Parklet in Front of Mojo Cafe is a Community Destination

enjoying_mojo_2_small.jpgPeople enjoying the lingering sun at the Mojo Parklet on Saturday. Photos: Matthew Roth

Though the trial sidewalk extension "parklet" in front of Mojo Cafe has been open for just over a month, it has quickly become a community meeting place and a boon for business. The trial permit for the space lasts six months, but given the enthusiastic embrace of the parklet by the neighborhood, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that permit extended.

On Saturday, I went by and found
several groups of people clustered in the sun, which was still shining
on the former parking spaces at 2:30 p.m., long after the sidewalk had
been cast in shadow.

At one of the tables in the sun, a group of friends enjoyed food and coffee from Mojo and gushed about the space.

"It’s just a nice place to catch some sun that’s not Ocean Beach and cold," said Alice Howell. "We were just talking that the community in this area is pretty tight-knit; everyone kind of knows each other. You always run into each other."

Howell’s friend Peter Privitera, who doesn’t live nearby, said he hoped to see parklets in other neighborhoods.

As I interviewed the party of friends, Adee Horn at the table next to us echoed the sentiment that there need to be more trials like this. "On a lazy Saturday, it’s a great space to sit and read a book," said Horn from behind her novel.

I asked Horn if she felt danger from passing cars or disliked the traffic noise, both of which she said she didn’t notice until I brought it up. As for the loss of parking that additional parklets would entail, she said she was happy the city had done something "with the human in mind as opposed to the car. You know, I have my car and it sucks when you’re looking for parking and
it takes a while, but this really should take precedence if you ask me."

As for the grade she would give the city, Horn said, "A+, except they need to do more, so A+ pending more of these around the city."

For Nick Birth, the additional parking for cyclists got his stamp of approval. "I love all the bike parking out on the mini park. It’s so nice because there are a million people trying to park their bikes here, it’s usually hard to park. I love how it’s just like a seamless extension of the sidewalk. I think it works great." 

Remy Nelson, who owns Mojo Cafe, was thrilled with the parklet and said they haven’t had any problems with vandalism or maintenance of the space, the responsibility Mojo took on for the privilege of the parklet location. "It’s awesome. It’s been really busy," he said. "In the summer, it’s going to be insane."

Nelson said he and other businesses in the Divisadero Merchant Association would discuss the possibility of additional parklets along the Divisadero corridor at their monthly meeting. Nelson also echoed many of the sentiments of the people in the new space.

"People are having a good time, they all know each other, they’re like, ‘oh I saw you, I was driving by, I was riding my bike,’" he said. "Everybody sees everybody, it has that right-on-the street look, which is pretty cool."

mojo_enjoyment_small.jpgDespite adding three new bike racks to the temporary parklet, the demand for bike parking outstripped the supply.
  • Nick

    People have also started to use the Panhandle for weekend picnics. It still seems a little odd to me as for the longest time it’s always been full of drug addicts and junk yard dogs running around.

  • @Nick – you see, the problem is the city is becoming infested with crazy people who look at something like drug addicts and junk yard dogs and instead of saying “The Panhandle is dangerous”, say “The Panhandle should not be dangerous, let us change that”. Maniacs!

    See: Biking is dangerous
    See: No Noe Plaza, we can’t figure out how to deliver Hash Browns.
    See: MUNI is too slow/dangerous/unreliable/etc…

  • As a child living in San Francisco in the late ’60s, on sunny days I remember the Panhandle being so blanketed with flower children picnicking, hanging out, doing (ahem) whatever it was they did, that you couldn’t even see the grass. Color, dancing and music everywhere. A human tapestry in constant swaying movement. (We never did anything beyond drive past it all, however. Even though my parents were quite young themselves, it wasn’t their cup of tea.)

  • Nick

    I’d have to disagree John. The whole movement towards livability doesn’t extend outwards to the rest of the city. People who believe that it does live in a “Wiggle Bubble” of sorts.

    That said, I do appreciate the changes and hope they find a way to break the barriers between neighborhoods.

    One example: There’s no uproar when the City sandblasted away a segment of the Alemany bike lanes (at Sickles) and installed a new traffic lane over it without notifying the community. That wouldn’t be allowed downtown.

  • @Nick – there was plenty of uproar when a few connected folks tried to kill the Noe Valley Plaza before it got started. We’re a few neighborhoods displaced from the Wiggle. And we’re not putting in a parklet, we’re closing an entire street. And it’s not the end stub of 17th, it’s an actual cross street. And I think the trial will happen. And I think it will succeed.

    Two things have happened.

    1) A lot more people have unblocked their minds that things have to be the way they are.
    2) More importantly, there are more people who come up with ideas and will organize and sell the ideas.

    And speaking of bike lanes (or at least sharrows) sharrows keep popping up in Noe Valley like weeds. I had no idea so many segments had been approved. Chattanooga from 22nd to 24th, and 23rd from Diamond to Eureka.

  • I love the parklet.

    Now all we need is to transform the deserted building (old theatre?) across the street into new, “old theatre”, or a new community center, etc.

  • thatsmyname

    @Nick:
    “One example: There’s no uproar when the City sandblasted away a segment of the Alemany bike lanes (at Sickles) and installed a new traffic lane over it without notifying the community. That wouldn’t be allowed downtown.”

    They also added another solid white line right turn into the neighborhood a little earlier on Alemany, right underneath the freeway bridge there. I was riding my bike and both of these new surprises kind of threw me off, since i had to deal with a bunch of traffic coming at me all of a sudden. The feeling I had by the time I got to Sickles was “Not f***ing cool SF”

  • bmwlover

    No, we’re not putting in a parklet on Noe St..and No, we’re not closing off the street.

    The project is essentially dead. Look at the HUNDREDS of “Dont Block Noe” signs in the windows of residents and property owners on the adjacent streets.

    Not happening. It’s dead.

    Ask Bevan Dufty.