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By Liz Highleyman
January brought some good news for Noe Valley merchants: more parking for shoppers and diners on the neighborhood's main commercial strip.
At the request of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, the city's Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) changed the designation of several yellow commercial zones on 24th Street between Castro and Sanchez streets.
In the 4000 block between Castro and Noe, two yellow spaces in front of Le Zinc restaurant and two in front of Accent on Flowers were changed to full-time "general" parking--two-hour metered parking for the general public. Meanwhile, yellow zones were established in front of PlumpJack Wines and the Bank of America building. The two new commercial spots, one of which is near a bus stop, allow room for large delivery trucks.
The 3900 block of 24th Street between Sanchez and Noe saw a net gain of four general-use parking spaces. The four loading zones that once lined the curb outside the Real Food Company and Fresca Restaurant were reduced to two, freeing up two new public parking spots in front of Fresca. Across the street, two yellow zones in front of the Aveda cosmetics store also were converted to regular metered parking.
In addition, the hours of commercial use for several parking spots within the two-block stretch were shortened, enabling shoppers to use the meters for a few hours in the afternoon. Instead of being devoted to deliveries until 6 p.m., about half a dozen yellow spaces were designated for commercial use just until 1 p.m. or 4 p.m., and some yellow zones were freed up for public parking on Saturdays. The start time of 7 a.m. for commercial zones remains in effect.
"A lot of the time after 11 a.m., most deliveries were done and the commercial spots would just be vacant while people drove around the block looking for parking," said Noe Valley Video co-owner Brian Dunleavy, who worked with fellow merchants on the parking request. "That was just ridiculous. This change is good for everyone."
"Part of the vibrancy of a commercial district is parking turnover and availability for people who want to come into the neighborhood for short periods," added Merchants Association President Carol Yenne.
Yenne said the organization, in conjunction with Supervisor Bevan Dufty's office, notified merchants prior to the change and did not encounter any resistance. She credited the DPT's Toni Coe with playing an instrumental role in making the changes a reality.
"The DPT tried to find the right balance to meet the needs of residents, shoppers, and merchants," Yenne told the Voice. "Now there will be fewer commercial spaces, but in locations that make more sense. The extra afternoon and evening hours will help the restaurants especially."
Diagonal Parking Travels to Clipper
Meanwhile, the Merchants Association is working to extend the recently established diagonal parking zone on Castro Street--which now stretches from Jersey to 25th Street--to encompass the block between 25th and Clipper bordering James Lick Middle School.
The group would like to see diagonal parking between 24th Street and Jersey as well, but acknowledges that this is a bigger logistical challenge, due to a bus stop and the entrance to Walgreen's parking lot in that block. On Dufty's recommendation, "we decided for now to take the easier route," said Yenne.
Merchants are also asking the city to install meters or establish a two-hour parking zone covering the first six to eight existing diagonal slots on the block from Jersey to 25th. Currently, there are no limits on how long one may park in these spaces.
"We want to encourage movement, so people will not stay there all day," said Isa Muhawieh, who runs Isa's Salon on the east side of the block.
For now, shopkeepers are content to see the commercial parking changes. The city was in the process of changing meter signs and repainting curbs as the Voice went to press in late January.