TitleDecember 2004


New Entrance for Park Garage Gets OK

By Carol Dimmick

The SF Recreation and Park Commission gave its stamp of approval to a controversial plan to build a southern entrance to an underground parking garage, now under construction in Golden Gate Park, which begins in the Inner Sunset District.

The plan, which now goes to the court for final approval, creates dedicated lanes for cars traveling to and from a new 800-space parking garage underneath the Music Concourse by widening Martin Luther King Drive by four feet from Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way to the entrance of the garage, which is located about one-quarter mile away.

To make room for the new lanes, which would also accommodate Muni buses and bicyclists, 86 parking spaces would be removed along the route.

The unanimous vote to approve the southern entrance came after hours of heated testimony at a hearing held Nov. 29 and from input during the project's design stage from the SF Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA), pedestrian groups, bicyclists, seniors and Sunset District residents and merchants.

The concept drew heated criticism from members of the groups, who urged commissioners to delay the vote until a better plan could be worked out.

"Adding lanes of traffic in either direction makes it less safe for pedestrians. I don't want to be forced into an automobile to be safe," said Cheryl Brinkman, a member of the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee.

Nancy Connor, president of the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority (GGPCA), the working body that approved the entrance earlier in the month, told commissioners the concept was a work in progress and that there would be time to work out problems during the design process.

"We only need two dedicated lanes, everything else is in play," Connor said at the hearing.

However, the entrance could  still run into opposition from members of the SF Board of Supervisors.

In October, Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced a resolution that would require the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority to work with MTA and bicycle and pedestrian groups to reach consensus on a design for the new southern entrance to the garage.

"Rescue Muni, the Sierra Club and the bicycle coalition are all on the same page and that speaks to me loudly," Supervisor Aaron Peskin said at a Nov. 24 meeting of the Finance and Audit Committee, which held a public hearing on the matter.

Next Year's Transportation Plan Gets OK

In October the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority approved a Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for the next fiscal year. The plan, which seeks to reduce the impact of cars while promoting pedestrian safety and the use of bicycles in the park, will focus on implementing a series of improvements set in motion over the last four years.

Marilyn Duffy, whose company Duffy Transportation worked with numerous city agencies and public groups to develop the plan, told board members she will focus on securing a permanent source of funding for a shuttle bus that has provided transportation for more than 25,000 park visitors during the last four years.

In addition, Duffy told commission members she will focus next year on implementing a series of traffic-calming measures along John F. Kennedy Drive by adding crosswalks at the Rose Garden and curbing stops in the parking lot of the tennis courts to protect pedestrian walkways. She also wants to build a proposed bike lane for Kennedy Drive and start a series of bicycle improvements at Page and Stanyan streets.