chinatown.jpgChinatown merchants can offer a special sidewalk display in the days leading up to the Lunar New Year next month, San Francisco city officials announced today.

Between this Saturday and Feb. 9, the day before the new year, merchants on Stockton Street between Broadway and Sacramento Street will be able to apply for a special permit to set up displays in the parking spaces in front of their businesses.

The permits, which will cost between $100 and $200 depending on the size of the space, will allow businesses to cash in on the busy pre-holiday period while also improving pedestrian safety in the neighborhood, city officials said.

“We have to make sure that … all of our merchants are doing well and thriving, and this is exactly the type of idea that will ensure that,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who represents the Chinatown neighborhood.

“This is a great opportunity for the local businesses and their customers in the heart of Chinatown,” Mayor Ed Lee said.

While the special permits are in effect, curbside parking will be prohibited in the area between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and delivery trucks will not be able to park or stop during those hours. Health inspectors will also ensure that the displays follow city laws.

This is the second year of the pilot program and merchants “have been well-instructed on how to comply with all the sidewalk rules,” said Pius Lee, chair of the Chinatown Neighborhood Association.

He said it is customary for Chinese businesses to close for the first week of the new year, so the program will allow people to “buy enough Chinese food to prepare” for the celebrations.

“Sidewalk shopping is a long Chinese tradition to welcome the New Year,” he said. “This initiative is a win for the community.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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