San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Thursday proposed extending the deadline for the city’s businesses to comply with safety and accessibility changes to parklet structures and other shared spaces by nine months.
Back in July, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation authored by Breed to make the Shared Spaces program — a program that allowed businesses to operate in public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic — permanent.
The legislation also mandated that the more than 2,000 businesses participating in the program update their shared spaces and parklets to meet requirements of the American with Disabilities Act and other fire and safety codes by June 30, 2022.
Although the city has been conducting outreach in the last few months to let businesses know about the new changes coming, some businesses have reported needing more time to update their shared spaces areas due to contractor and supply chain issues.
Breed is set to introduce legislation to extend the deadline to March 2023 at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting, giving businesses the extra time needed to make the upgrades.
“Shared Spaces have been a lifeline for our businesses during the pandemic and I’m committed to making sure this permanent program continues to work for our businesses and our city for years to come. We’ve been very flexible from the beginning of this program and we’re going to continue working with businesses to make this transition as smooth as possible,” Breed said in a statement.
“In the long-run, we need to implement guidelines so that structures don’t pose a fire hazard, block Muni stops, or violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, but I’ve been hearing from businesses that they need more time and we are going to provide them with the space and support they need to make that happen,” she said.
Before the new March 2023 deadline, however, the city will continue to conduct outreach and will only provide notices of correction in extreme cases where parklets or other shared spaces pose danger, create accessibility issues, or impede transit access. In those cases, the businesses won’t be fined as long as they work with the city to make the needed changes, city officials said.
Golden Gate Restaurant Association Executive Director Laurie Thomas said the extension “is so critical for the survival of our industry.”
“Our businesses are still fighting to recover, and the Omicron variant and supply chain crisis are making that recovery even harder. This ordinance will give our small businesses more time to complete needed modifications,” San Francisco Small Business Commission President Sharky Laguana said.
In addition to the extension, the city is also offering small businesses grants of up to $2,500 in order to make the needed upgrades.
More information about the program can be found at https://sf.gov/topics/shared-spaces.