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City approves street closures for SF party

August 6, 2008 12:51:30 AM PDT
San Francisco will be closing miles of roadway on the waterfront from the Bayview, along the Embarcadero for two Sundays. It will allow complete access to the streets, but not everyone is celebrating.

Pier 39 merchants are considering a lawsuit after the Board of Supervisors decided against requiring an economic review before the streets could be closed. She San Francisco party is modeled after a program in Bogata, Colombia that routinely draws roughly 1.5 million people.

It's a plan to close the northbound lanes of four and a half miles of San Francisco roadways from the Bayview district to Chinatown on two Sunday mornings.

"Lots of events and activities for people to really get a chance to see what it feels like to be physically active," says Sunday Streets organizer Susan King.

That includes aerobics at Justin Herman Plaza, yoga at Ferry Park and Hula hooping in the middle of the street.

Organizers say more than 100 community groups are behind the event, which will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on August 31st, the Sunday before Labor Day and again on September 14th. As excited as supporters are, that's how angry merchants are at Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf.

They call the street closures a disaster for business.

"Would the mayor consider shutting down Union Square in December? I don't think so. It's just a real busy time and this is a real busy time for us. It's our Christmas time, if you will," says Bob MacIntosh, Pier 39 President and CEO.

District Supervisor Aaron Peskin tried unsuccessfully to require an economic impact analysis before the streets could be closed. He says there was not enough communication with merchants about the plan.

"I understand the Mayor wants to be the environmental Mayor, but we still have a responsibility to communicate with affected businesses and affected residents," says Peskin.

"We can actually bring tens of thousands of new people down to that area, new customers, new opportunities, a new way to connect," says Mayor Newsom.

Newsom is hopeful an isolated city neighborhood like Bayview Hunters Point will feel more a part of the city. The head of the Bayview Merchant's Association says they're excited.

"There's very much excitement. Some resentment, but the majority of them are excited to have this many people come to the Bayview to see what's going on out there and hopefully they'll continue to come out," says Al Norman from the Bayview Merchant's Association.

Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf merchants had asked the Mayor to move the Sunday streets event to sometime in October after Fleet Week. They say they will now consider a lawsuit although they are worried how the public would perceive that.


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