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Proposed bike lane outside SF Rock venue sparks controversy

According to the petition, the SFMTA’s current intentions to add protective barriers to bike lanes would eliminate more than half of on-street parking, and the neighborhood has mostly residential parking lots and parking garages. Given the shortage, the petition sees this as a serious problem. Given the band’s need to load up the club with equipment, Bottom of the Hill said on her Twitter that certain changes would wreck the venue and lead to its closure.

That’s when a bike advocate piped in and left over 200 comments on the post. Among them were users who said they were planning to boycott the venue.


Co-owner Kathleen Owens has run the venue for 31 years. Located at 17th and Missouri Streets, Bottom of the Hill is known not only as a starting point for local bands, but also as a small room to see touring acts (notable upcoming bookings include Homeboy Sandman, Mustard Plug and Black Lips). Owens believes there was some context missing in the concert venue tweet.

“Somehow this has become a bottom-versus-bike coalition, but it’s not,” Owens said.

Bottom of the Hill first made their name in the 1990s, booking now-famous indie bands like the White Stripes and Arcade Fire before they got big.

Leslie Hampton

The proposed changes could impact many other businesses in the region. “We have a skateboard factory, a repair shop, a food distribution center and an apparel manufacturing facility,” Owens said. “Many of these people have worked in these places for so long that it will be devastating for them,” he said, citing the needs of employees traveling from out of town.

Although not protected by a physical barrier, that section of 17th Street already has a bike lane that is frequently blocked by delivery vehicles. Former cyclist Kepa Askenacy, who lives in the neighborhood, co-founded the Save the Hill neighborhood advocacy group, which lobbied for existing bike infrastructure in the early 2010s.

“What I saw on Twitter yesterday was terrifying,” Askenacy said. “Kathleen fears she will lose her business. I can see people on the bikes fearing they will be killed. These are extreme reactions to what is happening, What’s happening is that SFMTA isn’t doing its job, not talking to stakeholders, not making sure everyone is happy and safe with compromises. “

The SFMTA agreed that misinformation was being spread, leading to the misunderstanding that the project was further along the development process. SFMTA representatives said there are currently no official design proposals and no mockups shared by the neighborhood have been submitted for official review. The outreach program has just started and information mailers will be sent to residents. Companies have been contacted for input, and a public forum is expected to be held in late fall. Construction is scheduled for spring 2023, according to the SFMTA website.

Regardless of the status of the design plan, however, BOTH co-owner Lynn Schwarz said all versions of the plan are said to eliminate parking.

SF Bicycle Coalition spokesman Nesrine Majzoub has expressed support for the new protected lane. She called 17th Street an important bike stop for Mission and her Bay neighborhood, while acknowledging the concerns of businesses like Bottom of the Hill.

“We hope that the new designs that emerge from this project will address existing curb management issues, reduce the impact on business, and protect the safety and lives of those biking down 17th Street.” says Majzoub.