NBBA Wins Neighborhood Protections in Face of Washington Square Park Closure
Procedural Victory Over Parks and Recreation Will Minimize Impact On North Beach
By Joe Bonadio
In a hopeful turn of events, the SFNBBA has won a significant victory in the battle over the impending closure and resurfacing of North Beach’s beloved Washington Square Park. After an epic round of lobbying on the part of Board President Dan Macchiarini and others, a struggle that included a legal appeal to the city, San Francisco Parks and Recreation has signed a letter of understanding that stipulates the agency’s commitments to curbing negative impacts to the neighborhood.
The document, signed by Toks Ajike, Park and Rec’s Interim Director of Capital & Planning, made very specific commitments, including plans for dust and noise mitigation, traffic and pedestrian safety, parking impacts, and archaeological oversight. The timing of the project has been cut from twelve to six months, with incentives in place for early completion and penalties for delays beyond six months.
This is no small concession, and its impact may not be limited to North Beach. The agreement creates a positive, proactive example for neighborhoods across the city who feel the need to challenge disruptive or ill-considered development. The fact that the SFNBBA and our allies managed to wrest this agreement from Rec & Park shows that with a little elbow grease, the agency can be held accountable. As San Franciscans, we can protect our neighborhoods from insensible and harmful construction.
So the park closure will go forward, and February of 2019 is the current start date. But we are looking at a much prettier picture than where we started: with a twelve month project term and zero mitigation plans. Now we’ve got a relatively firm six month duration, along with a realistic and comprehensive plan for minimizing the problems that inevitably result from this type of work.
A warm thank you to all of our allies in this fight. Here at the SFNBBA, we’ll continue to follow planning for this project every step of the way, making sure that the interests of North Beach’s citizens and merchants are protected. We’ll have updates here soon, so make sure to bookmark this page and come see us again.