An effort to help local businesses by closing Steiner Street and allowing restaurants to use the streets for properly socially distanced seating has been delayed for weeks, but it should be cleared up around the time you read this. Pending final verification from the city, a portion of Steiner will join parts of Valencia Street, Chinatown, and Japantown in the initiative to let the dining industry flourish again even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s an effort that has taken a very long time, frustrating some of the people involved in it.
“It’s going to happen,” Patricia Vaughey of the Marina Cow Hollow Neighbors & Merchants Association told the Marina Times. She said that more than 90 percent of the merchants have signed off, and a permit was received from the city — sort of. Vaughey says they got the permit, but it was “ambiguous,” mentioning the parklets (the use of designated parking spaces for commercial expansion space) and it referred to the closure of the street, but there was no explicit approval of the closure. Without that clear-cut approval, the effort can’t go forward without inviting endless legal challenges.
Vaughey is optimistic that the clarification from the city will be forthcoming, and soon. But the ambiguity of the permit was only the latest hurdle after countless discussions with restaurants and retailers, fine-tuning the plan to overcome objections and requests, and adjusting its boundaries (for example, to assist businesses requiring parking lot access).
“You think it’s easy, and it’s not,” Vaughey said.