City says 'parklet' in Haight-Ashbury must go

June 17, 2013 8:38:22 PM PDT
A few years ago, San Francisco came up with the idea of transforming parking spaces into open space for people to enjoy. Now for the first time, the city is ordering one of the so-called "parklets" to be removed.

The parklets are privately maintained public open spaces. There are about three dozen in the city, 12 in the pipeline, 54 applicants, and one on the chopping block.

The parklet is outside Martin Macks bar on Haight Street near Clayton, not far from Golden Gate Park. It got washed down Monday, but the San Francisco Department of Public Works says consistent lack of cleanliness is one reason why the small open space should go.

"We've had several complaints by neighbors. We've had to call the police in there several times. That begins to suggest a problem," said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. He signed off on an order to revoke the permit for the parklet, a first since parklets became a pilot program back in 2010.

One bar employee who planted the flowers at the parklet says it's not fair. "It seems like we've become the scapegoat for a lot of the behavior in the neighborhood and that's unfortunate," Anelia Luciow told ABC7 News.

But on the same block, sits another seemingly problem-free parklet, one of nearly three dozen installed across the city. Business owners pay for the construction, the maintenance, and an annual fee.

Vivian Walsh bought Martin Macks three months ago and inherited the parklet and its problems. "The guidelines for me, as I understand, were very unclear to me. An example, we're not allowed to let patrons smoke in the bar so we ask them to come outside, and then we come out here and they're not allowed to smoke out here. So, it creates a challenge for us," he said.

But it wasn't smoking that captured the attention of Kent Uyehara and other members of the Haight-Ashbury Merchant's Association. "There was some kind of a sanitation issue underneath it. There was a sewage issue where there was stagnant sewage. That's what kind of set the whole thing off as an issue," he said.

That could now mean the loss of a spot in the neighborhood already at the heart of a San Francisco ban on sitting and lying on the sidewalk. Walsh has 15 days to appeal, but says he is not sure he wants to fight City Hall. He is still engaged in a legal battle with the previous owner.

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