Haight Street McDonald's Reinstates Private Security

Haight Street McDonald's Reinstates Private SecurityPhoto: Camden Avery/Hoodline
Camden Avery
Published on May 20, 2015

The McDonald's franchise location at 730 Stanyan has come under recent scrutiny from neighbors and the City amid allegations that the corner is a magnet for illegal activities. The trouble at the corner, which has seen drug dealing, violence, and at times served as a de facto campground, came to a head earlier this month when San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera ordered the restaurant to either clean up or face a lawsuit from the City.

This order coincided with observations that the restaurant had discontinued its private security service and left the burden on police, and neighborhood discussion of the problem has continued since the order. However, as of this week a guard from iGuard private security service is on duty at the restaurant during hours of operation from 6am to 11pm daily.

The security guard on duty when we visited said the service had recently been re-instituted, presumably as a response on the part of the franchise owner C. C. Yin to cooperate with the City Attorney's office.

Is the McDonald's a tough beat, we wanted to know? "It's easy, no problem man," said the guard on duty. "I mean you get your occasional someone coming down off of whatever they're on, but no, it's easy."

The addition of a security guard may reassure some local residents, but there's a related issue at hand that's been simmering, if you can believe it, since the 1970s.

We asked James Sword, president of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, what HANC's official position on the restaurant was. In an email to Hoodline, Sword said that HANC "does not have an opinion about McDonald's having a restaurant on Haight Street."

However, Sword said that HANC feels the franchise owner backed out of private security service sometime in the last two years in order to deliberately increase pressure on the SFPD and create leverage against the City to get a drive-through approved, something that's been on and off the table for the McDonald's location since the 1970s, when it was built.

What might surprise neighbors who cite Whole Foods as a safer, better fit for the Upper Haight, though, is that HANC also cited Whole Foods as exactly why a drive-through at the McDonald's would be a detriment to the area. "Take a look at Whole Foods and the increased traffic, disruption, and hazards it has caused for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle traffic," Sword said.

For HANC, in other words, the question isn't whether the McDonald's location is a good fit for the area, but whether it can cooperate functionally with the City and the neighborhood, and the real conflict is with Yin's resurrected hopes for a potential drive-through, plans for which Yin presented to HANC two years ago.

"HANC believes that the removal of private security from McDonald's in 2014 (or 2013) was a move that Mr. Yin, the franchise owner, used to attempt a quid-pro-quo with the city and neighborhood to allow him to install a drive-thru. He purposely has let the conditions worsen and put the security of this location on the shoulders of his minimum wage staff," Sword said. "HANC opposed the inclusion of a drive-thru in the 1970s when McDonald's first moved in, and stands by its stance based on our feeling that it would create a negative impact on residents and visitors to our neighborhood."

As far as we know, no plans for a drive-through on the site are currently on the table.

For now, it remains to be seen whether improved McDonald's security will fix the corner's problems and get the business back into the City's good graces, but we'll continue to keep an eye on the situation.