Friday, December 22, 2017

Still debating the Concourse garage

From Park and Rec:

Hello Rob,

Thank you for reaching out to us and inquiring about the current status of Music Concourse Garage. As previously stated by Derek Chu from our Department, the Music Concourse Garage is currently managed by Music Concourse Community Partnership under the jurisdiction of Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority...

While the Music Concourse Community Partnership does not have record of average daily use, the record for fiscal year 2016 shows a total of 284,497 tickets issued for the parking garage. As a result, for the same fiscal year, the Garage generated a total $4,052,018 in revenue. Of that amount, $1,021,246 went to the City of San Francisco in Parking Taxes, plus $100,000 for the ground lease to the City’s Recreation and Park Department. As of now, all principal and interest payments are current, with pay off estimated for 2036. When the bonds are fully retired, the Garage will revert to the ownership of the City of San Francisco.

Communications Office
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

The letter above---I inserted the links---was in response to my inquiry about how the garage is doing after a dispute in the comments to a recent story in the SF Examiner that showed how garage critics are still trying to rewrite the history of that issue.

A comment by Mario Tanev, who is coming in late on the issue:

WTF, what's the purpose of the underground parking garage? There should be a rule that street parking should be removed when a parking garage is installed. Otherwise you get this utter sheer selfish greed.

A history lesson for Tanev and other commenters: They apparently weren't in SF when city voters passed Proposition J in 1998 (52% to 35%) authorizing the construction of the parking garage under the Concourse. The "purpose" of the garage was to get the Concourse and Golden Gate Park ready for public access to both the new Academy of Sciences and the new De Young Museum. In fact Prop. J required that parking spaces be removed from the surface streets of the park to match the 800 spaces in the new garage, including the 200 parking spaces from the Concourse itself.

Since he was here in 1998, Jym Dyer has no excuse for the misinformation he added to the discussion:

They also billed it as a source of revenue for the Park, Michael Yaki actually titled it the "Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act." Yet somehow it hasn't even been able to pay its own rent...and if the garage loses money, the public is on the hook...Since this is on public land, the other stakeholders are us, but our return on the investment can perhaps be measured by the garage not even paying its rent...

The letter above puts to rest the claim that the garage won't pay for itself, since it's now servicing the construction bonds. When the bonds are paid off, all the parking fees will flow into the city's coffers, not just the $1 million the city already gets from the garage every year.

Dyer:
As for some new scheme to raise money for the park, that was the whole point of The Golden Gate Park Revitalization Act that authorized the garage in the first place. And which hasn't contributed one cent to revitalization.

The reality that anyone can see is the successful "revitalization" of the Concourse itself, which used to be a lot like a parking lot.

Dyer:
There were other ballot measures surrounding the funding and building of the garage, but the SFBC was not involved with them at all.

There weren't other ballot measures about building the garage; Prop. J did that job by itself. The Bicycle Coalition was involved enough to oppose the garage with this paid argument in the voters' pamphlet of June, 1998:

Golden Gate Park is for all of us, not just some of us, which is why we oppose Prop J. The garage will draw thousands of additional cars to the eastern end of the park and throughout the Avenues. Isn't there enough traffic already?

The time has come for safe streets, so that children can play in front of their homes again, seniors can cross the street without getting hit, and people can enjoy riding bikes around town. This huge garage threatens these goals!

The worst part is: we don't even need it! Why build a huge new garage when the UCSF garage is less than a mile away, and can easily be connected by shuttle?

Traffic jams. Streets even more dangerous. For a garage we don't need. No thanks. Vote No on J.

Pure bullshit and demagoguery. How a parking garage that allows convenient access to the heart of Golden Gate Park threatens anyone's safety is unexplained. What the Bicycle Coalition really hates: anything that makes it easier to drive in San Francisco, which threatens its goal of getting people on bikes.

See also A Park or a Parking Lot? The Struggle Continues in 2000 by Dave Snyder, who was executive director of the Bicycle Coalition at the time. 

What Dyer may be referring to with his "other measures" falsehood is the controversy about closing park roads on Saturdays, like they already are on Sundays, which is what the Examiner story is about---a renewed push for closing roads on Saturday, rejected overwhelmingly by city voters in 2000:

For half a century, John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park has been car-free on Sundays to the enjoyment of walkers, cyclists, disco-dancing roller-skaters and more — but similar Saturday closures, enacted a decade ago, only span the summer. Now, an effort is underway to make the popular thoroughfare car-free on Saturdays year-round, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Jym Dyer is the partner of Katherine Roberts, who went to court to try to stop the city from building the garage. See Katherine Roberts: "Please get your facts straight" and "Widening" MLK: What Prop. G really means.


The first post to this blog in 2004 was about the garage issue.

For background on the garage issue, see Interview with Mike Ellzey: Executive Director of the Concourse Authority.

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