Despite Merchants' Protests, Petition, City Isn't Backing Down On Upper Haight Construction

Despite Merchants' Protests, Petition, City Isn't Backing Down On Upper Haight Construction
Photo: Amy Stephenson/Hoodline
By Camden Avery - Published on March 15, 2017.

Earlier this month, SF Public Works announced that it would forge ahead with construction on the ongoing Haight Street infrastructure project—breaking a promised moratorium for 2017.

Local merchants had asked for the moratorium so as not to interfere with foot traffic for this year's 50th anniversary of the Summer Of Love, and they were furious about the resumption of construction. 

"The fact that we heard about such significant work planned only last week—a week before the work was to start—is a poor reflection on the city's communications with local businesses," wrote Christin Evans, a board member of the Haight Ashbury Merchants' Association, in an email to SFPW last week. (Full disclosure: Evans owns the Booksmith, where this writer also works.) 

"I ask you again to truly look at the big picture here; you seemed to be only focused on DPW and not on the community that you are affecting," Love On Haight and Little Wing owner Sunny Powers wrote in her email to SFPW. "I find it deplorable that you think it is okay to mess with my money, so you will save money for a mistake on your part!"

Powers, Evans, and other merchants have launched a new petition calling on the city to halt the construction. It currently has 68 signatures, including support from representatives of Amoeba Music, Milk Bar, Loved to Death, and others.

"These coming months are absolutely vital to the survival of our Upper Haight storefronts," the petition reads. "Spring and especially summer are historically our neighborhood’s busiest times, due both to better weather and increased tourism." 

Reporter Carolyn Tyler from our media partner ABC7 visited the neighborhood yesterday, interviewing several merchants about their frustration with the construction.

Video: ABC7

But Alex Murillo, the public affairs officer for SF Public Works, said the agency has no plans to call off the work. It's aiming to finish by May 20th, to avoid the summer rush, but that date is not set in stone.

"No limitation of work is planned ... concerning this project," said SF Public Works' policy and communications director Rachel Gordon. "We are moving forward to get the work completed as quickly as possible." 

For many Haight business owners, that's not good enough. If SFPW continues to ignore the merchants' demands, Powers said they're considering filing suit against the city for loss of business during this year's construction.

photo: Camden Avery/hoodline

Many merchants were also incensed about the recent no-parking signs installed around Haight construction zones, which were valid through August. However, Public Works says that the signs were accidentally brought in from the Hayes Street infrastructure project, and have been updated to reflect the two-week horizon for associated work.