Thursday, February 12, 2009

Katherine Roberts: "Please get your facts straight"

The litigation to stop the garage from being built under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park may be over, but apparently the debate must go on. Katherine Roberts (in italics below) is still looking for vindication of her unsuccessful suit against the city to stop the garage from being built.

Roberts: If you still believe our lawsuit was an attempt to stop the garage after Prop J passed, then you're not reading things carefully enough. Either that, or you "continue to cling tenaciously to [your] fact-free account of what's happened in the Concourse," which is exactly what you accused me of doing.

Rob responds: Your suit challenged the financing of the garage, tried to prevent the garage from using parking fees to service the construction bonds, challenged the existence of the entrance to the garage inside the park, challenged the authority of the Music Concourse Community Parnership (MCCP) that was created to build the garage, challenged the city's ground lease to MCCP to allow the garage to be built under the Concourse, argued that the garage is not consistent with the city's General Plan, and attacked the city's certification of the project's EIR. Otherwise, you of course supported Prop. J and the construction of the garage! Ridiculous.

Roberts: All that said, I do not think it was ever possible to build the garage in compliance with the terms of Prop J, and I think Prop J was always extremely disingenuous for that very reason. Considering that the PRIMARY purpose of Prop J was not to build a garage, but to 'reduce the impact of automobiles on Golden Gate Park,' I don't think that anyone, yourself included, would say that building the garage has accomplished this.

Rob responds: You're trying to have it both ways. Either you support Prop. J or you don't; you didn't and still don't. Prop. J was essentially about three things: building the garage, ensuring public access to that part of the park, and reducing the impact of cars on the park. It's achieved all three of those goals. Now that both the new de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences are open, it's hard to imagine how bad parking would be in the park and the surrounding neighborhoods without the 800-space parking garage.

Roberts: Having the garage in the Concourse has clearly NOT reduced traffic in the park to pre-1998 levels. Given that, the garage has failed in its stated purpose, and its proponents have failed in the promise they made to the voters. Judge McCarthy, in issuing his injunction, recognized this, but he was followed by a corrupt judge who didn't much care about the law. That is the only way this project got approved.

Rob responds: There's nothing in Prop. J about reducing traffic to pre-1998 levels, but it surely has reduced motor vehicle traffic in and around the Concourse. And it eliminated the 200 parking spaces that used to be on the Concourse itself, which made it a lot like a parking lot. An additional 600 parking spaces were removed from park roads to match the 800 spaces in the garage. Judge Warren's decision rejected every single one of your causes of action, except he ordered the city to design an approach to the inside-the-park garage entrance that began outside the park as per the wording of Prop. J, which led to the proposal to widen MLK and, ultimately, to Prop. G. Warren was "corrupt" and "didn't care about the law"? Could you be more specific? His 40-page Statement of Decision of August 10, 2004 is a model of legal analysis that goes into great detail on every issue your suit raised.

Roberts: The vision Prop J presented of the garage was pie-in-the-sky from the get-go. The problem is that the fix was already in, because of the powerful, monied interests who wanted the garage to be built. These people have no qualms about lying about the ultimate impacts, so long as they get the 'voter mandate' for what they wanted.

Rob responds: In other words, you still reject Prop. J that the city's voters passed in 1998 that okayed the construction of the garage. Once the decision was made to keep the de Young and the Academy of Sciences on the Concourse, it made perfect sense to build the garage in anticipation of the large crowds that have in fact now turned out for both insitutions. Could you be specific about who lied about what? The "ultimate impacts" of the garage project were exhaustively debated in public hearings and studied in the EIR.

Roberts: McCarthy also understood that the revenue generated by the garage belonged to the Rec and Park Department, and was never meant to be diverted back to the people who offered the garage to the city as a 'philanthropic gift.' This means that Prop J's promise to use no public money on the garage was a lie, as well. Whatever money Rec and Park loses as a result of this scam has to be made up from somewhere else in the budget. Or else the park deteriorates from lack of funding, which is exactly what we see happening. These deteriorating conditions were what prompted the idea of a garage in the first place, as a cash cow for the city. If people voted for the 'Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act' with the understanding that garage revenue would be used to revitalize the park, and it's not, then that's voter fraud. I think you would be hard-pressed to argue that the park budget is so much better off now because of the huge influx of garage revenue that Prop J promised.

Rob responds: You tried to stop the MCCP from using present parking revenue to operate the garage and service the construction bonds. Once the bonds are paid off, the parking fees will in fact flow into the city's coffers, which will mean millions of dollars for the city over the long life of that garage. No public money went into the construction of the garage, and all the garage's expenses and payments on the bonds are now being paid by parking fees. What's the problem? You tried to define the parking fees the garage now collects as the city's money, which would have made the project unworkable. But you didn't try to prevent the garage from being built? Whatever problems the city has with the Rec and Park budget or the overall condition of the park have nothing to do with the garage.

Roberts:
Finally, your memory seems to be remarkably short with regards to Prop G. You praised it to the heavens when it was on the ballot, and excoriated me for opposing it. If your memory needs jogging about this, the link to your blog post. I'm curious to see how you're going to wiggle out of this one.

Rob responds:
No wiggling is required, since you haven't carefully read the blog post you link, wherein I simply state what Prop. G was going to do: it affirmed once again the legality of the inside-the-park entrance to the garage and nullified the Concourse Authority's proposal to widen MLK to create a designated approach to the garage that began outside the park as per Prop. J. The only reason the Concourse Authority even made that unpopular proposal was Judge Warren's order, the only one of your many causes of action he agreed about. You and I were virtually the only people in the city who opposed Prop. G. I opposed it out of concern about traffic in the area once both the de Young and the Academy of Sciences were open and the extra lanes--which are now used for parking---on MLK would be useful to handle all that traffic. You opposed it because it validated the inside-the-park entrance to the garage. There has in fact been a lot more traffic to the Concourse since the Academy of Sciences opened several months ago, but it's not clear yet if that will be a long-range problem.



Rob -- Please get your facts straight and stop slandering me. I did *NOT* "sue the city to prevent the garage from being built", as you put it, but to ensure that it was built in accordance with voters' wishes. If it couldn't be built in accordance with what voters authorized, then yes, I believed it should not be built at all. But this is a matter of respecting the democratic process, not suing to stop something once it had already been voted in. I stated this very clearly many times in the press, and the briefs we filed said as much as well. We never, ever claimed to be trying to stop the garage in contradiction to voters' wishes -- in fact, we consistently said the opposite, and our actions reflected this. If you still believe our lawsuit was an attempt to stop the garage after Prop J passed, then you're not reading things carefully enough. Either that, or you "continue to cling tenaciously to [your] fact-free account of what's happened in the Concourse", which is exactly what you accused me of doing.

That, plus -- I've never seen Chris Duderstadt on a bicycle in my life, and just because I ride a bicycle myself, that does not make me a "bike person". I'm a human being, just like you, and I resent your attempts to objectify and dehumanize me like that.

All that said, I do not think it was ever possible to build the garage in compliance with the terms of Prop J, and I think Prop j was always extremely disingenuous for that very reason. Considering that the PRIMARY purpose of Prop J was not to build a garage, but to "reduce the impact of automobiles on Golden Gate Park", I don't think that anyone, yourself included, would say that building the garage has accomplished this. Having the garage in the Concourse has clearly NOT reduced traffic in the park to pre-1998 levels. Given that, the garage has failed in its stated purpose, and its proponents have failed in the promise they made to the voters. Judge McCarthy, in issuing his injunction, recognized this, but he was followed by a corrupt judge who didn't much care about the law. That is the only way this project got approved.

The vision Prop J presented of the garage was pie-in-the-sky from the get-go. The problem is that the fix was already in, because of the powerful, monied interests who wanted the garage to be built. These people have no qualms about lying about the ultimate impacts, so long as they get the "voter mandate" for what they wanted.

McCarthy also understood that the revenue generated by the garage belonged to the Rec and Park Department, and was never meant to be diverted back to the people who offered the garage to the city as a "philanthropic gift". This means that Prop J's promise to use no public money on the garage was a lie, as well. Whatever money Rec and Park loses as a result of this scam has to be made up from somewhere else in the budget. Or else the park deteriorates from lack of funding, which is exactly what we see happening. These deteriorating conditions were what prompted the idea of a garage in the first place, as a cash cow for the city. If people voted for the "Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act" with the understanding that garage revenue would be used to revitalize the park, and it's not, then that's voter fraud. I think you would be hard-pressed to argue that the park budget is so much better off now because of the huge influx of garage revenue that Prop J promised.

Finally, your memory seems to be remarkably short with regards to Prop G. You praised it to the heavens when it was on the ballot, and excoriated me for opposing it. If your memory needs jogging about this, the link to your blog post.
I'm curious to see how you're going to wiggle out of this one.

--Katherine Roberts, aka "bike person"


See also this and this.

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