Friday, January 21, 2005

Political hysteria in D5: Widening MLK

Susan King's "summary" of the widening of MLK to the Concourse issue (below in italics) requires a response from a different perspective:

King: "The backers of the garage have proposed a Southern garage entrance, which was not in the original plans presented to the voters in 1998 or to the Board of Supervisors when they approved the design in 2003."

The only reason the Concourse Authority proposed a southern entrance is due to the Katherine Roberts lawsuit challenging the earlier plan to put the entrance inside the park, closer to the garage and the Concourse. While validating the garage itself, the judge ruled that the Authority must come up with "dedicated" entrance that begins outside the park. In response to the court order, the Concourse Authority quite reasonably chose to redesign the short stretch of MLK beginning at Ninth and Lincoln as an entrance to the garage, which is clearly compatible with Proposition J. (See the text of Prop J here). Opponents of the garage didn't like the entrance inside the park, and they don't like the entrance outside the park. What do they want? They want all the garage traffic to enter at Tenth and Fulton, on the north side of the Concourse. Supervisor McGoldrick, whose district the neighborhood at Tenth and Fulton is in, probably has a different take on that idea.

King: "The plans for this entrance call for the widening of MLK drive to accommodate a four lane road into and out of the park."

King is disingenuous here, suggesting that the Authority is creating a new four-lane road into the park. In fact MLK already has four lanes, but two of those lanes are now used for parking on either side of the street. The Authority's plan essentially does away with the parking lanes, thus making MLK a four-lane road for that 500-foot stretch to the Concourse and the garage. At least King isn't claiming that the Concourse Authority is planning to build a "highway" through Golden Gate Park, or calling those who disagree with her "enemies of the park," or ranting about "homicidal" car drivers, like some of her more zealous friends in the anti-widening group.

King argues that taking away the parking on MLK "will profoundly impact the merchant area," that is, members of the Inner Sunset Merchants Association like to have their customers park in nearby Golden Gate Park so that they can shop and dine in the neighborhood. Making Golden Gate Park into a parking lot for local merchants is a ridiculous argument, especially coming from so-called friends of the park. Business owners in the Inner Sunset are part of the "wide coalition" opposed to the widening of MLK, so they get to contribute their self-interested bullshit to the anti-widening propaganda.

King argues that widening MLK will somehow have a negative effect on the N Judah streetcar line and the #71 bus line. Again an unconvincing argument, since the N Judah is a block away, and the #71 is an east-west line. Does she mean that more people will ride these lines to get to the park? Isn't that a Good Thing? Increased traffic in the area is unlikely to affect either Muni line, since both the intersection at Ninth and Lincoln and Ninth and Irving are controlled by stoplights. In fact, the only line directly affected by the widening is the #44 line, a north-south line, not a major Muni route, that crosses the park at this point. The Concourse Authority's plan calls for a lane dedicated to Muni, the park shuttle, and cyclists. So what's the problem?

King invokes the park's mandate to be "a respite from urban life," but the reality is that at a number of points Golden Gate Park is an integral part of the city's traffic grid. And the park already has surface parking for more than 5000 cars. Let's give credit where it's due, the Authority's plan involves eliminating 800 of those surface parking spots to match those created in the new underground garage, 200 of which will be taken from the Concourse itself. The Authority's plan clearly minimizes the impact of cars on the park.

Once the decision was made to locate---or rebuild---a major city museum in Golden Gate Park, the underground garage idea followed logically. And if you're going to build an 800-space garage in the park, as stipulated by Prop. J, the public must have reasonable access to that garage, which is also an important part of Prop. J.

Opponents of the concourse garage are still fighting the garage battle by proxy with the widening issue. They are exaggerating the impact the widening plan will have on the neighborhood and the volume of traffic that's likely to result. They lost the garage battle at the ballot box, and they lost in court. We can only hope the endgame is near and the court will do the rational thing by guaranteeing the public reasonable access to the new garage and the new De Young museum.

From: Susan King
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2005 17:39:27 -0700
Subject: opposition to the proposed MLK Widening in GG Park

Hi all,

I am sure many of you are aware of the controversy surrounding the proposed widening of Martin Luther King (MLK) drive in GG Park to accommodate a Southern Entrance to Golden Gate Park.

There is a growing coalition opposing the proposed plan, led by John Rizzo, Pinky Kushner and others. We are working with various community, neighborhood, political and merchant's groups in educating the community about the current plans.

If you are associated with an organization, we would like the opportunity to meet with your group as soon as possible to give a short presentation.

Here is a summary of the situation:

In 1998, voters approved Proposition J, the Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act, which created the GG Park Concourse Authority to oversee plans for an underground parking garage and creation of a pedestrian oasis.

The backers of the garage have proposed a Southern garage entrance, which was not in the original plans presented to the voters in 1998 or to the Board of Supervisors when they approved the design in 2003. This southern entrance would be located at 9th Ave and MLK drive, near the County Fair Building in the park and directly adjacent to the 9th and Irving business corridor.

The plans for this entrance call for the widening of MLK drive to accommodate a four lane road into and out of the park. These plans were introduced to the public on Oct. 10, 2004 and approved on Nov 16, 2004. Coalition activists are challenging the approval process on the grounds that the presenters of the plan did not adhere to Sunshine Ordinance regulations and that the process did not allow for enough community input before the plans were approved.

Opponents of the plan include SF League of Conservation Voters, the Inner Sunset Merchant's Association, Rescue Muni, the SF Bicycle Coalition, Walk SF, Cole Valley Improvement Association, Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council and other environmental, neighborhood and merchant groups. We oppose the proposed widening for a variety of reasons, including:

a. Loss of parking along MLK, which will profoundly impact the merchant area;
b. Increase in traffic throughout the area, which is already innudated by traffic;
c.. Impact on the major Muni lines that operate in the area, including the N Judah and 71 Bus line;
d.. Danger to pedestrians entering the park and within the park who will have to negotiate four lanes of moving traffic with no buffer between the sidewalk and moving cars;
e. Danger to cyclists, who will be forced to share the 'dedicated' lane of garage bound cars, and buses;
f. The violation of the GG Park master plan, which stipulates that no new road or road widening may occur within the park and
g. The impact of a four lane road on the ambience of the park, designed at the turn of the last century to be a "respite from urban life".

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. Please feel free to forward it to your group. Also let us know, if we have not already arranged a meeting with you, if your group is interested in a short presentation.

Contract John Rizzo at 751-1615 to arrange a speaker to present.

Thanks again,
susan king

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