Friday, September 03, 2010

Taking space from cars in Noe Valley

From John Murphy's blog:

Last night, I got another email regarding "Public Space in Noe Valley". For those not following the saga, the Noe Valley Association wrote a grant which was looked upon favorably by San Francisco's San Francisco's Pavement to Parks program to put a Plaza on Noe Street in Noe Valley. I became a F-List Celebrity in Noe Valley---at least electronically---for advocating for this plaza but alas, we lost this battle in spectacular fashion . Instead Pavement to Parks decreed that Noe Valley would get two "parklets" along 24th Street.

Murphy is "Murphstahoe," the anti-car, bike zealot who used to obsessively comment to this blog. The "tahoe" part of his monicker comes from the fact that he owns property at Lake Tahoe he would like to rent (looks like it has a nice big, two-car garage to park your bike). The unsuccessful attempt to block off Noe and turn Noe Street at 24th Street into a "plaza" was evidently a bitter battle

Murphy admits that "the process was flawed": a neighborhood association was working with the city's Pavement to Parks program to get this done, someone "leaked" that information, and the shit hit the fan in Noe Valley:

If one thing was generally agreed upon during this whole saga, was that no matter the outcome, the process was flawed. While the NVA was very well meaning, many citizens felt that they figured out something they liked, and flung it upon an unsuspecting populace. They developed the idea, went to P2P, P2P approved the idea, and got set to roll it out. The idea was then leaked, a few people with enough influence to get their phone answered by our Supervisor[Dufty] put a bunch of DON'T BLOCK NOE signs in their windows, and the project was deemed to be too divisive before people who might like the project got to voice their opinions.

That is, the "people who might like the project" were the ones who came up with the idea, and, before the rest of the neighborhood knew about it, got some grant money from the city and a favorable reaction from the city's Pavement to Parks guy. 

Sounds like the pro-plaza folks were getting ready to spring a done-deal on the "unsuspecting" people of Noe Valley. It wasn't so much that, as Murphy says, he and the pro-plaza people lost in a "spectacular fashion," though there apparently was some shouting and disruption at the meetings on the issue. 

The city only backed off when it was clear that there was significant opposition to the plaza in the neighborhood itself, and the Pavement to Parks idea is supposed to be a win-win, feel-good deal for everyone. Once the consensus is in doubt on a neighborhood project with this impact---blocking off a city street---the project is in trouble, which may be the only good thing about district elections. (Opposition stopped an MTA "trial" to rearrange street parking and traffic lanes on Divisadero a few years ago.)

I wonder if the opponents of the failed plaza coup see it as part of the citywide anti-car movement in San Francisco. Murph of course is a hardcore bike guy, which one can see by his comments to this blog and to SFStreetsblog, the bike people's favorite website, which anyone interested in traffic and planning issues should read. 

The assumption of the anti-car movement is folded into the Pavement to Parks concept: pavement is bad and that parking spaces and traffic lanes are wasted on, well, cars and trucks and traffic in general, that the space would be better used by putting out furniture so that people can drink coffee, lounge around in public, and do anything but allow motor vehicles to use it. (Why anyone would want to drink coffee sitting on a busy street is a puzzle. Carbon monoxide with your latte?)

Murph and his allies in Noe Valley have received a consolation prize with the city's promise that they will be granted several parklets on 24th Street. That will require removing street parking, which of course is always welcome to an anti-car movement that wants to make driving in the city as expensive and difficult as possible. Eliminating parking is one way to do that (the Bicycle Plan will remove more than 2,000 parking spaces from city streets). 

The parklet in front of the bike-oriented coffee house on Divisadero removed three metered parking spaces, which is fine for that enterprise, but I bet local restaurants hate to see any parking in the neighborhood eliminated.

But the basic idea of the anti-car movement---whether it's plazas, parklets, or the Bicycle Plan---is to take space from cars whenever and wherever possible, which the Bicycle Coalition told us more than five years ago: ""We've done all the easy things so far. Now we need to take space from cars."

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At 8:34 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

I was a strong and vocal opponent to this ridiculous project right from the beginning, and I had an ongoing, often strongly worded debate on line with murph and many others for several months.

And to be clear MANY Noe Valley residents were opposed to this "street closure" as well. We were very clear in our oppostion: That Noe Street is a heavily used cross town street for CARS and many people use it to head north to the Upper Market area. By taking Noe, you don't get stuck behind the slow moving and sometimes disabled 24 divis bus. If Noe St. at 24th had been closed to thru traffic it would have diverted large amounts of traffic to the smaller side streets including Elizabeth and Jersey St. Most residents on those streets opposed the street closure. The City (planning dept.) did detailed studies showing with clear data the amount of traffic congestion that would be caused by this so called plaza.

Not to mention that sipping your latte, or parking your stroller baby and dog in the middle of asphalt was not terrible appealing, in fact stupid.

There were strong opinions on both sides and Supervisor Dufty as well as Planner Andres Power listened to everyone and realized the issue had become very devisive to pursue further, as well as a majority of residents opposing the plan.

Early in the debate, I also was one of the proponents of turning the little used parking lot on 24th St. owned by the Noe Valley Ministry into a permanent plaza, where the farmers market is current held every saturday morning. That idea has gained momemtum. We all know it's going to cost some money, but it is being studied and moved forward by Dufty and others.

Unfortunately, "murphstahoe" is extremely anti car, and a bike zealot, pretty much wanting us all to live "just like him". Read his blog called "Holier Than You" and you'll see what I mean. He still doesn't understand that cars are an essential mode of transport for many individuals, families, seniors and disabled in The City.

Installing that plaza in the asphalt would have made it even more difficult for those people to drive where they need to go. Cars and bikes can co-exist, but it does not have to mean getting RID of cars, or traffic routes, or parking spaces to allow the small bike minority to intimidate our city leaders into thinking we are "Amsterdam"..cause we're just not.

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just fyi.. there were no parking spaces taken away on Divis, there are 2 used for parket in front of Mojo cafe, which were gained when MTA removed a bus stop.
just the facts.

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous BAM said...

"The assumption of the anti-car movement is folded into the Pavement to Parks concept: pavement is bad and that parking spaces and traffic lanes are wasted on, well, cars and trucks and traffic in general, that the space would be better used by putting out furniture so that people can drink coffee, lounge around in public, and do anything but allow motor vehicles to use it. (Why anyone would want to drink coffee sitting on a busy street is a puzzle. Carbon monoxide with your latte?)"

Good point, Rob. That would never work...

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Nice try but I live in the neighborhood and took a close look at the parklet as it was being constructed, which required the elimination of three metered parking spaces. The parking meters were still there for days after it was finished. The bus stop is in a different location, farther north on Diviz.

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is a "little used parking lot" across from this parklet location, it's hard to say that the parklet is an imposition on drivers looking for parking.

The issue is drunks from the Dubliner. Apparently rocky's dad does not live near there and does not care about the imposition his little "parking lot plaza" - which he is a proponent of - will have on the people on Vicksburg. He thinks the City should spend millions of dollars to inconvenience others for his own selfish gain.

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously those assholes don't deserve a plaza.

...the small but vocal minority who opposes it, that is.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Let's be clear to both anons: you may be the same person, who knows?

1. The Noe Valley Ministry has already stated that the parking lot they own is not making any money for them. The need a large amount of money for the badly needed renovation to their building. The sale of the parking lot is going to be a large source of dollars to help them with the renovation.

2. You might want to clarify a bit more your statement about the "drunks from the Dubliner"..huh?
And how is the new plaza going to impose negatively on the Vicksburg residents?

3. There are many ways of securing funds for the purchase of the lot and building the plaza: including federal and state grants. It's not just "city" money.

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People coming out of the bars late at night tend to congregate on the sidewalk and stay for a long time (sometimes hours). This creates a noise disturbance for the residents. Late at night their voices and laughter travel far distances, unlike during the day, because their voices aren't masked by other noises. And having just left a loud bar, they continue talking loudly as they had been used to doing inside the bar.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

And so, what the hell does this have to do at ALL with the plaza issue discussions at hand?

At 9:15 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Rob -

While I appreciate any free advertising, it would be helpful if you moved the tags around a bit - for example instead of

owns property at Lake Tahoe

it would be better if you did
owns property at Lake Tahoe

This means that the linking text includes the term "Lake Tahoe" which is better for upping my page rank for useful Google Search results.

While you are at it, you might also mention that I also own a vacation rental in Healdsburg that yes, has a 2 car garage.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You have nothing to say about Noe Valley's rejection of the city's anti-car movement? It must have come as a shock, Murph, to realize that you bike people aren't embraced by everyone in the city. But at least you'll get some parklets on 24th Stree, which will eliminate some street parking.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

If I were a betting man - and I am - I would bet those parklets won't happen.

The parking issue is a silly red herring. Our friend rocky's dad states multiple times in this thread that there is a "little used parking lot" and a "money losing parking lot" right there on 24th Street.

Reprice that lot properly and there are 20+ spots that get used instead of sit idle. "Demand based pricing" for parking isn't just a communist plot against drivers - sometimes the answer is that parking is too expensive, which is the case of the lot on 24th Street. Price it lower and it gets used and there is less of a parking issue in Noe Valley. I'd be all for it.

Open up those spots and a parklet in front of Martha's - across the street from the lot - won't really impact parking but it will open up the sidewalk there which is notoriously overcrowded. No skin off my back - I'd never use it - but it might be nice for the people who do.

Supposedly some merchants have vowed to fight the parklets. I have my theories on whom it is and what their motivations are, but to publish that would potentially be libelous since they are all "off the record". Combine that with the Vicksburg residents lining up against parklets, and we'll probably never see them - nor rocky's dad Town Square.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

1) Stop calling me your friend. I'm not your friend.

2) stop attacking me here personally on issues that bother you. Speak to the issues not people you don't like. It could be libelous.

3). Stop being a sore loser cause you lost your damn plaza. Move on.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"stop attacking me here personally on issues that bother you."

A new world record for irony.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You have nothing to say about Noe Valley's rejection of the city's anti-car movement? It must have come as a shock, Murph, to realize that you bike people aren't embraced by everyone in the city."

So, the rejection of a proposed Plaza means that Noe Valley does not embrace 'the bike people'. Got it.

Maybe you could set up an anti-bike neighborhood up there, Rob!

At 3:46 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Good point and very true. Many of us solid and long term Noe Valley residents rallied against the stupid attempted closure of Noe St. all for the few who demanded a plaza to sit and drink their coffee and park their screaming rug-rats on the asphalt pavement.

Thankfully, the city leaders and the Planning Dept. saw the insanity of this dumb idea and squelched it.

Murph was the biggest mouth of all, who thru bullying and arrogance, simply tried to convince all of Noe Valley to live just like him. Many of us like our cars and use them wisely.

The bike nuts failed.

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confusion, confusion.
A lot of dancing, but everyone is going home alone.
P2P was created for one reason; to further the political ambitions of an alchoholic adulterer whose mommy told him he could be President one day. The rest is details.
Thw bike coalition is a voting block, and oh so young, cute and fresh. Maybe even have some dippy sorority girls in there for big Gavie.
So the mayor's office has one of their svelte boys go over to planning and create this neat lil program, all the svelte boys get together and decide where they want to "do" some Plazas, and that's where we are.
What shut Noe St Plaza down was not in any way to do with anyone coming to their senses. It was about Bevan, half as ambitous as Gavie, walking into the mayor's office, hat in hand, begging to have the svelte boys back off so he could run for mayor without the Plaza albatross hanging around his neck like a five day dead fish.
A few lil facts for the record, I will repeat them here because they continue to be lied about.
The "leak" re the Plaza happened 1st week in April. The grant from the mayor's office was awarded in Feb. That means the NVA HAD to right the Grant Request in Jan., at the latest. Did the NVA go to the mayor's/supervisor's office unprovoked, uninvited re this subject? If you think so, I have a nice lil rental in Healdsburg with a 2 car garage I am will to let go cheap.


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