SoMa Merchants Also Claim Losses Due to Central Subway Construction

But Will Less-Well-Organized Businesses Get Money from Mayor's Newly Announced Program?

Folsom/4th--future Yerba Buena/Moscone Station. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted
Folsom/4th--future Yerba Buena/Moscone Station. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted

A business in San Francisco’s Chinatown could receive up to $10,000 from the city to help bring back customers ostensibly lost due to construction disruption from SFMTA’s subway project, according to a release from Mayor Lee’s office about a new “Central Subway Mitigation” program. Along the same tack, the mayor is asking SFMTA, Public Works, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to develop a Citywide Construction Mitigation Program.

Although the Central Subway Mitigation program is reportedly in response to lobbying from Chinatown advocates, businesses in Union Square and on 4th Street, along the subway’s route through the South of Market neighborhood, are equally impacted.

“Business is down forty percent,” said Angela Jigmed, owners of Panta Delux Cleaners on the corner of 4th and Bluxome. Her business has been there for ten years. “For us it’s been very hard. Customers can’t stop here because of the construction.”

Angela Jigmed in her shop.
Angela Jigmed in her dry cleaning shop.

“It’s terrible. It’s dropped twenty to thirty percent,” said Steven Yam of Latte Express, across the street from Jigmed’s cleaners. He’s also been there for over a decade. “Customers just disappeared.”

Steve Yam, owner of Latte Express and 10-year veteran of the neighborhood, reported business down 40 percent
Steve Yam, owner of Latte Express and ten-year veteran of the neighborhood, reports business is down due to the Central Subway construction.

Others reported that conditions were even worse a few years back. “They were drilling pylons,” said Steven Oliver, the manager of Cockscomb, a restaurant at the corner of Freelon and 4th. That’s right near the portal where trains will climb up to street level. In 2014, he said, 4th street was closed completely. “Guests didn’t plan on an extra fifteen minutes to get here.”

Many business owners outside of Chinatown, according to reporting from the Examiner, decried the mayor’s mitigation plan as favoritism to a “politically active neighborhood.” The Examiner quotes Steven Lee, a shareholder in Chinatown’s Sam Wo restaurant, responding that “there are a lot of reasons commercial corridors are struggling citywide, but in Chinatown, it’s very clear that the Central Subway delays have had a crushing effect on already struggling businesses.”

Meanwhile, Jigmad, Lam, and Oliver, as well as others Streetsblog spoke to on 4th Street, said they were unaware that the mayor’s office was preparing an aid package for businesses impacted by the Central Subway.

The SoMa section of the Central Subway. Image: SFMTA
The SoMa section of the Central Subway. Image: SFMTA


Aaron Peskin, Jane Kim, London Breed and Norman Yee listen to public comment and staff reports about small-business losses due to construction projects. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick unless otherwise indicated

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