Mar's compromise doesn't quiet the Sunset's Great Debate

It's Monday, August 9.

Hey there, San Francisco.

In April, Devil’s Teeth Baking Company, a beacon in the Outer Sunset with beloved breakfast sandwiches, posted a sign in its front window: “Open The Great Highway.” 

Angry tweets, reviews, and emails ensued, while some patrons threatened to stop showing up in protest. 

The Devil’s Teeth debacle was the culmination of a year-long debate over shutting the Great Highway to car traffic and turning it into “The Great Walkway,” a two mile stretch between Lincoln Way and Sloat Blvd that transformed during the pandemic into a thoroughfare for bikers, walkers, and joggers. Public Zoom meetings dragged on for hours, Kid Safe SF organized an outdoor rally, and arguments broke out amongst residents on Nextdoor.

“It’s more contentious, honestly, than vaccine versus no vaccine,” said one Outer Sunset resident, who requested anonymity because she and her sister, who also lives in the neighborhood, don’t agree on the issue. 

Last week, Supervisor Gordon Mar announced that The Great Highway will reopen to cars on weekdays and close on weekends and holidays, starting August 16th (the first day of school for the SFUSD’s more than 57,000 students). “We’re balancing the benefits of this unique open space with the real need for safe and efficient traffic flow,” Mar said

Mar’s decision is not necessarily permanent, as the fate of The Great Highway will be determined by the Board of Supervisors at a future, undisclosed date. Still, organizations like Walk SF and The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition decried the action as a hasty step away from both a climate-friendly future for the city and its Vision Zero goal for pedestrian safety.

One parent, who spoke to me last Friday when I visited The Great Walkway and also chose to remain anonymous, looks forward to less traffic and an easier driving route to get her kids to school. “There’s only three ways up and down,” she said, referring to Sunset Boulevard, 19th Avenue, and The Great Highway.

But Jennifer Wong, a resident of the Outer Sunset who does drive a car, said Mar’s decision was “the exact opposite of what we need.” Wong explained that reopening the road to cars on weekdays prioritizes people who drive through the Sunset over her neighbors who benefit from the dependable, accessible outdoor space.

Though The Great Highway/Great Walkway hybrid phase begins soon, the situation is far from resolved, and the Sunset’s scars run deep. All the locals I met on the beachside stretch knew of the debate. Signs representing both sides still decorate houses along the Lower Great Highway. And many local businesses didn’t want to talk, including Devil’s Teeth, where there are now two signs in its window. 

“Open The Great Highway,” says one sign. The other advertises printable flyers. These flyers say, “Save The Great Walkway.” 

Story by Natalie Mead

And with that…onto some news…

Late last week, a woman accused prominent community leader and rising San Francisco political star Jon Jacobo of rape. In a letter made public on Twitter, the woman, housing activist Sasha Perigo, said that she’ll “forever be heartbroken that someone I once admired could violate me in this way.” 

In response, Jacobo said: “I believe every victim of trauma needs to be heard, and the process of speaking out is a part of healing and justice.” On Friday, Jacobo resigned from his seat on the city’s Building Inspection Commission and said he would take a “leave of absence” from his work, which included serving as health chair for San Francisco’s Latino Task Force

Quick bits: 

  • 💉 The San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs' Association said on Facebook last Thursday that it expects officers will be “retiring early and seeking employment elsewhere” given the vaccine requirement for city workers. “​​Instead of the mandate the Mayor should let them test weekly and get back to the focus of Guns gone wild in SF,” the Facebook post said. (SFist

  • 👕 On Friday, the skate apparel brand HUF opened its new, flagship store on Valencia Street (where Benny Gold used to be). HUF is named after its founder, Keith Hufnagel, a “pro skater-turned-entrepreneur who made a name for himself skating the streets of San Francisco.” (SF Weekly)  

  • 🐧 This weekend, hundreds of guests at the SF Zoo cheered on two baby Magellanic penguins as they marched towards their new home on “Penguin Island.” Here’s a video of the very cute, young birds. (SFist

Food n’ drink:

  • 👀 Michelin starred Lord Stanely is officially closing on September 4. But the team will reopen just a few nights later with its new concept, Turntable, where “guest chefs from around the world will cook for as long as two months at a time.” (Chronicle

  • 🍷 Fig & Thistle’s wine shop (near Church and Market Street) is now more of a wine bar, and it has a new name: Millay. The Castro has a new pastrami shop called Hot Johnnie’s. And an Italian ice shop called Bernie Bee’s is coming to the Mission “this weekend, maybe next.” (Eater / Mission Local

  • 🐔 Eater updated its list of top Bay Area fried chicken sandwiches on Monday, and San Francisco standouts include Hetchy’s Hots by Square Pie Guys, The Bird, and Flybird. Shout out to the fried chicken sando at Arbor, which didn’t make the list, but is my favorite rn. (Eater

And finally… 

SFGate reporter Andrew Chamings recently published a good, brief history of the “strange half-house” in Pac Heights. Have you seen it before? 

Apparently, Michael Henry de Young, co-founder of the Chronicle, commissioned the house in the early 1900s for his daughter Constance with the intent that a mirror image of the home would be built next door for his other daughter, Helen. But, as Chamings explains and any on-looker can tell, that never happened. 

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all. 

One quick note. As I mentioned a while back now, my wife and I are expecting our first child in September. We are very excited, of course, but what happens to The SF Minute while I’m out is still a bit of a question. 

I’m working through a few options, but I also wanted to ask if you had any thoughts on the matter. Right now, I’m thinking about taking a couple weeks off, then moving to a couple weeks of once-a-week newsletters, then coming back after a month with the normal, Monday-Friday schedule. I’m also considering doing some really short newsletters, with basically just the links to top-stories, until I come back full time.

I’ll let you know in the next couple of weeks what I decide, but again, I’d love some thoughts/ ideas from you, the reader. 

Have a great night and see you back here tomorrow! - Nick B. 

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Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter said that Devil’s Teeth posted an “Open The Great Highway” sign in April 2020. However, that happened in April 2021.