Sandwiched between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill, Polk Street has always served as a crash course in San Francisco culture.
While blatant gaps in wealth from one end of the street to the other are evident, the two opposites have gotten closer over the years via man’s oldest friend: booze. Or, rather, bars that serve booze, of which Polk Street has many.
Too many, perhaps, say some residents of the area, which prompted Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to introduce legislation banning any new bars on a popular section the strip. After months of debate, the proposed ban looks ready to pass, meaning the brogrammers and honest to goodness grungy folk will have to settle for the existing selection of dozens of bars.
For decades, portions of Polk Street were beset by blight. Now, after it has transformed into a flourishing business community, it has a new set of problems.
Over the past three years, Polk Street has become something of a yuppie-hipster-drinkfest ground zero on weekends and, well, actually most weeknights, too. For the popular portion between O’Farrell and California, there are about 45 alcohol permits. Residents have complained copiously, with one even going so far as to organize a community meeting that asked the question,”Is Nob Hill a new Las Vegas?”
While the answer to that bizarrely overblown question is, “No, because you can’t wear shorts 24 hours a day in Nob Hill,” it certainly begs to ask why everyone can’t just get a hold of themselves whilst imbibing out on the town.
The intent of the legislation, which has a sunset clause of five years, is to ensure no new bars can open while the city brings things under control and residents don’t have to complain anymore.
Opponents of the legislation – which includes both the Small Business and Planning commissions – say the City should essentially pick its battles on deciding how and where to put in new bars rather than an outright ban. They suggest a 100-foot ban from existing bars but one that allows for additional bars through a special permitting.
After hosting a public hearing on the proposal it will need to be approved by the Land Use and Economic Development Committee in order to pass.
In the meantime, drink up.