SoMa Merchants Also Claim Losses Due to Central Subway Construction
But Will Less-Well-Organized Businesses Get Money from Mayor's Newly Announced Program?
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.”
“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.”
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.