Blue Bottle coffee cart brawl goes on

Despite the implication that the permit for a Blue Bottle Coffee LLC cart in Dolores Park would be put on hold, the local vendor is planning to set up shop in about two weeks adjacent to the playground as planned against what’s turned into mass opposition.

Surrounding neighbors and business owners told Recreation and Park Commissioners during public comment for more than an hour at the regular meeting Thursday why they are against the cart's parking on the popular knoll: there wasn’t enough outreach, they don’t want more people coming to the park, and the park should be sheltered from solicitation.

The argument arose during a discussion item about where the cart should sit in the park – more than 1,000 feet away from 18th and Dolores streets.

Opponents even offered to raise money that would match the $70,000 annual revenue the coffee cart’s lease would bring, and commissioners broke their own rules to reply to their comments, which rarely happens.

But after General Manager Phil Ginsburg wrapped up the long conversation with eloquent words about learning from missteps, moving along but essentially not changing anything about the lease, people yelled obscenities and called him names as they walked out.

Cart manager Michael Hamm, who sat quietly through it all alongside the company owner and his wife after the meeting, said Blue Bottle still planned on setting up in about two weeks, but had no idea the issue would get so heated.

Ginsburg had said at the meeting prior that “we are not going to issue the permit for this coffee cart until there is a community meeting to have more discussion about the issue.”

And there was a public meeting, but the timeline never changed and the debate was set on high heat.

Park staff and Hamm did mention more than once that the permit is revocable, but Ginsburg also so said during the meeting that that’s not the end of the world.

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