SF moves into the red tier / Residents call on Walgreens to keep stores open

It's Tuesday, March 2nd.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

We made it to the red tier

Generally speaking, that means the city is seeing fewer new Covid cases pop up each day. And on a practical level, as a part of the state’s reopening plan, it means movie theaters, gyms, museums, and, yes, restaurants can start allowing patrons back inside (in a limited capacity, of course). 

Announcing the news from Pier 39 this morning, Mayor Breed called it “the beginning of a new day in San Francisco.” 

It is exciting. When I picked up my pizza and lasagna from Baia last week (which was really good btw!), I found myself staring at the empty tables inside and fantasizing about what the restaurant would look like when people returned. I can’t wait. 

But might, actually, until I get the vaccine. 

Meanwhile, on Monday, a group of Supervisors unanimously endorsed a resolution to make the Shared Spaces program permanent, which would allow restaurants to keep using sidewalks and parking spaces for outdoor dining well past the current, end-of-June expiration date. Other city agencies will need to agree on the idea before it becomes official. 

“We’ve only scratched the surface of Shared Spaces potential,” Small Business Commission president, Sharky Laguana, told the Examiner. Sharky called the program “the biggest opportunity in our lifetime to turn up the magic dial of San Francisco.”

Though, not everyone is as enthusiastic. 

On Monday, the SF Gate reported on the story of Harry’s Bar on Fillmore Street, which initially received permission from its retail store neighbor to extend its parklet in front of their shop. But the retailer has since gone out-of-business and now the property owner says they can’t rent out the vacant space with the parklet out in front. 

“We spent $30,000 on that parklet and we did it in good faith,” Harry’s Bar manager Charles Johnson told the SF Gate. “I know we have to take that part out, but we’re just asking the city to give us time.”

And now, onto some more news… 

Residents are raising concerns over the impending closure of the Walgreens on Bush and Larkin, which is scheduled for March 17. “This has become a lifeline for many seniors, people with disabilities, and low income residents who cannot go further out to other stores to get what they need,” an online petition reads. 

Between 2019 and 2020, seven Walgreens in the city shut down, according to Mission Local. In certain cases, Walgreens officials have said the closures are a part of its broader plan to close locations across the country. Still, some have speculated that the rampant looting (which leaves shelves empty and revenue down for the company) is to blame. 

Last Monday, at 3 am, the co-owner of Pacific Cocktail Haven Kevin Diedrich received a call from one of his regulars that his Union Square bar was on fire, according to this recent SFGate account. It was just three days before Diedrich’s second bar, Kona’s Street Market, was set to open. 

"One of my mentors said, 'you should probably grieve about it,'" Diedrich told the SFGate. "And I was like, 'maybe one day, but I don't like to dwell on the past on things, things that are out of my control.' It could be a dark hole to go down.” 

Instead, Diedrich oversaw the opening of Kona’s last week, while his business partner dealt with the insurance work for the damaged PCH. On the bright side, a GoFundMe to help rebuild PCH and support its staff has already raised over $50,000. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🚎 The city’s historic streetcars are set to return in May, while cable cars are expected to follow in the fall. “Now you know we are not San Francisco without cable cars,” Mayor Breed said on Tuesday. (Examiner

  • 🚒 A Monday morning fire in Outer Mission destroyed one home and injured seven residents. Here’s a video of the intense flames. (SFist)

  • 💰 The Board of Supervisors is considering a hazard pay law that would require large grocery stores and pharmacy chains to pay employees an extra $5 per hour. (Examiner)

  • 🍩 San Francisco’s only Krispy Kreme Donuts, which was located by the In-N-Out in Fisherman’s Wharf, has closed permanently. (SF Business Times

  • 🌉 Apparently, TikTok star Nathan Apodaca (best known for the video of him skateboarding while drinking cranberry juice and lip-syncing Fleetwood Mac) visited San Francisco with his family last week and had two of their rental cars broken into at the top of Twin Peaks. Apodaca said the stolen purses were eventually found and returned. “It ain’t no thing,” he told TMZ. “It was just a little speed bump in our trip.” (SFist

And finally… Over six decades after running track for his New Jersey high school, former San Francisco Supervisor and pioneering gay leader Tom Ammiano finally received his varsity letter at the age of 79. Ammiano said he wasn’t given an official reason for not receiving the letter back when he was 16, but he suspected it had to do with him being “weird and different,” as chronicled in a recent New York Times piece. 

“If it was discovered you were a gay kid there were two alternatives: psychiatry because they thought you were nuts, or the cops because it was illegal,” Ammiano told The Times. “There was no place to hide. No place to run. There was just nothing.”

The high school’s alumni director told Ammiano that they “greatly look forward to awarding this varsity honor to you, although well past due.”

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow, in the red tier. - Nick B. 

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