Proposed Pinball Center Mired in City Permit Purgatory

sfpinball

Last November, many Bernal neighbors were thrilled to hear about Bernal Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth’s plan to open Skillshot Pinball at 1000 Cortland Avenue, on the corner of Folsom. However,  it seems some nearby neighbors were decidedly less-thrilled about the plan, and now Skillshot Pinball’s grand opening faces significant delays as the proposal grinds its way through San Francisco’s bureaucratic maw.

In a newsletter, Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth write:

This is our first letter and we were hoping it might be more exciting, but it’s mostly about bureaucracy and the fact that we may not be opening as soon as we’d originally suggested.

The space we’re seeking to occupy was not previously an eatery or drinkery so though it’s allowed by zoning, we have to apply for a change of use. This isn’t that big of a deal, except for anyone who’s not crazy about having an eatery or drinkery in the neighborhood, these applications allow them opportunities to protest the changes. And that’s what’s happening. We’ve had such a wonderful outpouring of support from Bernal neighbors and families, but all complaints, rightly so, must be properly heard out. Most of the issues surround concerns about noise and the effect on the neighborhood, but some concern mixing sales of beer with proximity to children. On our website we’ve got a list of those concerns and our approaches to how we deal with those issues. And we’ve met with some of the complainants, but we’ve been unsuccessful at changing their minds. They say they love the concept, they think it’s right for Bernal, and they like us, but they don’t want it right next to them. Ahem.

So we’ve had, or are expecting to have, protests against our Change of Use with the Planning dept, our alcohol application with the ABC and separately with the ALU, and the Board of Supervisors approval of our alcohol application. Add that all up and it could be quite a while before we’re able to open. We’re trying to push things along, but it’s probably more like a year now, or even longer. The protests don’t usually keep you from getting the permit, they just significantly slow things down and put conditions on operations (like hours) so you guys don’t have too much to worry about. We’re still totally dedicated to opening up here on The Hill!

PHOTO:: Williams San Francisco pinball machine (1964) at the Pacific Pinball Museum, by Telstar Logistics

72 thoughts on “Proposed Pinball Center Mired in City Permit Purgatory

  1. i understand both sides here, NIMBY and YIMBY, as i live across the street and one house in from a “drinkery” and about every other month (more in warmth weather) i’m greeted in the AM with vomit that needs to be cleaned from my sidewalk. there is also the “pissing nook” where my stairs and my neighbors don’t quite meet (evidently planning and willpower are the first things alcohol suppress; and when drunk a 100 foot U-turn seems a marathon). also closing time drinker noise is much less enjoyable than almost any other city sound – louder, angrier, more disorganized.
    that said, the bar was here before me.
    but if i was here before the bar you can bet i’d want guarantees that they’d be mopping the vomit, cleaning the piss odor, and be ready for the noise complaints.

    • Hi Rick, totally understand. You should actually complain to the police about those issues through their non-emergency line when things like that occur. The bar is actually responsible for the sidewalks adjacent to the business. And excuse my use of the word drinkery, I was just equating with an eatery. They’re not the same thing, but they overlap in a lot of ways (noise outside, noise inside, people smoking outside), though obviously a bar is more likely to have those problems in the extreme.
      Christian (from Skillshot).

  2. With all due respect for Rick & those with concerns about the new establishment, I’m under the distinct impression that to reduce a location dedicated to pinball, even one that serves beer & wine (I can’t imagine they’re getting a full liquor license) to a “drinkery” is an erroneous comparison. A better comparison would be to a place like Urban Putt, which also serves alcohol, & I’ve experienced as a positive space. You see families with children, teens, and young adults of the Mission enjoying themselves, with the typical age & beer drinking quotient increasing as the day/evening goes on. I have no data to back this up, but I kind of doubt that Urban Putt customers get stinking drunk & puke all over the sidewalk.

    The reality of businesses like this is that adults enjoy adult beverages and the way to survive as an even relatively successful business is to serve these beverages. We live in a City, and to fight against the things that define a City (like fun and unique ways to play and socialize) always makes me sad. Let’s not aim to live in the dull suburbs & instead support businesses with positive, fun, and family-friendly ideas. I don’t even have kids, but believe that having all-ages spots are very Bernal Heights. The idea that beer & wine are served in “proximity to children” seems a non-issue. This is true in homes, restaurants, etc. I’m sure Skillshot’s got it figured out & if not, the City will be all too happy to help them out.
    (Full disclosure: I love pinball! Can’t wait for Skillshot to open. 💕)

    • hi från.
      the “drinkery” descriptor was from how the owners of the planned establishment describe their business in their own newsletter above. any “reduction” is thus theirs, and pretty fair. even the owners admit they need to sell alcohol to make this work.
      i might add that i also live a block from a wine bar and eatery that serves more alcohol than this place will – and miraculously no-one who eats and drinks there vomits in front of my house!
      its not the alcohol alone that is the issue, but the use and the hours of business that i’m sure the neighbors (particularly the rent controlled tenants above) likely complain/worry about.
      a place that transforms into “a hip little gem”(also from the owner’s description) with crowd noise, cheering, and such (including pinball clinking) until midnight or even 10PM is not my idea of something i’d want to live above in a 100 year old building. and the rent controlled tenants here likely have few options for moving in the neighborhood.
      yes, there are ways to mitigate, to “figure it out”. but life is so much more complicated that your reductions or your sadness. put yourself in the tenants above position. they are used to a salon with salon hours, not a saloon with saloon hours.
      i too like pinball and alcohol….BUT i wouldn’t want to live above or next to an arcade.
      that said, i have no dog in this race….but i understand why it is a race.

      • If you don’t want to live in a commercial zone DON’T move into a commercial zone! Sheesh! Move to St. Francis Wood, Park Merced, or Bayview/Hunters Point if you want to get away from commercial businesses!

  3. The tireless NIMBYs strike again. NIMBY is a funny acronym because they are typically protesting about things that are not actually in their back yard, but on somebody elses property…

  4. So…if I’m reading this right, the proprietors have to pay rent for a whole year (or longer) without any revenue coming in? That’s a huge risk!

  5. For those of us that support Skillshot, is there anything we can do to help? Would more letters of support help push through the bureaucracy?

    • Hi Linda, thanks for offering support! Letters of support are appreciated, but part of the long wait is actually just getting on the calendars with these agencies. If someone submits a protest to Planning for instance, Planning schedules adjudication for the next available chance it can- which just happens to usually be four months out. So it takes the three month process and extends it to seven. That’s just how it is and part of what I encapsulate in the term bureaucracy.

  6. Put me on the list for support. When I heard about it I thought it was a great idea. I am 80 years old and disabled but I was looking forward to the opening. I like the idea of the kids being allowed. It would be great for the neighborhood. On the corner of Cortland and Ellsworth the creamery that was going in is still waiting and it has been over 2 years. The Sillshot would be a great asset to the neighborhood.

  7. Hi Everyone. I am one of the apartment tenants in the building which comprises 1000/1018 Cortland Avenue at Folsom. There are 8 apartment units in the building and the tenants are unanimously opposed to the Pinball Tavern. Not because of what it is, but because of how dramatically it will impact the quality of life in our homes.
    The building tenants did meet with Christian and Elizabeth to discuss the plans and our opposition. We love the concept and we all agreed that we would certainly be patrons if such an establishment were to open in Bernal Heights but not directly above where individuals and couples live. They are a lovely couple and we loved their enthusiasm for the project. They indicated a willingness to work with us but the one thing they could not promise, ensure or guarantee was that our homes would not be impacted by outside noise that did not previously exist.
    The building we live in was built sometime between 1910-1917. It is a completely uninsulated, 3-storey wooden structure with walls made of lathe and plaster. There is no insulation between the floors and ceilings on any level. All but a few windows face either Cortland Avenue or Folsom Street or both.
    There are a number of concerns that the tenants have with regards to the Pinball Tavern, but the primary and overriding concern is that the business owners cannot control the noise levels outside the building as individuals and groups enter and exit the establishment during business hours that are listed on the ABC Application as 8:00am-2:00am.
    There has never been an “entertainment” and “bar” business in the retail space (based on current tenant recollections going back 40+ years). Retail tenants of 1000 Cortland over the last 32 years have been most recently a hair salon for 10+ years, a Samoan grocery store and a dry cleaners (cleaning done off-property). The space has been vacant when not occupied by these businesses. The hours of operation for all these businesses has been approximately 8:00am-6:00pm. The businesses were all “service providers” where individuals would go in and have their hair done, buy specialty groceries or pick-up their dry cleaning.
    Changing this space to an “entertainment” and “bar” business will dramatically impact the foot traffic and outside noise at all hours day and night and this alone will substantially negatively affect the quality of life for everyone living in the building. Given the age and construction of the building, the proposed business and the proposed permit hours, our work days, our at home leisure time and our sleep will be so adversely affected with absolutely no way to prevent the outside noise that will invade our apartments. What was once a sleepy, quiet little corner of our building after 6:00pm, will now become a beehive of noise and activity, permitted until 2:00am in the morning. Again, no amount of restrictions, such as reduced hours of operation will prevent the outside noise.
    There are plenty of other issues we can raise but it all comes down to, is it really right to disrupt the quality of life for the people living above the Pinball Tavern. Try to imagine having a Pinball Tavern in your garage and the windows to your home directly above the entrance and tavern. Would you want your home invaded like this?
    Yes, we will continue to oppose a Pinball Tavern at 1000 Cortland. By all accounts the Planning Commission rubber stamps all projects without consideration of the impact to people, so we aren’t hopeful there but that is only the first step and we will continue to oppose it at every opportunity.
    I’m sorry I’ve rattled on so long but I have been a resident of 1018 Cortland for 32 years. It is my home, my street, my corner, my community and I can’t fathom the Bernal Heights community supporting something that would be so devastating to so many people. Thank you.

      • I think Patricia’s post and explanation is a completely reasonable one, expressed in a completely reasonable and understandable way. And that’s why these types of permits are “conditional use” permits, and not permits by right. I like pinball, and places to go out with my kids, and I love Urban Putt. But nobody was living above Urban Putt. There is a reason we have zoning and planning regulations and this is a textbook example.

      • Sally, would you welcome the likely huge, permanent change to your own life if you were in her shoes? If you’re okay with it, propose to Patricia that you two switch homes.

        It is not NIMBY–as the term is derisively meant–if the effect of a new development objectively, directly, and negatively affects your life in substantial, tangible ways for the long-term.

        By Patricia’s description, this is not a nice home going up a block down her street, or something that will block her window view, which may attract complaints that are a matter of subjective taste and habit, and can be considered NIMBY. It’s a new project directly adjacent to a century-old dwelling place, for a business that will be open late into the evenings that will have the expressed purpose to attract people and create noise.

        Sometimes, there is a level of common-sense awareness that leads to some “neat” ideas not coming to fruition. This looks like it may be one of those situations.

    • Is it really “your” street and “your” corner, though? Its not. I live by there and I want it. I dont feel as though my personal preference should be registered there, and I dont think that your personal preference should either. If there are some rules or regulations being violated, those should be addressed, but I dont see how it matters that you wont like the business moving in there. You live above a commercial space, of course this was going to happen at some point.

      • Well, the creation of a “drinkery” in the space had never been done–while many other very quiet daytime businesses, which represent the majority of businesses, apparently operated there for years–so your logic is vacant.

        Anyway, we tire of the libertarian strains on Bernalwood, the kinds that echo “drill, baby, drill,” and think no one’s opinion–except one’s own, of course–matters. I hear Rand Paul is moving into the neighborhood, or already has.

    • Patricia, thanks for stating your objections so clearly.

      I think you are right that this would have a significant effect on you and the other (presumably rent-controlled) residents of the building.

      Personally I’d love to have that kind of business in the neighborhood, and I don’t know how the city weighs the various interests in its conditional use process. But if it does go through it’s worth acknowledging that it is likely to have a negative impact on the building’s residents.

    • Patricia – As a neighbors of 32 years and more ourselves, from right around the corner, let us know how I can help you oppose the change of use.

      • Mr. D, thank you for your kindness, compassion and offered support. If you wouldn’t mind slipping a note through our front door mail slot with your contact information, I will reach out to you offline. Thank you.

    • Otis you know nothing about the changes I’ve had to deal with. You sound crusty and ignorant. This is classic NIMBY because it’s about selfishness and conservatism. The pinball place is owned by other bernal residents who seem eager to work with the upstairs residents to come up with solutions that work. Also, a lot of people in the community obviously want this to happen. But the nimby says “Sure I support this, but somewhere else, and I was here first and there is nothing that can be done to make this 100% risk free for me so I will fight it to the bitter end.” That is so greedy! The progressive thing to do is to collaborate with your neighbors, work together and find compromises that allow the business, the residents and the community to win together. The progressive thing to do is to work this out locally, instead of wasting everyone’s time at boring meetings downtown. Patricia, why don’t you go talk to some of the neighbors who live near Urban Putt? Ask them how its going. Ask them what they would ask Urban Putt to do differently or add now that the business is up and running. Then try asking the Skillshot folks to make those kinds of improvements. Be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

      • Sally,

        Of course, I don’t know what changes you have gone through–and you know nothing about me, either–but that’s not germane to this particular situation or my comment.

        I do agree that speaking to others–like those who own Urban Putt, as well as the UP neighbors–is a good idea, and that is what the pinball wizards should do, if they have not done that. They should be proactive in pushing their plan by gathering information based on concerns; that is not the job of those who voice concerns. If the conclusion is that the proprietors need to invest 1OOK to make improvements, is that a “solution”? If they are willing to do it, it sure is.

        Conditions of buildings vary widely, which is why one should gather information from both those who own UP and those who live near it–if a “solution” is to be found.

        Already, Patricia has spoken to those who wish to open the establishment, and they seemed to have had very good and open communications. And she still has concluded, after engaging at a personal level that most concerned parties about development changes do not, that the change will be enormous to her quality of life. I mean, we can disbelieve her or tell her to go away, but why is doing that more “progressive” than taking her view of matters?

        I don’t think the situation should be labeled “progressive”–where did this term even come from?–because there may be a solution that hugely accommodates one side and greatly and negatively affects others. That is not the definition of “progressive,” at all. That is a Trumpian solution, not a fair one. Believe me, believe me…

        As I said, sometimes there is a dead end to ideas. Not everything is possible.

    • Hi Patricia, Thanks so much for writing! This is Christian, from Skillshot. The arguments you laid out and what we’ve discussed are pretty accurate to what I recall. The ABC license does list 2am, but we just chose that hour at the urging of a clerk who thought we might as well put in the most. I never intended to be open that late and still don’t. Lastly, we didn’t intend for this to be a negative campaign against our protesters. This was a newsletter sent out to our subscribers that Bernalwood picked up. Of course, newsletters are public so there was always a chance it would end up here, but just know we didn’t go out looking to malign anyone.
      Best,
      Christian

      • Hi Christian. It never crossed my mind that you were maligning us residents. We all feel we have a good relationship with you and Elizabeth despite being on opposite sides of the fence and I hope you feel the same. As I said to you when we met, I’m sorry we have to oppose the business because you are lovely people with a wonderful vision. Thanks for reaching out!

    • Patricia: With all due respect and compassion for your situation: You will survive. It is just noise. Noise comes with living in a city. Or in the country. Or anywhere. You will adapt unless you let your mind become unhealthily fixated on the issue and you don’t let your senses do what they normally do: acclimatize.

      You live in a district with zoning that allows for this use. It doesn’t matter what has been there before. It is allowed and you will have to cope with change, and so you delay, hoping it will go away. Why not just embrace this LEGAL, desirable change in your building and try to negotiate mitigations?

      You already have the mindset of doom and despair. That isn’t healthy. Remind yourself why you live where you live. This neighborhood is already INSANELY more quiet than it was only 10, 15 years ago. An arcade in my building would be a welcome reminder that I live in a living, breathing city and not the Stepford wax museum it has become.

      (I know this won’t have any effect…)

  8. Ridiculous. Bowling allies serve beer. Children bowl. Bowling allies don’t serve beer to children. It’s not as though this kind of business is going to draw the kind of crowd say, Clooney’s, does.

  9. I support the idea of this business but sympathize with the tenants as well. Most of us would talk to our neighbors about walking on their hardwoods in heels too often, much less open a bar/pinball arcade.
    It’s unusual for the bar to move in after the tenant, bars often either use the upstairs apartments as an office for exactly the reason these tenants are concerned or the tenant has agreed to the terms of living over a bar.

  10. NIMBYism is why San Francisco can’t have nice things. Half the residents of this city really want to live in Walnut Creek that has a facade of being urban. I wish they’d move to Walnut Creek already.

    For years I lived across the street from a bar that had karaoke night every Thursday night. It was loud! And my young son would complain about how the music annoyed him, made it hard to study, made it hard to hear the dialogue on his tv shows. I told him to suck it up. Cities are noisy and we chose city life. Deal with it.

    Then something happened. He realized that he knew more 80s music than any of his peers. And he came to love 80s music because of all the songs that came through our windows every Thursday. And that love affair never stopped even after we moved.

    When George Michael died, who do you think was playing his music in tribute all week? It wasn’t me…

  11. Thanks for the update on the pinball spot as I was wondering why nothing seemed to be going on with the space.
    What ever happened to the planned ice cream place on Cortland and Ellsworth?

    • An ice cream place on my block? Can you imagine the kind of ruffians an ice cream place will dredge up? We should fight this tooth and nail!!! I’m sure there is some old building codes we can waste our time researching that will give us enough to keep this an abandoned store front for at least 18 months more!

      • The Bernal Heights Produce building that the creamery intends to occupy is a free-standing building. Different situation than the Skillshot building that also has existing apartments with tenants.

  12. Coleridge Dude:
    “It’s unusual for the bar to move in after the tenant, bars often either use the upstairs apartments as an office for exactly the reason these tenants are concerned or the tenant has agreed to the terms of living over a bar.”

    I’m sorry, but this is simply false. I know plenty of bar/club owners in the City and this is not the case. Many can barely afford their own space, much less renting out apartments above so as not to bother anyone. I have friends who’ve had new bars move in next door to them, as well. It happens. Regularly. Regardless of our opinions in this matter, let’s do our best to keep fact from fiction.

    • I should correct myself—BARS don’t move in at all (Hey I know club owners too! I can name at least 3 that rent the units upstairs for office space). If the noise were an existing issue, you’d take it into account before moving into the adjacent unit and the rent would reflect the compromise (i.e. units above Armory Club, El Rio, Zeitgeist). But again, those are bars, not arcades with beer/wine, those examples may be a bit hyperbolic.

      I hope their business works out for everyone and will definitely give the place a try—perhaps the onus should be on the owner to sound proof (won’t happen, the lessee is always responsible for these costs), but don’t act like you wouldn’t complain if your downstairs neighbors made noise at an hour your felt unreasonable.

      I can’t imagine why someone a few buildings away would be stressing about this. Hill people problems.

  13. Patricia. You live in an apartment building above a storefront. In San Francisco. A CITY. A dynamic, vibrant city. If you don’t like the noise that comes with that set-up; MOVE. The rest of us had to move here to get away from people like you. Thanks Patricia!

  14. Patricia. You live in an apartment building above a storefront. In San Francisco. A CITY. A dynamic, vibrant city. If you don’t like the noise that comes with that set-up; MOVE. The rest of us hady to move here to get away from people like you. Thanks Patricia!

    • Benji, how can you be so rude to our neighbor? She has lived in her home for 32 years so I am certain she knows that she lives in a dynamic city. Storefronts vary and this one had a permit for a **different** type of commercial business, not an eatery or drinkery. Surely we can all acknowledge that businesses vary.

      Frankly, your argument is so shallow that it’s hard for me to believe you can’t see the flipside of it, which might look something like:

      Pinball People. You want to make a profit in a neighborhood where people live. In Bernal Heights. A NEIGHBORHOOD. A dynamic, vibrant neighborhood. If you don’t like the humans who live in the neighborhood; (sic) MOVE. The rest of us (well this part is just ridiculous so I’ll let that go)… Thanks Pinball People!

      • Auntie R, – Bravo. Before living in Bernal, in the ’70s, I rented in the Lower Haight. 3 different apartments, each the floor above a commercial space. In selecting all of them, I made sure to research the use permit for each business. My rents were significantly higher than they would have been if I’d rented similar spaces available above bars and restaurants – significantly higher. I paid a premium for the tenants below me in the commercial space. I paid a premium to live in quiet buildings.

        You want to open a space for customers drinking beer until 2:00 AM every night in a space that is (haha) a “bar?” Go find a place with a liquor license.

        Does anyone believe that the pinball machines receipts are going to contribute to the business financially? They’re the ironically nostalgic / nostagically ironic fig leaf element that attempts to cover the continued tumescence of soft liquor license issuance.

        And please, all, stop with the veiled disparagement of rent controlled units. If it wasn’t for rent control, the pulblic school educators who teach your city’s children- many of the parents of whom won’t be able to afford a beer in the new Bernal “drinkery” – wouldn’t be able to live here.

    • Benji, “The rest of us had to move here to get away from people like you” ….Holy Crap! Benji. Go back to wherever you crawled from! We need less and less and even more less of you in Frisco.

  15. From Skillshot’s statement of their plans:

    Sound from the business:
    We will be hiring an acoustician and installing sound dampening both for sound transmission and deadening. We will have a policy against propping doors and windows in the evening which leads to lots of sound bleed. Most bars do this for ventilation and so we’ll be installing HVAC to mitigate that need.

    http://www.skillshotpins.com/support-us/

    • thanks so much for the link! how did you find it?
      really. “cause they say on their blog” is this generations equivalent of mine’s “i’m from the government and i’m here to help”.
      “we will hire…”. is a statement, like “let’s make america great again”.
      anyone can make one.
      the devil remains in the details.
      surely you get that and can thus understand the tenant’s above concerns.
      if this 100 year old building still has knob and tube electrical than forget insulation foam or high density fiber insulation for the upper levels ( i suspect a complete electrical redo for the pinball arcade but that will not solve transmission above). the wood framing, the venting ducts, and any pipe will still transmit sounds. some frequencies are harder to mitigate. and then there are the historic windows.
      double sound dampening drywall with a layer of green glue and a suspension system will help, as will soft sound panels, but there remain few guarantees in this – or in life. there are reasons to put sound generating businesses in cement boxes.
      after all new electrical, and insulation, and sound proofing drywall, and the addition of soft surfaces, my edwardian is quieter than most; but $50,000 did not solve sound transmission. we called our last renter’s adorable daughter “princess clydesdale”. house rules and neighborliness keep it sane for all.
      but my neighbors are not an arcade.

      • Hi Rick, you bring up good points about the difficulty of sound transmission abatement, but we are fully committed to ensuring neighbors above us don’t experience undue noise. We’ve lived above and below loud neighbors who threw crazy parties or opened “businesses” that were just party spots. And we also live across a bar in Bernal that does a lot of the things that we vowed not to do (because of sound). We’ve actually gotten used to their sound and don’t really hear it anymore, but we’re planning on taking a different tack our of respect for our neighbors.
        Lastly, could we leave out the analogies to Trumpism, Libertarianism, Progressivism? There’s no ideology behind our opening of the business or our approach to it. We got in to this to open a pinball arcade because that’s what we love and we think the family-rich neighborhood of Bernal would really benefit from it. There are locations available on Mission just down the way, but that’s not the kind of patron we want to have. We’re not in this to sell beer, but we have come to hear that a lot of parents do actually want this feature. Someone else mentioned a boiling alley and we think that’s an apt comparison to what we’re after. Feel free to write us if you want to discuss this more.
        Best,
        Christian

      • hi christian.

        you have class. your replies are great. but if i was in patricia’s shoes i would still not want to live above your planned business. i’d guess you and patricia have very different definitions of “undue”.
        i’m a small time landlord who works in STEM and i went into the gut remodel of our duplex assuming sound mitigation was much more of a science than the art it is (if you want to preserve any of the building’s history or old architecture).
        personally i can sleep through a hurricane despite growing up in rural silence; my husband on the other hand remains very sound sensitive and has still lived in vibrant urban settings since his teens. the one sound that can always get to me is his unhappiness. many people don’t just get used to sounds.
        as for trumpism/libertarianism, the replies above are peppered with your supportors telling people (that you are personally being kind to here) to move, or that they are entitled or selfish or that they are the problem with SF. maybe you might want to disavow that to them? they are being much less kind in your cause.
        i wish you and patricia a way through this but don’t feel a governmental ruling will necessarily be fair to all (as it rarely is).

  16. Auntie R, Mr. D, I believe you did your due diligence researching apartments so that something like this would happen… I have to second Mamielles sentiment… It seems like a lot of people that live here would actually prefer to live in the less populated and less complicated suburbs. I’m not sure whats going on but you might free yourself from this routine urban churn if you did, and spare us all this permit purgatory.

    • Part of living in this complicated city is dealing with “permit purgatory” when you want to open a business. That is the law and the process in San Francisco, the urban place you claim to understand so well and belong to more fully than myself and Mr. D.

      It’s unfortunate that the business owners have decided to publicly pit themselves against their neighbors, who are following the process to oppose something that will impact their lives. If you read my post, that is my concern: the vitriol Benji lobbed at his neighbor and the unfortunate choice of the pinball/bar business to claim moral superiority here against their neighbors.

      Bernalwood: Does this click bait help our neighborhood?
      Bernal: Do we all hate each other? When I read this blog and the comments I sometimes think we do.

      • Hi Auntie Reba, just to clarify, we didn’t seek this to be a public campaign against our protesters. I made sure to note this to Patricia as well. This was a newsletter we sent out to people who subscribed to it through our website. That being said, the newsletter is not exactly private since anyone can subscribe to it, but we wouldn’t have sought to run a story against our protesters. We’re just updating supporters that our timeline has changed and letting them know why.

        And yes, part of living in this city is dealing with the permit process which has many layers to ensure everyone is happy and that there’s a balance struck between residents and each other and businesses. We understand the process and are carrying on. We made sure to do zoning research with the city and consultation with professionals before engaging with the landlord at this location.

        I think a small part of the problem is that not everyone has a clear vision of the business and might be imagining the worse- we’re designing ourselves to be kid- and family-friendly first. Visualize an ice cream parlor and you’ll be much further along in understanding the vibe. This isn’t going to be a barcade like Brewcade on Mission, or the new Coin-op in the SOMA. But of course any patrons coming to the location will generate noise and since the businesses before us were 9-5ers, it will potentially be a change to the residents above. We’re trying to mitigate that from happening, but that’s part of working through this whole bureaucratic process.

  17. Don’t need a scaled down Dave and Busters in Bernal – find a strip mall.
    Remember Skips, Remember when the neighborhood Center would hold the raunchous youth nights. The noise is not from within the building but from the kids and partygoers standing out in front and on the corners smoking and hanging out, walking to and from their cars (mostly from). Yelling, screaming, loud cars and motorcycles, gangs………This neighborhood has grown beyond this.

      • Alcohol and youth and smoking and hanging out…..what could possibly go wrong?
        Trash, noise, sideshows and yes gang activity, Maybe you are to young to remember.

      • Sounds like Rocketrob hasn’t been to a pinball center in a long time.

        I spent a lot of time hanging out with friends at an arcade in the 1970s, and today’s pinball centers are really different. Rob, go visit free gold watch in the haight or the pacific pinball museum in Alameda. You may be old, but getting out might do you some good because things have changed a lot.

  18. Not sure why my first comment was not published, but let me try this again.

    For those wondering, the neighbors on either side of Urban Putt are Airbnbs. I think one is a part-time Airbnb while the other one is 100% a full-time Airbnb called Vinyasa House Mission. I think that’s why they’ve had an easier time with neighbors — they aren’t permanent residents.

    The original residents of Vinyasa House Mission (before it had that silly name) were rent controlled families that lived there for many years before they got bought out by the new owner. They did object to Urban Putt going in, but I believe they met with the owner and something was worked out. Unfortunately, the unit directly next to Urban Putt was cleared out soon after it opened. UP didn’t directly cause that, of course, but that is what happened.

  19. while I appreciate the efforts being made by the owners to mitigate the concerns of the people living over the business, I fully understand the well-founded worry from shifting to living above a 9-5 business to living above a business that plans on staying open later, serving alcohol, and having a stream of people go in and out in the evenings. Soundproofing the celing/floor is the easier part, keeping your patrons from “whooping it up” in front of your house as they enter or leave at 11 or 12 is the harder part.

  20. -1 to those telling Patricia to just suck it up. Her concerns are valid.

    I would love to see this pinball venue open up. But I also value my neighbors’ quality of life. There is a process for working these issues out, and both the would-be pinball magnates and the neighbors are participating in good faith. There’s just no call to be rude or dismissive to any party.

    • I agree with you.

      And after the later comments here from one of the business owners, I was glad to know that they were not seeking this public forum to malign the neighbors. In their newsletter posting, I thought they sounded really reasonable, until they let out that “Ahem” and all this ended up on a blog. Good to know that it’s Bernalwood stirring the pot, not the hopeful business.

  21. Dear Neighbors, for those of you in support of the residents, we do not have a website and quite honestly it is premature to send letters of support right now anyway.

    According to a communication from the Planning Commission as of January 12, 2017, no Change of Use permit application has been filed by Skillshot LLC, so there is nothing that we can “officially” oppose through the Planning Commission. We will know when the application is filed because a notice has to go to property owners and occupants within 150’ of the site. That is when we can oppose the application by paying $600 to file a Request for Discretionary Review to the Planning Commission. If there is a community organization who will file on our behalf, the fee is waived, but we have just started reaching out to community organizations. If you have any recommendations, it would be greatly appreciated. As best I understand it, if the Planning Commission does not grant a Request for Discretionary Review, there are no hearings before the Planning Commission and the Change of Use goes through without hearing any opposition to it.

    With regards to the Alcoholic Beverage License Application, nothing can go forward with this application until a Change of Use application has been approved and since the Change of Use application hasn’t been filed yet, nothing is moving on this either. There will be hearings about issuance of the ABC license because we have protested the license with the ABC and our protests do meet the Grounds of Protest per the ABC regulations.

    So I will write back when Skillshot LLC officially files for the Change of Use. And again, if you know a community organization that might be willing to file a request for a review by the Planning Commission, please let us know. You can write to 1018 Cortland Avenue, SF CA 94110 and one of us will get the letter. Thank you!

  22. Well, well, well, another Bernalwood pour-gas-on-it post – gather up yer pitchforks, folks! As if we ain’t got enough problems of outrage out there. Todd.. you just can’t help yourself, can you?

    Patricia & Christian – you both sound like fine people, and I applaud your commitment to keepin it civil, despite Bernalwood’s unwelcome 3am tweets.

    Channel your outrage into something bigger – get out to march this weekend folks – leave the various tenants of the building alone to work out their own issues.

    • Oh please. Todd posted about newsletter he found on the business website. It’s about Bernal, it’s a potential new business, and it is exactly the sort of thing he is always interested in. It led to Christian and Patricia having a very civil and informative discussion that I thought was helpful to the neighborhood and outlined the issues in a very neighborly way. Todd has done nothing to inhibit that, there are no pitchforks from Todd, Patricia or Christian, and I’m glad this blog is here so that the rest of us can benefit from the discussion. Let’s cool it with the trumped up outrage.

      • ahem… from whut i read, Christian and Patricia had those civil discussions offline and away from the pitchforks crowd. and Yup, yer right… it’s the sort of thing he’s always innerested in. Sorry if I was stating my feeling… I don’t think this topic is best discussed in an anonymous forum, specially when the affected parties did not ask for it – people just love to wave pitchforks and fling poo.

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