Saturday, December 17, 2005

Jack, is that you?

Still waiting for you to produce a single example of "deliberate misinsformation" on my part. You are the one who keeps repeating misinformation about Proposition J---"that it prohibited any garage entrances inside the park." It did no such thing. In fact, you cite huge chunks of Prop. J---almost all of it irrelevant, of course---in an earlier exchange that included the plural usage in the text about "entrances" and "exits." Didn't you read your own block quote? 

Who exactly do you think is pulling my strings? Warren Hellman? Mike Ellzey? If my understanding is inadequate, please straighten me out. The Antenore material below is not particularly relevant at this point. Besides, who cares what Antenore thinks now? Does he have anything interesting to add to this discussion? 

The decision was made to keep the de Young in the park, and the city's voters endorsed Prop. J in 1998, which authorized building the garage under the Concourse. Prop. J also created the Concourse Authority and gave it the power to get the garage built---with no public money---which is where the construction bond comes in ("...the Authority shall have all of the rights, powers, privileges, immunities, authorities and duties necessary or appropriate to: (a) locate, acquire, design, construct, reconstruct, operate, use, lease, maintain and repair an underground public parking facility..."). 

And the new underground garage, far from being even partially above ground, is completely invisible from the Concourse, which anyone knows who has been out there recently to take a look. What does Better Neighborhoods Plus have to do with Golden Gate Park?


You are no match in a subject area that you simply do not understand, or which you want to dominate with deliberate misinformation. Either way, what you write on this subject reads like a little puppet at the end of someone's strings. We've been here before, when I responded to your claims on See the Letters to Editor section and scroll down to: "Better Neighborhoods Plus: Caveat Emptor" published on December 7th.

Dear Editor,

I recently interviewed former planning commissioner Dennis Antenore, for the record, to learn more about the principal authors who crafted Prop J: The Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act of 1998 almost eight years ago. Antenore represented the Coalition to Keep the deYoung in the Park, a corporate funded (Hellman and Goodyear) "grass-roots" organization which wanted the deYoung to stay in the park, obviously. What the Coalition didn't tell the public during the Prop J campaign is that a newly released draft Golden Gate Park Master Plan called for the deYoung to move out of the park, because the museum was a "non-conforming use" of the Park. 

There was no lack of consideration for the deYoung in this process. It was considered fully. In their first meeting with neighborhood park activists in February, 1998, former Supervisor Michael Yaki, his aide Karen Carlson and Dennis Antenore sat on one side. The environmentalists and park advocates sat on the other side, listing their deep concerns for the Park, while being lobbied to drop their opposition to the garage in exchange for park improvements that would create a "pedestrian oasis." Antenore took credit for authoring three specific park improvements contained in Prop J: the removal of approximately 200 parking spaces inside the Music Concourse Bowl, the creation of the free intra-park shuttle, and the requirement for a Transportation Improvement Plan. That was in February of 1998. More than seven years have passed since then. 

I met Antenore for the first time in Ross Mirkarimi's office last August. He was involved in direct negotiations with the City Attorney and the authors of Proposition G, 2005, to formally validate a second garage entrance INSIDE the Music Concourse, without requiring the court-approved "dedicated access" lanes from outside of the Park. Antenore knew fully well that Prop J, which he helped author and sell, prohibited any garage entrances inside the park. I asked who he represented in this process. He said, "There was a small group of us representing nobody but ourselves." He said they were working to craft a ballot initiative to stop the widening of traffic lanes on MLK Jr. Drive between 9th Avenue @ Lincoln Way, and the second garage entrance inside the Concourse itself. When asked his opinion of the City's follow through on Prop J's promises, and whether he had any concerns about the promises of Better Neighborhoods Plus, given the abysmal track record of Prop J's "revitalization" of the Park, Antenore stated that he only helped create the legislation, and that he can't be held responsible for it's implementation. 

Observations regarding the success of Antenore's park improvements:1) The 200 parking spaces in the Music Concourse were removed as promised. 2) Funding for the "free" park shuttle ended last year. NO FUNDING IS IN PLACE FOR NEXT SUMMER. 3) The Transportation Improvement Plan was created, but funding has not been secured by the Concourse Authority for it's implementation. (Even though a revenue bond for garage construction for $32 million was approved by the Board of Supervisors in a 35-year ground lease that was, like the revenue bond, never approved by San Francisco voters!) 

According to SF Green Party spokesperson Susan King, who was also involved in recent discussions of the Concourse Circulation Plan options, Antenore opposed the removal of cross-park commuter traffic from the Music Concourse when the discussion was before the Land Use Committee and the Board of Supervisors. The single most important component needed to create the "auto-free, pedestrian oasis" that was promised by Prop J proponents in 1998, was removed from the table and from the discussion by an individual who represented nobody but himself. Better Neighborhoods Plus? Former City Supervisor John Bardis said it all...and so did Marc Salomon. Caveat emptor.

Stephen Willis

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