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

Park Development Gives Cause For Hope, Cause For Concern

By Joe Bonadio

Things are lively as ever here in North Beach, and we’ve had a temperate but eventful few weeks. And as the neighborhood prepares for Indian Summer temperatures, there is no shortage of news, much of it revolving around Washington Square Park. 

If you’ve been reading these pages, you already know the 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. For starters, we’ve been trying to limit the duration of the park’s closure; the agency initially asked for an entire year, and that period has been trimmed to six months. 

Even more significantly, we’ve been pressuring the department to provide a realistic mitigation plan: an outline of the steps needed to offset the many negative impacts this kind of work will have on the area. Those negative impacts are manifold: think dust, increased exhaust, loss of available parking, noise, and visual blight. And that’s before one considers the disruption to our residents, many of whom rely heavily on the park environment. In short, these projects are inevitably a big, fat mess.

Ten Trees Gone

As it stands, we’ve got both good news and bad news to report on this front. First off, the bad news. Due to contractor error, we’ve lost ten Canary Island Pine trees that had been in Washington Square Park for nearly a century. The roots of the doomed trees, on the northwest corner of the park, had been damaged during construction work being done on the playground. According to Rec & Park, this root damage rendered the trees unsafe for a playground area, and last week they were removed.

Trees are removed at the corner of Powell and Filbert Streets in North Beach. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

On balance, it should be noted that the age of these trees was already becoming an issue; indeed, a branch from one of them fell two years ago, paralyzing a young mother and resulting in a $12 million suit against the city. Also, the trees will be replaced by mature trees, not saplings, and the neighborhood will have input on the replacements. 

A Park Closure Mitigation Plan: In Place

Meanwhile, after much prodding we’ve managed to secure a construction mitigation plan from the city. And, our skepticism aside for the moment, it appears to be the real thing. Dust, noise and traffic have all been considered, and nearly in lockstep with our specific requests. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see anything that addresses the homeless. Whether we like it or not, there are a lot of people that see the park as a safe haven at night, and they aren’t going to dematerialize when the fences go up.

The SFNBBA will continue to push for more concessions on this issue, and on all others affecting the daily lives of our North Beach merchants and residents. We are coordinating closely with Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s office, and we’ve requested that a representative of his staff attend SFNBBA’s monthly board meetings going forward. We believe this will insure that our neighborhood gets proper cooperation from the city on these crucial matters–and that the voice of North Beach is not lost in the chorus downtown.

Look for more news from SFNBBA soon, and remember to bookmark this page for all the latest. See you in the neighborhood!

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A Glimpse Of What SFNBBA Does For North Beach Businesses

In keeping with our history of support and leadership for the commercial district of our neighborhood, the North Beach Business Association has assembled a quick report detailing a few of our organizational accomplishments for 2018. This is a partial list, but it will give readers some idea of the breadth of our efforts for the neighborhood.

North Beach Commercial Vacancies Prompt Action: Enough Is Enough

On Wednesday afternoon, we will join Supervisor Aaron Peskin at 527 Columbus Avenue near Green Street, where commercial units have been kept off the rental market for nearly a decade. The press will be in attendance, and Supervisor Peskin and SFNBBA board members are expected to speak about the need for these commercial landlords to do their part to restore the commercial rental supply in our neighborhood–and the well-being of our commercial district. It’s not complicated: we are simply asking that property owners offer their vacant spaces for rent, and at a reasonable market rate.

Let's Keep It Local: Your North Beach Shopping Guide

A list of eleven of the coolest possible places to do your Christmas shopping–right here in North Beach.

Wintry Weather Brings Holiday Events And More To North Beach

This Friday, December 7th, the neighborhood will once again host the North Beach Wine Walk. If you haven't participated in the event before, it's a great way to meet some of the neighborhood's best retailers; shops like Z Cioccolato, Lola and Cole Hardware will be opening their shops after normal hours, and hosting local vintners to pour samples of their tastiest wines for attendees.

The Beach Never Sleeps: New Offerings Abound

Here in North Beach, it’s been a mighty strange couple of weeks. As much as we’ve tried to focus on our labors, the smoky, toxic air conditions brought by the tragic Camp Fire to our north has admittedly knocked our neighborhood a little bit out of whack. And that’s only natural, in a place where our residents are used to spending so much time outdoors. So we're here to give you a quick review of what's been afoot.

Business Owner Recognized For Heroism; Macchiarini Design Turns Seventy

This weekend, Edson Garcia, the owner of Brioche Bakery and Café on Columbus Avenue, was honored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin and the North Beach Business Association for a remarkable act of courage. 

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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Jan 23

Community Action: Resolve The Vacancy Crisis

Community Action: Resolve The Vacancy Crisis Wednesday, January 23rd @ 1:00 PM 527 Columbus Avenue, North Beach, SF (just north of Green St.)