San Francisco

City Kills Planned Summer Of Love Construction Moratorium, Infuriating Haight Merchants

Construction on the long-running, oft-troubled Haight Street infrastructure project is set to resume in the Upper Haight next Saturday, March 11th—and local business owners are not pleased.

Many members of the Upper Haight business community say the work violates a planned 2017 construction moratorium on Haight Street, as promised by SF Public Works (SFPW) last year. 

The merchants had requested the moratorium to ensure foot traffic wouldn't be disrupted during this year's 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the Haight. 

And they're not happy about the change. 

"It hurts our business," said Dave Groeschel, owner of tattoo parlor Mom's Body Shop. "It's not our fault that these guys keep hitting gas lines, but the fact is, they did, and it slowed down their project and had a big financial impact on us. And now they want to come back during the Summer of Love, when they told us they weren't doing any construction until 2018."

"You are killing the businesses of the Haight," Love On Haight and Little Wing owner Sunny Powers said in an email to SFPW, which she shared with Hoodline.

"To interfere in the Summer of Love is the most disrespectful thing that you could do, after you promised us that we would at least have this moment to try to survive as businesses. Shame on you!"

Workers respond to a gas leak on the Haight infrastructure project in August 2015. | Photo: Amy Stephenson/Hoodline

The new construction was announced in a statement to neighborhood organizations last Friday. In the statement, SF Public Works public affairs officer Alex Murillo said the work would include street excavations, diverted buses, curb and bulb-out work, and new ramps along some Upper Haight intersections. He did not offer a timeline for its completion. 

Hoodline contacted SFPW's director of policy and communications, Rachel Gordon, to learn more about the planned work. While she also declined to offer a timeline for its completion, she noted that the construction would only affect Haight Street from Ashbury Street east.

However, that means that the many small businesses on the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Haight—including Powers' and Groeschel's—won't be protected from the upheaval. 

"You have plagued us with construction and mistakes for years and plan on doing more [for the Haight public realm plan] next year," Powers, who's helping lead planning efforts for the Summer of Love anniversary, wrote in her email. "We need a break!"

"We need to be getting support from the city," Groeschel said, "instead of the shaft."

Mom's Body Shop is one of the businesses that will be impacted by the construction. | Photo: Amy Stephenson/Hoodline

Gordon said that SF Public Works is currently "seeing whether any adjustments can be made to the work schedule east of Ashbury," to mitigate negative impacts on businesses in the neighborhood.

She also confirmed that all work on the street west of Ashbury will be held off until 2018.

"Our office was surprised to hear about" the construction, said Samantha Roxas, legislative aide for District 5 Supervisor London Breed, via email. She said Breed's office is currently querying SFPW to get more information on how long the construction will last. 

We'll keep you posted with further developments.


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