New eateries given green light in Castro 

Castro Street residents might finally get Soup Freaks and other specialty eateries they have wanted in the neighborhood.

The Board of Supervisors approved legislation that lifts a longtime ban on new restaurants moving into the neighborhood. The legislation, proposed by Supervisor Bevan Dufty, will give the commercial neighborhood more wiggle room for new restaurants that would otherwise be turned away.

The Castro district is one of a few neighborhoods that barred new restaurants from opening unless they were replacing an existing eatery. Under the legislation, new restaurants looking to move into spaces that are not zoned for eateries would have to obtain a conditional-use permit — the most restrictive planning review — from The City. It will give neighbors a chance to heavily scrutinize any project before a restaurant opens.

Removing the restriction will do “wonders” for business throughout the Castro, including the troubled Ike’s Place sandwich shop that has come under fire for serving food in a venue that’s not currently zoned as a full-fledged restaurant, said Steve Adams, president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro Association.

He hopes with the new legislation, the neighborhood can help relocate the popular sandwich shop, and quickly. Ike’s has been evicted from its building.

“Ike’s really wants to stay in the neighborhood, but there is nowhere for them to go,” Adams said. “Yet, you have these vacant storefronts he could go into.”

The Castro is the most recent neighborhood that’s moved to repeal a restaurant ban. In April, supervisors ended the 20-year-old restriction on new restaurants in Noe Valley, which merchants say has helped the neighborhood thrive. Union Street also repealed its cap on new restaurants.

“We are excited this modest piece of legislation is moving forward, providing opportunities for new small businesses in the Castro,” said Boe Hayward, legislative aid for Dufty.

 

In other action

- The board approved a resolution for a $20 million grant to expand the SFpark program, which will add thousands of high-tech parking meters across The City.
- Supervisors voted to appoint longtime transit and bicycling advocate Cheryl Brinkman to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors.
- The board approved a 10-year agreement to transfer the Presidio Fire Station into the hands of The City. Firefighters will be on the ground by October. 

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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