SF's Hayes Street to stay closed on weekends as part of Shared Spaces program amid public outrage

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
SF's Hayes Street to stay closed on weekends amid public outrage
The plan to reopen San Francisco's Hayes Street on Friday nights and weekends has been put on hold due to public outrage.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The plan to reopen San Francisco's Hayes Street on Friday nights and weekends has been put on hold due to public outrage.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted Tuesday that the main section of Hayes Street will stay closed on weekends until a long-term plan is reached. Parts of the street were initially closed during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to allow people to get out and walk around.

While restaurants are pushing to keep the closure, there are mixed opinions.

"It's good for the neighborhood, good for business," said Lionel who is a waiter at Chez Maman

The message from restaurants on San Francisco's Hayes Street regarding weekend street closures currently in place is clear cut.

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"We don't need this section of the street to be open," Lionel said.

"I like it closed honestly. I think it brings a lot more business. People can just walk out on the street," said Ayla Stover of The Bird.

The weekend closure involving part of Hayes Street went into place during the pandemic as part of the Shared Spaces program.

It was about to end, but the SFMTA has postponed that decision for a month due to objections like this.

"We need to pay the rent. We need to come back from what we lost this past three years, so it's a good thing to have a little bit more, more tables, more people, more turntables, more money for everybody," Lionel said.

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For the first time, San Francisco restaurants are having to pay in order to keep their outdoor dining parklets in operation.

It's not just those from the restaurants that would like to see Hayes Street stay closed on the weekends. We talked to those at a nearby chocolate store who tell us they have been packed during these closures.

"I think it brings more people out. It's good," Stover said.

But not everyone here feels that way. Buses have to be rerouted and more importantly, the SFMTA says there are concerns from the fire department about emergency access.

Some also believe it adds extended delays when driving.

"When Hayes Street is closed, you've got to kind of go 10 minutes out of your way to get where you are going. It was great during the pandemic, but I think we're all trying to move on from the pandemic, and I think that's one step that would help us move on from the three and a half years of COVID," said San Francisco resident Keir Lieberman.

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City leaders will now spend the next month trying to come up with a safe, convenient, and enjoyable long-term solution.

The SFMTA issued this statement:

We want to do everything we can to support Hayes Valley merchants and community stakeholders. For now, Hayes Street will continue be a shared street on weekends while we work with the Mayor, the merchants and other city departments on a path forward.

The issues we've been discussing with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association for several months relate to emergency access concerns raised by the San Francisco Fire Department and opposition that was expressed by some Hayes Valley merchants and residents.

We appreciate the support from the Mayor and Supervisor Preston's office to get everyone rowing in the same direction and feel confident that working together we can come up with a long-term solution.

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