First time in months SF's Haight St. clear of construction for holiday shoppers

A San Francisco street improvement project is on hold for the holidays. The hiatus is aimed at helping businesses in the Haight. 

For the first time in months, Haight Street in San Francisco is clear of construction equipment making way for shoppers. Business owners say they couldn't be happier. "They actually have a holiday moratorium," said Christin Evans from The Booksmith. "So, between Thanksgiving and New Year's there's no construction at all. So, all the construction signs are gone, all the parking is back."

The city is about one year into a planned two-year project aimed at improving transit on upper Haight and making the street safer for pedestrians. What that's meant is construction equipment everywhere, and parking nowhere. "We wish we had a magic wand to make construction projects go quickly, they do take time, it's a lot of work," said Rachel Gordon from San Francisco's Department of Public Works.

The department says it has been working with businesses in upper Haight to put a hold on construction for the holidays. "We certainly understand that for a lot of the businesses, especially the small businesses the holidays are crucial," said Gordon. "It's really what makes or breaks their books for the year."

Evans said the hiatus is critical for the survival of small businesses going into the most important retail time of the year. "The month of December we do three times any other month," Evans said. "And the 10 days before Christmas are, like, 10 times normal. So this is basically when we make a good portion of our money that helps us continue through the New Year." 

Shoppers hanging out on Haight say following the hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they're making a decision to spend their money with small businesses, and are shopping locally. "When you go into a smaller shop there's less to look at, but it's organized and more intimate," said shopper Fredda Bates.

Locals saying shopping where they live saves local businesses. "We have these great shops, great store owners great storefronts right in the neighborhood," said Katherine Roberts. "We could be using, and walking to and taking transit to and taking advantage of this incredible neighborhood that we live in."

The construction hiatus runs throughout the holiday season. Construction on the Haight Street improvement is expected to resume January 2 if weather permits.