BIG SFNBBA-CCDC Victory As Stockton Street At Union Square Reopened After 7 Years

Major Artery To North Beach & Chinatown Opens After Years Of Lobbying Efforts

By Joe Bonadio

Here at the SFNBBA, we accomplish a lot for our North Beach merchants and the local business community overall. You may have seen our recent article outlining a few of those accomplishments, just over the past year. 

By its very nature, a lot of what we do is behind the scenes. So we thought it would be a good idea to give you a closer look at a recent victory, one that goes well beyond our neighborhood’s borders: the reopening of Stockton Street at Union Square after years of construction closure. we sat down with Fady Zoubi of Caffe Trieste, former SFNBBA President and longtime board member, for the story.

Joe Bonadio - On Thursday, you attended the ceremony for the reopening of Stockton Street at Union Square. Can you tell me a little about that?

Fady Zoubi - Lower Stockton Street, the part that runs between Geary and Market Streets, was closed seven years ago for the construction of the Central Subway.

Joe Bonadio - It has literally been closed for seven years?

Fady Zoubi - Yes, actually a little more than that. There was a promise made nearly ten years ago, that this part of Stockton would be reopened as soon as construction was complete. This was important, because it’s a main artery for people in Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf to get to the freeway,

Towards the end of 2015, when we was interim President of the North Beach Business Association, we was approached by the President of Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), Phil Chin. He asked me for my thoughts on the reopening of Stockton.

 Joe Bonadio - Why had it not been reopened?

Fady Zoubi - At first, because construction was still ongoing. If you recall, five years ago it was still a big hole in the ground over there. But it was promised to Chinatown, and to the people that arranged for Central Subway to be built, that this stretch of Stockton would be reopened–both for cars and public transportation.

But CCDC had heard talk that the block was not going to be reopened.

Joe Bonadio - Why not?

Fady Zoubi - Because during the latter part of the construction, it was being used as an open space and walkway for events in Union Square. 

Joe Bonadio - A little Union Square land-grab?

Fady Zoubi - Exactly. we think it was shortly after Rose Pak passed away when the members of CCDC reached out to the North Beach Business Association. They wanted us to support them, and put our weight behind the effort to reopen it.

The way we see it, North Beach and Chinatown are partners. Everywhere you go in the world, if there’s a Chinatown, there’s a Little Italy next to it.

Joe Bonadio - So, this was just one more interest that we shared.

Fady Zoubi - Right. So we took it to the board, and they agreed. We needed Stockton Street to be open for our delivery trucks, for our residents and visitors, and to relieve some of the congestion on surrounding streets.

So we began attending all the meetings of Chinatown Trip and CCDC. The San Francisco Hotel Association was part of it, Union Square Business Improvement District was on board, and Chinatown Tenants Association as well. We all had meetings on a weekly basis, discussed it, and met with representatives of the MTA until we finally got a written commitment that it would be reopened.

Joe Bonadio - So it actually reopened on Friday (February 22nd)?

Fady Zoubi - Yes. Traffic is finally flowing, and the 8 line is already running. More lines will follow soon.

Joe Bonadio - How long did this lobbying process take?

Fady Zoubi - Oh, nearly three years. But we did it!