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Restaurants Want to Completely Close These SF Streets to Allow Outdoor Dining

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At least 42 streets could trade traffic for tables and chairs

Re-opening Continues Across Densely Populated New York And New Jersey Areas
Cities across the U.S. are completely closing streets to allow outdoor dining where cars once roamed. So far, 42 streets in San Francisco are under consideration for similar closures.
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

The goal behind San Francisco’s Shared Spaces program is to allow the city’s restaurants an option beyond takeout and delivery to feed hungry patrons. Applicants ask to add tables and chairs to the sidewalk in front of their business, and in some cases move into the parking spot outside. Now restaurants across the city are applying to expand their outdoor dining footprint, pushing to completely close blocks of city streets to make for giant, outdoor cafes from now through — in some cases — 2021.

It’s an idea that’s taken hold across the Bay Area. Berkeley’s been working to identify which streets to shutter for over a month, Palo Alto is closing California and University Avenues for an outdoor dining program, and an effort called “Al Fresco San Jose” would close some streets in that city, converting them into potentially permanent outdoor dining areas.

But full-scale street closures are a tough sell in San Francisco. A news report from 2008 on a proposal to close Market Street to private vehicles said the plan had been pushed — and quashed, due to driver disapproval — “for more than a decade.” That stretch of street wasn’t closed to cars until January of this year. Plans to remove just a single lane of traffic to speed public transit on some streets have also died or been massively scaled back following merchant opposition from area residents.

Even San Francisco’s Slow Streets program, a speedily-adopted, pandemic-era decision to close blocks of some city streets to non-local vehicles (residents can still drive through, but the streets don’t allow through traffic) was greeted with ire by some area residents, as any user of social network Nextdoor can attest: Many complained about lack of notification and/or a so-called “war on cars” waged by the SFMTA, the government agency that manages public transit, parking, and streets across SF.

Residents in areas where streets might be closed for dining might receive a notification similar to what they might be sent where a street fair proposed for the area, a spokesperson for SF’s Department of Emergency Management (DEM) says, and will have a chance to object — but don’t expect the months-long open houses and town halls pre-pandemic San Francisco was notorious for.

“The goal is to ensure the public has an opportunity to provide input and raise concerns, while respecting the need to limit interactions due to the pandemic,” the DEM spokesperson says, “and city agencies are “pursuing a flexible approach for community notification — more or less based on the nature and impact of the request and past experience with closures by the same entities for the same locations.” In other words, if a street is one that in the past has been the focus of incensed San Franciscans, its swift closure for outdoor dining is less likely.

According to the DEM, as of Monday morning, there have been 42 requests for full street closures across San Francisco. Not all of these requests will be approved, the DEM warns, emphasizing that there’s “a process of internal review and public notification that must be followed.”

For now, we don’t know which restaurant is requesting each closure — that’s information the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) might have, SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato tells Eater SF, but the MTA’s focus is on the streets, not the businesses that want them closed down. According to OEWD spokesperson Gloria Chan, “OEWD would not have the master list of the applicants/restaurants that applied for full street closures,” either, so it’s unclear if there’s actually a city agency that does have that information. (Are you a SF restaurant owner who’s applied for a street closure? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear more.)

What we do know is that these 42 streets are (again, as of Monday morning) all the streets that SF restaurants hope to close for cars, and open for tables, chairs, and hungry diners, as well as the dates and times they’re requesting for those street closures. Our comments section is there for any and all eager to speculate on which stretches will triumph, and which will be denied.

  • 12th Street from Bernice Street to Harrison Street 7/15/2020 - 6/4/2021, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily [Note: permit only valid thru 12/31/2020]
  • 19th Street from Florida Street to Harrison Street 9/4 at 5 p.m. to - 9/7 at 9 p.m.
  • 20th Street from Harrison Street to Alabama Street 7/1/2020 - 7/1/2021, 3 p.m. - 10 p.m. daily
  • Annie Street from Mission Street to Jessie Street 7/8/2020 - 1/4/2021, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily [Permit only valid until 12/31]
  • Austin Street from Polk Street to Van Ness 6/19 - 12/31, Tues - Thurs 11:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Fri 11:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Sat 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
  • Beach Street from Hyde Street to Larkin Street 6/22 - 12/31, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. daily
  • Columbus Avenue from Grant Avenue to Vallejo Street 6/30 - 12/31, Tues - Wed 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Thurs - Sat 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Commercial Street from Sansome Street to Leidesdorff Street 7/6/2020 - 1/1/2021, Mon - Fri 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Frederick Street from Ashbury Street to Downey Street 6/20 - 7/4, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily
  • Front Street from California Street to Sacramento Street 8/3/2020 - 1/1/2021, Mon - Fri 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Gold Street from Montgomery Street to Balance Street 6/17 - 12/31, Sunday - Thursday 4:30 p.m. - 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday 4:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.
  • Grant Street from California Street to Clay Street 7/4 - 9/27, Sat and Sun 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Haight Street from Shrader Street to Stanyan Street 7/1 - 12/31, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. each Sunday
  • Harrison Street from 18th Street to 20th Street 9/4 at 5 p.m. to - 9/7 at 9 p.m.
  • Hayes Street from Gough Street to Franklin Street 6/28 - 12/31, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily
  • Hayes Street from Laguna Street to Gough Street 6/28 - 12/31, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily
  • Hotaling Place from Washington Street to Jackson Street 6/13/2020 - 1/1/2021, Mon - Sat 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Hotaling Place from Washington Street to Jackson Street 7/1/2020 - 1/4/2021, Mon - Sat 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Irving Street from 19th Ave to 20th Ave 6/19 - 7/15, daily 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Ivy Street from Gough Street to Octavia Street 8/1/2020 - 1/4/2021, Mon - Fri 2 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sat 12 p.m. - 10 m, Sun 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Jefferson Street from Powell Street to Hyde Street 8/15 - 11/1, Thurs - Sun 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Leidesdorff Street from Pine Street to California Street 7/6 - 12/31, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Leidesdorff Street from Sacramento Street to Commercial Street 6/16/2020 - 1/4/2021, daily 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Linden Street from Gough Street to Franklin Street 6/27 - 8/27, every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Lusk Street from Clyde Street to Townsend Street 6/23/2020 - 1/4/2021, Sun - Thurs 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri - Sat 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Minna Street from 2nd Street to New Montgomery Street 9/18 - 12/20, Thurs - Fri 4 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sat 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Mistral Street from Treat Avenue to Harrison Street 9/4 at 5 p.m. to - 9/7 at 9 p.m.
  • Morrell Street from Pacific Ave to Broadway 7/1/2020 - 1/3/2021, Mon - Fri 4 p.m. - 9 p.m., Sat - Sun 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Natoma Street from 2nd Street to Easterly Terminus 6/29 - 12/31, Mon - Thurs 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Fri 9 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sat - Sun 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Natoma Street from 2nd Street to Easterly Terminus 6/29 - 12/31, Mon - Thurs 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Fri 9 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sat - Sun 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Octavia Street from Hayes Street to Ivy Street 6/28 - 12/31, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily
  • Plymouth Avenue from Ocean Avenue to Southwood Drive 6/19 - 12/31, Wed - Mon 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Ritch Street from Townsend Street to Lusk Street 6/19 - 10/31, Mon - Fri 4 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sat - Sun 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Stanyan Street from Frederick Street to Carl Street 6/23 - 1/4, Tues - Sun 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Steiner Street from Chestnut Street to Lombard Street 7/1/2020 - 1/31/2021, Mon - Fri 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sat - Sun 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Stevenson Street from 6th Street to 7th Street 7/9 - 12/17, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. each Thursday
  • Taraval Street from 46th Avenue to 47th Avenue 7/3 - 12/31, Fri - Sun 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Valencia Street from 16th Street to 17th Street 7/9 - 11/1, Thurs - Sun 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Valencia Street from 18th Street to 19th Street 7/9 - 11/1, Thurs - Sun 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Via Bufano from Greenwich Street to Columbus Ave 6/17 - 12/31, 12 p.m. - 10 p.m. daily
  • Washington Street from Fillmore Street to Steiner Street 6/17 - 10/31, daily 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Waverly Place from Clay Street to Sacramento Street 7/12 - 10/31, Fri - Sat 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.

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