SF business owner plans 30-day hunger strike in protest of Valencia St. center bike lane

Luz Pena Image
Friday, April 5, 2024
SF business owner plans hunger strike in protest of bike lane
A San Francisco business owner is planning to go on a 30-day hunger strike to protest the controversial center bike lane and the two parklets he lost after the bike lane was installed.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Valencia Street bike lane has been at the center of controversy for months.

Many blame the lane, which goes right down the middle of the street, for driving away business. One business owner is now planning to go on a hunger strike in protest.

Eiad Eltawil says this is his last resort.

RELATED: SF restaurant owners say Valencia St. will 'die' if controversial bike lane is not revised

"The suffering of trying to survive every month is way more than this. Sometimes I don't sleep. Sometimes I don't eat," said Eltawil.

He is planning to go on a 30-day hunger strike to protest the controversial center bike lane and the two parklets he lost after the bike lane was installed.

"They took mine away and put a meter," said Eltawil.

In February, Eltawil along with two other Valencia Street business owners filed claims against San Francisco saying the presence of the bike lane was violating their rights, and hurting the economic vitality of the area.

RELATED: Merchants file claims against SF demanding removal of controversial Valencia St. bike lane

San Francisco merchants have filed claims against city and SFMTA, demanding removal of the controversial Valencia Street center bike lane.

"Violates not only our clients' civil rights but also the city's charter which mandates that the city protect the economic welfare of its business. The center bike lane has been a catastrophic failure to the businesses on Valencia Street," said Nile Vignoles, Attorney representing Valencia merchants in the complaint.

It's been eight months since the center bike lane was finalized and almost a year since the construction of it began.

SFMTA removed 70 parking spots to install the bike lane. Several business owners say the bike lane is making it harder for customers to park in the area.

After the claim against the city, Eltawil was hoping for a change, but as the bills kept piling up he decided, "This is my last resort. I don't know how long I can go. I got a lot of loans. I'm in debt and I just want to fight before I go away."

Fighting back tears Eltawil said, "It's not fun. It's really not. I'm just trying to provide for my family."

Earlier this year, the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association which represents 200 businesses on Valencia took a stance against the bike lane.

MORE: SF supervisors explore offering bounties for reporting of drivers blocking bike lanes

In a letter they sent to the SFMTA, they detailed their concerns and suggested a different bike lane design. Even asking for its immediate removal:

"We have talked to the parklet operators on Valencia and received their feedback about their loading needs to inform the design process. Our outreach and collaboration will continue through the spring, as we work on solutions that best protect both businesses and bicyclists on the corridor."

Regarding Eltawil's parklets, ABC7 News contacted the city's Shared Spaces Program. They confirmed that Eltawil received approval to begin the permitting process for a parklet outside his restaurant Yasmine, but his second business Rossi doesn't fall under this approval.

SFMTA said they did offer a permit for a parklet that he would need to remove every day outside of Rossi, but Eltawil says that is not what he used to have.

Instead he is planning to protest in that space with an unpermitted parklet he built.

Luz Pena: "What if SFMTA comes and they want to remove it?"

Eiad Eltawil: "They are going to have to remove me with it. I'm not sure what is going to happen. I will still put a tent out here and do the 30 days."

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