Member a few days ago when we told you about the upcoming Lower Haight mixer? Yeah, well, that happened last night. But don't fret if you missed it — we were there, and we've got the recap for ya!
About 40-50 residents and business owners gathered inside HSM Realty to discuss 'hood-related issues. Lower Haight Merchant and Neighborhood Association president Thea Selby led the meeting, which featured lots of brainstorming and plenty of group participation.
We spotted reps from Nickies, D-Structure, Memphis Minnie's (who supplied awesome BBQ for the event), and we even met Sam from the new Sam's Cleaners, who revealed that his name isn't exactly "Sam" but a longer, Eritrean version thereof, and that he's finally fulfilling his dream of owning his own shop, which definitely charmed the crowd.
Anyhoo, let's break this post into 2 sections: interesting factoids we learned about the Lower Haight at the meeting, and a wishlist of items that the crowd came up with to make the neighborhood [more] fantastic.
- The average rent for commercial space in the L.H. is in the range of $2.62 - $3.10 per square foot
- HSM Realty used to be a brothel
- The Lower Haight used to be known as "midtown" — possibly back in the '30s (?)
Wishlist of neighborhood improvements!
- A Lower Haight farmers market
- A Lower Haight block party
- A Lower Haight edition of Sunday Streets — maybe along the Wiggle?
- More planters and trees along Haight Street
- Signage welcoming people to the Lower Haight as they approach from Market St
- Bike sharing/rental services
- More outdoor seating at cafes and on sidewalks
- Distribution of neighborhood maps to tourists, highlighting the many shops, restaurants, bars, etc in the area
- Removal of the unfriendly iron gates on front doors and storefronts, as they're relics from a more dangerous era
- Parklets instead of parking spots, a la the one outside Divisadero's Mojo Cafe
An informal poll was taken to gauge what kind of businesses folks wanted to see in the neighborhood. Pretty sure "hardware store" won. "Bookstore" did surprisingly well. "Gas station" was met with boos. (I voted for "bakery," because I'm not handy, I hate reading, and I love carbs. -Editor).
Lastly, an aide from Ross Mirkarimi's office discussed how the neighborhood has evolved over the last decade or so (less crime, more bustle), but noted that people still perceive it as a not-altogether-safe area you pass through on your way to Haight Ashbury. She said the L.H. needs more of an identity, so people will think of it as a destination (and a safe one, at that), and she stressed that the Supe was eager to help, legislation-wise.
All in all, a very constructive meeting with lots of good ideas, so no doubt you can expect more meetings like this one in the future. And don't worry — if you miss those too, you'll know where to find your recap!