SAN FRANCISCO—The city’s Sunday Streets program is returning for the weekend of April 9-11. The program began in 2008 in an attempt to expose San Franciscans to the myriad of cultures and activities different neighborhoods have to offer. It was started by former San Francisco Mayor and current Governor Gavin Newsom, as a combatant to climate change and a public health initiative.
Bayview will be the location of this weekend’s Sunday Streets. Roads will be shut down to vehicles, and residents must bike or walk around the neighborhood’s streets.
The program was shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, and will feature a smaller format, with less people allowed to roam, and fewer street amenities. In a normal year, the program would be similar to a street fair, with resource and information booths scattered around a neighborhood’s streets providing details and background of the neighborhood.
Community groups work with small agencies to shut down 1-4 square miles of a neighborhood.
“It is less of an event and more so focused on experiencing a new neighborhood,” said Katy Birnbaum, associate director at Livable City, a nonprofit organization that helps oversee the Sunday Street program.
According to Birnbaum, who worked in her position for over six years, the program has become a staple of the San Francisco community.
“Anything that has survived 12 years shows how important it is to the community,” Birnbaum said. “It is a San Francisco institution that allows residents to come together to celebrate their community in an authentic way.”
The program began expanding in recent years to offer more retail services and food vendors. There is little focus on the commercial aspect of the program, as it is more focused on “taking in the neighborhoods a little slower than usual,” Birnbaum stated.
Group bike rides is a popular event that the program orchestrates.
In Chinatown, Chinatown Walkway Weekends is scheduled to run every Saturday and Sunday through the end of June from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Grant Avenue between California and Washington Streets.
Bayside Saturdays will be held each Saturday in April from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Hunters Point Boulevard to celebrate the opening of the Bayview Quick-Build walking/biking path.
Sunday Streets will run every weekend starting April 9, with a hope of having standard events and crowds by Fall 2021. Bayview, Chinatown, Tenderloin, SoMa, Mission District, and Excelsior will be the neighborhoods featured in this year’s Sunday Streets program.
Birnbaum stated that these neighborhoods are all “opportunity neighborhoods,” defined as areas with high concentrations of low income or a high minority population.
Birnbaum indicated that Livable City does not have plans to expand the program out of San Francisco, but they are eager to offer help to nonprofits in other cities that are looking to start their own Sunday Streets program.
For more information, residents can visit sundaystreetssf.com.