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San Francisco walks back plan to rip out restaurant parklets

Matt Giannattasio and Azja Ragasa have lunch at the Fresca parklet as the N-Judah passes a double-parked car on Irving Street in April 2023. | Jason Henry for The Standard | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

San Francisco’s transit agency is reconsidering plans to rip out two restaurant’s parklets at the busy intersection of Ninth Avenue and Irving Street in the Inner Sunset neighborhood.

The agency had enraged restaurant owners with a plan to remove the parklets shared by Art’s Cafe and Fresca and install loading zones.

Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who represents the area, announced on her Instagram page Monday that the “parklets are here to stay!” 

The announcement came after Melgar held a meeting with city officials and local businesses to address the plans and come up with a solution.

Melgar said the city will now draft an alternate plan to create a loading zone nearby while allowing Art’s Cafe and Fresca to keep their Irving Street parklets. 

Cars are double-parked in front of Fresca's parklet as the N-Judah passes on Irving Street in April 2023. | Jason Henry for The Standard

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said in an email it will consider creating a new loading zone along Ninth Avenue instead of tearing down the parklets fronting the Irving Street restaurants to make room for it, but firm plans are yet to be decided. The city will also look into adding posts near the parklets to discourage double-parking, which can block the N-Judah train, a major concern for the SFMTA.

Several restaurant owners said Ninth Avenue is more suitable for a loading zone and suggested placing it outside a nearby Jamba Juice and a shoe store. Both businesses did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

Young Lee, owner of Art’s Cafe, attended Melgar’s meeting and explained the value of having the parklets outside to city officials.

“People love to sit outside, so why shouldn’t we keep the parklets?” Lee said.

READ MORE: Restaurant Owners Furious at San Francisco’s Plan To Rip Out Parklets

Ivan Calvo-Perez of Fresca stands near a double-parked car in front of the restaurant's parklet. | Jason Henry for The Standard

“If my next door is closed down, that would be bad for the community,” said Suzan Helvaci, owner of nearby restaurant Lalé. “We want people to come here, and if there were empty stores next to us, there would be graffiti and everything.”

“These parklets are not only essential for the bottom line of Inner Sunset businesses, they are community hubs and bring life to our streets,” Melgar said in her Instagram post.

While the plan to remove the parklets remains approved, the city will draft a new plan in the next three weeks and present it to the SFMTA board for approval, Melgar said. 

“It’s mostly passenger vehicles double-parking, which I assume to be Uber Eats and other food delivery drivers,” said Angie Petitt-Taylor, a director of the Inner Sunset Merchants Association.

San Francisco Planning Department spokesperson Anne Yalon said it’s very unlikely that community-backed plan would be shot down by the SFMTA, who will ultimately decide on the plan.

Fresca did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.