SF’s Bernal Heights’ Neighborhood Benches May Be Removed
Thanks to ABC 7 for sharing the news that Bernal Heights’ neighborhood benches may be going away.
Unfortunately, someone filed a complaint to The City’s Department of Public Works about the “unpermitted encroachments.” Neighbors wanted to beautify the neighborhood and make it more welcoming, so they added inviting benches in front of their property. Some of these benches have been a part of the neighborhood for nearly 20 years. Neighbors used their own money and time to build community benches to create a family-friend feel for the neighborhood.
Now San Francisco has asked the neighbors to pay $1,400 for a minor encroachment permit, or the benches will have to be removed. The Public Works Minor Sidewalk Encroachment permit is intended to document long-term encroachments within the public right-of-way that will ultimately be recorded against the property. The permit makes sure the sidewalk will remain safe and accessible for all. However, neighbors argue that in this neighborhood the sidewalks are 14 feet wide, so there’s ample room for wheelchairs, strollers, etc.
Thankfully, Public Works and local district supervisor Hillary Ronen are working together to find a solution for the neighborhood. Ronen has said, “My office is working with DPW to maintain the community atmosphere on Mirabel which means keeping the benches where they are.” Hopefully, an agreeable solution will keep the benches for many years to come; however, only the Board of Supervisors has the authority to waive the permit fees, or new legislation would need to be passed that would permit these ‘minor encroachments’ as part of the neighborhood.