SFist talked about C.W. Nevius' article a couple of weeks ago regarding Little Bird Coffeehouse's "Kafkaesque journey" to obtain a permit for outdoor seating on the sidewalk, which named Lower Nob Hill community organizer David Overdorf as the instigator for the delay. (Overdorf is also the coiner of the term "Kafkaesque journey" in reference to this case.)
The article attracted lots of residents from the Tenderloin and other neighborhoods as far as North Beach who came into Little Bird to show their support. There were also lots of angry folks villainizing Overdorf, and things quickly began to feel like a witch hunt.
This afternoon, Nevius, much taller than we anticipated, organized a roundtable discussion between Little Bird owner Chelsea Addison-Torres and Overdorf. Tagging along were Lower Polk Neighbors Chairman Ron Case, this SFist correspondent (and Little Bird customer/employee), and Chronicle photog Liz Hafalia.
We all sat at a literal roundtable in Overdorf's basement and went over the details of the eight-month long case. What it comes down to is that Overdorf, who has lived in the neighborhood for thirteen years and has witnessed numerous, big fires there, simply filed an inquiry about the sidewalk tables' proximity to the fire escape directly above in reference to the Department of Public Works' public safety code. Overdorf takes public safety very seriously.
In a perfect world, this inquiry would have made its way to the Bureau of Street Use and Mapping (BSUM) within a timely manner, like a day, a week, or even a month. BSUM would have measured and painted a square surrounding the fire escape landing area in which the tables and chairs are prohibited, and the fire department would have signed off on it the next day, or week, or month. And Little Bird would have had their sidewalk seats by last fall at the latest.
But in this case, the process got blundered every step of the way, creating lots of unfortunate misunderstandings. Luckily, once the two parties were finally able to meet in person, they quickly worked things out. In fact, Overdorf declared that he's going to come in for coffee at Little Bird and tell his friends to go there too. To be honest, after all is said and done, this SFist correspondent feels safer knowing Overdorf is our neighbor.
Fingers crossed on that permit though.
For more details on the story, see Nevius' latest column.
By the way, Little Bird (835 Geary Street) serves delicious Ritual and De La Paz coffee, along with Bob's Donuts and the delectably vegan Pebbles Donuts. They also offer tasty breakfast sandwiches, bagels, and other vegetarian/vegan brunch fare. -- Just a few of the details that got lost in the cracks of this story.