The GrowSF Report: San Francisco’s population is bouncing back
PLUS: City Hall makes it too hard for small businesses to prevent theft
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of December 18, 2023:
- San Francisco’s population is bouncing back
- City Hall makes it too hard for small businesses to prevent theft
- 911, please hold
- Data doesn’t support claims that bike lane is behind Valencia Street business slump
Recent & upcoming openings:
- Stonemill Matcha is back!
San Francisco’s population is bouncing back
We’re so back! Despite the doomsayers, San Francisco’s population is growing again. According to Kevin Nguyen at The Standard, we grew more, per capita, than all other 58 California counties! 💪
We’re up to about 848,000 residents, which is a bit shy of our pre-pandemic record. But with more homes on the way and more businesses starting up, we think we’ll keep growing for years to come. San Francisco is the best city in the world, and we’re thrilled more people are choosing to live here!
City Hall makes it too hard for small businesses to prevent theft
This story hits close to home. Cyn Wang, a GrowSF advisor, experienced yet another attempted burglary at her family insurance company.
Now, in order to properly protect her family business, she needs to run the gauntlet to get City approval just to install a gate. Cyn Wang told Stephanie K. Baer in the Standard, “We’re the victim of a crime…and now I have to get a permit—if I'm even going to be granted one—to fix this.”
The city has overly strict requirements on what gates are made of, but the gate must also retain the character of the neighborhood. And there are consequences if you don’t get your permit: one business owner in Bernal Heights who was the victim of repeated burglaries was charged $2,000 by the Department of Building Inspection for installing gates without City approval. Thieves or City Hall—pick your villain!
This is the epitome of nonsensical bureaucratic red tape. It’s time we give small businesses the support (and freedom) they need to operate a business safely and more efficiently in San Francisco.
911, please hold
Seconds matter when calling 911, but in San Francisco you might end up on hold. According to Susie Neilson at the Chronicle, 28% of 911 calls take more than 15 seconds to answer.
“In 15 seconds I can start CPR instructions, get NARCAN administered, give choking instructions to a new mom or dad. I can prevent a suicidal person from harming themselves because I say their name and they no longer feel so alone.”
Understaffing, an uptick in the number of calls, and the extreme lag time in hiring (averaging 255 days!) have exacerbated the situation. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s reforms to speed up hiring have been caught up in political delays.
Data doesn’t support claims that bike lane is behind Valencia Street business slump
Merchants on Valencia Street are frustrated with slumping sales and are looking for answers. Some merchants state that retail sales are down more than 40% since the new bike lane was installed, but the data from the City Controller’s office tells a different story. According to its data, sales have dropped only 6%—which also holds true for the entire 94110 zip code.
“[In the second quarter of 2023], sales-tax revenue on Valencia declined by 6.6 percent while, for the entire 94110 zip code, sales tax revenue dropped by 6.9 percent,” writes Mission Local’s Craig Mautner.
Although using sales data as a metric can sometimes be fraught—as the data reflects tax revenue and not point-of-sale transactions—the Controller crunched the numbers for nearly a dozen construction projects situated near local businesses over the past five years, and it revealed similar patterns and seasonal trends.
We’re glad to see the data affirm that great bike infrastructure isn’t bad for business.
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Recent & upcoming openings
A great city is constantly changing and growing, let’s celebrate what’s new!
Stonemill Matcha is back!
WHERE: 561 Valencia Street
We’re thrilled that Stonemill Matcha is back in business on Valencia. According to Dianne de Guzman at Eater SF, it reopened on Wednesday December 20th under new management (Yoshi Takaguchi of Taishoken). While the kitchen will be run by Taishoken chef Yosuke Tajiri, the executive pastry chef Mikiko Yui is returning!
Your Action Plan
Now that you know what’s happening, help us shape what happens next:
Sign the petition to support Stonestown!
Sign the petition to support a Stonestown Mall proposal which will add more homes and public-serving amenities to the area. Co-sponsored by SF YIMBY, Housing Action Coalition, and GrowSF, the proposal calls for developing surface level parking into housing, retail, and open space; adding 3,500 new homes; and creating additional bike parking, all situated near transportation. If you’re interested in adding density to the westside, join us!
The Spirit of San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city and the Bay Area. Here’s what makes it great. Brought to you by The Bold Italic.
What we’re doing this week
It’s literally Christmas in San Francisco
There’s tons to do in San Francisco on and around Christmastime. One of our favorite quirky options is Hong Kong Challah-Toast at Mamahuhu, which has been doing “Jewish Christmas” for three years.
For traditional Christmastime activities, here is a fairly robust list of options.
A Charlie Brown Christmas - live with SF Symphony
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts gang are back at Davies Symphony Hall to bring this television classic to life. With live actors, an animated backdrop, and Vince Guaraldi’s timeless music performed live by the SF Symphony, this is a beloved holiday performance you won’t want to miss.
Today, Dec. 23 is the last day we have seen this event listed at SF Symphony. 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall.
What we’re writing about
“Entwined” gives San Franciscans all we want for Christmas: More lights
As if from the roots of the Ferris wheel now overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf, a steel-trunked tree has grown at the eastern end of the JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park.
In fact, Entwined: Elder Mother is two art exhibits, grafted into one: Elder Mother, the tree which debuted at the rained-out 2023 Burning Man, and Entwined, the surrounding rod-and-cube shrubs and saplings which have appeared annually alongside other trees in Peacock Meadow since 2020.
The 90s are alive and well at Madrone Art Bar
“Much of the 90s revival of late was by us but not for us. We couldn’t pull off a night on chunky platforms. We had to listen to Olivia Rodrigo in secret. If we bought a Nirvana shirt from Target, we felt appropriately like tools. But a night of dancing to the music we had known and loved for decades, that was something we could get behind. Nineties night was for us, because nineties night is for everyone.” Sarah Wheeler describes why Madrone Art Bar’s 90s night feels like home in San Francisco’s cherished little party space.
The annual Fillmore block party warmed my holiday spirit
This is the second year for the holiday finale on that island stretch of O’Farrell between Fillmore and Steiner streets. The parties themselves have been going each Friday night since October and have been an excellent appetizer for the Saturday morning farmer’s markets, and crowds seem to justify making it a year-round swing.
Script guidelines for your Hallmark Channel Christmas movie
So you’ve decided to write a movie script for the Hallmark Channel holiday season. We are thrilled to spend another summer shooting Christmas movies in Canada. In order to produce our annual quota of 147 whimsically enchanting heteronormative Christmas-themed movies, we invite anyone and everyone to submit their made-for-TV movie teleplays. Here are the Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies screenplay guidelines to help you get started.
No joke: We heard this satirical story may actually have been optioned into a movie.
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