Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Proposition G was a mistake

More than three years ago, I wrote: "If Prop. G passes, how will an MLK with only two lanes handle the garage traffic once both the de Young and the Academy of Sciences are open?"

Recall that 2005's Proposition G passed by city voters prevented the Concourse Authority---which was responding to a court order---from widening MLK Boulevard to four lanes to handle traffic to the garage under the Concourse from the Southern end of Golden Gate Park. Now that both the new de Young and the Academy of Sciences are open, the traffic trying to get to the Concourse is backing up on the two-lane MLK as I predicted.

Anonymous #1 writes:
[The garage is] 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 be 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.

Rob replies:
The cars are lining up not because of the garage but because of the stunning success and popularity of the new Academy of Sciences. Recall that before the garage was built there were 200 parking spaces on the surface of the Concourse itself, which made it a lot like a parking lot. 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. The question is, What would the traffic be like without the 800-space garage? If you look at the text of Prop. J, it contained no promise of a Southern entrance outside the park, which you seem to think had to be a tunnel. Prop. J actually promises "a dedicated access route (or routes) to and from the underground parking facility beginning at a location or locations outside of the Park." (emphasis added) That's what a widened MLK would have provided.

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 got their knickers in a great big twist about the idea of adding extra lanes on MLK to handle the approach traffic to the garage---a "highway through the park" shrieked the head on HANC's newsletter---but it now looks like that would have been a good idea, doesn't it?

Anonymous #2 writes:

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 some way 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.

Rob replies:
The bike people---namely, Katherine Roberts and Chris Duderstadt---sued the city to prevent the garage from being built, not to protect the "voters wishes." City voters voted to build the garage. Traffic was already in the park, which, before the garage was built, was routinely gridlocked on weekends and holidays, much like it is now even with the garage. But the bike people actually liked it that way, since it allowed them to ride into the park and weave in and out of the cars (aka "death machines") stuck in traffic looking for a place to park.

Once the decision was made to keep both the de Young and the Academy of Sciences on the Concourse, the die was cast on traffic into the park. The rejected four-lane MLK idea---which would have been created by removing the parking on both sides of that street for only the 500-feet to the garage---would have helped handle traffic to the inside-the-park entrance, but all good progressives---except Katherine Roberts and me---opposed that idea.

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