Mayor’s street soirée under attack

Not everyone is jumping for joy about Mayor Gavin Newsom’s planned party along a main roadway in San Francisco.

Proposed legislation has surfaced that could empower elected officials to cancel or postpone the mayor’s plan. Newsom has secured the permits and is moving forward to ban cars along the northern lanes of the Embarcadero, part of a six-mile route from Bayview to Chinatown. The closure will take place on two Sundays: Aug. 31 and Sept. 14. The event is billed as a way to foster healthier lives, encouraging people to use the open space to jog, ride bikes and party.

But the plan, which has the support of a wide array of community-based groups, is coming under attack by several members of the Board of Supervisors and concerned merchants.

At Wednesday’s special Board of Supervisors meeting, board President Aaron Peskin, whose district includes Fisherman’s Wharf, introduced two pieces of legislation, one calling for an economic impact report on the plan and another that would require approval by the Board of Supervisors of such events.

On Monday, a board committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on both pieces of legislation. The committee could then send the bills to the full board for a vote the next day.

If the legislation is approved, the board would have the authority to vote on whether to allow Newsom’s planned road closure.

Newsom had previously planned three Sunday events, but concerns from merchants at Fisherman’s Wharf, who say the event will disrupt business on their busiest days of the year, prompted him to cancel the first of the three.

Peskin has said the closure has been “poorly thought out” and “we don’t want to commit economic suicide.”

Wade Crowfoot, Newsom’s director of climate-protection initiatives, who is organizing the event, called Peskin’s bill “unfair.”

“We’ve gone through the process. We’ve played by the rules. We’ve engaged the public outreach. We’ve modified the event to address concerns,” Crowfoot said.

Changes include offering free public transit on the T-Third and F-Market lines during the event, planned for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., allowing traffic to cross at several points, and terminating the waterfront closure about one mile south of Pier 39.

Despite the efforts to satisfy merchants, Pier 39 President-CEO Bob MacIntosh said the two events should not occur.

“Do it at a different time and I am happy,” he said. “I would like to see this postponed, not canceled.”

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who co-sponsored the legislation, said that she has concerns about the impact on businesses at Ghirardelli Square and Russian Hill, as well as the impact on the cruise industry.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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