Head West Permit ISCOTT Hearing April 22, 2024


SCOTT/Bryant Woo: The sponsor has requested four days, four Sundays specifically. That would be April 4th, June 9th, August 19th, and October 13th. And Jimmy, I see your hand raised. Go ahead. 

Head West/Jimmy Brower: My name is Jimmy Brower. I’m the founder and owner of Head West Marketplace. I’m going to share a little bit of history and background, as well as preface some community concerns, so bear with me. I’ve been partnering with community organizations, neighborhoods, and venues in the Bay Area since 2016 to create affordable and accessible space for local makers, crafters, artists, and designers to pop up and sell their handmade goods, as well as increase visitor-ship into neighborhoods and commercial corridors such as Hayes Valley and create free, kid and pet friendly community gathering spaces for folks to enjoy. In regards to Hayes Valley, Head West Marketplace has operated since 2022 with no incidents or issues that would cause safety concerns. Prior to be calling Head West, the marketplace was operating in Hayes Valley for many years before under a different name. {Urban Air Market} Today I’m applying for four dates similarly to past years to create consistency and keep booth fees for our local creatives as low as possible – as well as offsetting some of the operating costs in San Francisco, which is very high for small businesses. And I think it’s important to note that the events itself create very little to no profit for Head West after each event. So I realize that this may upset some people in Hayes Valley as we’ve seen in the past. I’ve done my best to accommodate their concerns from previous years, such as moving the marketplace footprint off of the 500 block of Hayes Street and Octavia North from Hayes Street to Birch to what I’m now applying for, which is more of a C shaped footprint which consists of the street closures on the 400 block of Hayes Street from Octavia to Gough, both sides of Patricia’s Green on Octavia Boulevard between Fell and Hayes, as well as Linden Street between Octavia Boulevard and Gough -so this would eliminate traffic congestion at the main intersection of Hayes Street and Octavia, as well as free up all the parking spaces on Octavia North from that main Hayes Street intersection up to Birch. I’ve also moved all the dates off of any citywide sponsored events such as Pride Weekends which I know in years past Head West was a little bit of a conflict in June so this will no longer detract from that visitorship or cause traffic concerns. Also I’m going to address on a personal note, after 15 years of living in San Francisco and Oakland in 2020, my husband and I were priced out of the housing market in the Bay Area and chose to move to rural deserts of Southern California to live. However, Head West was founded in the Bay, has all of its roots in the Bay, and only operates in the Bay despite concerns about me living outside of SF County and the city.  It’s also important to note that all head Wests employees, contractors, musicians, staff, and third party operational vendors are all Bay Area locals. And lastly, I think most importantly, head West is supported by the Hayes Valley Merchant Council and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association for all four dates and Head West will be supporting the city recognized organization having become a paying dues member as well as contributing to the broader programming initiatives throughout the year. So thanks for bearing with me as I get through a little bit of history and some community concerns as well as the things that I’ve proactively listened to and hopefully made changes to satisfy a lot of folks. And then, in regards to the logistics I know some questions might come up all booths are small 10×10 structures, nothing larger – all will be properly weighted down – as we all know Hayes Valley can be a bit of wind corridor – all street closures have the appropriate 14 feet emergency access lane and 20 feet from corners, including clearance at all intersections.

Different from last year and previous years no intersections will need PCO officers, and I’ll be reaching out to the Northern Station PD to inform them of our events like usual however we never needed their assistance from having incident free events. We will have ample private security on site, just in case.

And then we will have two music booths, no stages, that will not have generators, but will have sound from small battery powered amplifiers however, most will be acoustic musicians only. And then I’ll be applying for sound permits from the Entertainment Commission. The marketplace will have no food or drink booths as we’re big supporters of the neighborhood eateries, bars, and restaurants. We’ll be also partnering with Recology for all greening, refuse disposal, and cleanup. That’s it in a nutshell. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. and I appreciate you considering the application. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo:  First we have some hands raised. So I’m going to go to ISCOTT members first and I have my own thoughts on it as well, but I’ll save that for the end. Kim, go ahead. 

Kim from SFFD: Good morning, Kim from San Francisco Fire Department. Okay I was just noticing a few things on your sitemap. I’m looking at there being two tents on Linden Street here, which I recall, it’s a fairly slender street… I was wondering have you actually taken measurement and made sure that you have at minimum 34 feet across that street?

Head West/Jimmy Brower: Yes, the street itself will be clear from any any obstructions. 

Kim from SFFD: But is it 34 feet wide at minimum? 

Head West/Jimmy Brower: 34 so we won’t put any booths and also on Linden Street and Patricia’s Green those will not have any 10×10 structures. Those are only table setups which are only 6×10 in in footprint. There will be no, none of that on the actual streets. 

Kim from SFFD: Okay I’ll I’ll get into more detail with you. If you don’t mind, we’ll go over it with the phone conversation on that. And 20 foot corner clearance is also something that you need to have – 20 feet back from any corner – that’s whatever corner it is for us to be able to turn the truck or get apparatus through those areas. And one other thing, I don’t see hydrants. Are hydrants marked on your site? 

Head West/Jimmy Brower: I might have missed that, but there was one hydrant on the north side of Octavia Blvd. off of Patricia’s Green which does and always has at least 5 foot clearance.

Kim from SFFD: And just a couple other things that we need to go through on your sitemap, including how many canopies or tents you can have in a row and there is a closure between tents 44 through 48 where it’s blocking the through fare and the fire lane, technically, to those streets. Those would not be approved to be there, just so you know.

Head West/Jimmy Brower: Okay. Is that something that we can go over? 

Kim from SFFD: Sure can.

Jimmy Brower: Okay, great. 

Kim from SFFD: Absolutely- alright, thank you very much.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Okay, any other questions or comments from the ISCOTT members? Alright then, Lloyd, go ahead.

Lloyd Silverstein: Good morning. This is Lloyd Silverstein. I’m the president of the Hayes Valley Merchant Council. I apologize I am in my car so I don’t have my notes with me, but I come from the position that any event that brings people to our community benefits the majority of our merchants. We’ve seen this both with the Head West events, as well as our Summer Carnival that we put on, and our Holiday Stroll. They really bring thousands of people to the community to eat, shop, drink, and linger in our community. And I do think that Head West has listened to the concerns voiced by the three merchants at the last Scott hearing and addressed them by changing the footprint to move all the impedance of traffic from the 500 block in Octavia north of Hayes and removed all of that so that now it’s going over the 400 block of Hayes, which of course at the time when Head West and I discussed this we assumed that shared streets would still be on that Sunday – but of course that schedule has been curtailed a little bit so it will require an additional permit, but it’s also going to free up the parking spaces on Octavia which I know is a concern for some merchants. And Jimmy really has made demonstrative efforts to support our merchant community. Head West will also, I don’t know if he mentioned it or not, is also going to offer the opportunity to get low cost booths to any of our Hayes Valley merchants who would like to participate. We put out a booth in front of our store and it’s successful for us. 

We polled 18 of the 21 businesses on the 400 block of Hayes Street street and they’re either neutral or support this new schedule. The only merchant on South Octavia is on board she’s actually on our board and she supports this as do all the merchants on Linden of which I am one. I really look at this as a win. I think Jimmy has really stepped up here to try and address the concerns of merchants. I think that the economics for him probably makes sense if he does this more often than not. Personally speaking I would love to see more variety in our activation of the events that we do, but at the moment we don’t have those, and so while we’re looking into farmers markets and flea markets and so on and so forth, this really activates our community in ways that the majority of our businesses really support. One of the merchants who was on the last call with ISCOTT was Elizabeth Leu – she’s a very old seasoned merchant here in Hayes Valley who owns two stores and Jimmy invited her onto a phone call that I was on and we listened to her concerns and although she wasn’t able to be on the call this morning she was aware of all that’s going on and just texted me and says, “yes, you have my support”. She feels comfortable with this, and I know she felt that this affected her business in ways that weren’t positive, but she looks at all the things that we do as a community is benefiting each other and so yeah, I think I think we’d really like to see you support the schedule for us. Thank you.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Lloyd as both you and Jimmy are well aware, we have many voices in Hayes Valley and they don’t always align – that’s why we have these meetings to vet these type of things. Nick, I forget the exact number. How many objections did we receive from this application?

SFMTA/Nick Chapman: 18 in this round.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo:  Okay and to be clear it seemed like the majority of those comments were concerned with the number of events. First, I do acknowledge you avoiding a Pride weekend this year.  There were two key points that were raised by these objections and I did want to voice them on behalf of the individuals who couldn’t be here this morning. The first comment was for events – many of them were in support of the event, but only wanted to see two rather than four. And last year we ultimately did three, I believe. So on behalf of the objections I wanted to make it clear that those objections weren’t to objecting to the closure at all but just to its frequency –  and so is there any consideration or any option to at least to reduce the number of events to three rather than four since we did three last year.  The second comment had to do with what specifically about this closure is incompatible with the ongoing closure that occurs on Saturday. Could you address Jimmy, both those comments? 

Head West/Jimmy Brower: Sure. In terms of the Saturday closure Head West at Hayes Valley has always  been on a Sunday and up until recently the shared streets closure was in effect for Sunday  and I think just recently it was revoked. That’s a permit that has nothing to do with me, but it would have been more aligned with that Sunday street closure if if it were still in place. And then from a scheduling standpoint Head West operates in four other venues around the Bay Area North Bay, East Bay, South Bay and unfortunately having events on those dates would not be on the calendar, or would it be The Head West team and staff and so on and so forth, so Sundays have been the most optimal.  

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: So just to clarify on that point, the closure is originally intended to be in alignment with the ongoing closure of Hayes but since we don’t do it on Sundays anymore that was the complainant’s point – which is to do it instead on the Saturday when the road is already closed. So I can understand your staffing concerns- but the question is ultimately:  is there an incompatibility between the two closures going on simultaneously other than staffing on your end?

Head West/Jimmy Brower:  Head West wouldn’t be able to have its event on a Saturday – it would need to be on the Sunday – and that’s because of staffing, scheduling from other events happening for Head West around the bay. It’s incompatible for our calendar. And then from a personal standpoint Saturday tends to be the most frequented small business shopping day so I personally wouldn’t want to see even more parking spaces taken up on that Saturday versus a Sunday. Sunday tends to be more of a leisurely explore the city explore the bay type of day – in my experience running events for Head West. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: I see Lloyd’s hand raised and certainly he can speak in that regard, right?  I’m only asking and I’m hoping that you can just limit your comments specifically to what your business needs. Okay we have other folks here to speak on their interests.  I’m asking very specifically what is it that make Saturday not workable for you. And the key words I heard was staffing in your calendar.

Head West/Jimmy Brower: Correct. Yes. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Okay. Lloyd I saw your hand raised there. 

Lloyd Silverstein: Yeah, I have a question and a comment. First of all of the 18 objections that you received, how many of them are from merchants? Do you know? 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: I didn’t get an exact number. 

Lloyd Silvestein: I suspect that some, if not many of those are actually not from merchants.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Lloyd I’m not going to have you question the objections.

LLoyd Silverstein:  Understood. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: so I’m going to ask you, this is not our first go – I’m going to say it one time and one time only:  you will limit your comments to specifically your business interests, right? Not on the legitimacy or the comments received from others. I’m not going to go through this. This has got to be the fifth time, and I’m not going to tolerate it. 

LLoyd Silverstein: Okay. As far as my business, it really doesn’t make any difference to us. These events have a very positive impact. Five of the ten busiest days of my year every year are from community events – so these benefit me my business personally well. I know, yeah, so that’s all I can address, but it doesn’t make any difference to me. Some of our events are Saturday, some are Sunday, some are Friday night. When we bring people into the community, it benefits our businesses, the majority of them. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Okay, so it’s good for small business in your opinion? 

Lloyd Silverstein: For my business, yes. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Okay and fair to say that since you have multiple representatives for multiple businesses you would in your opinion they would agree with you?

Lloyd Silverstein:  They do agree with me. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Very good. Again, the comments weren’t about whether the event would be bad or not – the comment was just your frequency. Okay. I don’t want to keep Barry hanging too long. Barry, do you have a comment?

Barry: Yes – just to point out that there needs to be some white zone on Gough Street for pick up and drop off. In this case, pick up and drop off for TNCs and disabled folks and Ramp taxi’s dropping off. It’s not been really well enforced on those other closures when Hayes Street is closed for the Fridays and Saturdays.

And I didn’t even know they stopped Sundays, but it’s always cars parked on the north of the south side of Gough side of Hayes. So it would really be great if they actually were required to have some temporary white zones during the closures, so that people who come by vehicle can actually get dropped off rather than force the double parking on Gough Street, because the double parking just creates a huge mess. I challenge every one of you to take Gough Street between and Fell St…. I challenge you all to do it and your passengers can take a nap during that time period. Thank you very much. Okay. Thank you, Barry. Jimmy, go ahead.

Head West/Jimmy Brower: to address even Barry’s concerns in years past we’ve seen quite a bit of congestion on the 500 block of Hayes between Laguna and Octavia so and that was primarily due to the closure of Octavia Street from Hayes the main Hayes intersection all the way up to Birch. So again, I just want to re revisit that intersection will remain open for passenger drop off, taxis rideshare, as well as all the parking spaces up Octavia North between Hayes and Birch. And then to add another a business standpoint in our canvassing of last year and previous years we’ve noticed a majority in many businesses along Hayes Streets between Laguna and Gough as well as Octavia closed on Sundays, or appointment only on Sundays, so this was also an optimal day to have a street closure event versus Saturday where every business seems to be open. I think that that’s a key component here as well.  And and you also asked about the frequency 2 to 3 to 4 – prior to Head West absorbing the previous event which was called Urban Air, those were two to three times per year -however those booth prices were double to triple the amount for anyone applying – which for me in my business model, that is too high of a barrier for especially underrepresented underfunded and more times marginalized creatives in those communities to afford and to be accessible for. So since I started Head West in 2016, my mission has always been to keep booth fees as low as possible even if that means taking money made from another marketplace and covering sthe exorbitant cost that it does cost to operate within San Francisco proper to ensure that these public spaces are affordable and accessible space for these individuals. I think a lot of other venues that I do have marketplaces in those are even far beyond four times a year- those are mostly monthly, which help to keep booth prices low. Now for Hayes Valle because of the high cost of operating and a lot of things that are mandated which is fine to pay because a lot of it is needed the frequency had to be increased to four times, which is what we’ve applied for in 2023 as well as 2022.  In 2022 we had four events.  In 2023 we were approved by the ISCOT board for three events, and the one event in June was put on pause indefinite pause due to traffic concerns which I think you addressed yourself and for this year I’ve made accommodations and changed things for both the ISCOTT board’s concerns as well as community residents as well as merchants to address their concerns as well. That in a nutshell is why there’s four event dates versus three, or even two, because unfortunately it wouldn’t be feasible. No one can afford or no small businesses especially if they’re local makers and crafters, and artist designer which is 99. 9 percent of the participants with Head West who are all local – they live at home, they don’t have the luxury of having those types of funds. Keeping it as low as possible and striking a balance on the cadence or number of events is really what I strive to achieve. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Appreciate that. 

Head West/Jimmy Brower: Of course. 

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Lloyd, anything to add?

Lloyd Silverstein: Yeah, I just wanted to mention one other thing –  I did my due diligence and I went over to 4th Street in Berkeley and talked to those folks over there – who Jimmy runs this, I don’t know, six, eight times a year – and they don’t have a Merchant Association over there but they do have a landlord that controls most of that space. So I spoke to them as well as the merchants and they have found that the cadence that they’re using works really well for them. The businesses find that this is really helpful to them. And Jimmy is also starting from what I understand – has been invited to participate in a regular program down in Los Altos and State Street. And I know that merchant association down there and I don’t think they’d be doing this if they didn’t feel that this was helpful to the majority of the merchants. I truly understand that there are some merchants that may find negative impacts for some of the things we do but I’m really trying to encourage all of us as merchants to do what’s maybe in the best interest of our community. If maybe one day or two days here don’t work out for us. In my opinion, for me, that’s a reasonable sacrifice that I would willingly make for our community. But I think these things really help and if everybody says don’t do it, I tell Jimmy to go pounce in, and we wouldn’t do any of these things. But what I hear from the majority of our merchants that we represent is that they really appreciate these things that bring people into the community. And these are people who would not ordinarily or otherwise be here, so I’m not sure how it necessarily takes business away that these people wouldn’t be here otherwise. I don’t think my regular customers are thinking I’m not going to come to Hayes Valley because of these events, but I will say, and this is something I’ve encouraged all of our merchants to do, getting a little bit off topic here, but that is, we promote these events. We have a mailing list. We tell all of our customers come to Hayes Valley for these wonderful events we do, the Carnival, Head West, Holiday Stroll. And so it brings business for all of us. And so I always look at this as, the success of my neighbor is as important as my own success. I’ve seen this thing work for the majority of our businesses, and I think it’s something we should do, but, if all my merchants say, hey, don’t do it, we wouldn’t do it.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Okay. I think I’ve been pretty fair and reasonable in giving everybody an opportunity to speak. Here are my thoughts:  certainly I can appreciate Jimmy if your business can’t do it on a Saturday, then they can’t do it on a Saturday – at least for this year. Based on certainly the testimony that I’ve heard from Lloyd and from the concerns raised by these 18 complaints that you’re basically leaving an opportunity on the table to basically do it on Saturday – which would free up a lot of these other concerns, and it’s something that Lloyd and the businesses that he represents actually wants to see. My advice to you would be for you to consider adjusting your calendar or your staffing levels so that you could do it in 2025 on a Saturday rather than on a Sunday. I think you’re leaving something on the table.  That said what’s on the agenda is for 2024 on Sunday – and I’m inclined to call for a vote for the three of the four days in acknowledgement of the work that you’ve already put in and working on your calendar is certainly something that Lloyd and many of the businesses already want to see but leave the fourth one on the table in the acknowledgement of some of the concerns raised and the fact that we did three last year.  I’m a big believer in reasonable compromise. And I think that number could actually go up in 2025 if you were to do it on the Saturday in alignment with the other Hayes Valley Closures. And I do see your hand raised – I’m gonna ask you to be brief- go ahead Jimmy.

Head West/Jimmy Brower:  I am in agreeance about 2025. If the Saturday street closure were to remain, and Sunday street closure was still not active I would be happy to make a pivot and be able to plan in advance for that type of negotiated accommodation. Cause I, I truly do want to make sure that things are as easy as possible and as streamlined as possible. And then if you do vote and approve the three of the four days and the fourth day be left on the table I’d like to recommend approving the first three Sundays and then with a possibility of going back to my calendar and staffing for the Sunday October 13th – to moving that to Saturday to October 12th to align with the current Saturday street culture.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Okay. Noted. Jimmy, something to add? I’m sorry, Lloyd, something to add? 

LLoyd Silverstein:  I was going to say – I think you misconstrued what I was saying but, whether it’s Saturday or Sunday, SFMTA is still studying the Sunday closure as part of the process and hopefully we’ll have an answer on that within the next few months. That’s really all I wanted to just mention is that, I think For 2025, if Jimmy can try and accommodate this that is great. I’m just not sure what difference it makes to the objections if it’s Saturday or Sunday. Because again, the closure doesn’t affect any of the merchants that I’m aware of that seem to be concerned. These are 400 block merchants and they are uniformly aligned in having this happen on Saturday or Sunday -as are the merchants on Octavia and our four businesses here on Linden Street, so that’s all I got.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo:Thank you, Lloyd. I see a new hand raised. Richard.

Richard Johnson: Yes, I have a couple of issues that I would like to suggest to both Jimmy and to Lloyd: A, as a resident that lives in that area, with the street closures and also with ISCOTT, I think you also need to bring in the environmental department, because the air quality that’s affected by these closures, both the shared streets and with this event it really diverts a lot of traffic. Traffic to Laguna, Buchanan and also Gough, get really heavily impacted. And maybe a suggestion to you Lloyd, and also to you Jimmy, is to reach out to the Buchanan Mall because that’s already a natural closed street and it’s looking to be activated and it might be a perfect fit to move the event over to there because that actually has a closure going all the way from Fulton Street all the way up to Eddy and would be a perfect place to activate and to work with the Buchanan Mall to activate itself to be a destination zone which I feel both Jimmy and Lloyd are pressing for.

It would be a natural to activate a low income area instead of a high income area. Those are my comments and also I’d have to say it’s interesting that we have to go to this every year as community members and people who live in the neighborhood. I think you need to address this so that it we don’t have to continually come back to this issue.

ISCOTT/Bryant Woo: Bryant Woo: Thank you, Richard, for your comments. Any other comments? Okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to call for a vote for Sunday, April 14th, Sunday, June 9th, and Sunday, August 19th as written on the agenda – we’re going to table Sunday, October 13th, and Jimmy, you have the opportunity to bring the item back to piggyback a Saturday closure for October 12th as you suggested. I think that sounds like a reasonable compromise. So I’m going to call for a vote for those three dates. Do we have any nays on those dates? Okay, then. See no nays. Three of the dates are approved. Jimmy hopefully we can work something out for that last one in 2024. But thank you to you and Lloyd and Richard as well for all of your comments. And we’ll get this squared away. Thank you.