Neighbors Work Together to Oppose Outdoor Seating at “La Urbana” [Updated 12/6]

[SEE BELOW FOR UPDATES]

First, some background detail on the issue… Please scroll down to flyer section for instructions on how to protest this permit application.

If you live near La Urbana restaurant on Grove Street & Divisadero, you may know what an inconsiderate nuisance they have been to so many neighboring homes since they opened last year. 

The drunks screaming up and down the block late at night

• The filth on our sidewalks and and puddles of pee on our doorsteps and driveway

• Their open garage doors letting the entire indoor noise of their bar room ricochet up the street, loud enough to prevent sleep, or getting work done inside nearby homes even with the windows closed

• The half-empty beer cups and bottles left in front of our buildings for us to clean up

• Their staff and customers using our front stoops as their private smoking area, intimidating local residents, and arguing or getting high right under our bedroom windows, late into the night.

… all we’ve been forced to deal with since the night they opened. This isn’t the Mission. Yes, other neighborhoods deal with worse… that’s why we love living HERE.  Other neighborhoods are zoned for it, and other neighborhoods have those kinds of problems due to a large number of businesses contributing to it there, not because of one single bar generating an entire neighborhood’s worth of problems by itself.

Every single other bar, restaurant, and outdoor business in this neighborhood, including the one with a large outdoor seating area directly across Grove Street from La Urbana, all have found ways to be successful without creating any problems for the neighbors.

But 9 different attempts (that this writer knows about about) to talk face-to-face to the management about these problems, including a two-hour meeting in July between three of their managers and two neighbors, have never produced one single action at all on their part to improve the problems.

The problem isn’t that we residents aren’t willing to share this block with thriving businesses. It’s that a business moved in that isn’t willing to share this block with residents. 

• The last time this writer complained about the noise in person to Sandra, one of the owners, on June 29 at 4:30 pm, one of her managers who I didn’t know approached and aggressively antagonized me, as she stood there silently for 10 minutes, before she finally simply told meCall whoever you want, we don’t care about you. and they kicked me off the property.

• In a two hour meeting between local residents and several managers, La Urbana’s management did not accept or put forth even a single idea for reducing their disruptive impact on the neighbors’ lives inside our own homes. • They’ve heard about our complaints with them, and don’t care, and after repeated complaints have done not even a single thing to reduce the huge nuisances they create for the neighbors.

• They know they’ve made living next door to them unbearable already, and instead of doing a single thing to lessen their impact on the neighbors who live in adjacent homes as close as 3 feet away, they want to make the problem worse.  

Now they’ve put up a notice in their front doorway that they’ve applied for a permit to put 14 tables, seating 36 people, outside on the sidewalk that our bedroom windows overlook, operating longer & later hours than their nuisance ballroom: operating at full capacity outdoors almost under our bedroom windows until midnight on weekends and 11pm every other night. 

To give you an idea how much noisier it will be: they applied to place 14 tables outdoors. Their open-air garage bar, which has been the source of all the problems described above, only holds 7 tables. So we’re looking at 3 times as much noise (the current 7 tables + 14 new), with two-thirds of it now completely outdoors instead of only partially exposed to the outdoors. 

Following is a last-minute flyer which was distributed to residences in the neighborhood after discovering La Urbana’s permit application notice:

Dear Neighbors,

PLEASE HELP!

No 36-seat midnight sidewalk seating area for La Urbana restaurant (corner Grove St. And Divisadero)! They are requesting a permit to put 14 tables, seating for 36 people, on the sidewalk until Midnight every weekend night, and until 11PM every other night.

Please ask SF Dept of Public Works not to approve Sidewalk Seating Permit #14TC-0547 for La Urbana by emailing a complaint to modesta.jacquez@sfdpw.org before the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 4 (Yes, that’s in just a day or two… they sneakily put up the 10-day notice low, in the side of their recessed doorway, facing away from Divisadero, where most pedestrians and vehicles can’t even see it—during a week when many people go out of town for Thanksgiving.)

6 nearby neighbors have already sent complaints in, and several more firmly promised to send one. But we don’t know how many complaints it takes to stop them from getting a permit, so every single neighbor complaint helps. If they get their permit on Thursday afternoon, we won’t be able to do anything once it’s done. If you find out afterwards that the outdoor seating is a nuisance for you, it’ll be too late.

Even if their noise doesn’t bother you personally, please consider helping out your neighbors, many of whom are very bothered and at their wit’s end with La Urbana. There’s also a safety issue for children, sidewalk accessibility & safety issues for disabled people… there’s plenty of good reasons to oppose a big restaurant seating area on the sidewalk on our residential side-street, besides the noise it will create for the nearby homes.

For more information, or to ask to be kept up-to-date or help with other issues this neighborhood needs to work together on to keep it livable for the residents, please write grrr@groveresidents.org .

See more info at http://www.groveresidents.org/urbana

 

UPDATE #1, December 5 2014:

I forgot to mention, La Urbana played a little game of “Where’s Waldo” with their public notice. If you’re up for a brain teaser, play the La Urbana “Where’s The Public Notice?” Puzzle Challenge!

UPDATE #2, Dec. 6, 2014:

The comment period is closed, and if everyone who said they sent a letter did send a letter, we should be in good shape. The last neighbor to call DPW to ask for information about complaining was asked, “Doesn’t anybody have anything nice to say about them?” Personally, this writer finds that a little gratifying.

Once definite news comes out, it’ll be posted here. Remember you can write to grrr@groveresidents.org and ask to be notified by email as things happen. Your email address will never be shared with anyone else or used to send stuff you didn’t want, period.

—Your reluctant neighborhood activist

About Author: GroveResidents.org
A community point of contact for issues & discussions related to the rights of tenants and homeowners on and around Grove Street in the Popeye's Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco, CA