Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divisadero Work Begins Monday: Next Chapter of "Comeback-kid story"

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi nailed it when he described the revitalization of Divisadero street as a "come-back kid story" already underway. Long before the planning for a "Great Streets" makeover of the prime north-south corridor was completed, neighbors helped preserve landmark buildings and support new and old businesses. Their persistence primed the pump for the structural change being launched next week.
Who remembers the battle to keep Burger King out of the historic landmark building on the NE corner of Fell and Divisadero? Neighbors in NOPA, Alamo Square, Lower Haight, and Cow Hollow battled the burger chain and the city Planning Department for the sake of historic preservation, environmental protections, and local, non-chain operations. The neighbors won before the Planning Commission, and the Madrone Lounge flourishes at the corner now.

The city's Entertainment Commission was shocked, pleasantly so, when many of these same neighbors supported the expanded liquor-serving hours and hours of operation for Club Waziema on Divisadero between Fell and Hayes. Waziema was one of the neighborhood's friendly meeting places, and neighbors wanted it to thrive and enliven that block.

And then there was the battle over the Central Freeway, that contentious issue that visited the ballot three times until finally the configuration that prevails today was approved. Alamo Square and NOPA still contend with the frequent speedway driving on Oak and Fell, but the anti-freeway action helped invigorate neighborhoods further east and calmed the traffic a bit as well.

Expect inconvenience as Divisadero gets its makeover: periodic reduced parking, slowed traffic with side streets taking more of the burden, and a temporary disruption of daily patterns. The work is expected to continue through 2010.

Support the local merchants even more. Here's the chance to help our Divis merchants continue business almost-as-usual. But why settle for that? How about helping our local businesses thrive during the revitalization? Say hello to the Dept. of Public Works crews while you're at it.

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