Garage War Update

By Savannah Blackwell
SF Progressive editor

On November 29, the Recreation and Park commission ignored the urging of Supervisor Tom Ammianoand the pleadings of neighborhood activists and went ahead and signed off unanimously on a plan to widen Martin Luther King on the southern side of Golden Gate Park into a 4-lane thoroughfare.

But the battle is far from over.

Longtime park activists Pinky Kushner and Katherine Roberts appealed the commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors on December 8. While backers of the proposed road widening – aimed at creating a new entrance to the underground parking garage at the Music Concourse -- say the supes have no jurisdiction over the matter, Kushner and Roberts think they do.

Here’s their reasoning: A section of the city charter says that only the board may approve “non-recreational structures” inside public parks.

“This would suggest that the RPC overstepped its authority,” Kushner and Roberts wrote.

Board secretary Gloria Young informed Kushner that the two may have a point, Kushner told us. But it’s not clear yet what will happen. Kushner and Roberts also wrote that the commission erred in approving a plan that violates the Golden Gate Park Master Plan. 

They point out that the document states that Golden Gate Park “is designed and managed to afford opportunities for all to experience beauty, tranquility, recreation and relief from urban pressures.”

Widening a key entrance to the park does not jibe with that statement, they say.

In the meantime, the city moved to ask Superior Court Judge James Warren to decide if the new thoroughfare plan complies with the intent of the 1998 measure that authorized the garage’s construction. Warren ruled in August that the city’s earlier plan to put a southern entrance inside the park did not pass legal muster.

But attorneys for Roberts’ group Trees Not Cars, which sued over the matter, says Warren no longer has jurisdiction given that the suit has been taken to the Appellate Court. 

“They are far from being in the clear,” Roberts said.


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