Hastings Law’s garage proposal goes to vote. THC and other advocates detest the garage, the traffic it would bring, and the housing it would not.
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Hastings Garage Vote Tomorrow
Foes Want Housing at Civic Center Site
Hastings College of the Law is poised to vote on a controversial public parking garage that officials hope will generate revenue and provide needed spaces in San Francisco’s Civic Center area.
The proposal, which has prompted strong opposition and talk of lawsuits, calls for a seven-story parking building at Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street, adjacent to the school’s campus. The school’s eight-member board of directors, which initiated the project, is scheduled to vote tomorrow on final approval.
School officials said the $22.8 million garage, with 875 spaces, will provide a new stream of cash to help pay for such things as a renovation of the student housing facility at 100 McAllister St. The garage will also provide badly needed parking for the school’s students, staff, visitors and the area’s mostly government workers.
“As of right now, if you pull into this neighborhood it’s very hard to park,” said David Seward, chief financial officer at Hastings.
But critics, including environmentalists, housing advocates and religious leaders, disagree. They believe the structure is inappropriate for the neighborhood, will add more traffic and further threaten pedestrian safety.
“That part of town is a terrible place to add more parking,” said Gabriel Metcalf, deputy director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. “It’s incredibly transit-accessible and the streets are narrow and congested. You don’t want to be bring in more cars.”
Because the school is part of the University of California, a state entity, the garage project will not be subject to review by the San Francisco Planning Commission.
Opponents hold out hope they can persuade the Hastings board of directors to consider an alternative.
Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, said the site has a 155-space parking lot. It used to have 85 housing units which were torn down after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. He said he would like to see the school put in housing instead of parking spaces.
“There is a housing crisis in San Francisco and there were 85 residential units on that site that haven’t been replaced,” said Shaw.
He and other critics have suggested an alternative project, which would include building more than 150 market-rate dwellings and 250 parking spaces.
But Seward said campus administrators believe a parking garage would be financially more beneficial for the school. He said school officials also believe that selling market-rate housing to nonstudents is outside the school’s educational mission.
Funds from the garage will not only help pay for the McAllister Street student housing renovation, which will include the addition of 80 more housing units, it also will provide spaces for about 300 students and staff as well as another 300 spaces for the area’s state office workers, Seward said.
Future neighborhood projects, like the Asian Art Museum and other government office buildings, will increase parking needs in the area, he said.
Emily Sano, director of the Asian Art Museum, expected to open next year, supports the project.
“It’s impossible for everyone to get to the Civic Center without driving,” said Sano. “To accommodate visitors and tourists, we will need additional parking in the area.”