As More Valet Parking Comes to Valencia, Supervisors Cool on Proposed Restaurant Moratorium

Biking along Valencia during rush hour has long been a dangerous dance of swerving around cars pulling into the bike lane for valet parking or to drop hungry frumps off in front of restaurants.  However, the messy street scene, which was typically contained to the two blocks between 16th and 18th, has crept further south in recent months.  Just two weeks ago, Abbot's Cellar—who previously promised neighbors they'd never offer valet parking—began blocking the bike lane with valet parking at 19th and Valencia.

It's hard not to see it as a harbinger of further valets along the white table-clothed Valencia.

So as I hastily dodged a Town Car last Tuesday, I couldn't help but wonder whatever came of Valencia's proposed restaurant moratorium.  If you recall, it was last November that the Valencia Corridor Merchant's Association (VCMA) endorsed a plan to put a temporary ban on new restaurants and a conditional use permit on them following that, in hopes of preserving some of the street's economic diversity.

However, in the months that followed, the neighborhood's two elected supervisors—David Campos and Scott Wiener—have remained coy on the matter.  In fact, Campos last told Mission Local, “I haven’t taken a position yet [on the moratorium],” and Wiener told the Chronicle's resident old person C.W. Nevius, “I'm pretty skeptical of a moratorium.”

Since those comments, two more restaurants and Abbot's valet parking have come to Valencia.

“The word moratorium triggers an emotional response. It sounds very permanent,” a local businessman and member of the VCMA—who requested anonymity—recently told us. “I keep hearing that other neighborhoods have enacted permanent moratoriums and it was DEVASTATING to the community. Look at Noe Valley for example. They had 6 restaurants, so they enacted a permanent moratorium. Over the years as each of those restaurants closed, they ended up with no place to eat. It was a HUGE mistake. Thank GOD they got rid of that.”

He explains what VCMA was actually proposing:

The VCMA actually recommended that Planning Department should consider the views of the community (businesses and residents) before rubber stamping another new full-service (not self-service, like Curry Up Now) restaurant opening up on Valencia (and “new” as in brand new—used-to-be-a-book-store-new, not used-to-be-another-full-service-restaurant new). This is called a Special Use Permit process.

This was to be proceed by a temporary breather - a 12 month moratorium.

However, after some negative press came in from the likes of C.W. Nevius, Wiener and Campos spiked the proposal.  Wiener himself told the Chronicle, “[Moratoriums] were enacted in Noe and the Castro in the late '80s, and the food scene in both neighborhoods suffered.”

Of course, the Mission isn't Noe Valley.  Valencia alone has 36 restaurants between 15th and 20th, and that doesn't include the dozens on sides streets immediately off of Valencia.  Even if the VCMA supported a full ban on new restaurants—which they obviously are not—it's not like the Mission would suddenly be a foodless wasteland.

“The supervisors who were once supportive of the Special Use Permit idea (it even came from one of them) don't seem to be very excited about it now,” our source confirmed. “But they seem to want to be able to do something.”

Do something?

“They are proposing a cap at a percentage by block.”

That's right, the supervisors what to restrict the number of restaurants per block to a certain percentage.

That might strike you as a good way to prevent total homogeneity along Valencia without resorting to something silly like “community imput” and “temporary breathers.”  But with 41% of all storefronts between 15th and 20th are already restaurants, it's difficult to see how that'll solve anything.

Well, anything besides the Supervisor's getting bad press from a moratorium, of course…

Comments (51)

I always imagine Nevius’s constituency as a few folks in the Sunset and SFGate rageaholic commenters from Tulsa who have a deep need to express how much they hate San Francisco. I imagine he has little pull with the BoS, or that they worry about taking positions he doesn’t like.

Does a moratorium still make sense? So many of the new restaurants are empty that this problem looks like it’s self-correcting.

3 restaurants have closed on Valencia in the last month. These problems are definitely self-correcting.

Which, besides Wo Hing?

Lot 7 on Valencia and 21st just closed down today.

How many hundreds of thousands of dollars did they spend converting that space into a restaurant?

Is there a 3rd? From the looks of it, Grub and/or Amber Dhara could be on their way out any day now.

Agreed for Amber Dhara closing soon. More doubtful about Grub

I was surprised to walk by there on a weekend around noon the other day and see a swarming-the-sidewalk brunch line. That may sustain them awhile.

“there” being Grub. Amber Dhara has to be doomed, even with a recent kitchen shakeup.

Is it just me or is Grub only open for Saturday and Sunday brunch?

Amber Dhara may never close, the owner has very deep pockets and has even gotten a place to stay in the Misison to oversee this restaurant.

Do you really think every succeeds? A couple of failures given all the openings is a pretty good record. New restaurants will probably replace the old ones anyway, not bookstores anything.

Too bad there isn’t a moratorium on gang violence in the Mission. Maybe if I open an artisan “Guns-for-Kefir” Campos will do something about it.

An effective response to this type of behavior is the most time tested among urban cyclists. A Ulock to the taillight, or mirror. If the driver has actually cut you off and put you at risk in their efforts to use the bike lane as a de facto valet staging area than a lock to a rear/side window may be justified en lieu of said taillight or mirror.

Any old time cabbie in this city will recount the days when cutting off a cyclist likely meant the loss of a mirror or window.

Make it more expensive for valet services to use the bike lane for staging, and valet services will figure out a better solution to the problem of their own creation.

Free markets baby.

Uh-huh. Whatever you say, Internet Tough Guy.

Who is the VCMA? What businesses are members? Do they have a website or public record of their meetings?

The only thing I can find is a facebook page with 19 likes and zero information.

What percentage of Valencia businesses does the VCMA speak for?

I can’t speak for them, but they have a pretty big and diverse representation, from restaurants to clothing stores, markets, bike shops, bookstores, hair salons and everything in between. From what I understand, the vast majority of shops on Valencia are members.

They aren’t shadowy or anything like that, but it’s fairly uncommon for small groups to have websites listing their members and offer public records of their meetings.

(It is worth noting that they formed after the American Apparel debacle, in part to prevent similar situations in the future.)

I’m in the group that bemoans more restaurants that I can’t afford opening on Valencia but am *skeptical* of the moratorium. Policies that have the color are fighting the economics of markets, and going to make me *skeptical.* even that I think good urban design is that the restaurants should open on Mission Street less on Valencia Street. Perhaps a moratorium is the way to go, but I’m going to be * skeptical”

On the other side, clogging bike lanes with valet parking is another thing that should 100% be prevented. Gone are the days when high rollers going to restaurants would fear MS-13. Let the Frumps walk a little. It will be good for them. So maybe the policy response should be on valet parking, bike land cloggings, and not restaurants.

Red my own, two many typos. New keyboard and coffey. Edit button

Concur.

I don’t know why the armies of parking meter enforcers aren’t writing tickets for valets in the bike lane. Seems to be a bigger money-maker than sunday meters or meters til 10pm.

I know, right?

I’m honestly curious. On this blog there seem to be a lot of folks who believe bike lanes are sacrosanct spaces that shall never be traversed by cars. But parking spaces are against the curb. Can a car back into a space without violating these apparent rules?

And what is a valet to do? Meet the cars in the center strip? Most streets don’t have them. Block the car lane, but not the bike lane? Why is one kind of blocking better than another? There will always be people picking up, dropping off, briefly waiting, and that has to happen somewhere. It makes intuitive sense that that should happen to the right of the road, doesn’t it? If not, where else?

It’s obviously not a perfect system. Their are designated parking spaces/zones for everything. A valet should be operating with two or three spaces that are marked “For Loading/Unloading Only” and are usually for very specific hours. There’s also commercial zones during daytime business hours and those are usually restricted to 6-axle trucks.

Obviously, the bike lane will be temporarily obstructed by vehicles leaving parking spaces but the problem is cars and trucks using it as a place to double-park or queue up for valets.

Valencia has is just an example of horrible urban planning. Instead of condos and chase banks, they should be building at least one high-capacity parking garage to alleviate the congestion.

I love the idea of a big ol’ multi-story parking garage, maybe in one of the old, terminally vacant theater spaces on Mission. But would it be private? Public? Something the City should look into, but seems more ambitious than they’re willing/able to be these days.

When the did the 6 million dollar makeover of Mission Playground, (bwn 19 &20) they lost an opportunity to put one level of parking garage under the soccer field, like that park in Berkeley.

Yes, let’s build a garage 2 blocks from Dolores Park. What could possibly go wrong?

There is a garage that has decent rates (~$2.00/hour) just 2 blocks from there on 21st.

That garage consistently fills up early in the evening.

I was with you until you got to the part about a parking garage.

No urban planner in their right mind would try to stuff more cars into the Mission. It’s already plagued as-is. People can leave their cars at home, thanks.

Bingo.

I disagree. I don’t think the Mission is particularly congested. Sure there are cars, but this is a city not the suburbs. More parking would probably decrease congestion by reducing distracted drivers circling the area looking for a spot.

As a daily cyclist on valencia, I prefer a valet spot, at least I know where they are, and hopefully it reduces the idiot driving just a little bit faster than me then jamming pulling right and jamming on the brakes at every fire hydrant.

I guess the first question is, why do they need valet parking in the first place if they don’t have the road space to support it?

Parking spots taken over for valet shuffling should require some kind of extra signage or markings on the street to make drivers and bikers more aware that the spaces are simultaneously a busy driveway and a lane of traffic.

My girlfriend and I drive separate Escalades to Amber Diarrhea for some tandoori foie gras daily.

There seems to be a disconnect between the restaurants that don’t open until 530pm and the stores that close at 6pm which is frustrating for the customer of both. I have been on Valencia with out of town friends who are very interested in shopping but want that to segue with their dining experience and it just isn’t happening. The restaurants opening earlier I don’t think is the quick fix but rather the stores stay open later until 9pm or even 10pm. I wonder who to get the word out too? I could give several examples but then I would leave someone out so I won’t. But if you’re on Valencia and you have to wait an hour for a table and they will text you when it’s ready what better place to spend that hour than shopping at all these wonderful stores that all shut down at 6pm.

If the concern is with valet parking, a more sensible solution would be to try to provide more parking in the area, so that people could just find a place to park and not have to circle the blocks and then eventually pay for valet. The garage at Bartlett St. is consistently full, so there would certainly be demand for more pay parking.

This won’t happen because Wiener and others believe that making life more challenging for drivers is an appropriate city policy. But it is more than a bit absurd to be building lots of residences and restaurants in this part of the Mission and not allowing for more parking. We know more people are coming to the area and rationally planning would accommodate that. The problem is not congestion, it is parking. And parking could be fixed. But, instead, we allow a situation to fester that just creates conflicts between drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

P.S. please don’t tell me that this is a “transit rich” neighborhood so people should use Muni. Not only is Muni particularly unreliable and unsafe in this neighborhood, it (and BART) are focused on getting people down the Market St. corridor for work, not to and from the other neighborhoods in the City – which is where people come form in the evening.

This is a “transit rich” neighborhood. People should take MUNI/BART. Or walk. Or bike.

The last thing the Mission needs is more parking.

The 14 and 49 suck, the 26 was cool. People that don’t live close don’t really want to take public transit on a date night.

So… they can go somewhere else (or take a taxi). I’m cool with that.

Do you own a car? Have you ever needed one to go shopping or out of town?

I do, and I even drive in the city regularly. But I also don’t feel any need for there to be MORE parking. If I am going someplace with not enough parking, then I walk (to things within walking distance) or take public transit, or else take a taxi.

You must have a garage then.

Yup.

Our three unit building doesn’t have one, between the street cleaning and the new parking meters it’s a bitch to park near my house. I rent a garage seven blocks from my house because all the local lots are being turned into housing without parking for every unit. It’s only going to get worse. I need a beer.

This … is not our problem - it’s yours.

You bring nothing to the conversation the fine Doktor and myself are having. Move along son.

I come to the Mission several times a week from Western Addition or Russian Hill and always take MUNI (spent 10 years coming from the Haight before that). 49, 24, 33, and 22 have always been incredibly convenient, esp once Nextbus came around. The other option would be take any transit line to Civic Center and BART into the hood. Just don’t see how anyone can pretend it isn’t easy to get around by transit.

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