April 13, 2011
Parking Not Parks! (A Less Popular Mission District Bumper Sticker)
As proposed, the 219-space surface are parking lot on the north side of 17th Street between Folsom and Shotwell will be subdivided with 26,625 square feet remaining for parking and a 34,300-square-foot neighborhood park rising on the rest.
Supported by Planning which determined the project did not warrant a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), an appeal of Planning's decision will be heard by San Francisco's Planning Commission tomorrow. In the words of the appellant:
The project will cause 124 parking spaces will be lost in a parking lot that is 90% + capacity a majority of time during the workweek and serves as a vital resource to neighborhood health organizations, arts organizations and small and medium sized businesses.
The review documents have not described the usage of the parking lot, capacity or any alternatives other than existing public transit options. In fact, at a meeting held with the Municipal Transportation Agency in June 2010, there was indication that the neighborhood would have other projects that would further reduce supply of an increasing demand for parking spaces. This includes the consolidation of bus routes, the narrowing of Folsom street with wider sidewalks, a proposed bike lane along 17th Street.
This is all in an area where demand for parking has continuously increased as the neighborhood has become safer, the home to more small businesses and provides more health care, arts access and community outreach resources to the Mission neighborhood.
The parking lot is currently used by:
1. UCSF staff
2. Doctors, nurses and staff of the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, which draws medical professional staff at below market wages who are willing to work there due to the convenience and sponsorship of parking. Elimination of these available spaces could have a significant negative impact on the retention and attraction of needed medical expertise to provide health care services to Mission neighborhood residents. More than 10,000 people are served by the center each year and many of those use that parking lot as well. The parking lot is used day and night usage is expanding.
3. ODC students, teachers, staff and audience members including more than 25,000 theatre attendees, 13,000 individual students and lOOs of artists and staff members. As with the health center, usage is all day and increasing at night.
4. More than 100 small businesses are located within a full one block radius of the parking lot. Many of those have employees and customers who use that parking lot.
Elimination of more than half of the parking spaces alone, not to even consider the cumulative reduction of parking in the area due to other projects, will be detrimental to health care, arts, community outreach, businesses and employment in a low and moderate income neighborhood. As the Certificate of Determination states, people will initially circle for parking-and then ultimately give up without getting access to health care, arts and / or forcing businesses to reduce staff or close.
And while the appellant also cites concerns with respect to the cost of maintaining the park and its safety during a time of budgetary woes for San Francisco, the Planning department recommends the Commission uphold their support for the park.
First Published: April 13, 2011 8:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Chicago has these huge high-rises (50 stories?) that are nothing but parking. Its a neat concept -- stack the cars up and up ... people live stacked in boxes, why not cars? The time has come to increase parking density and reduce its footprint.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at April 13, 2011 8:43 AM
The Embarcadero Freeway is so painfully missed. People never adjusted to its decommission. Now the Embarcadero is a sad desolate area where people cannot live, work, play, or even transit. It was so much better before. Please keep our car monopoly culture alive!
Posted by: lol at April 13, 2011 9:01 AM
Why not put parking under the park? Seems like it could be a win/win.
Posted by: lb at April 13, 2011 9:17 AM
Public access, neighborhood beautification and more green space?!?! Not in my back yard!
Posted by: not bashing at April 13, 2011 9:22 AM
Just as a matter of law and practice, the appellant has to be tossed out on his ear.
Nothing in his appeal has anything to do with what an EIR vs. a mitigated neg dec decision is about. Granting him the benefit of the doubt, I'd have to guess that he's confused and doesn't realize that an EIR is an Environmental Impact Report and not an economic impact report, and so it's irrelevant, at this particular point in the approval process, to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed project based on the usage patterns of commuting medical professional staff who work at below market wages because they appreciate "the convenience and sponsorship of parking".
And even if it was appropriate to bring these types of concerns up at this point, the Planning Commission should still vote to support the project because, as Jimmy implies above, surface level parking lots are not an efficient use of land in a geographically-constrained city like S.F. If surface-level parking lots are one of the most important things you value in life, you need to move to Concord, post-haste.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at April 13, 2011 9:46 AM
Don't shade the park!
Don't build a park!
No more parking!
Save the parking lot!
Posted by: gellan at April 13, 2011 9:50 AM
"Why not put parking under the park? Seems like it could be a win/win."
Posted by: lb at April 13, 2011 9:17 AM
Building a park, building an underground garage with a park above it. No major difference in costs, right? Get real.
I'm all for the park but the designs I've seen as of late look hokey. Why can't we get a park that's inspired by a classic park rather than say, Pershing Square?
Posted by: Slurm at April 13, 2011 10:08 AM
My first question here was "who owns this lot and can they develop it within its zoning?" so I used the handy dandy sfplanning.org widget introduced here this week and find the following annotation under the "projects" tab :
The Department of Parks and Rec are proposing to purchase and subdivide a site currently owned by SFPUC to construct a new 34,400 square-foot neighborhood park. The project site is currently a 221 space surface parking lot.
So I don't understand the opposition here. Is the current owner of this lot expected to provide subsidized surface parking for eternity? Parking is a resource intensive use and it is no surprise that better uses can be found for the same resource.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 13, 2011 10:09 AM
SF Municipal Water District owns the parking lot and leases it to UCSF.
The Mission is one of the most underparked neighborhoods in the City, probably ranking just below Chinatown in terms of difficulty of finding any parking.
The idea of a park/sports field over parking has been done by UCB on College Ave with great success. Yes, its more costly . ...
Posted by: sardonic at April 13, 2011 10:20 AM
The appeal sounds to me like somebody (UC and the clinic) trying to force somebody else (the owner of the lot) to provide them a free or low cost service they don't want to provide and have no legal obligation to provide. Frankly, I think the appellants should be liable for malicious interference.
Posted by: BT at April 13, 2011 10:25 AM
If the parking is so critical to UCSF let them buy some land and build a lot.
Regardless, a single level surface lot is a massive waste of space in a city as dense as SF.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at April 13, 2011 10:32 AM
There you have it: a city service under-utilizes a city resource that helps UCSF workers who otherwise wouldn't probably afford to drive and park in the city. In short, the city subsidizes car commuting for some out-of-town workers that cannot afford to live nearby. I understand it serves a greater purpose, but it's still a subsidy.
All of this could be resolved if everyone was taking his responsibilities. Either UCSF purchases the land from SF and does whatever it wants with it (market rate, please no symbolic $1 price), or SF asks its constituents how to best utilize the area. An underground structure would be a great option, and SF would charge some rent from UCSF to pay for the maintenance of the park.
Paris has created a brand new park on old industrial landfill in the NW area. They created an underground parking structure under the newly minted park. It doesn't come cheap and it is included into a wider redevelopment scheme of the area.
Posted by: lol at April 13, 2011 10:59 AM
Sounds like those "out-of-town" workers could have use BART, which is 5 minute away.
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at April 13, 2011 11:14 AM
Assuming, of course, that they don't live on the Peninsula or up in Marin where BART doesn't exist. Of course, if their home communities aren't served by BART then we really don't want them coming to the city anyhow. They should just work someplace else.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at April 13, 2011 11:21 AM
my question is: why keep any of this surface parking alive in the first place? all the great points about the ludicrous public subsidy to the employees of the area aside, the puc should be looking at development opportunities on at least the remaining portion of the lot. add an extra 50-70 underground spaces to the application, if there's determined to be a real need for visitors and the disabled and such, but really, a surface lot makes no sense, and it would not be at all difficult to find someone willing to build this out. especially with a new park adjacent.
Posted by: david m at April 13, 2011 11:26 AM
These are hospital workers. Think extended hours, commuting outside of BART schedules.
Also, not 100% of the BA is BARTable.
Posted by: lol at April 13, 2011 11:32 AM
^ which is all to say that looking at this project, this is phase 1, and when the funds become available, the second half of the lot is likely to be built out. i'm all in favor of that, but still, developing that other side would 1) bring money into the puc/parks coffers; 2) bring more people to an area that could use them; 3) liven up that dead stretch; 4) assuage the nimby types who will self-immolate in front of city hall for parking; and 5) give us something else to talk about here in pro-development circles.
Posted by: david at April 13, 2011 11:34 AM
There isn't an hospital. There is only a clinic. I don't believe they open 24 hours.
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at April 13, 2011 11:51 AM
If you live in Marin, use GGT and connect to BART in civic center. Or you can take ferry and BART. If you are from the peninsula, take Caltrain and connect to BART in Millbrae. Or if there are proven demand, lobby UCSF to add a Caltrain shuttle. Plenty of people are making this kind of commute everyday.
If one insist, they can also find a pay lot nearby. There is no lack of options.
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at April 13, 2011 12:06 PM
Jimmy - peninsula and south bay commuters can use BART by taking Caltrain to Millbrae and transferring to BART there. Even faster is to take Caltrain all the way to 4th & King and cycling from there to work.
But no-one should expect anyone who's a big fan of driving to switch to transit. They can continue to drive and simply pay market rate for parking.
That's what's happening here. Below market rate parking is being removed and some people are annoyed that their subsidies are going away. It is never prudent to expect subsidization for eternity.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 13, 2011 12:51 PM
I agree with Wai, this is not a matter of need but of convenience. The bay area is one of the few places in the country where you do have public transit options. I'm not saying they are perfect - we all know they aren't - but public transit is available and plausible to use in the bay area.
It is not a liberal stance to say that we should not subsidize/encourage more cars and less public transit. Nor is this an ideological issue. It is a practical one. Surface parking is a waste of limited resources. Underground parking is very expensive and there is no money to be had. And in a neighborhood like the Mission, the foot traffic from a park adds much more value to surrounding businesses than parking.
My wife and I both own a car, I'm not against them. But I do accept that a city with limited space is not - and should not be - car friendly. New York (and basically the entire European continent) are not car friendly and they work just fine. This is another example of individuals putting their own desires ahead of what is clearly best for a community and the city as a whole. If parking is a big concern for you, live in the suburbs and take public transit in to the city. Or, pay for your parking out of your own pocket.
Posted by: Not Bashing at April 13, 2011 1:01 PM
FWIW, UCSF operates a free employee shuttle that moves people between all their campuses. They also operate/own many parking garages in the City. Seems they could figure this out...
Posted by: PN at April 13, 2011 1:01 PM
I'm less informed than most commenters here, but from what I've read the guy who filed this lives far away in Pac Heights. I live close to the site. This neighborhood needs a lot more green space. Say no to parking colonialism! I don't own a car and neither do most of the people in my building. Why should we sacrifice parks so that commuters can park for free?
Posted by: Zouaf at April 13, 2011 2:24 PM
Assuming a monthly rental fee/meter revenue of $150-$200/space and about 175 parking spaces per floor, a three-floor, underground parking structure would pay for itself quite easily, I would think. AND pay for the park on top.
Spaces could be rented to neighborhood residents and, during the day, the spaces could be metered. Projects like this are a no-brainer in places like Paris and Milan. Cars belong underground.
Posted by: BobN at April 13, 2011 3:27 PM
Oh but doesn't this lead to gentrification? I mean trees and green things?
Posted by: Mr Gentry at April 13, 2011 3:30 PM
Couldn't agree more with BobN.
Posted by: afy at April 13, 2011 4:21 PM
Wow, what a love fest! Not that I'm complaining.
As for the people who are outside of BART distance, there's also a big old parking structure in Millbrae which, I've read, is operating well under capacity (and losing money) just waiting for them. In fact, it'll probably keep operating under capacity as long as we insist on having subsidized parking in SF. In any case, there will always be those who have to drive, and that's fine. But if you provide artificially low cost parking (by insisting that parking lots remain parking lots even when they don't make economic sense), even people who have alternatives will drive.
If I may make an argument against the park, however: the combination of limiting development-- by height, shadows, traffic studies, historic preservation of one-story buildings, affordable housing requirements, etc-- and the city spending tax money on improvements such as parks, is the very thing that makes SF so unaffordable. It makes SF both more desirable and more limited in how many people it can accommodate, and that of course results in high, high prices. With that in mind, I'd be just as happy to see housing or other development as I would a park.
Though I don't think I agree with david that development will "assuage the nimby types who will self-immolate in front of city hall for parking". I think they'll be just as opposed to it-- after all, it still removes the subsidized parking.
And I don't know that an underground garage would break even even at $200/space/month. I've read that underground garages cost $50,000 or more per space. IMO, the logical way to determine if a garage makes sense is to start by raising the price in local lots and on the street to market rate. When you find out what price people are willing to pay, you will know whether an underground garage is affordable. It would be a really bad idea to build a large garage with the expectation that people will pay $200 a month, only to have them say "oh, it's more than $100? I'll just take BART."
Posted by: Alai at April 13, 2011 4:38 PM
Underground housing at $750/sf or a $100/sf discount. Surface park. Problem solved.
Posted by: lol at April 13, 2011 4:44 PM
If getting rid of this parking lot helps to get rid of the psycho UCSF shuttle drivers flying around this neighborhood, let 'er rip. UCSF gets no sympathy from me in the driving department, not to mention they could probably get federal $ for employee parking if they wanted to.
Posted by: EH at April 13, 2011 5:08 PM
All parks should have parking underground.
parking lots a visual noise should be underground.
All underground parking should be able to double as earthquake fka fallout shelters.
Posted by: kathleen at April 13, 2011 6:35 PM
Adding my voice to the chorus. I start by noting that I live at 17th and Mission.
The neighborhood does not have a ton of parking but few places in they do. However, I believe the Mission has significantly more parking than North Beach, downtown, Nob Hill, Noe Valley, Bernal, Hayes Valley, and and and...
The addition of a park would be a tremendous benefit to this particular area which is a mix of residential, industrial, and (to a much lesser extent) retail. The park will soften the harder features presented by the industrial use, it will provided an urban oasis for the residents in the area, it will improve healthy living and reduce environmentally damaging vehicle use (Hopefully. Although doubtfully, as people will continue to drive and park in the area).
As a neighbor (not an outsider from Pacific Heights), I strongly encourage and support the development of the park.
Posted by: chris m at April 13, 2011 8:33 PM
Appelant is Sean Dowdall, a board member and past president of ODC Dance Center and a resident of Pacific Heights. This guy must be the most self-serving big-headed wanker since Rob Anderson.
ODC is turning into the neighbor from hell for the inner Mish. Ask anyone on Shotwell what they think of ODC and be prepared for an earful. Maybe it's time to re-think your ODC subscriptions. It's certainly time for ODC to rethink their board members.
Posted by: robo-sfo at April 14, 2011 12:28 AM
I believe it's time to write some hate letters to ODC Board and Top Management. My cynical self expect that ODC uses this lot extensively, since it is so close, and Dowdall decided to defend this resource for ODC, in the guise of protect access to a neighborhood clinic. Wanker, indeed.
Curiously, I can't find any link on ODC's website about "how to get here"...most similar facilities post transit and driving directions. Maybe I'm missing something.
Posted by: curmudgeon at April 14, 2011 9:42 AM
ODC is building a new dance building catty-corner to this parking lot. I have to wonder if their long-term studies did NOT take into consideration the loss of parking when they decided to increase the density/usage of the site.
Posted by: Eric in SF at April 14, 2011 3:01 PM
It is just fascinating to me how people can use any excuse to defend their selfish interests. This guy must be a republican.
If it turns out that you cannot replace a parking for a park in an area such as 17th and Folsom-with quite a bit of parking, this is not Mission St, then you should be able to justify that Alta Plaza Park in Pac Heights be converted into a parking lot. Pac Heights has far less parking capacity to residents than this part of the Mission district. Would like to see what kind of excuse this guy then finds to oppose that approach.
Posted by: BernalHeightsResident at April 14, 2011 4:08 PM
The appeal was withdrawn
Posted by: OneEyedMan at April 14, 2011 4:45 PM
As I owned and lived in the one house on Shotwell St. across from the proposed park for 15 years I would like to let the posters and pro park people know what the 200 block of Shotwell is like, and as I can tell this is all of you.
During the day it is drug dealers, drug buyers, pimps prostitutes, johns. Gang members, and want to be gang bangers. Oh, and at nights and weekends it is even more so.
Pee, poop, needles, trash all add to the ambiance. Oh, I forgot to mention the shooting, lots, and murders, only 6, that took place in front of my place and in and around the parking lot.
If you can eliminate these few and I am sure to you, minor problems then it may work for a while. Of course the city made many attempts before and during the time I lived there to clean it up, but would soon stop as it made no difference.
We sold it in 2004 and moved out of the city do to these unresolvable problems, so It really is of no consequence to me if it is built or not.
Oh, by the way I am a registered democrat and have even voted green. So don,t use politics as a stalking horse to put down my thoughts.
I just know the area way too well to get behind a park at that location.
Posted by: Ken Price at August 29, 2011 10:23 AM