Parklet program under the microscope / Mini Japanese fire truck roams through the city

It's Thursday, April 29th.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

The Shared Spaces Program, which has allowed parklets to emerge across the city so rapidly this year, is set to expire in its current form at the end of June. City officials are expected to propose a formalized plan in the coming weeks, but before then, discussions around the future program are likely to heat up. 

Sharky Laguana, president of the Small Business Commission, has called the program “the biggest opportunity in our lifetime to turn up the magic dial of San Francisco.” And I think a lot of residents would tend to agree. 

But the Examiner is running an interesting new series that looks at angles of the debate that might not be so obvious. 

The first article focused on costs for the business owner. During the pandemic, the city waived permit fees for parklets. But moving forward, a business could have to pay as much as $6,000 a year for its own, outdoor space. As the Examiner article asked, should a taqueria in the Mission have to pay the same fees as a high-end restaurant in Pacifics Heights or the Marina? 

The second looked at the potential costs to the SFMTA, mostly from the city cutting down on paid parking spots. In total, the SFMTA could lose out on over $10 million annually from the program’s implementation. That’s not a massive number, as the Examiner points out. But when the transportation agency has only committed to bringing back 85% of its pre-pandemic service due, in part, to deficit issues, any revenue cuts could be a concern. 

More to come on parklets, I’m sure. 

And with that, let’s jump into some news: 

Quick bits: 

  • 🏈 With the third pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft, the 49ers selected 20-year-old quarterback Trey Lance, who played collegiate football at North Dakota State. (SFist

  • 😔 Hayes Valley’s 20th Century Cafe, famous for its honey cakes and fancy dishware, is set to close within the next two months, Eater reported. “I’ve been through a lot, I know we all have, and I dragged my half dead body in here week in and week out and made the best damn food I could for years, pushing myself so hard, every day, but enough is enough,” owner Michelle Polzine wrote in a recent email to customers. (Eater

  • 🎟 Outside Lands tickets sold out in less than two hours on Thursday despite technical glitches that left some festival hopefuls frustrated. (Datebook

  • 😋 Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho published her top Middle Eastern restaurant list for the Bay Area on Thursday, and now it’s all I can think about. I want to go back to Beit Rima and try Lavish and Hummus Bodega asap. (Chronicle

  • ⚜️ The SF Gate’s Tessa McLean reports that while some of the “mysterious crests” on homes across San Francisco have familial ties, most are simply ornamental. “I know they were the rage in the 1930s,” said San Francisco historian Lorri Ungaretti. “They were just a possible item to put on houses (often in the Sunset) above stairways.” (SF Gate

And finally… 

Bernal Heights resident Todd Lappin imported a mini Japanese fire truck during the pandemic that’s two feet shorter than a Mazda Miata. Have you spotted it around town? 

Lappin told the Chronicle on Thursday that he named the tiny truck “Kiri” after its hometown in Japan, Kirigamine, where it served in the area’s volunteer fire department for almost 30 years. The name is especially fitting for its new home in San Francisco since “Kiri” translates to “fog” in Japanese. 

Kiri has its own Instagram (@teenytinyfiretruck) where it talks in the first person and can be seen soaking up the city. I like what Lappin said about people’s reactions when they see the tiny truck for the first time: “It brings out the absolute best in people. The best analogy is walking down the street with a puppy, in the way that everybody becomes their nicest, sweetest, best-behaved self. Doesn’t matter — men, women, young, old. They stop and laugh and have kind of a confused look on their faces. It’s just priceless.” 

As for whether Kiri can handle the hills of San Francisco, Lappin confirmed that it’s “very torque-y. It loves the hills — it sprints up San Francisco hills like you wouldn’t believe.” 

That’s all for today! Thanks to everyone for spreading the word about The SF Minute recently. We’re almost at our first 1,000 readers, but could still use some help getting there.

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Have a great night and we’ll see you tomorrow! - Nick B.