Hayes Valley Street Closure

URGENT CITYWIDE SUPPORT NEEDED

We are facing a battle royale over a 1 block closure with a proposed option to explore a 24/7 closure. 

Street Closure History

At the start of the pandemic the three block Hayes Closed Street initiative was hastily enacted and rolled out without broad community review/input or general consensus amongst our locally funded small business operators. While the primary purpose of the program was to aid and stimulate economic relief, within two months advocacy efforts were launched by Hayes Valley Safe (HVSafe) to reopen the 500 block and last year in tandem with the Hayes Valley Small Business Association (HVSBA) they advocated to reopen the 300 block. Since then the closure programming has been Friday 4-10 pm and Saturdays/Sundays 10am-10pm.

Upon another permit review period this summer SFMTA announced the closure would end. Both Supervisor Dean Preston and Mayor London Breed did not hesitate swooping in to “save the permit ”for another month for political points. 

“For now, Hayes Street will continue to operate closed to traffic on weekends as it has since the pandemic while we determine our long-term plans. To discuss the future of weekend closure on Hayes, we’re convening stakeholders, including the merchants SFMTA, & Fire Department.”

Mayor London Breed, 7.25.23

This kind of political grandstanding is nothing new – both are up for election next year and our “gentrified” Hayes Valley continues to provide political fodder for their ongoing duel for District 5 voters.

Because it was rolled out as a temporary program, the permit renewal process was not clearly defined. Efforts put forth by HVSafe and HVSBA to understand the process was challenging at best; when feedback was provided regarding program deficiencies, SFMTA and the Supervisor quickly pointed blame on the other. While a fair and equitable process was never part of the landscape, there was a glimmer of hope for an even playing field when the Mayor’s Office brought all Hayes Valley neighborhood groups/stakeholders to the table this summer (HVSBA, HVSafe, Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) and the Hayes Valley Merchants Association/Council (HVMA/C)) in an effort to make something work for the neighborhood with an aim on a general consensus. 

One month later, those efforts were upended when recommendations were put forth to reset the street closure to 1 weekend day. Misrepresentations of the narrative began to circulate. SFMTA released their recommendations on October 10th and the item went before the SFMTA Board on October 17th. 

Read a detailed summary of the October 17th SFMTA Board meeting

Where we are now

On the table: 
The resolution has been amended from 1 day to 2 (adding Friday back).
More critical: there is a motion to conduct a study within 6 months to implement a permanent closure on Hayes Street. 

We maintain our position of being in support of a reset on the programming to establish a level of success for the neighborhood and small business; this should occur before any efforts for an “exploration of any expansion” are put forth. We demand that the SFMTA Board approve the 1 day programming that its own AGENCY studied, reviewed and recommended BASED ON OUTREACH TO MERCHANTS.

This matter has been deferred to the November 7th director’s meeting to be reheard and voted on then. 

Why this petition matters

The survival of San Francisco Small Businesses is on the line while they face many economic uncertainties and experience their representation diminishing at the policy table. Over and over again their voice has been overlooked while a faction of voices continue to impose ideology over a fair and equitable process for street initiatives that have and continue to impose harm on independent operators.

To suggest/insist that removal of car access on one block is a net positive while serious traffic mitigations in Hayes Valley are needed defies logic. The argument that Hayes Valley lacks open space is also ridiculous; this stretch of Hayes Street sits adjacent to Patricia’s Green and there are a number of parks, community gardens, and pedestrianized streets nearby.

We question whether efforts to shut down our main street is the best use of SFMTA’s budget.

We support traffic and transportation plans for all modes with unobstructed access to our business corridor.

Hayes Valley is caught in the cross hairs of a political feud. We’re calling it as it is: London in this case got it right. She used the City apparatus to get community stakeholders to the table. City Agencies did their job and Dean hijacked process to differentiate himself from her by tilting support from outside the neighborhood in order to garner favor based on ideology at the detriment of our community.

This is not the right time or place to double down on a permanent street closure that is counter to three years of advocacy for a weekend closure. By sabotaging community process led by London’s office our supervisor has made this a citywide issue by using the response of a petition that he co-opted and promoted to make claim that broad support for this closure exists — which is why we are reaching out to all San Franciscans for support.

If process can go amiss here it can go amiss in your neighborhood. Please support by signing and sharing with your neighbors.

post date: November 3, 2023

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