Polk Street merchants angry about plan to remove parking spaces

By: Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer.com – excerpt

Polk Street merchants are up in arms over what they call a “radical agenda” to eliminate more than half the parking spaces along the bustling commercial corridor to reduce collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists.
Since last week, a group of merchants along upper Polk Street have posted signs on their shop windows asking passers-by to “Save Polk St.” from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Polk Street Improvement Project.
The draft proposals are scaring merchants and raising their blood pressure. The fliers ask for help to “stop the radical agenda” of the agency and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition over plans to “remove 20 blocks of street parking from Polk St. from Union St. to McAllister St.”…
To make way for dedicated bike lanes, parking could be eliminated “fully from one side and partially from the other” and street parking could be eliminated altogether along lower Polk Street, according to the transit agency’s community presentation. The plan is to implement the changes in 2015 but to first have a temporary trial run on a few blocks during the America’s Cup this summer.
“It’s going to kill business,” said 90-year-old Rita Paoli, owner of City Discount, a kitchen supply store at 1542 Polk St. “Go pick up a few dishes. Just weigh them. You try and carry them.”
Paoli, who with her late husband owned the once-famous Paoli’s restaurant in the Financial District, said her customers drive in from all over The City and beyond. “I have never had bicyclists come in here and buy any plates,” Paoli said. “Rent is high. Cost of merchandise is high. If I don’t have volume, I’m locking up.”
Paoli’s concern is the driving sentiment among many Polk Street merchants, according to Dawn Trennert, co-chair of the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association. “It’s all very bicycle-driven,” Trennert said…
Merchants have scheduled a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. March 18 at It’s A Grind coffee shop on Polk and Washington streets to discuss their concerns… (more)

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