There is growing concern among San Francisco restaurant owners who set up parklets during the pandemic. They said they are suddenly receiving code violations for the structures that once were their salvation.
“It’s frustrating. We’re still paying for this parklet in order to keep going,” said Evelyn Balistreri of North Beach restaurant Portofino Seafood.
The restaurant received an ominous notice from the city Thursday, telling them to make potentially pricy changes to their parklet or face fines.
“How are we going to fix this thing? How are we going to find the money? It’s very frustrating for a small business,” Evelyn Balistreri added.
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The city said some changes need to happen in two weeks, others by next July.
“All of this doesn’t make sense to me about taking off about taking off the roof short term,” said Frank Balistreri of Portofino Seafood Market and Restaurant.
Portofino is not alone; dozens of San Francisco other businesses are now getting code violations.
City officials said because the parklet program is now permanent, these structures now need to meet higher standards.
“It’s insulting. This is not the time for the city to come down with a heavy hand. This is the time to be collaborative," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.
Peskin added that he understands the business owners' frustrations.
“This is not inexpensive for someone who is hanging on with a thread. Let’s do this with a collaborative approach and not with a big stick," he said. "Many of them are ADA compliant. Some of them have to have little tweaks but we should not be breathing down their necks."
The San Francisco Mayor's Office said that most changes relate to fire safety or accessibility and restaurants will have until March to submit a plan and until the middle of next year to make the changes.
But a few issues are more urgent and need a short-term fix. They said as long as the business is working with the city on resolving it, they will be flexible on collecting the fines.
“It’s really hard to find people to do the work so I’m hoping the city can come to an agreement and get more time and extend it,” said Ida Zoubi of Caffe Trieste.