Several of the proposed amendments made at the hearing at the 7th are fine. But members of the small business community have expressed concern about these four amendments. Here’s a run through of what they do, and what the concerns about them are:
- Moving Shared Spaces from the Planning Department to Public Works
The Planning Department has been running the Parklet program for over a decade. Planning has extensive knowledge and experience coordinating multiple agencies (DPW, MTA, SFPD, Fire) and is best positioned to make sure permits will be processed quickly and fairly. They have been doing a great job, and there is no reason to change.
- 24/7 Public Access to Shared Spaces
Many small businesses currently allow 24/7 access to their shared space. But some businesses cannot do so: in some neighborhoods activity at night includes regular acts of vandalism, or it is common for hazardous materials to be left behind which small business employees are not trained or equipped to address. The small business proprietor may be older, or disabled themselves, and not physically capable of dealing with the challenges that overnight public access can present. In some neighborhoods allowing people to occupy the space even at 3am could be a source of noise and nuisance for neighbors, putting small business in conflict with their neighbors. Finally Type 48 alcohol licenses do not allow alcohol to be served outdoors unless minors are excluded from the premises – even when the business is closed! This would automatically prevent many of our most impacted businesses from participating in the program, and keep the general public from enjoying a beer or a cocktail on a nice day. As one commenter said: we close our parks at night, why are we keeping the Parklets open?
- Bolting tables and chairs to the the sidewalk
While the intent of this amendment to preserve clear pathways for those with disabilities, this would be uncomfortable for customers and reduce flexibility of the sidewalk when the business is closed.
- Requiring 8 feet of clearance on sidewalks with 12 feet of width
We need to leave the legislated sidewalk space requirement at 6 feet. There are too many different and unique situations in the City, and it would be better to handle through this in the permit approval process.