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Bicycle Infrastructure

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

5:51 PM PDT on April 30, 2015

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.”

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