I have lived in Polk Gulch just shy of 20 years now and I have seen this area go through a hard change in the last eight years. I recently read articles in the Chrons Sf Gate and past articles in the SF Examiner regarding the noise on Friday and Saturday nights in my neighborhood.
Lower Polk was a complete disaster about 10 years ago, walking up that street after dusk was extremely dangerous and I was a younger man, well just turned 30ish. Crack heads and Heroine addicts were plenty full, commercial properties were boarded up and gratify was more than an art form on many of the store fronts.
It was just plain dangerous to venture out doors after dark for want of Hookers, drug dealers and their customers for want of a better word.
Small businesses are what make a neighborhood and lower Polk street has seen its share of dodgy establishments. But about eight Not five years ago as the examiner reported things began to change for the better.
The most constructive change came when a restaurant called The Holy Grail opened. This place in my opinion had no godly reason opening in Polk Gulch it was swanky and too posh for my hood, but there it was and thank god it did open. In my humble opinion this one business changed the face of the entire neighborhood.
I literally seen the owner of that establishment call the police every time a bum or crack head ventured near the front door, overkill maybe but it worked every time. He forced well nudged the Police to do their job. Local businesses noticed the change virtually over night.
So it began, the change from a dilapidated cesspool to a thriving close knit community of small businesses.
But with success comes a price. Yes a few more bars have opened and yes there are many people out on the streets on Friday & Saturday nights. It’s a little noisier but it is no North Beach with multiple night clubs spotted all over. There are drunk patrons on the street at night but tell me in what neighborhood there is not?
I finally feel safe walking in lower Polk at any hour of the day or night! Certain neighbors claim the crowds are out of the control of the local bar owners.
I say no they are not, last night a Friday night I was out among those so called crowds, I seen a local camera crew whom came to witness the so called mayhem probably because of the previous “examiner article” interview patrons about the noise issues. What this camera crew seen was uniformed security staff with guard cards, yes I asked, do a damn fine job keeping the side walk clear, I intentionally lit up a cigarette, yes I know they are bad for me, but I did so out side the front door of McTeagues, one of the security staff came over & told me about the local ordinance regarding smoking in front of licensed businesses, i.e Bars and Restaurants and very politely asked me to move to a legal smoking position. Of course I did but my point was to his demeanor and is professionalism, I was shell shocked to say the least, this is a door man? Why have I not seen door men act like this before now?
Lower Polk Neighbors Association, I am going to ask you one question, where the hell were you guys eight years ago, why are you complaining about noise on Polk street now, every single business on Polk street owes it’s success to the the very unique bars that ventured here at cost I would imagine, how many of your members actually have lived on this street prior to five years ago? I would probably make a safe bet that the neighbors who are complaining about noise have not lived here for more than five years. Yes they have a right to complain, I am not taking that away from them, but the only reason they live here now is because the very establishments they are ranting against are the same establishments that cleaned up lower Polk in the first place.
How many board members from your illustrious Association actually live in the Neighborhood? How many board members own Condos or rental property in said same neighborhood?
Some of these bars stop serving at 1:15 just to appease their neighbors, for those in the bar industry between 11pm and 2am is when they make their best sales, you do the math!
Between Mcteagues, Maye’s, Lush, Vertigo, Hemlock, R Bar, Blur, Edinburgh Castle, Hi Lo, Playland they employ over 100 people, they all entice people to our neighbor hood every weekend who in return spend money in our local restaurants and cafes.
Every restaurant and store owes its daily success to the bars in the hood, there is absolutely no question regarding that statement.
Now local neighborhood associations are complaining about the noise after hours, in a recent Sf Gate article the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association which is one of the few Neighborhood groups I actually respect issued a statement regarding the noise situation. While these groups have a point when it comes to the noise especially on the weekends, middle Polk sees nothing like lower Polk street when it comes to noise levels. In fact the Sf Gate article fails to point this out, so one should not be confused when it comes to bars located in the central stretch of Polk, Cinch, Bigfoot lodge, Amelie, Shanghai Kelly’s, Bell Tower, Red Devil Lounge then there are those bars off the beaten track but still considered middle Polk, Wreck Room, Zeki’s, Hyde Out and Encore all these venues re located in the Goldie locks zone, (Middle Polk Neighborhood Association area) Polk Street from California to Broadway, Van Ness to Leavenworth. One should also consider that lower Polk street bars are within walking distance of Middle Polk venues and vice versa.
You so called Polk Gulch neighbors need to get off your high horses and wake up to the fact, if there were fewer bars on lower Polk street then it would still be a shining shit hole that it was fewer than eight years ago. You cannot move into a hood like Lower and Middle Polk street and start complaining about noise, when the fact remains the probable reason you moved here in the first place is because the very establishments you are complaining against are the ones who cleaned this area up in the first place. I have no time for someone who moved to my hood, can clearly see its a vibrant hood, both day and night, then start whining about noise. You were either blind to it from the get go or you were just plain stupid moving into such a busy area.
I’m sorry but No you cannot have your Cake and eat it too!
I have been Middle Polk street neighbor for close to 20 years, I have traversed thru lower Polk for the same amount of time to get to work and for one of many real residences I applaud the work these establishments have done to change my hood for the better. I would never walk thru lower Polk street after certain wee hours of the night, because it was too dangerous, I know many of you never saw this side of our city, but trust me, we have things way better now. No more hookers, crack/heroine heads, dealers an far fewer bums to contend with, I walk up Polk street now not having to look over my shoulder ever two minutes. No more boarded up properties, graffiti is at a all time low.