Eyes on the Street: Mojo Cafe Gets a Wider Sidewalk

side_view_small.jpgPhotos: Matthew Roth

With the official unveiling of the new Mojo Cafe "parklet" coming early next week, RG Architecture’s crew (with volunteers from the SF Great Streets Project) scrambled to complete the wooden sidewalk extension with enough time to work out any kinks before Mayor Gavin Newsom heralds the innovation with a crowd of media and elected officials standing on it.

Riyad Ghannam, principal of RG Architecture, said they hoped to have the project completed by today, though there were always wrinkles to iron out upon installation that weren’t anticipated in the drawing room. Ghannam’s excited crew split time between building the project and answering questions of curious passers-by, who uniformly gave the project their approval.

bike_racks_small.jpgThe bike racks that will be installed on one end of the parklet.

Riyad_small.jpgArchitect Riyad Ghannam displays the plans for the parklet as his crew installs it behind him.
fasteners_small.jpgThe tools needed to increase pedestrian public space. Notice the nasty oil stains being covered up?
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  • patrick

    woo hoo! can’t wait to check this out!

  • Cool! I want one! Boulder, CO could use a few! Nice idea….excellent execution!

  • Scott Smith

    I second Wendy. Boulder could use these BIG TIME! The City needs to start walking the talk. Sure, Boulder is a big bike community, but the # of cars on the road and packing the parking spaces is freakish. I wish the City would cede its reliance, or at least some of it, on parking and ticketing revenue and start accommodating the bike and peds crowd more. I’ve counted 9 cars parked on one side of Pearl between 15th and 16th and counted 22 bikes! I’ll be riding my bike later today enjoying our sunny weather AND avoiding all the parking hassles too boot!

  • patrick

    Here is a link to a few pics taken by Kyle posted to the older thread:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/krudolph/sets/72157623481640643

  • @Scott – methinks thou dost protest too much – you have Pearl Street Mall after all 🙂 And the Boulder Creek Path. Of course you also have a bunch of hillbilly texting drivers that put ours to shame.

    Anecdote:

    “I got a ticket on Niwot Rd, I was coming into the crosswalk and there was this woman with a stroller and I didn’t stop to let her go first, and a cop was sitting there setting a trap to give tickets. They need money so they are just setting up these traps.”

    “How much was the ticket?”

    “40 bucks”

    “So Mom… If you kill someone do they double it to $80?”

  • awesome!!
    great stuff mojo’s + riyad firm – keep the great work going
    best, m.

  • ZA

    Way to go Mojo’s! Much love! – Me.

  • EL

    Does anyone know if Mojo Cafe is paying the City for the additional square footage of retail space? Or at least the loss of parking meter and citation revenue since that goes directly toward funding Muni?

  • @EL I’ll wager that Mojo Cafe will produce more in additional sales taxes than the city will lose in meter revenue. And while Mojo will certainly benefit from this, so does everyone else.

  • EL

    @John Murphy – By “everyone else”, are you referring to Mojo’s customers? Don’t forget that in addition to the lost meter / citation revenue, there’s also $5,500 public dollars that was put into this project, the $420 per month in retail space that Mojo is using for free (I’m assuming a pathetically low $1.50 per sf per month x 40-feet long x 7-feet wide), and the cost of permitting/street use.

    That’s a lot of extra sales tax revenue to make up, so I’ll gladly take you up on that wager.

  • patrick

    The space is not private to Mojo, anybody can sit even if they don’t make a purchase at Mojo, and I believe Mojo is responsible for keeping the space orderly.

    Plus, unimproved land does not usually rent anywhere near to $1.50 per square foot per month. My apartment is running me about $1.75 per sf per month, and it’s a pretty nice apartment, and I live 4 blocks from Mojo.

  • @EL: I’m pretty sure that this seating is open to the general public. You don’t need to buy stuff from Mojo to sit there or use the space. If I’m wrong and that’s not the case, I’m 100% with you.

  • EL,
    There more than 441,000 parking spaces in the city, on-street and off. Of those, only 60,000 are metered. A bunch of others are pay parking in public and private lots, but I would imagine more than 250,000 of those are free, many on streets. My opinion is that the city should go after those other hundreds of thousands before we make a stink about these two, or the few more that will be coming on Columbus Avenue and 22nd Street. If we monetize the entire street grid, then I think it would be fair to start comparing square footage and prices.

  • sorry, source link for that number came from the Mayor:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/MayorGavinNewsom#p/u/17/Yksu3SIYcus

  • EL

    Matthew – I guess my opinion slightly differs from yours in that the City should go after those hundreds of thousands while at the same time not hand out any new freebies.

  • Edward

    Hey guys, this is great stuff. Everyone should embrace a pedestrian friendlier city. In particular, why are we so intent on penalizing locals with parking meters and exorbitant tickets when we can encourage patronage of local businesses and more people hanging out in the hoods? I think this is great stuff. We need to see more of it throughout the city.

  • patrick
  • Nick

    Maybe Mojo could dump their used bike grease into the street at the end of each workday. That would be in keeping with most people’s accepted use of street space, right?

    Little know fact: “Street cleaning” has nothing to with keeping the streets clean of litter and trash. The purpose of those machines that rumble down your block in the morning is to keep oil droppings from cars from going into the storm drains and polluting the water supply. How much does it cost the city to clean those 250,000 unregulated parking spots every year?

  • JohnB

    MRoth

    Meters in busy business and shopping areas are fine

    But most street parking is in quiet residential streets and, as far as I know, nobody is advocating meters on those to punish folks parking outside their own homes.

    And remember, anyone who pays property taxes is already paying for a share and use of the streets.

  • patrick

    And remember, anyone who pays property taxes and doesn’t own a car is already paying more than their share and use of the streets. Or anybody who doesn’t own a car, since the gas tax doesn’t fund construction of our roads and highways.

  • peternatural

    “And remember, anyone who pays property taxes is already paying for a share and use of the streets.”

    Ditto for anyone who pays rent, or anyone who pays taxes.

    In general, people who drive more are subsidized by people who drive less.

  • JohnB

    Peter,

    No, the 2/3 of voters in SF who rent do not pay property tax, except for the odd bond passthru provision. Rent Control prevents rent increases beyond a small, fixed amount. A LL is limited to the rent he can charge regardless of his property tax.

    Which of course is why so many bond measure pass that wouldn’t pass if ALL the voters had to pay the cost.

    And Patrick, all residents of SF benefit from the roads. Even if you don’t have a car, how do you think your food arrives at Whole Foods or your corner produce store? Not on a bike, that’s for sure. Does the bus you take every day fly over all the streets?

  • peternatural

    JohnB,

    No, rent payments cover the owners’ costs, including property taxes, interest, upkeep, insurance, etc.

  • JohnB

    Peter,

    Yes and No.

    In a broad, aggregated sense, rents have to reflect costs.

    But in a given instance, a landlord’s costs are largely irrelevant to the rent a tenant pays, for 2 reasons.

    1) If you are not under Rent Control, then I am going to ask the most rent that the market will bear. That is true whether I bought the property decades ago and have low costs, or whether I just bought and have high costs

    2) And if you are under Rent Control, then my ability to charge you more than the allowed rent is strictly limited. So the level of my costs affects my profit margin far more than your rent.

    Think of it another way, if your landlord refinances his mortgage and his costs go down by $1K a month, does your rent go down? Of course not. Two separate things.

  • patrick

    JohnB, just because they all benefit doesn’t mean they benefit equally, nor that they are paying their fair share. Drivers pay less than their fair share, and non-drivers pay more.

  • JohnB

    Patrick

    Really, how do you measure who benefits more than whom?

    If I take my car out once a week for a Sunday drive and otherwise stay and work at home, am I using the streets more than a bike messenger or someone who takes the bus several times a day?

    Who gets to decide that? You?

  • patrick

    Well, since the driver gets all the same benefits as the non-driver, but gets the added benefit of subsidized road usage, clearly they are using it more.

    As to your specific examples I say yes. But it’s really not relevant, as it’s not apples to apples. A fair comparison would compare to a person who works from home and bikes or buses once a week on Sunday. Comparing a very made up hypothetical low use driver to the most high use bicyclist or bus rider is by no means a fair comparison.

    The truth is that for every single driving example you provide I can provide the same example that is lower use for bicycle, bus, or pedestrian.

  • patrick

    So I just walked by this morning, and although the space isn’t finished, it was quite nice, and fully usable. And it was completely packed! I definitely think providing space for about 15-20 people to enjoy a sunny morning is far more valuable than space for 2 cars to sit.

  • Alex

    @Nick street cleaning is profitable because meter maids can issue so many tickets. SFgate estimated that the city will lose about $4 million each year because of its reduced street cleaning in some neighborhoods.

  • Peter Smith

    Sitting out here right now — after hours. People are loving it. Latest comment: ‘pretty great’. I’d second that.

    Now, we really need one of these traffic lanes for bikes only. It’s too car-smoggy out here. And the crazy-loud traffic makes the experience a bit tough on the senses.

    Nonetheless — a great step forward!

  • JohnB

    Alex

    We should NEVER clean the streets just to get revenue from collecting fines. The purpose is to ensure that the streets are clean, hence the name.

    And actually they are fairly relaxed about it. For instance, on my street, cleaning is from 8 to 10. But the truck, with attendant meter vans, rolls through around 8:30 and you can park in the street immediately after that without risk of a ticket.

    If they really wanted the revenue, they could do another sweep at 9:55, but they don’t.

    Patrick,

    There is no such thing as a typical road user so these comparisons aren’t helpful, nor any assumptions about them. We all benefit from streets whether we drive or not, and so we should all pay for them. Meanwhile meters on the busiest streets ensure some type of pay-for-use balance.

  • patrick

    JohnB, you brought up the comparisons, but I will agree they are not useful. What is useful is looking at the aggregate, and since much road work comes from the general fund, everybody who lives in SF pays for the roads, whereas drivers get higher priority in use, and cause more damage to roads than other users, so they are paying less than their share.

    Meters do ensure some type of pay-for-use, just not enough to account for the subsidies drivers are receiving.

  • EL

    patrick – Since you saw it this morning, would you say that the space was used exclusively by Mojo customers or were there other people there (who didn’t buy anthing) just hanging out?

  • patrick

    EL, can’t say, I just walked by, I didn’t stop to get any details.

  • How do we propose a new parklet? I know of a place in my neighborhood that will be nice to have this. Who pay for the design and construction?

  • Lee

    I’m fairly certain that street cleaning is intended to cleanup cigarette butts from lazy smokers. I sure hope that these new parklets come with built-in ash trays…

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Construction of the two newest parklets in San Francisco began today with the installation of a sidewalk extension on 24th Street between Sanchez Street and Vicksburg Street, with another to follow shortly on 24th near Noe Street. The new spaces were designed by Riyad Ghannam, who designed and built the first parklet in the city […]