“MLK Widening…”

by on January 20, 2005

Dear Mr. Shaw,

Thank you for your recent coverage of MUNI budget issues.

Local activists have for years sought to get MUNI to solve its budget problems by methods other than the counterproductive increases in fares and decreases in service. Other revenue sources include increasing the parking tax and residential parking permit fees, raising the transit impact development fee paid by downtown developers, and/or creating a downtown transit assessment district.

Your readers concerned about this issue can make their voices heard by sending a free fax to the MTA at www.local-impact.org.

Sincerely,

Stephen Knight


Editor,

The Casey Mills story on the opposition to the widening of MLK is deficient in several important ways:

* Mills writes that the Concourse Authority plans on “expanding MLK Drive from two lanes to four,” but he doesn’t explain that the two extra lanes will be created by removing the parking from both sides of MLK for that short stretch to the Concourse. MLK itself will only be widened by a total of four feet.

* Mills writes that Proposition J “promised the garage would create a ‘pedestrian oasis’ due to the large amount of cars it would take off the street…”

Proposition J’s reference to a “pedestrian oasis” refers only to the
Concourse itself, not to the park as a whole (www.sfpix.com/garage/legal_text.html). In fact, there will be one parking space removed from the surface roads of Golden Gate Park for all 800 of the parking places created in the garage. 200 of these parking spaces will be removed from the Concourse itself, which will indeed make it more like a pedestrian oasis than it was before the garage. The very existence of the garage will lessen the overall impact that cars now have on the park, since people will not have to cruise endlessly over park roads looking for a place to park.

* Mills writes that “many opponents[of the widening] claimed it was a rushed railroad job largely closed to public comment.”

Yes, opponents have made this claim, but they haven’t provided any evidence for it yet. The judge’s ruling requiring that the Concourse Authority design a dedicated entrance that begins outside the park only came down last August. The Concourse Authority has been trying to deal with the court order ever since at regularly scheduled meetings.

* Mills notes that the Inner Sunset Merchants Association laments the potential loss of 85 parking spaces when MLK is redesigned.

Using Golden Gate Park as a parking lot for the Inner Sunset’s
business community is, well, an unconvincing argument.

What opponents of the southern entrance at Ninth and Lincoln want all the garage traffic to use the entrance at Tenth and Fulton on the north end of the park. The Concourse Authority quite reasonably concluded that at least two garage entrances would guarantee reasonable public access to the Concourse and the cultural facilities there, which is also part of Prop. J’s mandate, by the way. When you look at a map of the park and the alternatives facing the Concourse Authority, they made a reasonabe decision. I’d like to be a fly on the wall when D5 Supervisor Mirkarimi talks to D1 Supervisor McGoldrick, whose district the Tenth and Fulton entrance is in. (Ross: “Jake, you don’t mind if we funnel all the garage traffic through a neighborhood in your district, do you?”)

New D5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi needs to tailor his rhetoric to the circumstances: “If we cede ground on this, we’re going to cede ground on other land issues. That’s why we need to draw the line in the sand now.” That’s a gross non sequitur. How, for example, is the MLK issue related to, say, the genuinely atrocious UC Extension proposal to put 500 new housing units in the Market/Octavia neighborhood? In fact, it’s not related to anything but Golden Gate Park and the new underground garage now under construction.

The opposition to this minimal widening of MLK is bordering on
hysteria completely out of proportion to the small changes that the Concourse Authority is proposing to comply with a court order.

Rob Anderson


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or by writing to:
Beyond Chron
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San Francisco, CA 94102
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