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Haight McDonald’s housing site now a parking lot

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Planned housing is still years away

The McDonald’s golden arches on the side of a building. Mike Mozart

San Francisco’s most newsworthy McDonald’s restaurant is now gone, as the troubled franchise locale on the corner of Haight and Stanyan closed at the end of March. It was soon demolished to make way for new housing.

However, according to the present timeline put forth by the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the “pre-development” phase could last three to five years before construction actually begins.

In the meantime, Hoodline reports that the now empty site is being put to the most utilitarian, no-brainer application possible—a parking lot, which is now open in anticipation of holiday shopping along the Haight Street corridor.

Of course, that’s what most of the site was used for during the bulk of its existence, as the former burger joint took up only a small part of the roughly 30,000-square-foot property. For the time being parking is free—at least for now.

A chainlink fence surrounding a McDonald’s restaurant with dark, empty windows.
The former eatery, closed but not yet demolished in June.
Photo by Adam L. Brinklow

This still does not settle the question of what to do with the locale while everyone waits for real housing development to begin, as there are still several competing proposals.

In September, Eater SF reported that Off The Grid—which scuttles into any centrally located empty spot in the city like a culinary hermit crab—would like to stage regular food truck roundups there, after being displaced from its previous Haight spot.

At a community meeting in May, Mayor’s Office of Housing Director Kate Hartley said outreach polling showed “high levels of support” for long-term parking uses at the spot, but also “strong demonstrations of opposition” to the same idea.

A potential homeless Navigation Center on Haight and Stanyan proved similarly both popular and unpopular.

The neighborhood also gave a thumbs down to potential retail space (for fear of competing with longtime Haight merchants) and a proposed safe-injection site.

By comparison, suggestions of a flexible community space or supportive services for youth or seniors garnered significant support.

Hartley also mentioned at that same meeting that McDonald’s made demolition a non-negotiable condition of the site’s sale, as the company is highly sensitive about the public seeing vacant or shuttered McDonald’s eateries, even to the point of not wanting to risk one being visible from a plane overhead. Who knew?