Want More Parking in SF? Be Careful What You Wish For

Why shouldn’t SF build a parking garage next to the Painted Ladies? Image: Tony Wessling/The Upright Biker

The backers of Prop L think San Francisco can “restore balance” to its transportation system by, for example, building more parking garages.

So what would SF’s neighborhoods look like, if only they dedicated more real estate to hulking monoliths of automobile storage? Tony Wessling used his photoshop skills to simulate that reality, and posted the “frightening yet amusing” renderings on his blog, The Upright Biker.

The thinking entrenched among the pro-parking garage set apparently goes like this: Just replace some of SF’s prime real estate with more concrete fortresses, and SF’s parking problems will go away. SF doesn’t need that space now being used for housing, businesses, or any of those other more productive uses that actually make cities worth living in — so just replace those with parking garages.

Frighteningly indeed, some potentially influential, car-obsessed people in SF have espoused this idea, such as a recent Small Business Commission president. The Chamber of Commerce has also endorsed Prop L.

Never mind that building a parking garage in SF is currently estimated to cost $22,096 per space [PDF]. Never mind that existing parking garages are heavily underutilized — occupancy at public garages peaks at about 70 percent on average, for about one hour on weekdays [PDF]. (Imagine if more than 30 percent of the city’s apartments were empty.) Never mind that San Francisco has a severe housing shortage, and that building parking both increases the cost of housing and prevents more from being built. And never mind that parking garages only induce more driving and create gridlock on the streets below.

No one has conveyed the idea quite as well as Allan Jacobs, the former director of the SF Planning Department and professor emeritus of city planning at UC Berkeley. We have to pull his quote once again:

No great city has ever been known for its abundant supply of parking.

See Wessling’s visualizations of how would parking garages would fit right in in the Castro and North Beach after the jump.

The Castro Theater need not lack for convenient parking. Image: Tony Wessling/The Upright Biker
New garages might open up some space along North Beach’s quaint streets, but they might be so quaint afterwards. Image: Tony Wessling/The Upright Biker

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

SF Planning Commission Meeting

|
Agenda Of note: 12.          2011.0187X                                                                                                   (C. TEAGUE: (415) 575-9081) 1001 17TH STREET (AKA 140 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE) – southwest corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue; Lots 009 and 010 in Assessor’s Block 3987 – Request for Large Project Authorization, pursuant to Planning Code Section 329 to demolish the existing industrial building and construct two adjacent residential buildings. The building at 1001 17th Street […]

Supervisor Breed Calls for Removing Some of SF’s Parking Mandates

|
Supervisor London Breed has proposed a “Parking Flexibility Ordinance” that would make it easier for building owners and developers not to build car parking when it would impinge on the street environment for walking, bicycling, and transit. It would also count parking spaces against density limits, unless they’re built underground. The ordinance [PDF] was approved by the […]

SFMTA Postpones Expansion of Bike Parking in City-Owned Garages

|
The SFMTA has held off on installing mandated bike parking in seven city-owned garages due to “very low usage,” as SocketSite reported this week. Bike advocates say the parking hasn’t been advertised well. Under an ordinance approved in 2013, bicycle parking requirements were increased for new development as well as city-owned and -leased buildings and parking garages. “We want the […]

Personal Garages Become Cafes in the Castro, Thanks to Smarter Zoning

|
Three new cafes and restaurants in the Castro have been created in spaces formerly used as personal parking garages. Driveways and dark garage doors on 18th Street have been replaced with storefronts and inviting patios filled with people. A few years ago, this would’ve been illegal. Reveille Coffee Company and Beso, a tapas restaurant, were […]

Community Meeting on SF General Hospital Parking and Transit

|
From SF Health Network: City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) is hosting a community meeting to update you on activities and proposed plans for changes at SFGH and in the surrounding vicinity. This meeting will be next Wednesday, September 30th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm in the 2nd floor cafeteria of the San Francisco General Hospital […]

Can SF Improve Upon New York’s Bicycle Access Bill?

|
Flickr photo: kate at yr own risk Now that the New York City Council has approved a Bicycle Access Bill requiring commercial buildings to allow bicyclists entry, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is ready to push for a San Francisco version of the requirement "by the end of the year." New York’s bill, which is […]