. But it seems like less of a good fit for Shotwell or 20th.

      1. Shotwell seems like it works okay for a slow street- it’s always been a fairly low trafficked route through the neighborhood and didn’t get that much use in the before times. The slow street markings are also much more consistent and obstructive on Shotwell than they are one 20th, where it seems like half the intersections aren’t marked/barricaded.