SAN FRANCISCO —The permits from the Shared Spaces Program have been extended until June 30, 2021, according to an announcement from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) on Thursday, Oct. 22. Several businesses have been participating in it as part of San Francisco’s economic recovery.
This program allows merchants to use sidewalks and outdoor spaces —such as parks, parking lots and parts of streets— for activities including restaurant pick-up. Shared Spaces was developed by the city’s Economic Recovery Task Force.
Businesses were concerned because the permits were set to expire on December 31, 2020. Sharky Laguana, president of the SF Small Business Commission, started a petition that asked the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to extend the program for at least three years. He argued that the expiration date prevented businesses from investing in elaborate shared spaces that could help them start recovering from the pandemic and that, according to him, would give San Francisco great outdoor places to hang out.
Back in July, the SF Small Business Commission had also approved a resolution in a unanimous vote that asked for the Shared Spaces Program to be running for three years. The resolution said:
“RESOLVED, that the Shared Spaces program will remain in effect for at least three years, or for the duration of the economic crisis so that businesses, artists, and communities are incentivized to invest in, and beautify the City for all.”
Now, merchants and businesses can renew their permits until next year and new ones can apply too. The renewal process depends on the type of Shared Space. For instance, sidewalk permits and private property permits are automatically renewed and action is only needed if permittees want to modify them. Those who have street closure permits must submit a new application. Curbside lane permit holders as well as port property permit holders need to communicate with the program to renew theirs. JAM permits that are not associated with any Shared Space do not need a renewal.
Mayor Breed said Shared Spaces has allowed many businesses to survive and it has kept many people working. She also said they were considering ways to make parts of the program permanent.
“COVID isn’t over, and this program shouldn’t be either,” said Breed via Twitter. “This extension goes hand in hand with our ongoing work to make elements of Shared Spaces permanent beyond that date, which is one of the recommendations from our Economic Recovery Task Force.”
The creation of the program was announced in late May. As of Oct. 23, 2,025 operators had applied to it and more than 1,700 had received approved permits. You can see a live map of the applications by district and status here.