On Eve Of North Beach Festival, Neighborhood Fights Washington Square Park Closure

North Beach Festival, New Saturday Farmers Market, And More North Beach Happenings

By Joe Bonadio

As we swing into June, the weather is shifting, and here in North Beach it may as well be summer already. The breeze has picked up, the low clouds have begun to race across the afternoon sky, and we’ve already seen a few foggy mornings. Perhaps because of its contrary character, this may be my favorite time of the year in San Francisco.

And there is plenty afoot in North Beach, to say the least. Top of the list: the annual North Beach Festival, due to hit our streets on Saturday and Sunday, June 16th and 17th. This is always a monster event, and we’re expecting a record turnout for our 64th year. Along with lots of great food, drink and vendors of all kinds, this year we will have a special performance of Circus Bella: now in its eleventh year, the single-ring circus troupe packs in a lot of entertainment, including trapeze, rope walking, a 9-person juggling act, contortionists and more.

Work continues apace at the fire-damaged building at 659 Union Street. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Work continues apace at the fire-damaged building at 659 Union Street. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Speaking of contortions, after lots of back-and-forth, North Beach once again has a weekly farmer’s market! We’ve been without a market here ever since construction began on the new North Beach Library, and here at the SFNBBA we’ve been working on this issue for a long time. We welcome the effort by North Beach Neighbors, which finally arranged the market in partnership with longtime SFNBBA members Piazza Pellegrini. The market makes its fourth appearance this weekend, and runs each Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. With a dozen vendors that fit snugly into the lot behind Pellegrini at Filbert and Columbus, it’s already a busy locals scene, so make sure to stop by and support them.

On the more serious side, there are tentative plans in the works to close Washington Square Park for an irrigation project–for up to an entire year. Needless to say, in the wake of March’s tragic St. Patrick’s Day fire directly across the street, this is hardly a welcome development. 

The playground is already closed, but the rest of the work has to go through final approvals. Many in the neighborhood feel the work should be delayed, at least until 659 Union, the building partially destroyed by the fire, has been restored. The irrigation work is far from urgent, and can be easily delayed without negatively impacting the park, the neighborhood, or its residents. If you share our concern, we urge you to educate yourself on this issue and get involved.

In keeping with this, the Board of Directors of SFNBBA has invited a representative of SF Parks and Recreation to address these issues at our next monthly meeting. That meeting will take place this Tuesday, June 5th at 6:30pm at the U.S. Bank office at 1435 Stockton Street. We have also invited a rep from the Department of Public Works to discuss ongoing efforts to clean up our neighborhood–and all SFNBBA members are invited to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!