At Car-Free Marina Path Meeting, Parking-First Boaters Balanced by Sanity

Image: DPW

Update 12/19: DPW now has an online survey you can take about removing parking on the Marina path.

Marina boat owners riled by the prospect of removing underused car parking from the Marina Boulevard bicycle and pedestrian path got a bit of a reality check at a meeting last week. Some neighbors in attendance made the case for moving the parking, and planners presented some enlightening data about the path’s use.

Unlike the first meeting, the open house format didn’t lend itself to loud rants from boat owners in defense of their entitlement to car storage on the path. In the open Q-and-A session of the previous meeting, attended by about a dozen people who mostly appeared to be boat slip lessees, one man argued that “the bicyclists are out for whatever they can get” and that “the marinas on the east coast, where I also live, have adequate parking.” One woman asked whether or not parking was open space.

At the latest meeting, I did get into a discussion with someone who had a more reasonable defense of using the path for parking. He made the case that boat slip renters are entitled to the parking on the path as part of their contracts, and that the stretch in question, between Baker and Scott Streets, wasn’t a destination worth improving.

But the 57 parking spaces — the only ones directly on the 500-mile Bay Trail — just aren’t essential. They sit adjacent to just 91 of the 350-some-odd total slips in the Marina basin, and occupancy ranges between 40 and 68 percent, according to city counts done throughout 2011. And yet a quarter of the path is devoted to auto storage, while another quarter is deemed a “shared” driving lane, which undermines any sense of safety and comfort for people walking and biking — who comprise 98 percent of the users on this segment of the path.

The Marina path as it exists today. Photo: DPW

“Parking is not the highest and best use of this space,” said Maureen Gaffney, Bay Trail planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments. Gaffney said she was encouraged to see a broader representation of residents at the meeting, along with more comprehensive data and options for parking removal.

“I understand the concerns of the boat owners,” said Marina resident Bruce Halperin, “but I think this is some of the most scenic and expensive real estate in the city, and a substantial 40 or 50 percent of that space shouldn’t be used for private car storage.”

Of the several options presented by DPW staff, only one, Option 2B, would completely eliminate car access on the path, while others would remove some spaces, but still allow driving. Each option would move some or all of the 15 spots reserved for slip permit holders by converting existing public parking spaces in the adjacent lots.

“We want to enhance the experience of people using the Bay Trail in this area,” said DPW planner Cristina Calderón Olea. A goal of the project is “to provide uninterrupted access and views of the Bay along the waterfront. This is an urban waterfront — it’s not the middle of nowhere.”

Under DPW’s proposals, permitted parking spaces would be moved to other existing lots nearby by converting public parking spaces. Image: DPW

One proposal presented but “not recommended” by DPW is to move the parking lane toward the roadside edge of the pathway with a “rolled curb” that motorists can drive up on to. Aside from the fact that the path would still not be entirely devoted to non-motorized uses like the rest of it, the rails underneath the pavement there are deemed historic, making curb re-construction difficult, DPW says. Meanwhile, room would still be required to safely open car doors on either side.

Halperin said he’d favor an option not presented — re-striping Marina Boulevard to remove a traffic lane and make room for a parking lane on the roadway, where bike lanes were previously planned, but never implemented because “we hadn’t gotten full support,” according to Olea. The idea hasn’t been studied yet, but could be considered, she said.

The next community meeting on the project is expected to be held in March. See more on the parking removal options in this PDF.

  • Guest

    Aaron , I’m not surprised by the data, this problem is easy to fix, take all those proposed spaces and wipe em out clean, there is no need to create more parking spaces to compensate for the loss spaces, there is so much parking available in that neighborhood, and besides those parking spaces are underutilized, I just don’t see why there is such a need to compensate those spaces! 🙂

  • voltairesmistress

    Seems like a confluence of interests — homeowners gazing out over parked cars to the marina, walkers, and bikers — should be enough to get all parking moved to the marina’s existing parking lot. I don’t care that much whether they take away public spots for the slip users; though that doesn’t seem fair, it certainly would be a painless political solution. Point is, there should be no parking or driving on the massively used portion of the Bay Trail. It is dangerous and inconvenient for 98% of users and completely unnecessary given the parking available off street in the existing lot.

  • SFnative74

    You can argue to take out the parking to make more space for pedestrians and people on bikes – that is valid. But to say there is “so much parking available in that neighborhood” is B.S.

  • murphstahoe

    counting the marina green lot – there is.

  • gb52

    Totally Agree. Except for the busiest weekends when there are events in the area, boat owners should find parking just like anyone else. I’d suggest a convenient loading zone be made either by the yacht club or the roadway leading up to it, but NO PARKING on the bay trail! That’s just absurd!
    If you’re unwilling to make the change, perhaps it’s time to take your boat somewhere else. There are plenty of others who would be more than willing to take your spot.

  • IHeartPandas

    I was at the meeting (I’m in favor of removing all parking) and overheard a gentleman say “I’m as fit as anyone, but I can’t be expected to carry my stuff a quarter mile from my car to my boat,” as well as “and parking elsewhere in the neighborhood is not an option because it’s such a tourist destination, and you have all these people coming in on the weekends TAKING OUR SPOTS.”

    Let’s ignore the 2nd comment, as nobody is entitled to public on-street parking. What I want to know is: how do the 350 other boat owners get stuff from their cars to their boats?

    There isn’t a dedicated parking spot next to each slip, so one would guess that most of the boat owners have figured out a way to get their stuff from their cars to their boats. Maybe they use wheelbarrows, or hand trucks, or carts, or whatever to move potentially heavy equipment/trash/food/tools to their boats. There should be a practical, simple solution to this problem — and it would hopefully make the parking removal less onerous for the boat owners.

    Also, the path would be even better if there were a slow lane and a fast lane. Right now, it’s a jumble of runners, walkers, strollers, off-leash dogs, kids on tricycles, and cyclists (fast and slow). I think it’d be safer for everyone if the fast cyclists were in their own lane (it could be asphalt), and not weaving through the crowd. The pedestrian path would be given a different visual treatment, like the bikeways in Bogota.

  • quinine_bubbles

    What’s the ADT on Marina Blvd? Is it a candidate for a road diet (4 lanes to 2 travel lanes and a center turn lane)? i.e. ADT 20,000 or less?

  • mikesonn

    It always seems to me from my view on the path that Marina is grossly oversized for its traffic thru-put but Marin commuters like to use it to cheat Lombard so I’d guess it is close to 20k (but my money is on the under).

  • quinine_bubbles

    My thought is that with a road diet you could move the boating parking onto the street, and grant boaters a special permit. On street parking can help calm a street, the curbs would not have to be rebuilt, and existing parking area would be open to the trail.

  • eugene

    Judging by the location of the quays, I suspect that nearly every boat slip in the area is about 500 feet from a parking space except for the ones at the very end of the long dock projecting into the very center of the wharf, which are about 1000 feet away. The slips on the east end of Marina Green and at the very ends of their docks are a little further too, but not by much more.

  • gneiss

    That’s a great idea, so long as there is adequate daylighting at the crosswalks. Too often in this city we allow parking right up to intersections and crosswalks which make it much less safe for pedestrians as they are blocked from view until they step out behind the line of parked cars.

    I agree with mikesonn. This street absolutely does not need to be as wide as it is. The Marina Green is where we have city youth soccer leagues play and other events like Fleet Week during the year. It absolutely is used as a ‘cut out’ for over stressed Marin commuters who then try and speed through this stretch. A four lane road here is ridiculous overkill and badly separates the Marina neighborhood from the waterfront.

  • lostjr

    This path is extremely busy with bikes and peds. They need space, and they need strong separation.

  • murphstahoe

    “It absolutely is used as a ‘cut out’ for over stressed Marin commuters who then try and speed through this stretch.”

    Which then incents them to use Mason/Crissy Field/Lincoln instead of Doyle Drive, which really sucks. That’s a bunch of congestion in what should be a quiet park. In the summer I frequently ride up the hill on Crissy Field, and would often pass 20+ backed up cars.

    Making it harder to get there in the first place would hopefully reduce that traffic to people actually headed to Crissy Field or the buildings on Mason.

  • Charlie

    I have to agree with SFNative-“so much parking in that neighborhood” is simply untrue and to remove 57 spots along the trail (that are apparently written into contracts with slip owners) with no better idea than “find a spot somewhere else in the neighborhood” is unfair to residents in the Marina who pay for M stickers and currently circle around looking for a spot(myself included on a regular basis). “Except for the busiest weekends”???? Have you seen Marina Blvd, the Palace, Crissy Field, and Marina Greens lately? EVERY weekend is a busy weekend!….Bike lanes are everywhere in this city so why has it taken so long to see that the need them on Marina Blvd? Bikes belong on streets, not curbs. If you rode your bike on a curb anywhere else in the city, you’d get a ticket.

  • 94103er

    Probably not by coincidence Chronicle Watch is now weighing in on the current state of the multi-use path. As usual they leave the door wide open for foaming-at-the-mouth anti-bike crazies to rant and rave in the comments by implying that cyclists or are causing the chaos and drivers have no culpability because the lack of road stripes excuses them.

    No mention of the stupid, poorly balanced design of the road itself, with way too wide a thoroughfare for cars and unnecessary curbside parking.

  • Emcee

    I am a slipholder. I also bike or run on that path to get to my gym in the presidio. I also live in the marina.

    I can see the boatowner’s side: tonight I have to haul a 90lbs section of fiberglass down to my boat. That shit’s heavy and you absolutely want to be able to get it as close as possible to ramp before you have to lug it.

    As a cyclist, that path is a deathtrap anyways. Strollers, tandem tourist bikes weaving all over the place, people taking photos across the entire path (doing that thing where they back up without looking behind them) enormous potholes and this outrageous, wavy-pattern repaving that feels like you’re on an old wooden roller coaster.

    As a runner, yeah, the path is nice. Cars are usually stuck behind the walkers and strollers and crazy tandem weavers, and so I am usually running faster than the cars.

    I don’t see how the status quo is much of an issue, other than I suppose in principle there needs to be separation. The obvious answer is put the parking on the south side of the path and remove the old “historical” rail tracks, but in typical san francisco–our old garbage is gold and we will never, ever, ever remove or improve any of it.

  • murphstahoe

    If you pay for an M sticker, how does a slip owner who does not impact your parking, when they don’t have an M sticker?

    If you want bike lanes on Marina Boulevard, don’t complain on twitter. Take it up with your Supervisor, Mark Farrell. And if he is unresponsive, vote him out of office.

    As a cyclist who uses that route with frequency, I think it would be a huge upgrade to put bike lanes on Marina and expand the size of the sidewalk/promenade. It might be a better idea to still allow bikes on that trail, but with a bike lane the faster cyclists would use the roadway (modulo if the path is faster with no stop signs).

  • murphstahoe

    That shit’s heavy and you absolutely want to be able to get it as close as possible to ramp before you have to lug it.

    Not familiar – is there not a possible drop off area where someone can drop off their 90lbs of shit and then go park elsewhere?

  • Emcee

    Usually yes. I’m not directly affected by this issue because I usually bike to the boat, but when I need to drop things off my ramp faces a parking lot so it is easy. If you had one of these slips where the dock ramp entrance is on the bike path, without the car access you’d have to block a lane on marina drive to do so, and I don’t think that would go over very well with drivers behind you.

  • Eric Fischer

    https://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/adtcounts.accessible3.pdf shows Marina Boulevard carrying about 15000 vehicles per day in each direction.