The six-mile stretch of the Embarcadero along San Francisco’s waterfront connecting the Bayview to Chinatown can be a wild one.
As Mayor Gavin Newsom held a news conference to announce the closure of the roadway for two upcoming Sundays, a Muni streetcar collided with a minivan and a police car flattened a stop light within a matter of minutes Tuesday.
Newsom hopes to providea different flavor of wild in the upcoming months, however, with two four-hour closures of the heavily trafficked area, allowing people to bike, dance and perform without the threat of traffic.
But securing support for the closures has also been a wild ride. The first date was set for Aug. 17 until concerns among merchants at Fisherman’s Wharf caused Mayor Gavin Newsom to cancel the event. Merchants are still complaining, however, about two other closures — on Labor Day weekend and Sept. 14.
Small business concerns have rallied several supervisors to introduce a resolution today that would urge Newsom to measure the economic impact before closing the streets.
“Several members of the board, left, right and center, think this has been poorly thought out,” Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin told The Examiner. “Fisherman’s Wharf is the goose that lays the golden egg for San Francisco. We don’t want to commit economic suicide.”
City officials and merchants alike are also crying foul that there wasn’t adequate notice for the permitting process, which is handled in a public hearing process through the Department of Parking and Traffic.
In a letter to the event organizer at the Mayor’s Office, Pier 39 President and CEO Bob MacIntosh said the mayor could not have chosen a worse time of year to do this.
“Could someone please let him know that this is peak season for tourism and local Californians to visit our city?” the letter said. “Is the mayor even aware of the fact that Fisherman’s Wharf is the most visited area in The City?”
Newsom didn’t back down from the criticism. Speaking to reporters near AT&T Park on Tuesday, he said the closures will provide new and better economic opportunities to businesses that have been struggling for years. He said that businesses that have thrived over the years “need to step up for the southeast part of The City” that have been “ravaged by neglect and lack of focus.”
The closure stretches from the Bayview Opera House to Portsmouth Square. Muni’s F and T lines will be free and running during the closures.
From the Bayview, past AT&T Park, up Embarcadero and ending in Chinatown
Northbound lanes of route will be closed to cars and opened to pedestrians
Times and dates of closures
Aug. 31: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sept. 14: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.