Saturday, July 12, 2008
They Put Up a Parking Garage
Hastings College of the Law, the oldest public law school in California, sits on a couple of blocks on McAllister Street between Market and Larkin, which they own. The institution is also an arrogant neighbor who doesn't give a damn about anybody who lives around them, as they recently proved when tearing down buildings housing 85 apartments which they then proposed to replace with a high-rise, 800-car parking garage.
This struck just about everyone as a grotesque idea, since the location is already served by BART from the East Bay, Golden Gate buses from Marin, and MUNI buses of all description from San Francisco. Plus, there's a huge underground parking garage a block away under Civic Center Plaza where Hastings College students already get daily discounts. The protests back in 2003 were wild, with Supervisor Chris Daly being arrested with plenty of other activists, and State Senator John Burton threatening to withhold all state funds if the college went ahead with its plans. That was the last I heard of the project, and assumed the parking garage idea was dead.
On Thursday, I joined the peace vigil in front of the Federal building at the corner of Larkin and Golden Gate Avenue and noticed a huge construction project on the northeast corner. "What's going up there?" I asked, but nobody seemed to know, including the proprietors of Gateway Croissants across the street, and there was no signage describing the project.
Checking out Hasting College's website, I found that the "mixed use" building presently going up is slated to be a 435-car parking garage with retail on the ground floor. David Seward, the CFO of Hastings, arranged a "blue-ribbon" panel headed by Jim Haas of "Civic Pride" to come up with a solution more amenable to the neighborhood, and this was the result.
At this moment in history, when we desperately need to wean ourselves from commuter oil culture, this is one of the most irresponsible uses of dense, downtown real estate imaginable. The City and County of San Francisco should think about severing all ties of any sort with the institution, and though John Burton is out of office, it would be nice to see some pressure on the state legislature for the school to lose all state funding. Finally, Mr. Haas should rename his organization "Civic Shame." This is disgusting.