Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Garage litigation is finally over

The litigation over the new garage underneath the Concourse in Golden Gate Park is finally over. Both the SF Chronicle and the SF Examiner had small stories about a decision issued by the First Appellate District that brushes aside an attempt by Trees Not Cars and Save Golden Gate Park to undermine the Music Concourse Authority's ability to use parking fees to service the construction bond debt. The decision, dated March 21, 2006, is available online (Go here, click on "Opinions" on the upper left hand side, then click on "Unpublished," choose "First Appellate District," and scroll down to March 21, where you will find the case, which is number A107888. It's much easier to print out from this web site than from the Municpal Court site, where you have to print out one page at a time. This decision is a mere 18 pages.)

Apparently I've been understating the price tag on the garage in my earlier posts, since the Chron story ("Garage's Final Legal Challenge Rejected," SF Chronicle, Bob Egelko, March 23) says that the Music Concourse Community Partnership raised $36 million in donations and then another $19 million in private financing, a $55 million gift to the city. That fact bears repeating: This is a $55 million gift to the city of San Francisco.

No public money went into the construction of the new garage, and no public money will go into its operation as the debt is paid off with parking revenue. Once that debt is paid off, the city will own the garage outright, and all revenue will go to the city. Overall, the opposition to the garage has been misguided and, at times, unprincipled, as it used hyperbole and misinformation to try to convince the public there was something wrong in accepting this huge gift from Warren Hellman and his friends. Both entrances to the garage are now open, and skeptics can drive into the garage from either the Fulton St. entrance or the inside-the-park entrance on Academy Drive to visit the new de Young---another huge gift to the city---and Golden Gate Park around the Concourse area. The garage was beautifully done, as it's completely invisible from the Concourse.

For some legal context on the latest decision, you can find Judge Warren's Aug. 10, 2004 Statement of Decision, and his June 16, 2005 Statement of Decision at http://www.sftc.org/ where you enter the case number, 427163 after clicking on "Case Number Query."

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