North Beach Business Association*Complete North Beach Directory of Businesses, News & Events

Welcome to the North Beach Business Association

North Beach Business Association is a non-profit mutual benefit organization committed to enhancing and promoting business throughout North Beach, beautifying and preserving our business district and neighborhood, and striving to make North Beach a more inviting, enjoyable, safer place to work, live, and visit. We work actively with North Beach neighborhood groups to create a more healthy and attractive community of which we can all continue to be proud.
All types of businesses and business professionals are welcome and encouraged to join.

History of North Beach Business Association

OUR VISION

Promote community partnerships and to facilitate growth and prosperity of our neighborhood.

OUR MISSION

Utilize the diverse talents and skills of general members and those who volunteer on the board of directors.

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP

We are not a charitable organization but we do offer a limited amount of grant partnerships. You can get started by applying for a Community Grant from the North Beach Business Association.  Contact us for further information and any questions you may have.

 

SFNBBA Wins Neighborhood Protections In Face Of Washington Square Park Closure

Procedural Victory Over Rec & Park Will Minimize Impact On North Beach

By Joe Bonadio

In a hopeful turn of events, the SFNBBA has won a significant victory in the battle over the impending closure and resurfacing of North Beach’s beloved Washington Square Park. After an epic round of lobbying on the part of Board President Dan Macchiarini and others, a struggle that included a legal appeal to the city, San Francisco Rec & Park has signed a letter of understanding that stipulates the agency’s commitments to curbing negative impacts to the neighborhood.

The document, signed by Toks Ajike, Rec & Park’s Interim Director of Capital & Planning, made very specific commitments, including plans for dust and noise mitigation, traffic and pedestrian safety, parking impacts, and archaeological oversight. The timing of the project has been cut from twelve to six months, with incentives in place for early completion and penalties for delays beyond six months.

This is no small concession, and its impact may not be limited to North Beach. The agreement creates a positive, proactive example for neighborhoods across the city who feel the need to challenge disruptive or ill-considered development. The fact that the SFNBBA and our allies managed to wrest this agreement from Rec & Park shows that with a little elbow grease, the agency can be held accountable. As San Franciscans, we can protect our neighborhoods from insensible and harmful construction.

So the park closure will go forward, and February of 2019 is the current start date. But we are looking at a much prettier picture than where we started: with a twelve month project term and zero mitigation plans. Now we’ve got a relatively firm six month duration, along with a realistic and comprehensive plan for minimizing the problems that inevitably result from this type of work.

A warm thank you to all of our allies in this fight. Here at the SFNBBA, we’ll continue to follow planning for this project every step of the way, making sure that the interests of North Beach’s citizens and merchants are protected. We’ll have updates here soon, so make sure to bookmark this page and come see us again.

Empty Spaces: New Report Sheds Light On North Beach Vacancies

SF City Officials, Landlords Face Scrutiny Following Report On Vacancy Crisis

By Joe Bonadio

July in North Beach is always a little bit of a conundrum. This is when San Francisco’s legendarily ambivalent weather kicks in with full force, so that we’re never entirely sure whether to expect sweltering, socked-in or both in the same day. Wealthier folks tend to leave town in search of more common summer climes, and the pace of things in the neighborhood slows to a saunter.

This year, we’ve got several factors complicating the mix, however. Top of the list is the vacancy crisis, and this month we received some new data on the problem. According to the new report conducted by the SFNBBA in cooperation with Telegraph Hill Dwellers and North Beach Neighbors, the numbers are jarring: over the past three years, the number of vacant ground-floor commercial spaces in the neighborhood has doubled.

North Beach’s commercial vacancy rate now stands at 10.25 percent, an unacceptable number in one of the most desirable districts in the city. There are several factors contributing to this, including ongoing retrofit work in many spaces and the St. Patricks Day fire, which took out an entire block of businesses at 659 Union Street. 

But a closer look at the numbers is revealing. Seismic retrofits actually account for merely twenty percent of the current vacancies in North Beach. Over a third of the 38 vacancies are leased, including eight that are undergoing improvements of one kind or another.

A recent temperate evening on Columbus Avenue in North Beach, a corridor which has been plagued with vacancies in recent years. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

But landlords seem to be at the heart of the problem: fully 25 percent of the vacant storefronts have sat unoccupied for over three years, and forty percent of them are simply not for lease. What could account for this? One explanation is simple greed. Landlords’ unrealistic expectations has them holding out for rents that are too high for today’s market conditions. 

The rise of online shopping has wrought a sea change in the business environment, and for brick-and-mortar retailers, there seems to be no looking back. This is happening throughout the city and across the country, and landlords admittedly have a challenge on their hands. But they also have a responsibility to their communities to offer reasonable market rates for their commercial spaces. Empty storefronts are good for no one, as we are seeing, and they do nothing but deter business and drag down property values.

The city needs to apply the proper pressure to these errant landlords, both enforcing current laws more carefully and exploring penalties for those owners that neglect their communities in this way. There is one statistic that fairly jumps off the page in the study: over twenty percent of the vacancies in North Beach are properties either owned or managed by just two people: realtors Helen Tam and Sophie Lau. It would seem the city has a good place to start.

Ongoing construction work, and its attendant dust, congestion and parking misery, is another major factor impacting the neighborhood. The severe disruption caused by the Central Subway work at the old Pagoda Theater space was a headache that many neighborhood businesses clearly couldn’t handle, and many threw in the towel. City officials need to understand how destructive this unceasing construction is to merchants, and the community at large. They must coordinate with North Beach to reduce the overall number of street projects. 

The SFNBBA has worked for years to encourage businesses to open locations in our neighborhood. Cole Hardware, a family business in San Francisco since the 1920s, has been our most obvious success: We worked with Cole for over a decade to find a suitable space for their store. And they’ve delivered on their end, demonstrating that if you provide a great customer experience, people will come and shop.

As the picturesque center of our great city, the North Beach commercial district should be a thriving shopping resource for both locals and visitors. Although we face real challenges, the neighborhood is resilient. At the SFNBBA, we see North Beach as the vital, prosperous dining and shopping destination that it historically has been, and that it should be. And with our continued work, along with the help of city officials, our landlords and our citizens, we envision a bright future.

It’s Always Sunny In North Beach: North Beach Festival Weekend Is Here

The Nation's First Street Fair Returns To The Streets Of North Beach

Time does rush past. And as you can tell by the proliferation of t-shirts and sundresses on our sidewalks, Summer has just about arrived. Festival season is fully underway at this point, and this weekend it’s time for the granddaddy: North Beach Festival, set for this Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17.

Ours is America’s very first outdoor festival, and this will be North Beach Festival’s sixty-fourth year. If the last few days are any indication, the weather should be breezy and sunny, fitting conditions for what is typically North Beach’s best party.

The 64th Annual North Beach Festival

For the uninitiated, the North Beach Festival is an oversized street fair, a lively combination of the traditional and modern that draws people from all over the Bay Area. Though the events focus on the trapezoid of Columbus Avenue, Grant Avenue, and Green and Vallejo Streets, the revelry sprawls across the entire neighborhood, with 125 arts & crafts vendors, twenty gourmet food stands, live music and more. There are always those that wish to eschew the crowds, but I’ve been living here for a dozen years, and I never miss it.

A vendor grills up a batch of oysters for the crowds at a recent North Beach Festival. | Photo: Adam S., Yelp

The festival kicks off with the traditional blessing of the animals, to be held, as always, at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi at 610 Vallejo Street. And for those of you out there with young children, as in years past there will be a kids’ chalk art area. For a few bucks, you can purchase a square of the street and let your kids get creative. We provide the chalk, you provide the kids, and we let inspiration take its path! It’s a great way to get the kids involved in the community, and into the spirit of the celebration.

Of course, there’s more than enough diversion for the adults: two stages of live entertainment, beer and wine gardens, poetry readings, and more. And as a special treat, Circus Bella, now in its eleventh year, will be returning: the single-ring circus troupe includes trapeze, rope walking, and a dazzling 9-person juggling act.

And let’s not forget, all of this takes place in North Beach– the coolest neighborhood in the city, any day of the year.

SF Rec & Park Squares Off With North Beach Over Park Closure

On a more serious note, as we reported here recently, San Francisco Recreation & Parks has been quietly planning to close Washington Square Park for a period of six months to a year. This closure is slated to begin at the end of this year. Despite the agency’s claims of outreach and the sheer scale of this proposed project, most people in the neighborhood still don’t know about this. 

The SFNBBA invited a representative from Rec & Park, Project Manager Levi Conover, to our board meeting on June 5th. Our goals: to apprise him of our opposition to this plan, and to find a way to delay the work until a more acceptable time. We told Conover of the near-constant construction we have endured in North Beach, and reminded him of the recent fire on Union Street and the ongoing vacancy problems on Columbus Avenue adjacent to the park. We also learned that the irrigation work, while important, is not exactly urgent. 

According to Conover, he met with Supervisor Aaron Peskin yesterday to address these objections, leading to “some progress.” Many in the neighborhood aren’t entirely comfortable with these assurances, and there has been talk of a filing an appeal to the park closure. 

We reached out to Rec & Park to find out exactly what their plans were. Connie Chan, the agency’s Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs, responded: “the Department will again reach out to the community to further discuss neighborhood impacts, and possible mitigations to the impacts before moving forward with the project construction.” To us, this sounds a lot like “details aside, this is happening.” 

We believe that Rec & Park generally means well. But they don’t live, work or own businesses here. We’ve already lost too many small businesses. This neighborhood is healthy, but it needs a break from the construction–or it may not be much longer.

For more info, feel free to reach out to us at info@sfnbba.org. To get involved, and tell Rec & Park and our Supervisor that you don’t want our park to be closed for a year, contact Levi Conover (leviconover@sf.gov) and Aaron Peskin, District 3 Supervisor (aaron.peskin@sfgov.org). And we'll see you at the Festival!

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Featured Posts


Washington Square Mitigation Plan Finally In Place; Meanwhile, Ten Trees Gone

If you’ve been reading the blog, you already know Washington Square Park faces temporary closure in the coming months for renovations. Here at the SFNBBA, we’ve been lobbying the city and S.F. Recreation & Park for months.

SFNBBA Wins Neighborhood Protections In Face Of Washington Square Park Closure

The impending closure of Washington Square Park has got the neighborhood stirred up, and the people at the SFNBBA have been on the case. Take a look at this week's post to find out what we've accomplished–and what you should expect for Washington Square.

Empty Spaces: New Report Sheds Light On North Beach Vacancies

The vacancy crisis in North Beach is an ongoing concern, and this month we received some new data on the problem. According to a new report conducted by the San Francisco North Beach Business Association (SFNBBA) in cooperation with Telegraph Hill Dwellers and North Beach Neighbors, the numbers are jarring: over the past three years, the number of vacant ground-floor commercial spaces in the neighborhood has doubled.

It’s Always Sunny In North Beach: North Beach Festival Weekend Is Here

The very first street fair in America, The North Beach Festival has been the blueprint for neighborhood fairs and block parties for decades. And this weekend, we're celebrating the festival for the 64th time. In other news, is there trouble on the horizon for Washington Square Park?

On Eve Of North Beach Festival, Neighborhood Fights Washington Square Park Closure

There is always plenty afoot in North Beach, and this month is no exception: the annual North Beach Festival, due to hit our streets on Saturday and Sunday, June 16th and 17th, is always a monster event. We’re expecting a record turnout for our 64th year.

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