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Workers returning will find ‘the city’ has really changed

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    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — As businesses begin to reopen in San Francisco, at some point, a lot of people are going to be returning to work. When they do, there will be some shocks and surprises awaiting them in the City by the Bay.

For many the trip into the City begins on Lombard Street. Those returning will be happy that the bone-jarring potholes are now being fixed with a major resurfacing project.

The Van Ness median work is still going on, but now there are places where you can see what it will look like when the center bus-express lane is finally finished.

There are now areas on the Embarcadero where the bike lanes have been completely separated from traffic with concrete curbing and plastic pylons.

“It limits the damage that you can do when you have cars kind of cycling in and out,” said one cyclist named Eric. “I’ve been in a couple of close calls and this is really a benefit, so, I appreciate it.”

And while there is less traffic, Tyree Marzetta said there are also more obstructions.

“You know, they have outdoor dining literally in the street next to parking meters, so be careful and be aware of that,” he advised.

Still, those who have been away may be disturbed by how quiet the streets and sidewalks are now.

“We’ve probably gotten used to it,” said resident Nicole Kaufman, “But, yeah, it does feel weird that there’s not as many people here, congestion here.”

With so few people, many lunch spots are no more. On the entire block of Drumm Street between California and Sacramento, the Oasis Grill is the only restaurant still open.

“This street used to be a very busy street, full of the high-tech guys from all these buildings,” said owner Osman Zughayer, “and now it’s like a ghost town. Nobody’s here.”

Nikhila Berry just returned to work in the City, so she’s able to see the upside as well.

“I was allowed to make a U-turn in the middle of the Financial District,” she said, “and not block traffic at, like, 9:00 this morning, so that felt really good.”

But Ron Divino doesn’t like it at all. He spends his days cruising around the Embarcadero in an electric cart with his sunglass-wearing Chihuahua, Monster Man, putting smiles on the faces of tourists. He says it’s gotten pretty lonely lately.

“We’re in the habit, me and my dog, of going around and making people happy and smile, embracing all the people from all over the world that come here,” he said sadly. “And we can’t do that no more. We miss that.”

It may be a while until the old San Francisco returns. And, if nothing else, the pandemic is making people appreciate what the City had to offer.

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