Friday, February 19, 2010

How the anti-car jihad hurts local business

Tom Radulovich

This is how the city's anti-car bicycle movement hurts local business (below in italics): by making it as difficult as possible for people to drive into and around the city to visit local businesses. Until now the remodeled Ferry building has been a great success, a Mecca for local growers, chefs, and foodies. Bowing to the city's anti-car zealots, the Port Authority is dumping plans to add parking spaces near the Ferry building.

The Examiner quotes a merchant: “For us to be considered a place where people want to actually go shop for their groceries, they need to drive. If you’re carrying six bags of groceries, you’re not thinking about catching a bus.” Or riding a bike. Or walking home with all those groceries. People come to Ferry Plaza from all over the Bay Area, and they don't come by bike or even by bus.

Tom Radulovich is always good for an anti-car soundbite:

But neighbors, cyclists and pedestrian groups and local nonprofit Livable City opposed the use of public waterfront space for parking. “We want to create a more walkable and bikeable Embarcadero,” Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich said. “All that constant traffic, plus the queuing in the bike lane, would have created huge conflicts.”

Oh yes, bike lanes must be kept clear of those wicked death monsters at all costs!

Liveable City is nothing but a front for all the dumb, trendy planning ideas embraced by city progressives and the Planning Department: the anti-car bicycle fantasy, "smart" growth, and the destructive transit corridors theory. Check out their website, where you will find all of those half-baked notions advocated. Radulovich even brags about his role in creating the awful Octavia Boulevard, which should disqualify his opinions on everything else.

Even more revealing, check out their Board of Directors, which is packed with bike people: Cheryl Brinkman, Dave Snyder, Bert Hill, Alix Rosenthal, and of course RoboProg himself, Rafael Mandleman.

Parking at Ferry Plaza nixed
John Upton
San Francisco Examiner
February 19, 2010

Merchants in the Ferry Building Marketplace fear their businesses will suffer after plans were dumped to add parking spaces to the adjacent plaza.

As The Examiner reported in December, the Port of San Francisco planned to add 65 spaces to the Ferry Plaza for six years to raise funds for an $879,000 plaza improvement project.

But the proposal was dumped following strong community opposition to use of the site for parking, according to Port waterfront planner Jonathan Stern. “In the face of these kinds of controversies, we need some kind of demonstration that parking is necessary,” Stern said.

Ferry Building merchants on Thursday expressed anger about the decision to dump plans for new parking, saying the additional 65 spaces would have benefited the boutique grocers, butchers and other nearby businesses.

“I’m hopping mad,” said Bo Thompson, co-founder of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, which opened in 2002. “For us to be considered a place where people want to actually go shop for their groceries, they need to drive. If you’re carrying six bags of groceries, you’re not thinking about catching a bus.”

The merchants lost regular customers and a noticeable chunk of business when roughly 100 adjacent spaces were closed in mid-2008 after a pier was ruled unsafe for parking, according to Jane Connors, property manager for Ferry Building master tenant Equity Office.

Although the Ferry Building site is transit-rich, serviced by buses, trams, ferries and trains, the market competes with other ventures that provide parking for their customers, such as Whole Foods locations.

But neighbors, cyclists and pedestrian groups and local nonprofit Livable City opposed the use of public waterfront space for parking.

“We want to create a more walkable and bikeable Embarcadero,” Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich said. “All that constant traffic, plus the queuing in the bike lane, would have created huge conflicts.”

The Ferry Building was overhauled and reopened in 2002 as a chic marketplace, but the project didn’t improve Ferry Plaza. The plaza is a hodgepodge of driveways, loading areas and dilapidated benches when it isn’t being used for a weekend farmers market.

Several new ferry terminals could be built next to the plaza in the coming years to accommodate new ferry services, according to Water Emergency Transportation Authority planner Michael Gougherty.

The Port could look to other funding sources for plaza improvement efforts or improve the area gradually, according to Stern. “It will have to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Waterfront woes
100 Parking spaces lost in 2008 when a pier adjacent to the Ferry Building was ruled unsafe
65 Parking spaces proposed in Ferry Plaza in December that will no longer be created
6 Years the parking spaces were proposed to remain at the plaza
$879,000 Estimated cost to overhaul Ferry Plaza
266 Parking spaces available near Ferry Plaza on Saturday mornings
$1.4 million Annual rent paid to Port of San Francisco for Ferry Plaza commercial space.
Source: Port of San Francisco

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6 Comments:

At 12:42 PM, Blogger missiondweller said...

"proposal was dumped following strong community opposition"

Strong community opposition = loud vocal bicycle minority

Smart growth as I understand it is inclusive of many types of transportation. Certainly this includes bicycles and mass transit but it also includes cars. As you've pointed out time and again, not everyone can use a bike. When you have two bags of groceries and two small children, bikes and buses don't work too well.

In many ways I see this as a continued war on middle class families here in the city in favor of young singles. Sad, as a diverse community requires middle class families not just affluent young singles.

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the "community opposition" lie is one that mainstream journalists never challenge, even though it's the same anti-car folks every time. Mayor Newsom himself has worried publicly about the flight of the middle class from the city, but the city's official anti-car jihad makes it more difficult for them to stay in SF.

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Speaking of damaging local businesses, tourism is our largest industry, but the bike people and their allies in Planning and City Hall seem determined to damage an industry that brings more than 16 million visitors to the city who spend more than $8 billion a year here, resulting in $500 million in tax revenue for the city, and provides 72,176 jobs with a payroll of $1.94 billion. Millions of these visitors either drive their own cars or rented cars to the city, so, following the lead of the bike people, let's make it as hard as possible for them to drive and park while they are here and maybe they'll stop visiting and bothering us by cluttering up our streets and asking for directions.

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Those numbers can be found on the Convention & Visitors Bureau website: http://www.sfcvb.org/research/

 
At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Millions of these visitors either drive their own cars or rented cars to the city"

This is a good thing? As a resident, I prefer that the roads remain passable for locals and local businesses, not congested by tourists that are too busy looking for street signs to focus on driving well. When I visited NYC and Boston, I most certainly did not rent a car. tourists coming to our city also do not need to drive, even those coming from Fresno or LA. I know many northeastern tourists visiting NYC park in White Plains and take the train into the city. That's what BART is for here. Of course I want them to spend their money here, but NYC is a tourist mecca and the lack of parking there is clearly not an issue.

Are there numbers that show how many tourists drive into the city or rent a car here versus those who elect to use MUNI and taxis?

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Let me guess: you and your family don't rely on jobs in the tourist industry. Yes, of course it's a good thing that millions of people drive to visit SF, unless you think that a $2 billion payroll, more than 70,000 jobs, and $500 million in tax revenue is a bad thing. Our roads are still "passable," though the city and the Bicycle Coalition are working to create gridlock by implementing the Bicycle Plan later this year.

New York has a citywide subway system, and SF doesn't, which makes driving around the city more sensible for visitors.

A few years ago, the SF Convention & Visitors Bureau did a survey of the city's hotel visitors that showed that more than 25% of more than 4 million rented a car in SF. Hence, more than a million visitors in city hotel rooms were driving on our streets in rented cars that year (http://www.sfcvb.org/research/). That doesn't account for the many visitors who drive their own cars here.

 

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