Board of Supervisors Unanimously Approves Shared Spaces Permit Extension Legislation
Legislation extends valid Shared Spaces pandemic permits for businesses to March 31, 2023, providing additional time for City outreach and compliance
San Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today unanimously passed legislation extending the City’s pandemic Shared Spaces program from June 30, 2022, to March 31, 2023. The extension allows additional time for small businesses to make any necessary modifications to their shared spaces as they transition into a longer-term permit. Supervisor Aaron Peskin sponsored this legislation, with Supervisor Myrna Melgar as co-sponsor.
The Shared Spaces program provides a streamlined permit process for San Francisco businesses, arts and culture organizations, and others to use sidewalk, parking lane, full-street spaces, and open lots for local business and cultural activities.
“Shared Spaces established a lifeline for our city’s small businesses during an incredibly challenging time, and as we recover from the pandemic, we need to ensure that our businesses can continue serving their communities without facing financial burdens,” said Mayor Breed, who last December called for extending the pandemic Shared Spaces program past its original sunset date of June 30, 2022. “By extending pandemic permits for another nine months, we are continuing to support our small businesses as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”
Under the legislation approved today, the Shared Spaces program will:
- Extend the pandemic program and existing valid pandemic permits for shared spaces sidewalk tables and chairs, sidewalk merchandising, parklets, roadways (or recurring “open streets” events), and private lots, which are free, to March 31, 2023;
- Review and issue permit decisions within 30 days of receiving a complete permit application;
- Delay the effective date of many design and operating rules, and their associated fines and fees, to April 1, 2023; and
- Require that design and operating rules for ADA access, emergency response, pedestrian safety, and neglect are addressed now, before the pandemic program ends. The legislation gives the City authority to charge fines and fees for those four issues.
The City is also launching a public education strategy to inform businesses about the transition, design guidelines, timeline and compliance that will include webinars in addition to presentations to merchant associations, Community Benefit Districts (CBDs), cultural districts and merchant walks. Updates can be found at sf.gov/shared-spaces-timeline.
“The pandemic has turned small businesses inside out, literally,” said Supervisor Peskin. “We’ve gone from throwing barricades in the street to crafting a balanced program that will allow Shared Spaces to thrive, and it could not have been done without the patience and collaboration of senior and disability advocates and the small business community.”
"With this program, we prove again what is possible with collaboration and creativity between our small business community, the City, and community advocates. I am proud of the partnerships forged that balances the safety and access needs of people with disabilities, seniors, and young children, but also offers businesses a lifeline that livens up our corridors and brings us a stronger sense of community, " stated Supervisor Myrna Melgar.
Before the pandemic Shared Spaces program was initiated, it could take up to 18 months for a parklet to receive City approvals. As codified by this new ordinance, the City must review and issue permit decisions within 30 days of receiving a complete permit application. This aligns with requirements under Proposition H, also known as the Save our Small Businesses Act, which was passed by the voters in November 2020.
“Parklets have been a burst of joy during the pandemic, creating community and livening up our streets, while helping to keep our small businesses alive,” said Sharky Laguana, President of the Small Business Commission. “This legislation will give our struggling small businesses more time to adapt to permanent regulations, which in some cases will require building new parklets. This is very helpful, and will ensure a smooth transition to permanent parklets!”
“With our industry still recovering from two years of extreme hardship, including the most recent three months of additional financial burdens caused by Omicron, this additional time is critical for businesses to find the money and contractors to make necessary modifications to adapt to the permanent program's substantial new guidelines,” said Laurie Thomas, President of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “We look forward to continuing to work with our restaurant community to educate and communicate requirements as we move to strengthen this vital program that has brought hope to our industry and has become a highlight for tourists and locals alike.”
The extension addresses the need to fix site design issues associated with ADA requirements, emergency access, and pedestrian safety as soon as possible. To achieve this, the approval by the Board of Supervisors gives City agencies, through coordinated enforcement, discretion to start citing fines and fees in order to ensure access for persons with disabilities, access for first responders like firefighters and paramedics, and visibility at intersections. The City is making grants available to offset the costs of making necessary modifications. Information on grants can be found at sf.gov/shared-spaces-equity.
Parklets are part of creating more walkable, vibrant commercial corridors that encourage San Franciscans to shop locally and to walk or bike. “We’re grateful that pedestrian safety continues to be a driving principle for the City’s Shared Spaces program. Parklets must be designed to make sure crosswalks are safe and accessible to all,” said Jodie Madeiros, Executive Director of WalkSF.
Operators will need to acquire an annual Shared Spaces permit before the pandemic program sunsets and the permanent program begins on April 1, 2023. Permit applications will be due on November 1, 2022. A detailed timeline for when rules go into effect, and when permit applications are due, can be found at sf.gov/shared-spaces-timeline.