San francisco restaurants

San Francisco restaurants could be forced to remove parklets

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Many restaurants and bars in San Francisco say they feel caught off guard after receiving warnings and notices of code violations because of their outdoor parklets.

The city made parklets permanent earlier this year, but also imposed new rules that could require some restaurants to completely tear down their parklets.

Some restaurants say notices started coming in weeks ago from different departments warning owners that if they didn’t bring their parklet into compliance, they would face hefty fines.

However, a city leader says that is actually not allowed, at least until June. He says it’s a disorganization on the part of the local government and the city needs to do better.

After investing thousands of dollars building outdoor parklets, some restaurants and bars in San Francisco say they are now considering demolition. Many of them were made aware of these changes when they received code violation warnings.

“A lot of these violation notices were incredibly scary and overbearing, listing fines you would have to pay on day one, day two if you’re not in compliance and demanding things be done by December 31 , like going to find a contractor in December, as if he didn’t exist,” said Ben Bleiman.

Ben Bleiman owns several bars in the city and is president of the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance.

He says he received a notice and personally knows nearly 30 other bar owners who have received such warnings.

Bleiman says there has been great misunderstanding between many landlords and great miscommunication between city departments.

“The fact is that many of the structures that have been built do not meet basic municipal ordinances. The second thing that happened was that they started interpreting the permanent legislation and some different departments started doing interpretations that we didn’t expect. One thing we didn’t see coming was having to get them 3 feet away from parking lot hashtags,” Bleiman said.

Laurie Thomas of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association adds that this is just the beginning of these new rules from a new 66-page document.

“Three feet from the ends? The first time I saw this was September 9th. I email people like what? No, obviously you’re built in a red zone or even something, an intersection. Nowhere did we know you were going to have to move your parklets 20 feet from an intersection,” Thomas said.

San Francisco made parklets permanent earlier this year and under legislation drafted by the oversight board, business owners have until June 30 to comply with the code before they can be fined, despite what say these warnings.

“All the permittees, restaurants, bars and what have you breathed a sigh of relief to find that a number of city departments, who didn’t coordinate, who didn’t even follow the law that the board of supervisors passed unanimously, issued notices of correction, violation, with threats of fines and fines are not permitted or permitted until mid-2022,” said supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin recently introduced legislation to delay that deadline until March 2023, saying the city needs to treat these small businesses better after what they’ve been through for the past two years.

Supervisor Peskin says the legislation will go to the board early next month.

He’s confident it will pass, which is why the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance is telling its members not to make a decision until the city comes together and there’s a clear picture of how the rules are changing. .