Stephen and Rob--- but still no Jack
My main points stand: The garage was built with private money, and it will be turned over to the city when the bond is paid off with the parking fees. Proposition J had this to say about the Concourse Authority:
Its primary mission is to assure access by all San Franciscans to the Park and to provide environmental and transit improvements to enhance the experience of visitors to the Park, in accordance with the Golden Gate Park Master Plan (subject to the provisions of Section 10 of this ordinance) and for the public interest, convenience, welfare and common benefit of the residents of the City and County of San Francisco.
Note, Stephen, the part about "access to all San Franciscans," which is never mentioned by you or any of the opponents of the garage. The new garage provides easier access to the Concourse area of Golden Gate Park, especially for the very old, the very young, and the handicapped.
Stephen Willis keeps confusing the "public" and "private" aspects of the concourse garage. The MCCP was formed only to build the garage and to raise money to do so as per Prop. J. The garage, which cost around $40 million, was built entirely with private money and cost the city's taxpayers nothing. The Concourse Authority exercises oversight on the whole concourse project and is/was always nothing but a public agency that operates under the authority of Rec. and Park. Once the concourse project is complete---which will be very soon---of course the Concourse Authority will no longer have any function. MCCP is responsible for nothing but the garage.
Many garage patrons will be happy to pay $2.50 an hour to park in the garage to visit the new de Young Museum, which, by the way, belongs to the city and was also built with private donations to the tune of $200 million. Willis is suggesting that the garage will be a source of profits for the MCCP and will not be turned over to the city once the bond is paid off. If he has evidence to support this charge, he should produce it.
Actually, it's not clear what Willis is really saying: Is the garage a boondoggle that's eventually going to be a burden for the city's taxpayers, or is it a profit-making enterprise for MCCP? It can't be both. Actually, there's another interpretation: The city is getting a new museum and a new garage, neither of which is costing city taxpayers a dime. If the bigshots and those who donated the money to build the garage want to have a party to celebrate, who cares? What exactly is the problem here?
And then finally, I responded to your claims published under: "Ken Garcia/Garage Concourse Debate."
Rob Anderson is correct when he refers to "the new garage underneath the Concourse---which will be the city's when the revenue bond is paid off...." Even Anderson must acknowledge that the garage can not become a "gift" until the bond financing is paid off, if ever, and that the ground lease is for thirty-five years. Presently the garage is privately owned and operated under the authority of this private ground lease to Warren Hellman, George Hume, T. Robert Burke, Richard Bingham and Dick Young, all principals of the Music Concourse Community Partnership (MCCP), a "private, non-profit, public benefit corporation." In 2003, Chamber of Commerce President Lee Blitch first used the term "gift" to describe the private garage: "Once the loan is paid off, the garage, a financing security deposit and a reserve fund will all be donated to the city. This donation is worth more than $70 million. The total value of the gift to the city is $122 million, plus several million dollars per year in garage revenue after the loan is repaid. San Francisco has no risk, but gets all the reward." (Financial masterpiece demands final brush strokes.)
In a few months, funding for the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority will run out and the Authority will expire. The public has an interest in learning now what oversight functions currently held by the Concourse Authority will be transferred to the Recreation & Parks Department (RPD), and what parts of their jurisdiction over the Park, if any, have been transferred to the private MCCP. Contrary to Rob Anderson's claim, there is nothing being gifted to the City at this time, or at any time for free. Garage patrons are being counted on to provide the "private funding" to the garage operator, and which is used to pay off the bond holders. Until the bonds are paid off, the garage is private property belonging to a private corporation which is providing tax-free investment opportunities to other private parties.
Last week the private MCCP mailed out private invitations to selected community members for an upcoming private event honoring Mr. Hellman and Mr. Hume and acknowledging their great work on behalf of the private garage. The event will be held next Monday morning (December 19) in the New de Young Parking garage. Since this MCCP celebration is an RSVP event, it is unclear whether or not the public is welcome or may attend without an invitation. It is also unclear whether independent news reporters and photographers have legal access to this event since it's being called by a private corporation and being held in their private garage. For Rob Anderson to describe the garage as a "gift" to the City, thirty-five years in advance of the planned gifting, is disingenuous at best.