Some San Francisco businesses may soon be permitted to extend their outdoor retail space onto sidewalks and into streets.
The City’s new Shared Spaces Program is a Covid-19 Economy Task Force effort to support local businesses in neighborhoods hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chaired by Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, the task force is developing plans to help restore the local economy. Chu said in a statement that the Shared Space Program will enable businesses to provide customers and employees additional physical distancing space.
“The Shared Spaces program is one way we’re helping to create flexibility for local businesses so that they can reopen and keep their employees and customers safe.”
In addition to the extra space on sidewalks and streets, businesses can also request use of nearby parks or plazas to distribute takeout orders.
Under the program, businesses owners will be asked to manage safety and accessibility, including ensuring safe paths that meet ADA guidelines. There will be no costs to the businesses for requesting a permit.
The program is also a path forward to provide outdoor dining space once public health officials allow restaurants to serve beyond takeout and delivery. No date or plans have been announced on when that will happen.
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who advocated for the outdoor dining spaces said in a statement:
“Putting forward clear guidelines developed in tandem with health professionals and the small business and restaurant communities will be essential for this next phase of neighborhood recovery.”
Peskin also wants The City to waive additional fees businesses may have to pay during the pandemic.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who serves on The City’s task force and represents the Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods, noted in a statement how awful the last several months have been for small businesses.
“The Shared Spaces (Program) is a bright spot emerging out of a dark time.”
A recent survey conducted by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association reflects that 50 percent of The City’s restaurants do not expect to reopen.
Laurie Thomas, the executive director of the association, said in a statement that the expansion of outdoor dining will greatly help businesses survive.
“We are so excited to help bring life back to our city and especially to our neighborhoods.”
City officials said they expect to share final details and the permit process at sf.gov by mid-June.