Parking-Free Marina Path Plan Could Be Delayed By Boaters’ Parking Proposal

The Marina path as it exists today. Photo: Department of Public Works

Updated at 11:38 p.m. with further response from the Recreation and Parks Department below.

The Marina Boulevard bicycle and pedestrian path was supposed to be car-free by now. The years-old plan to remove the 57 car parking spaces on the stretch between Scott and Baker Streets is scheduled to be implemented by this spring.

But the SF Recreation and Parks Department may hold off yet again — potentially for years — because the department is seriously considering a last-minute proposal from boat owners to carve curbside “parking bays” from the path to preserve some spots.

The Association of Bay Area Governments’ Bay Trail Project and the SF Bicycle Coalition sent a letter [PDF] Tuesday urging Rec and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg “in the strongest of terms to move forward with the current plan to remove the parking and driving lane… immediately.”

We believe that a proposal to provide a drop-off, loading/unloading zone with limited parking may have merit and should be pursued. However, the thousands of walkers, joggers, cyclists, families, roller-bladers and wheelchair riders who make up 98% of the users of the Marina Green Bay Trail cannot continue to wait for safety in this area.

[Update] Rec and Parks spokesperson Connie Chan wrote in an email that the department “is seeking funding for” the project to include “the construction of 3 new parking bays.”

“Each bay will provide 3 to 5 parking spaces: 2 white loading-only spaces, 1 blue ADA-only space, and 2 unregulated public parking spaces (optional),” she wrote. “One parking bay will be situated near each dock gate, with exact location determined by traffic code and/or other site constraints.”

When asked if the parking removal will no longer happen this spring as planned, she repeated, “At this time, the Department is seeking funding for the project.”

In addition to reducing space for people, lumping parking bays into the project could further delay it for years. Digging into the pavement would require securing funding, design work, and construction for a project that originally only involved removing parking bumpers and replacing signs and pavement striping. It would add an estimated $450,000 to a $60,000 project.

The original car-free plan has support from the National Park Service, the California Coastal Conservancy, the Fort Mason Center, Walk SF, Livable City, “and hundreds of residents” who weighed in throughout the planning process, the letter says. It was originally supposed to be done in 2013, and advocates have been pushing for it since 2005 — “a full decade.”

While some important improvements have been made in the intervening ten years — re-paving, removal of trail hazards — cars still mix with [people] on one of the most heavily used segments of Bay Trail in the 500-mile region-wide system. In no other place are trail users expected to find cars driving, backing, parking, and opening doors onto their shoreline multi-use path.

The 57 parking spaces sit adjacent to just 91 of the approximately 350 total slips in the Marina basin, and occupancy ranges between 40 and 68 percent, according to city counts done throughout 2011.

But 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.

“There are plenty of marinas on the east coast, where I also live, that have adequate parking,” said one man at a public meeting on the project in September 2013, the first of four. “The cars are not a problem. The bicyclists are,” he claimed of the path filled with families on foot and on bike, many of them tourists.

The third meeting, originally scheduled for January 2014, was supposed to be the final one. But it was apparently delayed by well-connected boat owners until the end of September, and a fourth meeting was added a month later.

At the final meeting, 50-year boat tenant Allen Cavey said that he’s been fighting the car-free path idea since 1996, when he “had to rattle down the testy, belligerent, arrogant Bicyclist [sic] Coalition. We won, we prevailed. And we’re still parking on the esplanade. And we’re going through the same thing again.”

  • Mesozoic Polk

    Allen Cavey is a true hero and warrior, fighting for nearly two decades to safeguard our fundamental right to free parking for our cars on public streets. Yes, it’s a right — check the City Charter, I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

  • voltairesmistress

    Enough delaying tactics. Given the context of the boat owners’ past obstructionism, we should move ahead with a wide pedestrian/bicycle pathway, and only build a handful of loading bays afterwards when the money is provided for this private use by the marina association itself. Car drivers accessing these loading areas will put other users at risk, but it will be limited to a few minutes each time at a few spots for brief loading and unloading. That is a true compromise that gives the boat owners the convenient loading they say they need, without using pathway space and everybody’s view for parking cars.

  • phoca2004

    meanwhile the new stop signs for peds and cyclists at the entrance to the St. Francis Yacht club went in quickly despite one being on federal jurisdiction the other being on city jurisdiction. The city seems capable of moving fast to the lick the boots that feed them.

    Elsewhere, someone seems to have to die for the city to make improvements quickly.

  • gneiss

    Once again, city government is caving into a small, vocal, minority rather than doing the right thing. I cannot believe that Parks and Rec, with it’s perennially limited budget is seriously considering this proposal. I mean really, who is going to pay for this? Are the boat owners going to pony up the $450,000-$600,000, or will city tax payers be on the hook for a proposal for the benefit of a handful of stubborn boat owners who can’t change their habits? I doubt that there is anything in their slip agreement that provides a guarantee to parking on the esplanade. If they aren’t happy with this marina because of inadequate parking, they can freely move their boats to a different one. The boat owners really are not in a strong bargaining position here. There are plenty of people who would gladly take their slips if they don’t want them.

  • So when boat owners feel entitled to free parking, that’s “liberty”, “freedom”, “america”. But when pedestrians and cyclists claim the right to safe use of public infrastructure that’s being entitled little brats of the “me” generation. *le sigh*.

  • Parker

    Who could I write to voice my support of removing these parking spaces?

  • jj

    Someone please explain to me how those parking spots make things ~so incredibly unsafe~ for cyclists as they are. This sounds more to me like the bike lobby’s typical anti-car whining than anything else. I’ve ridden my bike on that path hundreds of times, and never once had any issue with any car.

  • egoldin

    As a cyclist, I’d totally support trading the existing parking spots (which are literally on the sidewalk) for carving out some loading/unloading spots on the street.

    That being said, there’s still a ridiculous amount of parking at the very waterfront of Marina Green. Less of an issue for cyclists since it’s not on the path, but why does parking get the waterfront and the park sits behind it? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

  • keenplanner

    Seems like most of the drivers using those spots have nothing to do with the adjacent boats, which are generally just floating there unused.
    Some clear striping could make the path safer for peds and cyclists. Class 2 lanes along Marina Boulevard would be even better. Why does Marina Boulevard need to be a highway?

  • murphstahoe

    Once is all it takes, and you might not be the rider that has that issue, which good for you, but even if you aren’t the outlier, doesn’t mean that the issue doesn’t exist.

  • jj

    “Once is all it takes” … one what? One cyclist not paying attention when a car signals and slowly pulls into a parking spot, I think is what you mean. These are cars parallel parking, not barreling down streets. How about cyclists take responsibility for paying attention for once instead of vilifying the mere presence of autos as a threat to their survival? I’m a daily bike commuter and weekend warrior, but also own a car and drive occasionally. I ride my bike all the time in a congested environment in SOMA, FiDi, and have almost never had issues with cars … because I pay attention and ride defensively. I’m all for rational improvements that make tangible improvements that recognize that people still need autos, while making problem areas a bit safer for bikes. This just seems like another case of SFBC and crew screaming “but safety! and cars! and safety!!” where there is no problem. You cannot convince me that there is not a sizeable lobby in this city of anti-car types who forget rationality compromise when it comes to this issue. This “bikes share the road” thing works both ways.

  • theqin

    I should point out that South Beach Harbor near AT&T park doesn’t have any parking nearby (the closest parking is half a mile or so), and it doesn’t seem to have any operating problems.

  • So true! When has parking ever killed anyone? At least if it ever happened there would be plenty of blame to lay on everyone. And that’s truly what matters most.

  • murphstahoe

    One cyclist not paying attention when a car signals

    Car signals! Good one! You owe me a new laptop from all the coke that just came flying out of my mouth!

    Regardless of that comic relief – “How about cyclists take responsibility for paying attention for once” – part of the reality of the marina green path is that a huge percentage, probably a majority of the cyclists using that pathway are tourists who ride bikes once a decade, and yes I believe we should coddle this cohort.

    We should prevent them from scenarios where they have to spot a car pulling out without signalling, or being doored. They shouldn’t be riding in a door zone but they don’t even know what a door zone is.

    And frankly that has little to do with “anti-car types” – this pathway is a spot that attracts thousands of tourists and we should accommodate them – they are paying the bills for a lot of San Franciscans. The alternative would be banning bike rentals.

  • cwalkster

    The South Beach Yacht Club has a parking lot for members at the end of 2nd street. And limited parking at Pier 40. Boat owners need to haul their gear every time so parking is necessary.

    How many accidents have there been with bicyclists on the Marina Blvd? Is there enough space for the current bike lane on the Marina Blvd?

  • citymaus

    “The thousands of walkers, joggers, cyclists, families, roller-bladers and wheelchair riders who make up ***98%*** of the users of the Marina Green Bay Trail cannot continue to wait for safety in this area.”
    …“and hundreds of residents” who weighed in throughout the planning process, the letter says. It was originally supposed to be done in 2013, and advocates have been pushing for it since 2005 — “a full decade.”

    Get it done already! or this whole planning process will have been moot—overthrown by just a few (1-2%) of Marina Green Bay Trail users (more like boat owners who use the water more than pavement).

  • Martijn

    HAHA, I have never biked trough SOMA without an issue with a car. I think you have a very different perspective of what an issue with a car is than i do. And don’t come with you have to pay attention, I don’t think i would be alive if i didn’t.

  • jj

    If you can’t take basic responsibility for watching what cars traveling between 0 and 5 mph are doing, then you don’t belong on a bicycle in any municipality, much less SF. And regarding the central issue of making this area safer for bikes, I’m not convinced. Have any links to any data that shows just how dangerous cars are to bikes along this stretch of lethal parallel parking? How many bike v. car encounters that sent anyone to the hospital? If I see evidence this stretch is as dangerous you and the SFBC are making it out to be then I’ll start believing a change might be in order. The people who moor boats in that harbor are taxpaying citizens as much as any of you, and parking is already hard to come by. Oh those evil, entitled rich people making things so “unsafe” for cyclists trying to enjoy the coast. The SFBC needs to spend the public money it receives by advocating for any perceived improvement that makes things safer for cyclists, whether there’s actually an issue there or not… that’s what’s happening here.

  • jj

    Conversely, where can I send my letter against?

  • NoeValleyJim

    You bicycle daily through SOMA and have never had an issue with a car? I don’t believe you.

  • NoeValleyJim

    I think his name is Alan Cavey.

  • jj

    Honestly no. Doored once on market at 5th. Had another fail to signal a right turn in civic center right in front of me. Those are the only major problems I’ve had.

  • NoeValleyJim

    You and I have a different definition of what “having an issue with a car” means. Being doored most definitely counts in my book.

  • jj

    I didn’t say that I don’t think that’s a big I deal. Getting doored sucks and definitely counts. I really don’t see why this is germane to the topic though. That happened on Market Street at 5th. We are talking about Marina Green where I haven’t been able to find a single incident of bike and car collisions in any data and I’ve managed to find data for three of the last five years. what’s being discussed here is whether it’s worth killing off the marina green parking spaces in the interest of bike safety issues. I argue no, because there is not a safety issue.

  • NoeValleyJim

    I don’t think we are communicating very well. You said you bicycle every day in SOMA and FiDi and almost never have any issue with cars. I cycle every day in The Mission and SOMA and have an issue almost every day, usually with someone double parked in the bike lane. Perhaps this seems insignificant to you, but it definitely makes cycling feel less safe and discourages people from cycling in general.

    I don’t have any particular problem with these particular parking places and agree that the SFBC could put its time and attention to more urgent issues.

    I have only cycled this route a few dozen times but it is one of the easiest and safest in The City.

  • cwalkster

    SWITRS reports from 2005-2013 show that bicyclists were at fault 57% of the time for accidents on Marina Blvd.

  • rfkolbe

    I’m not big on cars or bikes on the sidewalks. Pedestrians should always be of primary concern.

  • jd_x

    It’s a truly anachronistic idea that seems ridiculous now. Think about how much spectacular waterfront in SF is blocked by a road (Embarcadero). And this transcends SF: nearly every big city’s waterfront is spoiled by giving it over to automobiles. And just look at Route 1 along the Pacific coast. For most of the whole length of CA, the slammed a damn highway right through some of the planet’s most spectacular scenery. Sure, it’s reasonable that small stretches should be given over to the car, but nearly the whole coast?!

  • Jesse
  • egoldin

    Agreed, though in fairness there is the whole Lost Coast which is pretty inaccessible to everyone. But especially in the Bay Area, the waterfront should be reserved largely for people, not just cars. At least not just a huge parking lot.

  • jj

    News Flash… A drunk man somewhere in the city hit 9 people in his truck because he floored it in a parking lot … so now we must end parallel parking on this stretch of Marina Blvd.

  • jj

    Not sure what information to derive from this stat pertaining to this topic.

  • cwalkster

    You wrote that you couldn’t find accident data. Now you have that data.
    It’s ironic that bicyclists claim safety concerns when they are at fault for the majority of accidents.

  • murphstahoe

    There is no bike lane on Marina Blvd. There is room for one – if we remove a traffic lane. I presume you will lobby for it!

  • murphstahoe

    data without a citation is meaningless.

  • murphstahoe

    Yesterday the following happened. On Townsend between 4th and 3rd, a car blocking the bike lane, right next to a parked car, no way to pass on the right. The Giants first pitch was in 20 minutes so needless to say Townsend was gridlocked – as such I had no way through to the left. I was basically stuck in traffic – which happens… to people who drive their cars to the Giants t game, but I was on my bike blocked by this turd.

    When the light changed, traffic on the left started to move, about 3 cars back I managed to convince someone to let me navigate around the blockage. And what to my wondering eyes would appear but a wide open metered spot – like a Northern White Rhino – two spots in front of the double parker. I pointed at the spot – and the double parker pointed at where the door of the apartment their friend was soon to exit from and refused to move into the spot. I whipped out my cellphone camera to document the absurdity, the friend hopped in the car, the driver flipped me off then whipped a u-turn across 3 lanes of traffic.

    I didn’t consider this to be an unusual event – except for the empty parking spot.

  • cwalkster

    I wrote the source is SWITRS reports which is not meaningless. Look at bicycle accidents.

  • murphstahoe

    You looked it up, so you have the link, Post it.

  • cwalkster

    Everything isn’t served as a link. I did homework and looked up the data.
    Go to SWITRS, generate accident reports, download them, search thru the reports. Now you have the recipe, time for you to do homework.

  • murphstahoe

    Let me ask this simple question.

    “at fault 57% of the time for accidents on Marina Blvd”

    Is that on Marina Blvd itself? Because Marina Blvd isn’t the topic at hand, now is it?

    And please… “I looked up these stats somewhere, respect my authoritah!” That will get you at best a slow clap.

  • cwalkster

    Let me give a simple answer.
    Accident reports identify the nearest intersection. Bicyclists were at fault 57% of the time for accidents that occurred on or near Marina Blvd.

    From 2005-2013 on or near Marina Blvd, between Scott and Baker, bicyclists were at fault 60% of the time for causing accidents. One time two bicyclists collided with each other.

    I cited the source, explained how to obtain data.
    You don’t have to believe anything I wrote. The problem you have is you cannot prove what I wrote is incorrect. Keep on trolling.

  • murphstahoe

    My only problem is the parking spots on the pathway

  • Sanfordia113

    I didn’t realize the “parks” in “Parks & Recreations” refered to parking a vehicle. I say “follow the money.” Somebody at P&R must have a vested interest in acting conter to the department’s mission. Blocking views, killing pedestrians, and wasting a half a million bucks is more important than damaging the egos of a few entitled yacht millionaires?

  • Jimbo

    Seriously what’s the issue? Has one of these cars ever hit anyone on the sidewalk? If not, then stop whining. The only time I’ve ever felt unsafe is when a cyclist flew by me at 20 mph and grazed my dog. I broke his spokes in return but should’ve let my dog on him

  • Jimbo

    What’s not safe about it right now? Nothing. There is no problem. Nothing to fix

  • Jimbo

    Sfbc is the vocal minority

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