Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Concourse garage: a huge success

Now that the Academy of Sciences is open in Golden Gate Park, the city's voters have been thoroughly vindicated for passing Proposition J in 1998 authorizing the construction of the garage under the Concourse. The Academy has received nothing but rave reviews, and people are waiting in long lines on weekends and holidays to gain entrance. http://www.calacademy.org/

The 800-space underground garage---completely invisible from the Concourse itself---is often full, belying the hysterical claims of opponents of the garage that it would degrade Golden Gate Park, wouldn't make any money and become a financial liability, even though it was a $55 million gift to the city, thanks to Warren Hellman and friends. Supporters of the garage were called "enemies of the park." I was called a liar and a coward and accused of being in the pay of Hellman or somebody when I wrote favorably of the garage and the Concourse Authority.

And guess who the main opponents of the garage were? The city's bike people, of course; they hate anything that makes it easier for people to drive in the city. Proposition J also promised to turn the Concourse into a "pedestrian oasis," which it now is, thanks to Mike Ellzey and the Concourse Authority. The 200 parking spaces that used to mar the surface of the Concourse are now gone, and one only sees pedestrians, cyclists, Muni's Southbound #44 line, tour buses, and the occasional auto in the area. Those who park in the garage can conveniently visit the Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Arboretum.

An interview with Mike Ellzey, Executive Director of the Concourse Authority

Click on "Concourse Garage" below for more history of the garage project.

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6 Comments:

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A huge success at flooding the park with a queue of cars that backs up both 9th Avenue and Lincoln Blvd (and every transit vehicle that tries to go through there).

The garage is not invisible. There are giant entry/exit chasms that can easily bee seen from the surface, one of which diverts pedestrian traffic around it at right angles.

Having that garage there has some considerable impacts on the surrounding area and the issue of through-traffic cutting through the 'pedestrian oasis' concourse has not even begun to be resolved.

The 'bike people' were right to be suspicious.

 
At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the garages have made it better on the Concourse, there's more traffic than ever coming from 9th Ave on the south end because the entrance was placed inside the park.

We were promised the entrances would be placed outside the park when we voted for Prop J, but the Southern entrance was built inside the concourse, halfway through the park, and it means a line of cars all the way down to Lincoln honking at each other.

Some progressives (your "bike people" I guess) sued to protect the voters wishes and keep the traffic out of the park, but the courts ruled against them and allowed this traffic jam to be created inside the park.

I'm sure you have someway to justify this extra traffic being good because your "bike people" tried to make the garage more convenient and/or because no one walks to the park up ninth.

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"A huge success at flooding the park with a queue of cars that backs up both 9th Avenue and Lincoln Blvd (and every transit vehicle that tries to go through there)."

The cars are lining up not because of the garage but because of the success of the new Academy of Sciences. Recall that before the garage was built there were 200 parking spaces on the Concourse itself, which made it a lot like a parking lot.

"The garage is not invisible. There are giant entry/exit chasms that can easily bee seen from the surface, one of which diverts pedestrian traffic around it at right angles."

The garage is in fact invisible from the Concourse. Your lie is easily refuted by anyone visiting the park and taking a look at the reality. What would the area be like without the 800-space garage and the new de Young and the new Academy of Sciences?

"We were promised the entrances would be placed outside the park when we voted for Prop J, but the Southern entrance was built inside the concourse, halfway through the park, and it means a line of cars all the way down to Lincoln honking at each other."

Again, the lines of cars are being created by the spectacular success of the Academy of Sciences, not the garage. Where do you think all these cars would be going without the garage? In fact if you look at the text of Prop. J, there was no promise of a Southern entrace outside the park. And both the Concourse Authority and Judge Warren rightly rejected the idea of digging a tunnel from that area, since it would have done serious damage to both the park and the neighborhood. Folks like you got your knickers in a big twist about the idea of adding extra lanes on JFK to handle the approach traffic to the garage, but it now looks like that would have been a good idea, doesn't it?

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The garage is in fact invisible from the Concourse. Your lie is easily refuted..."

Do you ever read anyone's comments before you start you start a rant and call them bike people? It's only invisible from the concourse, but very visible from everywhere else. And there are more people walking up from 9th and Lincoln than are sitting in that line to get in the garage, but you probably don't want to count them because they're not in cars.

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We were promised the entrances would be placed outside the park when we voted for Prop J"

Now that's your problem, don't trust them unless they put exactly what they're going to do in writing. You should have voted against Prop J and made them spell our exactly where the garage entrances are going to be placed.

Meanwhile, you haven't been since the Academy opened have you Rob? The problem is not traffic coming from the north side or JFK. The north entrance is pretty convenient and anyone who is on JFK can circle around the music concourse to MLK where they still encounter some traffic, but it's not that bad. And that's obviously not an issue because it there were many people trying to do that (there's even signs on JFK) they'd be backed up along the concourse in front of the de Young.

No, it's everyone coming from the south side, who are driving into the park from 9th and Lincoln who are causing the traffic. They are entering the park northbound, and when they get caught in the park traffic they make the first (MLK) or second right presumably to find surface parking and avoid the traffic mess. Because all the surface parking is taken, they end up coming back the same way and add to the traffic mess trying to merge back onto 9th (or whatever it is 9th is called when it enters the park) and that's where you end up with the honking and the near collisions as they ignore the pedestrians in the crosswalk trying to cut someone else off.

Seriosuly: third garage, place it right under MLK between 9th and 7th the same way they've built the two under the Academy and the De Young. We'd get overflow parking for the concourse, along with parking adjacent to both the ball fields and most importantly parking for all the businesses along 9th and Irving.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Do you ever read anyone's comments before you start you start a rant and call them bike people? It's only invisible from the concourse, but very visible from everywhere else."

I have no idea what you're talking about. If the garage isn't visible from the Concourse, where exactly is it visible from?

"And there are more people walking up from 9th and Lincoln than are sitting in that line to get in the garage, but you probably don't want to count them because they're not in cars."

Why would I not want people to walk to the Concourse from Ninth and Lincoln? I walk through the Concourse from that neighborhood all the time, since I don't have a car. Of course that's a good thing. I was responding to a previous commenter who mentioned the traffic jams from that neighborhood trying to access the garage.

"Meanwhile, you haven't been since the Academy opened have you Rob?"

Yes, I have walked through the Concourse since the Academy opened, and on holidays and weekends the garage is full and traffic is backed up. On weekdays, it isn't.

"The problem is not traffic coming from the north side or JFK."

Who said it was? I was responding to a commenter who complained about traffic jams from the Southern entrance to the park, in the Ninth and Lincoln area.

"Seriosuly: third garage, place it right under MLK between 9th and 7th the same way they've built the two under the Academy and the De Young."

Not a bad idea but it's unlikely that it will ever be done, given the present recession and the city's anti-car bias. I think every neighborhood in the city should have an underground garage like the one under the Concourse, which was brilliantly done. Small buinesses---especially restaurants---in many neighborhoods have a problem with parking for their customers. Go to lunch in the Ninth and Irving neighborhood, and,if you can find a parking space, the meter will allow you only an hour for lunch. Otherwise, you have to scramble out to feed the meter or rush your meal to avoid a parking ticket, which is why I bet many people park in nearby Golden Gate Park---or even in the underground garage---when they visit that fine neighborhood.

 

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