The social media pitchforks came out when Valencia Room was accused of using sharp nails to deter loitering in their parklet, but the nails are now removed and the bar insists vandals did the nailing.
Mission District nightclub Valencia Room took some online razzing over its pastel neon sign when it opened last year, but that’s nothing compared to the sharp criticism they’re getting for some exposed, pointed-up nails applied to their parklet benches. The nails were spotted and posted to Twitter Monday as an “An SF horror story” of anti-homeless hostile architecture. But the Chronicle spoke with Valencia Room’s manager Peter Tam, who said this was the work of vandals, and he added that “We sent someone there immediately to resolve it.”
An SF horror story......#1/5: I was walking down Valencia Street with my daughter yesterday, doing some final shopping in local businesses. We walked by the parklet in front of @TheValenciaRoom and thought we might sit as we had been walking for a couple of hours. pic.twitter.com/LqgQDJWMBX— Coco Auerswald, MD, MS, FSAHM (@AuerswaldCoco) December 22, 2020
SFist can confirm that as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the nails and the boards are indeed removed from the benches.
Hello Ms Auerswald - Thank u for bringing this to my attention. We've been closed for many weeks n subject to much vandalism n mischief on our outdoor space. Seems like someone has removed the top layer of our benches/cushion leaving behind nails. Contractors to resolve ASAP.— The Valencia Room (@thevalenciaroom) December 22, 2020
If Valencia Room is guilty of leaving nails out to chase away homeless sleepers, they’re sure not acting like it. Management responded “Thank u for bringing this to my attention” within an hour or so, the offending nails and boards were quickly removed, and according to the Chronicle, “The bar filed a police report and submitted the security footage for police review.” This differs from the usual Kubler-Ross Stages Of A Venue Getting Bad Publicity, which more typically involves the club digging in its heels over an alleged homeless menace, then blaming City Hall and the media and writing a self-absolving Medium post.
The nails are now gone, as seen in the above image of the very same parklet booth, taken just before 1 p.m. Wednesday. But it was clear from the aftermath that the spiky boards had been drilled into all 14 benches of Valencia Room’s 7 parklet booths, probably with a power drill.
Each bench still has telltale drill holes where the nail-bearing planks had been placed.
Capt. Caltagirone spoke w Valencia Room who indicated they have video of individuals taking apart parklet, leaving exposed nails and screws, which were removed yesterday. It has also been said that this was done before w similar photos. SFPD reviewing video & looking 4 suspects. https://t.co/95idN9DSUD— Bevan Dufty (@BevanDufty) December 23, 2020
BART board member Bevan Dufty jumped into the fracas for some reason, backing up Valencia Room’s version of events. Is it really plausible that vandals did this? It could be. Maybe deplorable teens did it. Or do recall that the infamous Clinton Park anti-homeless boulders were paid for by neighborhood residents, so maybe some irate NIMBY neighbor took matters into their own hands. Valencia Room says they submitted a police report and security footage. So their story could pan out, and if suspects are apprehended, Valencia Room is probably owed an apology (that they will never receive.)
There’s a much broader issue here, though, in terms of what to do with these currently-unusable parklets. Above we see another of Valencia Room’s parklet tables, covered with abandoned food packaging, discarded batteries, and empty cigarette boxes. Businesses put a ton of money into things that they now cannot use. And they can’t control what happens to these unmonitored spaces under the current outdoor dining ban. There has been some online chatter about using the parklets as mini homeless shelters, but that would take a lot of effort and money, and has no transition plan for what to do when the temporary outdoor dining ban is over. The far more reasonable and humane option would be getting more unhoused people into hotel rooms, many of which are still sitting empty, and being paid for with taxpayer dollars
Top Image: @AuerswaldCoco via Twitter
Other Images: Joe Kukura, SFist