Employees of a Haight Street bar say they are working to save a parklet that fell into disrepair so that it is not converted back into parking.
The parklet outside of Martin Macks was installed in 2011 by the previous owners of the bar. It was one of the first applicants of the pilot program, which takes parking spots on commercial corridors and turns them into public spaces.
But the parklet fell into disarray when the previous owner used it as an extension of the restaurant and was told that wasn’t permitted. Around the same time, the bar was sold and there were questions of who should care for it — the business owner or the property owner. Because of its appearance, nearby residents and business owners wanted it removed.
“I think it would be crappy to let it fail,” said Sean McNeal, general manager of the bar. “It’s a pilot program, everyone in the nation is looking at us, and we don’t want to be the one to turn it back into parking.”
McNeal, floor manager Anelia Luciow and the new owners have made small improvements such as removing the overhead lattice work and planting new flowers.
“We work hard at keeping it up,” said Luciow, who personally planted the new flowers.
The parklet was the subject of a hearing with the Department of Public Works, which oversees the parklet program, late last month in order to determine whether the space should be taken down or could be upgraded. The hearing officer has not yet made a determination on what should happen, according to department spokeswoman Rachel Gordon.
Along with the physical changes to the parklet, the new owners of the bar have made sure to not use the space as an extension of their restaurant, banning alcohol from the parklet and attempting to police illegal activity such as loitering and smoking, Luciow said.
Luciow said they do their best, but noted there will always be a counter-culture aspect in the Haight-Ashbury they have to deal with.
“There’s a cultural dynamic that will always be a part of this neighborhood,” she said. “We do have street kids, but some of them do buy things and patronize our business.”
If given approval by The City to keep the parklet, McNeal said they’d like to make more upgrades.
“We do want to see what we can do with it,” McNeal said. “It’s a hell of an idea to turn parking into a public space.”