SF Now Gives Parklets Until 2023 to Be Up to Code
Mayor London N. Breed today announced that she will be introducing a new ordinance at the Board of Supervisors to postpone the deadline for small businesses needing to update their Shared Spaces to comply with guidelines relating to access and safety. Under Mayor Breed’s legislation, businesses would have until March 31, 2023 to complete needed changes to parklets and other Shared Spaces rather than the current deadline legislated by the Board of Supervisors of June 30, 2022, in order to provide for more flexibility.
The Shared Spaces program began as an emergency program during the pandemic that allowed businesses to operate outdoor spaces. In July 2021, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation authored by Mayor Breed to make the program permanent, while amending it to require short-term enforcement of violations relating to fire safety or violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since many of the parklets that were created during the emergency response did not comply with fire and life safety codes and ADA standards, City agencies have been conducting outreach since Fall 2021 to educate businesses of changes that will need to be made. Design and operating guidelines for safety and accessibility have been in place since Spring 2021.
Many businesses have reported needing more time to update their Shared Spaces, especially with existing challenges relating to supply chains and finding contractors. Mayor Breed’s legislation will provide an additional nine months from the existing deadline, allowing for time for businesses to transition to the new permanent Shared Spaces program. Only in the most severe cases, such as life safety, transit access, and accessibility issues, will a business be required to act before the March 2023 deadline, and they will not be fined as long as they are working with the City and in the process of making needed changes.
“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,” said Mayor Breed. “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.”
While this legislation is being heard at the Board of Supervisors, City inspectors will continue with education efforts, only providing notices of correction to those businesses whose Shared Space poses a severe life safety or accessibility issue. No fines will be collected while the business works with the City on short-term changes. Grants of up to $2,500 are available for small businesses that need to make changes to their Shared Spaces in order to come into compliance.
“We would like to thank the Mayor for her unwavering support of Shared Spaces and her continued focus on helping San Francisco’s restaurants, cafes, and bars to recover from the pandemic. We look forward to partnering with her on her ordinance which will give businesses critically needed time by extending the existing Shared Spaces permits through the end of December 2022, and give them a 90-day period starting January 1, 2023 to bring all Shared Spaces into compliance before the fees start in March 2023. This is so critical for the survival of our industry,” said Laurie Thomas, Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
“The Shared Spaces program has been a lifesaver for San Francisco’s small businesses, and Mayor Breed has been a champion for it every step of the way. 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. I look forward to partnering with the Mayor to make sure it passes,” said Sharky Laguana, President of the Small Business Commission
Since the beginning of the program, over two thousand Shared Spaces have opened in San Francisco, including over twelve hundred parklets. For more information on the program, or to apply to open a Shared Space, visit sf.gov/topics/shared-spaces. Businesses with questions about updating their Shared Space can email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with a staff member who can help them address their issue.
Read more at the Office of the Mayor.