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Swapping Parking for Public Space on Irving: Merchants May Have Warmed Up

Most merchants on central Irving Street in the Sunset may have come around to the idea of turning 12 parking spaces into sidewalk extensions with greenery and stylized seating fixtures.

A proposed concept for a bulb-out and "resting area" at Irving Street and 22nd Avenue. Image: DPW

At an open house community meeting last week, the opposition to the proposal seen at the previous meeting in August seemed to have largely dissipated, based on reports from some city staffers and merchant association members. Any remaining concern apparently comes from owners of businesses that front the small chunk of parking spaces that would be replaced with the bulb-outs, though they might actually stand to gain the most as their part of the street becomes a more attractive place to be.

"It's going to bring tourists, people who have never been around Irving Street," said Awadalla Awadalla, owner of Irving Pizza, located just off 19th Avenue. "It's more business for us, more jobs."

The plan for Irving between 19th and 27th Avenues presented at the open house by the SFMTA and Department of Public Works was essentially unchanged from the proposal shown at the previous meeting. That seems to indicate that complaints about losing a small slice of the 400-some parking spaces on or adjacent to Irving didn't carry much sway.

As we've reported, a small, unscientific poll of 30 respondents on Irving, gathered by DPW from door-to-door visits and an earlier public meeting, found that most people didn’t drive to get there -- a result similar to those of more comprehensive surveys done in several other SF neighborhoods.

In addition to the sidewalk extensions, the plan will include more visible, patterned crosswalk markings, along with new trees and a re-pave of the street's notoriously dirty sidewalks.

"If you come in the afternoon, around 22nd and Irving, there's no room to walk around. You just want to get out as fast as possible," Awadalla said of the only intersection in the proposed plan to get bulb-outs on all four corners, which planners and merchants have deemed the focal point of the commercial stretch. "If you take out a couple spots, and make the sidewalk bigger, people will feel better. They can walk around, get a drink, sit down, and chat. It's going to be more 'homey.'"

As a neighborhood resident, it sure is refreshing to find that not all merchant groups are dominated by a hidebound obsession with car storage.

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