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The GrowSF Report: A wave of new restaurants and bars
PLUS: Elections Director John Arntz won’t be replaced
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of December 12, 2022:
- A wave of new restaurants and bars are opening
- Free, fast, or frequent public transit: pick two
- It takes over two years to get a permit to build a home
- Elections Director John Arntz won’t be replaced
- Kearny Street must be redesigned
A wave of new restaurants and bars are opening
Covid upended the San Francisco food and nightlife scene, forcing a significant number of closures. But some brave and enterprising entrepreneurs recognized the opportunity this represented and the trend of closures seems to be reversing!
Over 100 food services businesses registered with the city for each month July through October of this year, with 120 businesses registering in October alone.
This optimism doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, however; these businesses face spikes in the cost of food, labor, alcohol, and utilities. So do your part and enjoy a night (or three) on the town - you can help keep some businesses, and dreams, alive!
Free, fast, or frequent public transit: pick two
Jerusalem Demsas, a writer for the Atlantic, is out with a sober look at the realities of American public transit. She has lessons for San Francisco, which is facing its own choice between making Muni free vs using fares to improve service.
Fare-free transit sounds great in theory, but American bus networks are far behind global leaders in offering good service. Focusing on zero-dollar rides is like overseeing a library system stocked solely with out-of-date self-help books in crumbling buildings and wondering if a fresh coat of paint will improve morale.
Unfortunately, the data from the numerous attempts to make transit free demonstrate that it is unlikely to improve quality or equity, and may instead result in worse service.
Fundamentally, quality of service matters most to bus riders. Riders care about having frequent, safe, and reliable rides. Cost, which is often discounted or waived for low-income individuals already, is very low on the list of concerns. Making transit free uses money that could be otherwise used to improve quality of service.
Politicians like promising free bus service because they want to be seen as a champion for the working class (it is pretty clear that Supervisor Dean Preston has this in mind when advocating for free service in SF). However, the incremental yet meaningful improvement to service, which is what riders actually care about, is often left by the wayside.
It takes over two years to get a permit to build a home
We may sound like a broken record, but we’ll keep screaming it from the rooftops: San Francisco needs to do better on housing.
Data from the Department of Building Inspection shows that homebuilders wait an average of 627 days before obtaining a full permit to construct multifamily housing, and 861 days (nearly 2.5 years!) for a single-family housing permit. This is on top of the years needed to clear Planning Department approval.
These long timelines contribute significantly to our housing crisis. They force homebuilders to go elsewhere, while property and lots remain unbuilt and people remain unhoused.
If we want to fix the housing crisis in San Francisco, we need to address ALL of the barriers that prevent us from building our sorely-needed housing. Fixing these timelines will go a long way to helping this problem.
Elections Director John Arntz won’t be replaced
Following local and national backlash, the SF Elections Commission has backtracked on a plan to replace Director John Arntz, who has led the department for 20 years. Although this disastrous outcome was averted, the damage has been done: political commentators around the country got a layup to criticize how San Francisco is run (with some justification).
But thanks to your help, Director Arntz will continue to run his scandal-free department.
Kearny Street must be redesigned
Danny Sauter, one of GrowSF’s favorite North Beach residents, has penned an op-ed that calls for a re-think of Kearny Street.
Two of San Francisco’s long term, and most important goals, are to reduce the city’s climate impact and to reduce the amount of traffic deaths through the Vision Zero program. On both counts the city is failing. A great example of this failure is Kearny Street: a five-lane highway that has remain unchanged for the better part of a century.
Kearny is now one of the most dangerous streets in SF, and is in dire need of a redesign. Protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes would provide commuters cleaner and safer ways of getting to and from downtown. This would also benefit businesses along the street while taking away very little from car commuters.
It’s time we reconsider our streets, for the sake of our personal and environmental health. GrowSF is glad that Danny Sauter is a tireless advocate for a better city and safer streets.
Celebrate San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city. Here’s what makes it great:
We love you, San Francisco
A little under-the-radar news: GrowSF has acquired The Bold Italic, a legendary lifestyle blog that celebrates San Francisco. All the political content will stay here on the GrowSF newsletter, and The Bold Italic will continue to focus on what makes San Francisco an amazing place to live.
Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk at the Asian Art Museum
Kongkee, an award-winning animation director and visual artist, takes you back to the future in an odyssey 2,000 years in the making.
Explore an immersive animated futurist fantasy — part comic book, part motion picture — making its dazzling North American debut. Kongkee’s Warring States Cyberpunk traces the legendary Chinese poet Qu Yuan’s soul on a journey from the ancient Chu Kingdom to an imagined 21st century Asia of cyborgs, electro rock, and surprising romantic reunions.
Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk is on view through Jan. 23, 2023 at the Asian Art Museum.
All the Flowers Are for Me @ Exploratorium
Check out the ethereal beauty of “All the Flowers Are for Me (Turquoise)” at the Exploratorium.
Islamic textiles, architecture, and floral motifs inspired the patterns Agha produced using light and shadow. A single beacon of light glows from within a suspended steel cube, producing immersive patterns that ripple and change as visitors move through the space.
Cirque du Soleil is back in the Bay Area
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Housing policy is climate policy