Car-free live music returns to Valencia Street in SF

After a two-month break, a stretch of Valencia Street in the Mission in San Francisco will be pedestrianized again on Friday and Saturday, allowing locals to enjoy artwork, music and alfresco dining along a four-block stretch.

On July 31, the Shared Spaces program ended its schedule for Valencia Street (between 16th and 17th Streets and 18th and 21st Streets) according to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency website. But since then, Manny Yekutiel, SFMTA board member and owner of Manny’s restaurant/community space, has been working hard to get the outdoor event back on track.

“I was given the task of finding out if we could find a compromise between the SFMTA, the fire service and the merchants in Valencia to close the street,” Yekutiel told SFGATE. “I give a lot of credit to our city services for letting us do this. It was a challenge, but it was worth it.”

Yekutiel added that with the help of Fire Marshal Ken Cofflin, a car-free section of Valencia Street will be effectively resumed every Friday (4pm to 10pm) and Saturday (1pm to 10pm).

Luke Bornheimer, an organizer at Community Spaces SF, told SFGATE that the restoration of Valencia Shared Spaces (the formal name of the car-free program) will contribute to a vibrant and connected San Francisco. In addition, Bornheimer believes the Shared Spaces program has proven to support local shops, bars and restaurants in the Mission District.

“This is an activation of space that people love,” Bornheimer told SFGATE. “It’s great to see it come back.”

Bornheimer told SFGATE via email that he hopes city agencies can eventually work with Yekutiel to also connect Valencia Street between 17th and 18th Street so that “people can have five contiguous blocks to experience this amazing community space.”

The aforementioned section of Valencia Street was one of the first group of city blocks to join the Shared Spaces initiative launched by Mayor London Breed in July 2020. At the time, Shared Spaces was intended to alleviate the financial downturn of multiple companies in SF. Two years later, the program is still aimed at helping salespeople, but it has also turned San Francisco into vibrant boroughs that locals look forward to, with no car traffic.

In addition to lots of artwork, Yekutiel said locals can look forward to live music and plant vendors every other weekend, among other goods. Separate from the Shared Spaces program, the Valencia Street Art Corridor will also settle in Valencia Street, on 18th and 19th streets, on October 8th.

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