The GrowSF Report: $6M to beautify Powell St
PLUS: Urban Alchemy is making a difference on the streets
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of May 15, 2023:
- Mayor Breed is allocating $6M to beautify Powell St Cable Car area
- Urban Alchemy ambassadors are making a difference on the streets
- West African restaurant wins liquor license
- Broken windows and doors taking a toll on local businesses
- 37 months later, the trash can saga continues
Mayor Breed is allocating $6M to beautify Powell St Cable Car area
There are a few things every tourist wants to see when they visit SF: Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, The Golden Gate Bridge, and of course, the Cable Cars. One of the most popular spots to board the cable car is at the turnaround on Powell St. That area has recently been hit with vacancies and crime, an unfortunate situation given its importance to tourism and for people arriving into the city. Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Aaron Peskin have presented a plan to address this, allocating $6M in funds to beautify the area and to incentivize tenants to occupy the vacant storefronts.
As the SF Chronicle states, in a city with so many problems, it can feel overwhelming to decide where to start. Helping tourists feel safe and welcome in SF is important to begin the process of helping San Francisco become welcoming to all, whether living here or just traveling through.
Urban Alchemy ambassadors are making a difference on the streets
The non-profit Urban Alchemy has been a divisive topic among San Franciscans since its inception in 2018. Some members of the community welcome the “practitioners” (as they call themselves), while others have been highly skeptical; some feel the group is not doing enough, while others feel they are doing too much.
As the SF Chronicle’s Heather Knight points out, however, the preliminary data is encouraging, with the group having reversed overdoses, cleaned up streets and disposed of needles. This data has not been audited by an external entity (something we would like to see done for all the nonprofits SF works with), but the anecdotal, observable evidence corroborates it: the areas under Urban Alchemy’s purview are cleaner and feel safer than those outside of it.
We thank Mayor Breed and the Urban Alchemy team for their continued efforts to keep San Francisco safe and clean.
West African restaurant wins liquor license
Part of San Francisco’s charm is the diversity of people and cultures that can be found here. Bissap Baobab is a great representation of this diversity; a Senegalese restaurant and nightclub known for the lively scene that emerges on weekend nights. Unfortunately, a legal battle started 10 months ago resulted in Bissap Baobab’s liquor license application being brought to a halt, rendering operating the restaurant untenable.
Owner Marco Senghor recently got good news: Bissap Baobab has been granted a beer and wine license. Senghor said he will continue to remain open to feedback, and will do what he can to keep the community happy. We certainly hope everyone else in SF is willing to work with others, like Marco, to make the city a better place for all.
Broken windows and doors taking a toll on local businesses
Le Marais bakery in The Castro has been robbed 6 times this winter alone. Following the sixth robbery, owner Patrick Ascaso has decided he had enough: he will not spend another $8k, on top of the $27k he’s already spent, to fix the door. Ascaso says he is waiting for a response from SF regarding the seven applications he’s submitted to the city’s Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant.
The real issue here is that we even need a vandalism relief grant, a program that has awarded $1M to 784 small businesses in SF. The fact that a single business has been robbed 6 times in a single season indicates that something in our city is fundamentally broken. Small businesses provide jobs and make SF worth living in, but we are not doing nearly enough to protect them. Our elected officials need to figure out how to fix this problem before we lose these businesses forever.
37 months later, the trash can saga continues
San Francisco’s Civic Design Review Committee paused the citywide rollout of new garbage cans last Monday. The reason? Committee members were concerned that the trash can design that DPW chose would be too beautiful to not vandalize. Here’s how one member of the Design Review Committee put it to the Chronicle: “I love the design, but we’re talking about spending millions of dollars of city money, and it’s a graffiti magnet.”
San Francisco is in crisis and if we want our city to continue representing the values it always has - safety, beauty, and economic dynamism - things have to change. The changes needed to fix San Francisco will require competent governance so it’s quite troubling that something as simple as designing a new trash can is too challenging for our city’s officials to do.
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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 writing about
Drinking out of a toilet in the Marina
We know the headline’s a lot, but so is this new space. The Bold Italic ventures inside the delightfully weird new cocktail bar: Rendezvous.
San Franciscans can now liquify dead loved ones
But it’s not salacious like it sounds. “Aquamation” is similar to cremation but more environmentally friendly.
You cannot bury loved ones in San Francisco since its ban in 1901. The popular option is to lay them to rest in Colma. While you can cremate, aquamation is a rare alternative only available to us locally in the last three years.
“Mattina” is a new all-day cafe that doubles as neighborhood restaurant
Think coffee, house pastries and biscuit sandwiches all day, and a full lunch menu, soon to be available at dinner. Mattina could also be dubbed Cal-Italian with handmade pastas, arancini and bruschettas, but there is also smoked meats like brisket, steaks and pork chops.
What we’re doing this week
Bay to Breakers
The third Sunday in May is always a fun time in San Francisco. Bay to Breakers returns, and we’re sending our intrepid T Von D. to capture some of the best outfits. Join the fun! As its website puts it, Bay to Breakers is “a celebration of life, laughter, and the personality of San Francisco.”
WHEN: May 21 — the running marathon begins at 8 a.m.
WHERE: Start line is Main Street & Howard Street
We mourn the loss of an icon, Heklina. The sold-out memorial at Castro Theatre has been turned into a much bigger event: Castro Street will close for the better part of a day. There will be a stage outdoors and telecast of the sold-out event inside. Adriana Roberts will be there reporting for The Bold Italic.
WHEN: 8 P.M. May 23
WHERE: Castro Theatre if you nabbed a sold-out ticket. If not, out front of it on Castro Street between Market and 18th streets.
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