Marina Boat Owners Riled by Proposal to Take Cars Off Bike/Ped Path

DPW proposes removing the 51 parking spaces (seen here on the right, mostly empty) along the only stretch of the Bay Trail where cars are currently allowed. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Along Marina Boulevard there’s a bicycle and pedestrian path where visitors and residents can stroll along the bay without having to worry about cars — until they get to the stretch between Scott and Baker Streets, where drivers are allowed to enter the path to access 51 parking spaces.

It’s the only part of the 500-mile Bay Trail where people must share space with cars. But now the Department of Public Works is leading an effort to remove those parking spots and ban cars on that stretch of the path. At a public meeting yesterday, the proposal was met with protest from about a dozen boat owners who claimed they were entitled to those parking spaces as part of the $10,000 yearly fee they pay to store their vessels.

Boat owners at a community meeting last night fought for their right to parking. “There are plenty of marinas on the east coast, where I also live, that have adequate parking,” said one man. Photo: Aaron Bialick

“We don’t have any other place in the trail where there’s a multi-use pathway adjacent to the shoreline with cars in the middle of it,” said Maureen Gaffney, Bay Trail planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments. “It’s first and foremost a safety issue. We think that parking is not the best use of the waterfront.”

Boat owners complained about longer walks to carry equipment from their cars to their slips, but most users of the marina already seem to make longer walks. The Bay Trail parking spots, which often appear empty, sit adjacent to only 91 of the 350-some-odd total slips in the basin. Attendees also claimed that the city doesn’t have the jurisdiction to remove those parking spaces because boat slip renters are entitled as part of their contracts with the harbor (DPW didn’t have the documentation on hand to refute that).

Although the Marina pathway is heavily used by families, many with rental bikes, that didn’t stop a few attendees from repeatedly calling people on bicycles a hazard, while insisting that operating motor vehicles on the path is just fine.

Photo: Aaron Bialick

“The cars are not a problem,” said one man. “The bicyclists are, especially when they’re in their Tour de France outfit and going down at 30 mph. Those are the people that should be moved out into the street.”

“The bicyclists pay nothing. They don’t pay taxes. They’re just out for whatever they can get. And I think it’s time that the citizens of this city say we’ve had enough,” said another man. “The fact is that we, as tenants, are paying for this whole marina and its facility, so don’t do a number on us,” he warned DPW staffers.

“There are plenty of marinas on the east coast, where I also live, that have adequate parking,” he added.

In response to Gaffney’s point that the Bay Trail should be open space, one woman asked, “Isn’t parking open space?”

DPW recently re-paved the pathway, and though agency staff didn’t present any proposals for what they could do to improve the space once cars are removed, they said they would float some at the next community meeting. The agency is looking at locations nearby to replace some of the parking spots off the path.

The stretch of pathway in question.