Proposed Developments Illustrate San Francisco’s Parking Dilemma

City_Place_street_view.jpgA simulation of the proposed discount mall on Market Street, City Place. Image: Urban Realty.

At another marathon Planning Commission meeting last week, parking was all the rage. Two projects in particular had community members and housing and transit advocates fired up because of the parking that developers proposed to build, or in one case, to not build.

As we reported a year and a half ago when Streetsblog just started in San Francisco, neighborhood residents and advocates were upset that 299 Valencia Street, the first project to be approved in the Market and Octavia Plan area, was allowed to move forward with parking in excess of the plan’s standard. At the time they argued it would set a precedent, while Supervisor Bevan Dufty and members of the Board of Supervisors supporting it said that wouldn’t be the case.

A year and a half later, project sponsors continue to push the envelope with parking and advocates worry nothing has changed since 299 Valencia.

A number of community groups and advocates see the Planning Department
and the Planning Commission as failing to uphold the spirit and letter of
neighborhood plans by permitting variances and conditional uses to grant
parking in excess of the limits in the plans. Some would go so far as
to say planning in San Francisco is marked more by the exceptions to plans than the plans themselves.

The project that most rankled advocates was a discount merchandise mall called City Place on Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets, which was approved with a great deal more parking than would have been allowed under code, but somewhat less than the project sponsors had originally wanted, and much less parking than equivalent projects in other dense urban environments. 

City Place will be a five-story, 250,000 square feet glass structure fronting mid-Market Street with a rear entrance on Stevenson Street and two levels of underground parking, or 167 spaces, 97 more spaces than the Downtown Plan would allow of right. Urban Realty, the developers, had initially sought three levels and over 200 spaces, but brought those numbers down through negotiations with Planning Department staff and advocates like Livable City, Walk SF, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. They also added secure bike parking and eight car-share spaces, which earned a letter of support from City CarShare.

City_Place_facade.jpgCity Place facade image: Urban Realty.

Compared to similar projects in other cities, like the Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, New York, City Place would have less parking relative to square footage, which developer David Rhoades and his team were quick to highlight. Rhoades also pointed to a pioneering effort to incorporate bicycle delivery

"When we began the entitlement process for this project five years ago, we had a vision for this project. It was to bring something to this stretch of Market Street that would really activate the street, that would bring much needed foot traffic," said Rhoades. The project sponsors also estimated up to seventy percent of customers would arrive by some mode other than private vehicles.

It’s exactly why Tom Radulovich of Livable City lamented the additional parking spaces and the many short-term trips that could add to traffic and conflict with pedestrians and transit vehicles, the very customers that make up the majority of those expected to visit the mall. Radulovich was even more concerned the EIR hadn’t proposed significant mitigations to these pedestrian impacts, nor had the department heeded its own short-term parking policy (20.7), which requires converting existing nearby long-term parking to short-term parking before adding more.

"The deck is stacked against livability, stacked against bicycling, walking," said Radulovich. The policy about short-term parking, the crux of the debate, he said, "was ignored by the Planning Department."

Radulovich pointed to the EIR, which showed 1500 parking spaces within walking distance of the new facility, not to mention the more than 2800 spaces two blocks away at the 5th and Mission Garage.

Radulovich said this was a litmus test for the Downtown Plan and feared it would set a precedent for future developers to demand similar concessions to City Place, especially along Market Street, and extending farther from the 5th and Mission garage.

Planning Commissioner Gwyneth Borden disagreed with the assertion that approval would set a precedent for other developers and said many other factors were at stake in addition to parking. She said there were no city plans for revitalizing mid-Market Street on the near horizon, so they were relying on the private market to help. Without the parking spaces, she was concerned the developer wouldn’t have attracted tenants.

"We don’t at all see this as a litmus test. This is a specific project
with specific benefits and we conferred that opportunity for that
specific project," said Borden. "We were clear to say this wasn’t a precedent. This was not a statement
about parking on future blocks. We have no intention of adding parking all along the downtown core. That
is not our intention."

Borden said the support of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation were significant deciding factors (Commissioner Christina Olague said the same thing at the meeting). Borden also pointed to the innovations the developer would explore, including the bicycle delivery, the various car-share spaces and a project to provide incentives to micro-entrepreneurs along a new space on Stevenson Street at the back of the mall.

"Quite frankly, for that kind of development, 167 spaces is not a lot.
It’s over-parked for the Downtown Plan, but it’s under-parked for this
type of development."

Planning Director John Rahaim also argued no precedent was being set with the approval and said additional parking in this instance didn’t violate the spirit of the Downtown Plan. Rahaim said in rough terms San Francisco adds large retail like this project once a decade and if another project comes along ten years from now, the developers would be hard-pressed to argue City Place as a precedent.

"We’ve had a very strong
history of sticking to the maximum on other uses," he said, noting the benefits of revitalization the project could have for the area. "I do believe a certain modest percentage of parking is not
inappropriate. That’s a trade-off, I think."

1050 Valencia Street: The Case for No Parking

1050_Valencia_current.jpgCurrent use of 1050 Valencia. Photo: Shizuo Holding Trust.

On a completely different tack, a developer recently proposed a building along the neighborhood commercial district of Valencia Street in the
Mission that led to vociferous community complaint at the Planning Commission, though for the opposite reason: too little parking.

Shizuo Holding Trust received permission to proceed with a five story, 16-unit rental apartment building on Valencia Street at the corner of Hill Street, where Spork restaurant is currently located, but neighbors filed an appeal of the mitigated negative declaration, saying the project was out of character with the historic Liberty Hill District and the lack of parking would make it even more difficult to find a spot.

One of the neighbors, Peter Heinicke, said parking was only one facet of their opposition (historic character, bulk, and the proposed roof deck were other issues), but it was a significant concern.

"I think if you knew that everybody who moved in there was going to bike all the time and wouldn’t own a car, that obviously would be a lot less of an impact," said Heinicke. "Despite it in theory being a transit rich neighborhood, the fact is the Muni service is so bad, we’re really not a transit-rich neighborhood."

"The effect is I think someone who lives there is likely going to have a car. They may not drive it all the time, but they’re going to need to have it and they’re going to need to park it somewhere, even if they take BART into work," he added. "We’d like to see something maybe a little more balanced on that aspect of it."

Planning Commissioners agreed with the neighbors’ contention that the EIR for the project had failed to adequately address the historic impacts to the Liberty Hill District. The matter was continued until September 2nd, when the project sponsor and Planning staff will return with the completed EIR.

1050_Valencia_small.jpgClick image to enlarge. Schematic for the proposed 55-foot tall apartment building.

Jason Henderson, a member of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association and one of the advocates for the Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, said the opposition to a "good project" with no parking along a bicycle route was disheartening. It was even more troubling to him that they would be given more time to organize opposition to 1050 Valencia over the next couple months.

Their argument, he said, is "based on the assumption that everyone is going to have a car or you have to have a car. It’s not empirically driven."

"What they are saying is they live on a hill and they have to drive and everyone else has to drive too," he said. "They’re presenting it from their view living on a hill with expensive Victorian houses."

Planning’s Rahaim also lamented the delay to the project, saying he was impressed the developer had come forward with no parking in the plans.

"I’m pleasantly surprised to have that project come forward as a model," he said. "The common wisdom is that lenders won’t come forward to sponsor no parking. I’m really hoping this one goes through from a financing perspective."

Commissioner Borden said she was also unhappy to delay it until September, though she noted the EIR was incomplete from the historic impact perspective.

"The project needs to adequately address the transition between the new and the old," she said. "The project has to be sensitive to celebrating the historic district and being a part of it, not standing out from it."

Of the proposal not to add parking, she said: "It’s great, it doesn’t need to have parking. A lot of these old buildings in San Francisco didn’t have parking. I hope that they are successful."

  • Brandon

    “Despite it in theory being a transit rich neighborhood, the fact is the Muni service is so bad, we’re really not a transit-rich neighborhood.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I hate new developments having parking, but i obviously see where they are coming from.

  • i’d allow all the parking they wanted if they promised not to muck up Market Street with a glass facade building — ugly. we need a ‘Director of the Public Realm’ position in SF, like they have in Toronto — that way, the Director could just say, “No, developer — you cannot put this monstrosity on our main thoroughfare. We want this to be a place that people want to come to instead of avoid.”

    now, can we all chip in $50 or $1,000 or whatever and start our own development company so we don’t have to deal with these crooks anymore?

  • Al

    Muni could be dramatically turned around in five years–or less. New buildings are going to stand for fifty, a hundred or more. If we limit the amount of parking and auto access now, more people will use muni and more people will demand that it improve. If we do the opposite, muni will continue to suffer, traffic will continue to be terrible, but fixing it will be ever more difficult– because all the people who invested millions in new garages will not agree to rules that make them any more difficult to use, so good-bye BRT, and good-bye pedestrian improvements which come at the expense of cars.

  • Elizabeth Creely

    Not a transit rich neighborhood? With BART just blocks away?

  • Seriously — this is Valencia and 22nd, three short blocks to BART and smack dab on one of the city’s best and busiest bike lanes. If residents who live here can’t make it without a car, it’s hard to see how anybody could.

  • robo

    So what do the Liberty Hill folks want? A fake Victorian apartment building? In general, developers can’t afford to do really good referential architecture, and anything but really good is usually really bad.

    And being a block from Mission Street, 3 blocks from BART, 3 blocks from the J-church, etc. is not transit-rich?

    I hope this goes ahead as planned. a code-friendly project shouldn’t get attacked by NIMBYs.

  • Nick

    There’s plenty of free parking about 6 blocks or less up the hill from Valencia. The Clipper Street bike lanes come to mind. No reason they can’t park by there and walk 10 minutes down the hill.

    However, suggesting this to most people is akin to insulting them.

  • Sue

    Why in the world is the Tenderloin Housing Clinic supporting a project in which the developers are seeking a CU to get around parking maximums?

    Does anyone know?

    At the moment, I find that outrageous.

  • On City Place – the Commissioners sure did roll over on the Downtown Plan’s parking limit for City Place. The South of Market neighborhood residents trying to walk along Mission, Howard, Folsom, Harrison, and so on are treated like second class citizens once again. I want us SoMa folks to start lobbying for four way stops at every intersection and a 20 MPH speed limit … If they need their parking so bad, we need safer streets for LEDs even worse.

  • That should read “we need safer streets for peds even worse.”

  • As nice as it would have been to get the number of parking spots at City Place down even further, it seems a bit hypocritical to deny 167 spots here, while we accept the Westfield Centre/Metreon and Union Square shops as having no parking on-property only because they are directly across the street from multi-thousand spot garage monstrosities.

    The real test will be how well the city can engineer the access on Stevenson alley to avoid disruption to transit and bike routes on Market and the sidewalks on 5th and 6th, where they failed so spectacularly at street engineering at these other locations. Mission and 4th is a complete traffic disaster where we are wasting thousands of dollars every day on officers directing traffic and Muni drivers sitting in gridlock for upwards of four light cycles, and the streets cutting through Union Square are ridiculously inhospitable for pedestrians for what should be a pedestrian-priority zone.

  • Harris

    This seems like a balanced solution. Any more parking is unacceptable to transit activists and any less and the project may not get built at all.

    This seems like an obvious home for stores like The Container Store, where people buy bulky items that need a car to take home, but right now causes congestion on 4th Street with cars double-parking while they load up.

  • marcos

    So long as nonprofits are granted a voice for our communities without having to secure our buy-in, not to mention their “stakeholders'” buy-in, we’re going to see the cycle of corruption between charities and developers exacerbate.

    What is the process for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic to support or oppose something? Are the residents of the SROs that the THC administers polled? Does the Board of Directors vote on this? Or does Randy Shaw just pull it out of his ass based on promises of largess from developers?

    That is the precedent that we need to obliterate, one where charities that get city money use our resources to subsidize their media outlet and then turn around and advocate policies that will cost the Muni riding public in delays, all to worship at the altar of the fiscalization of land use. There is nothing “progressive” about this.

    -marc

  • At this point, what do you even say? Why waste the time making a general plan, or a mid-market plan, or a market-octavia plan. It’d just be better to give the developers huge tax breaks or let them off the hook on mitigation fees – at least you could appease some people that way if the city is just going to keep wasting money.

    There is amble parking within blocks of City Place. There is so much transit that you can’t toss a Ross bag without hitting a bus, BART, trolley, street car, or LRV. Introducing more vehicles to the area will only continue the down-ward spiral that is MUNI. But this has all been said and is well known. The city has no intention of being transit first and a ballot measure should be introduced to strip that “joke” out of the city charter.

  • I agree with Peter Smith that there should be more criticism of that sterile glass facade, which will uglify Market St. There should be a facade that is more in keeping with the context. Let’s continue to work on the parking issue, but let’s also work on this architectural design issue.

    Re: “neighbors filed an appeal of the mitigated negative declaration, saying the project was out of character with the historic Liberty Hill District and the lack of parking would make it even more difficult to find a spot”

    There were a series of articles by Matthew Roth saying that CEQA guidelines were being changed so parking would no longer be an environmental impact. Has that change happened? If so, the NIMBYs have no case that this is a flaw in the neg dec.

  • julia

    I don’t understand this:

    “When we began the entitlement process for this project five years ago, we had a vision for this project. It was to bring something to this stretch of Market Street that would really activate the street, that would bring much needed foot traffic,”

    What on earth does an underground parking garage accessed from a block away do to “activate” a street or “bring much needed foot traffic?” If those are the goals of your project, you beautify the sidewalk in front of the development, add retail on the ground floor that’s directly accessed from the outside (not some sterile mall atrium) and make conditions better for the customers who will arrive at the businesses on foot.

  • marcos

    The Street Wall is an article of faith amongst urban planners as is the associated common cornice line.

    My take is that it is part of the inherent philosophical fascism in development where the wealthy and powerful developers get to express their dominance over nature and lesser culture by imposing imposing facades on the streetscape that make passers by feel insignificant.

    A jagged, jumbled, irregular facade is much more humanized and does not encourage speeding like the homogenous street wall would.

    -marc

  • Larry Wilson

    @Al: Your theory that residents should be made to suffer so that they will support Muni makes no sense. There is lots of support for improving Muni, but it still hasn’t happened. Why should residents have to deal with incompatible projects on the HOPE that some day maybe Muni will be functional.

    I am a believer in First Transit — if you get transit working reliably then people will take it. Rather than focusing on parking, advocates should focus on getting transit to work. A car parked in garage creates no issues for pedestrians, bicyclists etc., so we should focus on creating viable transit options — not eliminating parking.

    BART being 6 (not 3) blocks away is certainly a good start and for people commuting into the financial district it is a viable option. But people have other transportation needs that aren’t met by BART. And, lots of people in this area don’t commute to the financial district.

    As for the suggestion that there is lots of free parking just a few blocks away or on Clipper Street, I would just suggest that those people obviously no nothing about the RPP system, the parking conditions in neighborhood, or where Clipper Street is.

  • Every commercial developer ever will always fight for as much parking as they can. They say it attracts tenants. Historically they have been right. What about the future though. We want to be a transit first city with businesses that can survive in a transit first climate.

    To be fair, mid-market is in desperate need of some love, so whatever it takes to get some shouldn’t be fought too hard. I am awaiting the day though that commercial developers are challenged to turn a profit without being able to sell parking spaces.

  • gibraltar

    From the article: “They also added secure bike parking and eight car-share spaces, which earned a letter of support from City CarShare.”

    Do we know more about the bike parking? How many racks / lockers are we talking about? We could try to pick our battles and focusing on having a nice bike parking facility that is adequate for the large need in that part of town, IMO could do more good than spending so much time and energy on a few dozen parking spots being built vs. not.

    I pretty much avoid bringing my bike downtown because of the lack of nice bike parking there, so this could be a game changer, and not just for me.

  • @Larry Wilson: Walk two blocks from 22nd to 24th. Now walk one block south to 24th Street BART. Three blocks. And BART serves a great number of commuter jobs in the East Bay as well as the Financial district. In addition many South Bay jobs are well-served by privately run shuttle buses which stop quite nearby in the Mission.

  • whir, or a bus/bike ride over to the 22nd St stop to use Caltrain to get to those south bay jobs.

    and I think Larry is pointing out that if the transit isn’t right outside the door, then it’s worthless. Many people have come to enjoy this false sense of entitlement. What? Park two blocks from my house? WHAT? Take public transit that is 6 blocks from my house?? Etc.

    Heaven forbid that the car might not be highly subsidized at all costs.

  • Sean H

    Why would you even want to park via Stevenson St? There are no lefts on Mission, cars are supposed to turn before 10th or 6th on Market, and 6th street is basically an onramp, packed with traffic.

  • Larry Wilson

    @Mikeson: Why don’t you read what I wrote rather than being whiney and sarcastic?

    I specifically said that BART is a good option for getting to the financial district. Why do you feel the need to misrepresent my position?

    As for parking, my point was that there isn’t much parking within easy walking distance much less within 2 blocks. Why did you make up something else?

    As for bike to Caltrain. There are lots of people who don’t like biking, can’t bike etc. and Caltrain does not reach most South Bay jobs. I think some realism is in order.

    You and some other posters really need to focus on the legitimate needs of other people in the community who may be differently situated than you. It is easy to be glib and dismissive, but you would be more successful if you actually tried to understand the needs of families, those for whom biking is not viable, those who need to get to the many places not served by transit etc..

    In any case, if you can refute others people’s positions only by grossly mischaracterizing them, then that is a strong indication that you are wrong.

  • Larry Wilson

    Speaking of misrepresentations, I loved Jason Henderson comments that “”What they are saying is they live on a hill and they have to drive and everyone else has to drive too,” he said. “They’re presenting it from their view living on a hill with expensive Victorian houses.”

    Umm, actually nobody said anything like that. But, of course, it is easy to slam your opponents with your own prejudices than actually deal with the issues they raise.

  • @gibraltar I haven’t seen any specific details for the Market Street treatment and would love some more details here too; the City Place website just says there will be 31 new bike parking spots in “bike pods” on Market street, in addition to the required bike parking in the garage. There are very detailed plans for the redesign of Stevenson alley in the developer’s package (see http://sf-planning.org/ftp/files/Commission/CPCPackets/2008.0217CVX.pdf starting on page 65), but nothing specific on amenities on the Market sidewalk

    @Sean H the garage has one driveway for entrance/exit and it’s on Stevenson; the building only fronts Market and Stevenson and you can’t put a driveway on Market. This is why it will be so important for the MTA to look at treatments on 6th St so that traffic isn’t backed up

  • Larry, that comment was in response to many conversations had over the course of months on this blog when it comes to parking and the like. Also, you missed that I said MUNI/bike ride (not just biking) as a way to get to Caltrain. And I understand that many jobs in the south bay aren’t accessible by Caltrain, but this is a new development which means new tenants. So if these new tenants want to move into a city that does not also contain their place of employment, then the burden is on them to find transport. If the building they are moving into doesn’t have parking and parking is something they require, either choose another location or deal with difficult (??) on street parking.

    Also, you should expand on this because we are obviously out of the loop:

    “As for the suggestion that there is lots of free parking just a few blocks away or on Clipper Street, I would just suggest that those people obviously no nothing about the RPP system, the parking conditions in neighborhood, or where Clipper Street is.”

  • Furthermore, this comment is pretty narrow minded yourself:

    “You and some other posters really need to focus on the legitimate needs of other people in the community who may be differently situated than you. It is easy to be glib and dismissive, but you would be more successful if you actually tried to understand the needs of families, those for whom biking is not viable, those who need to get to the many places not served by transit etc..”

    There are a lot of families out there, especially in neighborhoods like the Mission, who don’t own vehicles. Why can’t you focus on the legitimate needs of those families? The street is two ways and providing parking-free housing is a way to address the needs of families (since they are the only ones who count right?) who’d rather not (or can’t afford to) waste several thousand dollars a year on owning a car, not to mention the initial $20k or so that the parking adds to the cost of the unit.

  • @LarryWilson –

    Very crafty. I notice that you ignored the Google/Apple/Paypal/Genentech buses in your rebuttal. It’s very important to talk about those buses when one wants to complain about the noise from the buses, and very important to pretend they don’t exist (and thus don’t attract all those non-car owning residents) when you are prattling on about how hard it is to park.

    Regards bike to caltrain – if you live at 22nd/Valencia, BART is 3 blocks from taking you to Millbrae whence you can get on the Caltrain. The largest private employer on the Peninsula is Stanford, which is on the Caltrain line and runs shuttles continuously. The train stops in all of the downtown areas and shuttles run to almost all major office parks – Sand Hill and Western Page Mill are underserved, and service is very crappy to Eastern Tasman – but if you want to commute from San Francisco to Milpitas, you have other problems (note that the 49ers claim this area is “served well by transit”).

  • gibraltar

    Thanks, SteveS. This link on SocketSite:

    http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2009/11/935965_market_street_cityplace_details_to_augment_the_d.html

    says there will be 21 bike parking spots. Whether it’s 20 or 30, it’s ridiculous and will be hopelessly full at all times. I would want at least the number of car parking spots.

  • “As for the suggestion that there is lots of free parking just a few blocks away or on Clipper Street, I would just suggest that those people obviously no nothing about the RPP system, the parking conditions in neighborhood, or where Clipper Street is.”

    I’m not sure what the initial commenter was headed towards. Clipper between Douglass and Grandview has unpermitted, unmetered, and unfilled parking. It’s also a hell of a walk to Valencia – more than 6 blocks and pretty steep. I used to live on that block – there is effectively infinitel parking because the units on that street all have pretty ample off street parking and there isn’t much incentive to park there otherwise.

    Maybe Google should put a bus stop there for their park-n-riding employees outside Noe Valley, and give relief to the 30th/Church folks 🙂

  • julia

    @gibraltar ” it’s ridiculous and will be hopelessly full at all times. ”

    yes. if this is actual secure bike parking (by which i mean fully attended or bikelink lockers, not just a dark corner) it will be completely full all the time. there is a major lack of even REMOTELY safe places to park a bike downtown, and I would certainly park in this facility regardless of where i was actually going.

  • Larry Wilson

    @John Murphy: umm, when did I ever complain about the Genetech/Google buses? I know that it is always nice to brand someone a hypocrite and then dismiss them as “prattling”, but it doesn’t make for a compelling argument. And, as someone who has tried it, I can assure you that using public transit to get to Peninsula jobs is not nearly as easy as you make it out to be.

    @Mikeson: You said “I think Larry is pointing out..” and then made up a bunch of things I never said in any context. Sorry that was not “replying to bunch of conversations” that was deliberately distorting my words.

    You are right that there are some families that don’t need cars and there are tenants (whether new to the area or not) who may not need cars. Did I ever say anything to the contrary? But they are just part of the population. My point — which you carefully avoid — is the the legitimate needs of everyone should be considered.

    In any case, there is no guarantee or even reasonable probability that the people who are going to move into the proposed building will be car less. So the cars (34 according to the EIR) that they bring will have a negative impact on a neighborhood where parking is already limited. That alone may not be a reason to block the project, but it is something to take into consideration.

    More important is my larger point. Rather than trying to force people into transit, bikes, or whatever by making streets congested and parking impossible, advocates should focus on making transit better. Unfortunately, people like Al think it is a good idea to make auto owners miserable. I think it would be much better to create a situation where drivers are happy to leave their cars at home parked in garage more and more of the time.

  • @Larry, I don’t think I avoided the legitimate needs of everyone, I was actually adding needs that are usually bypassed – those of people who don’t own personal autos.

    Adding parking spaces WILL bring more cars. Not adding parking spaces MIGHT bring more cars. I think that is something worth fighting for. And those extra cars are going to make life miserable for both car owners and transit regardless of available parking. Having another curb cut will make it less safe for peds/bikes because there will be another intersection they have to navigate.

    “I think it would be much better to create a situation where drivers are happy to leave their cars at home parked in garage more and more of the time.”
    I think this quote shows that you are unable to truly visualize a situation in which someone could live with out a car. Your best case scenario is them leaving the car at home.

  • Larry:

    It’s all about bikes on this site—and making it as expensive and difficult as possible to drive in SF. The CityPlace project will bring some development to the most blighted block of Market Street. The developer is doing the city a favor and should have as much parking as he wants.
    http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2010/06/cityplace-how-anti-car-jihad-hurts-city.html

  • @gibralter Ah, it seems a lot of this has been changing and I got some of the numbers mixed up. So the project web site actually says they will have 31 bike parking spots and 1 car share spot in the underground garage off Stevenson, but this has now been changed in the updated garage plan to 50 bike parking spots and 4 car share spots, and the Streetsblog article now says 8 car share spots. There appears to be no mention anywhere of the capacity or design of the Market street bike parking, just a note “Bikepods (Market St: Location TBD)”

  • The 8 car-share spaces were announced at the Planning Commission meeting. 3 of them will be spaces that are for car-share customers arriving by car-share, i.e. short term car-share parking. 5 spaces will be standard long-term car-share spaces. City CarShare will also offer 1-day car-share memberships for those arriving at the mall, buying more than they can carry, and then deciding to drive it home. Interesting idea, I think.

  • Matthew, thanks for the update on the car-sharing plans. I think it is great that they are offering dedicated short term parking. We use Zipcar, or is this only City CarShare?

    We rarely shop to the point of not being able to carry all our stuff on BART/MUNI, but maybe all those families who can’t shop without a car will see the financial benefit of not owning but still using a car when needed and now with the added bonus of prime parking.

  • @Larry –

    I am a believer in First Transit — if you get transit working reliably then people will take it. Rather than focusing on parking, advocates should focus on getting transit to work.

    More important is my larger point. Rather than trying to force people into transit, bikes, or whatever by making streets congested and parking impossible, advocates should focus on making transit better.

    Here’s the problem Larry. The “Advocates” can never compete with the “Politicians” or the “Corporations”. The only way things ever happen is if there is enough demand from the general public that the “Politicians” have more to gain (generally this entails keeping their job) from the public than they have to gain from the “Corporations” (generally this entails $$$). “Corporations” here is a loose term that could imply a single connected wealthy person (or perhaps a “Union”).

    The only way our mass transit gets better is if the public demands it, not the other way around. It’s sad but true. Right now there is very little gain for our City Politicians – it would be a lot of work and a lot of fallout from current, more organized, well defined benefactors – and it might not produce much and even if it did, the gain for said politician is pretty small.

    Now, should we “penalize” motorists so badly that they demand transit? Since I’m a nutty “advocate” I wrap it in a bow and say “Penalizing motorists is a misnomer – currently they are subsidized and transit riders are penalized. Level the playing field and let the market decide”. Cuz I am a free market capitalist, ya know. That road and those parking spots weren’t free, buddy…

  • “maybe all those families who can’t shop without a car will see the financial benefit of not owning but still using a car when needed and now with the added bonus of prime parking.”

    Perhaps that would be the ability to buy a condo at 22nd and Valencia that was lower priced because it didn’t come with… parking spots…

  • With 1050 Valencia, I don’t see that “corporations” are a part of the problem at all, as its the development corporation which doesn’t want to build parking. In this case, I think the problem is once again our byzantine review system that allows anyone to object to anything, rather than enforcing objective, easily fact-checked standards as the basis for review (e.g. if the minimum parking space requirement is zero then no one can object to a development on the basis of not having enough parking).

    If the developer feels the market is there for a development without parking, they should be free to build it: they are the ones making the investment, and they are not asking to take public use away for curb cuts or more traffic. If the naysayers are correct and no one buys any of their condos because they don’t come with a parking space, no one will be the worse off except the investors.

  • @SteveS –

    One could say that it will be very easy for someone to block the project based on there not being parking, in that various Supervisors with higher level ambitions (to say nothing of our Mayor) won’t push back on them and favor this developer, because that empowers people trying to push back on the parking at places like CityPlace. And THOSE developers don’t want that change – and those developers contribute $$$.

    The developers at a place like CityPlace that are exploiting public resources for private gain should have a higher bar to beat. We *know* that their parking garage will attract more traffic to public streets. OK, we don’t “know” that but CityPlace certainly thinks that otherwise they wouldn’t be stumping for added parking.

    The 1050 Valencia people should have a lower bar because they aren’t doing so – sort of. I see Larry’s point that they can put extra units in instead of parking, and effectively privatize the parking spots on the street. But it is well known that places with parking carry a premium, and in a parking challenged, transit rich (anyplace near BART is transit rich – not everyone works near BART but 350,000 a day do) area like this one, it is reasonable to expect they will attract people who are car-free and want to seek out places that don’t have the parking-premium in the cost of their housing.

    Usually I’m not a pointy tinfoil hat guy, but I’m sleep deprived.

  • Brandon

    Being near BART doesnt mean its transit-rich. How are people who actually live in the city going to get there?

  • Larry Wilson

    @mikeson: There is a need to be realistic here. If there was a realistic chance that no parking would mean no additional cars, then there would not be an issue here. But, the Neg Dec says there will be 34 additional cars. So it is up to the advocates of the project to show what the impact will be, not merely say there “might” not be any impact.

    And as to you comment that you were “broadening” the conversation, that is a joke. You brought up families without cars so that you could accuse me of being “narrow-minded”. You clearly are more interested in insulting people and misrepresenting their views than actually engaging in a discussion.

    I actually have a much broad vision of the City –one where the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and auto owners are all accommodated. That is possible, but not if people decide to ignore facts and pretend the needs of others are irrelevant.

  • Wanderer

    22nd & Valencia is a very transit rich location. BART takes you to the region’s biggest employment center–Downtown San Francisco. The Mission St. bus line–line 14–is one of the most frequent in San Francisco. The 48 bus takes you across the central hills to the Sunset. And Caltrain isn’t that far away. Not to mention the J Church three blocks away.

    If we waited for transit to be perfect to do any transit-oriented development, we’d never do any. We need to start and keep working on making transit better.

    If the new building went in without parking, it would attract residents who don’t want to have cars! It’s called self-selection. Those folks who wanted to park their SUV in the heart of San Francisco would go elsewhere. There are plenty of other buildings with parking that they could live in. I believe there are also some monthly lots within a few minutes’ walk that drivers could reserve a space in.

    I don’t know the incomes, house types, or lifestyles of the opponents. But they do seem to be assuming that everybody HAS to live like them, that it’s IMPOSSIBLE, even in San Francisco, to live without a car. This is a completely unwarranted assumption in a city where something like 30% of households don’t own a car. I also believe there are carshare pods pretty close to this.

    The state has rewritten the CEQA guidelines so that cities don’t have to consider parking as an impact. It doesn’t say that you can’t, but San Francisco decided years ago that it would not consider parking availability as an impact, and I don’t think they’ve changed back. So I’m not sure what the legal basis for challenging the project is. In the Market St. project, it seems to be much more of a (quite possibly dubious) economic calculus than anything else.

  • Larry, let’s move beyond the back and forth.

    Let’s say the development gets off-street parking, do you feel like that will have significantly less impact on the neighborhood (walking, transit, etc)?

    Would you feel better, if this project goes through as is, with the developers doing outreach to the potential buyers in a way that addresses off-street parking concerns and possibly transit benefits? For example, providing Fast Passes for 1 or 2 yrs as part of the purchase, a MUNI map in the lobby along with information about routing and schedules, and maybe even a dedicated car-sharing space (or two) near the location (possibly even adding a year membership to that car-sharing service).

  • Meanwhile, plenty of pedestrian dangers await in SoMa on a non-event day (no events on the waterfront or AT&T Park) and in the midst of vacation month July in a down economy …. I give you my daily walk home experience, corner of Main and Harrison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Y0KVgnkUI

  • Seven

    @Wanderer: The 48 bus only runs to the Sunset for a few hours on weekday mornings and afternoons. No night, midday, or weekend service makes the 48 useless in the Sunset.

    From the central/outer Sunset, better allow an hour each way on Muni. Or just drive it in 20 minutes. Depends what your time is worth.

  • Tom

    Wanderer

    In the end, “economic calculus” is all there is. If you design it “without parking”, as you suggest, demand will drop, asking prices will be less, and the project won’t be viable, meaning the developers walk away.

    This isn’t an established, successful area where developers are falling over each other, and the city can call the shots. It’s a grim, blighted stretch of what should be SF’s 5th Avenue. If private money wants to take it on, then they’re in a good negotiating position. It’s not like the City and/or it’s taxpayers are willing to take this one.

    We need to pick our battles and we’re in this one with no ammo.

  • How about they limit the number of parking spots to what is allowed by code, but offer the spots to residents at a “market rate” that balances supply and demand?

    That was easy.

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