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Neighbors wrangle what to do with closed Haight McDonald’s

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Homeless youth services or movie theater made of shipping containers?

A photo of the golden arches over a McDonald’s restaurant. Photo by Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

The golden arches have closed forever on the corner of Stanyan and Haight, but some Haight residents still see the strategically located site as a golden opportunity, hoping their own referred uses for the parcel will take root while the city prepares construction plans.

Under the current timeline laid out by the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the Haight site will host an “interim use” for as much as five years before the city begins building, but City Hall does not specify what use that will be. Instead, a series of community meetings, the earliest held in May, will inform the application.

Earlier this month, the neighborhood group Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council [HANC] posted a blog written by former HANC board member Calvin Welch, framing the McDonald’s site as part of a showdown for the identity of the neighborhood:

“New residents, far more wealthy than existing residents, want ‘Haight Street cleaned up’ and are surprised and ‘uncomfortable’ with the street scene. Long-time residents, themselves uncomfortable with the arrival of new neighbors after eviction of their old neighbors, seek a Haight Street that is inviting to more than well-heeled consumers. [...]

Bringing these warring visions of the neighborhood into some sort of common plan for the Haight-Stanyan corner is a challenge made all the more complex by the general infusion of tech money, rampant real estate speculation and a set of elected officials seemingly uninterested in existing residents’ needs.”

Welch also links readers to a PDF laying out expectations for the site’s interim use, including a list of red-line “don’ts”:

1. Don’t leave it vacant and fenced.

2. Don’t allow it to be used as a storage yard for new public or private development.

3. Don’t allow commercial businesses that compete with existing merchants on Haight and Stanyan Streets (bookstores, hardware stores, record stores, coffee shops, food retail, etc).

A chainlink fence surrounding a McDonald’s restaurant with dark, empty windows. Photo by Adam L. Brinklow

The document, which claims to be the “result of many small-group meetings among people living and working around this site,” would prefer the lot split between “community uses,” like movie nights and performance space (complete with a theater design built from converted shipping containers), playground, or community garden, as well as services aimed at Haight Street youth.

“These services would provide engagement day programming for young people via low-threshold, basic need support in a safe, youth-friendly environment,” according to the group dubbing itself Coalition for a Complete Community at 730 Stanyan, which consists of some HANC members and some other neighbors.

You can download the full proposal here.

For Haight residents who want to chime in on the plan or promote one of their own, the HANC advertises the next community meeting for June 27, 7 p.m. at 1525 Waller.