Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Institute on Aging's Parking Clout

Finding a legal parking spot for residents and visitors in the Civic Center neighborhood can be challenging, what with confusing signage, shortly timed meters, smash-and-grab thieves who break into car windows without any response from the police department, plus a cavalcade of events in the surrounding cultural institutions that can create a perfect parking storm.

This Sunday, there was a new wrinkle, when signage suddenly appeared on McAllister Street between Van Ness and Franklin Streets announcing that nobody was allowed to stop from 9AM to 4PM without any explanation.

It seems there was a 21st annual "Cable Car Caroling" fundraising party for the Institute on Aging being held for families in the Green Room at the Veterans Building (click here for more info on the event).

From what I could piece together, an Institute on Aging board member asked for a favor from a ranking friend at the police department who unilaterally decided to prohibit all parking on the block during the day on Sunday so that motorized cable cars would have a place to hang out before and after they took family groups to go caroling at various senior centers.

So, if you were hoping to arrive early on Sunday and snag a parking spot before going to the opera or the symphony that afternoon, forget it.

Or if you happened to live on the block and wanted to use a car that afternoon for grocery shopping, you could also forget it.

The Institute on Aging is a large nonprofit that grew out of the Goldman Institute on Aging that has set up shop in the inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco, and just torn down the Coronet Theatre in anticipation of building a huge senior housing and research center in a manner that has alienated most of their neighbors (click here for a 2006 Fog City Journal article about that kerfluffle). I've talked to the War Memorial administrators and to the p.r. people at the Institute of Aging, and none of them were even aware that this parking disaster was taking place, so let's just hope it was a momentary lapse on Sunday, because this kind of behavior is certainly not winning them any friends.

Update: I wrote earlier on this post that the The Institute on Aging was an offshoot of the infamous Buck Trust from Marin County, but I was misinformed and have updated the preceding paragraph. There is also a long comment from Cecily Peterson, Communications Director of the Institute on Aging, that takes issue with my characterization of what happened.


Unknown said...

Your post requires a somewhat lengthy response to clarify some of your points and correct some incorrect facts. I do apologize to the neighborhood for the inconvenience of reduced metered parking spaces. But please rest assured it was for a very important and meaningful event for more than 100 homebound and isolated seniors in San Francisco.

Cable Car Caroling is an event put on each year by the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention, a program of Institute on Aging (IOA). This program provides a free, 24/7 Friendship Line, a phone hotline for isolated, depressed, lonely, and sometimes suicidal seniors. The Friendship Line also makes daily scheduled outgoing phone calls to participants, providing an important connection for older adults who may receive no other phone calls or visits in the day (http://www.ioaging.org/services/special/program_friendship_line/). Each year, the Cable Car Caroling Event brings together supporters to visit homebound seniors throughout our city, sharing song, connection, and friendship.

I would like to dispute your post that one needs a “ranking friend at the police department” to acquire parking/street closures. In fact, anyone can apply for a special event permit/street closure permit through the Traffic Engineering and Operations Division of the Municipal Transportation Agency (http://www.sfmta.com/cms/vhome/hometraffic.htm). IOA did nothing unusual in this matter.

Your post on Institute on Aging’s history also needs to be corrected. IOA is not affiliated with the Beryl Buck Trust. You are mistaking us for the Buck Institute, a research institute in Novato. IOA grew out of Mount Zion Hospital, where our founder saw a need for providing alternatives to institutionalized care when a person was discharged from the hospital, but no longer able to live independently at home. Out of this concern, one of the nation’s first adult day health centers was established. IOA became an independent non-profit in 1985, and provides programs to help older adults live independently in their own homes. Our programs serve over 20,000 disabled adults and seniors each year, and is a major provider of Medi-Cal services in San Francisco. In 2010, the new building you mentioned (site of the former Coronet Theater) will provide sorely needed independent housing managed by Bridge Housing, for low and moderate-income older adults, as well as be the home for adult day health care, the Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts, care management services, a Neighborhood Resource Center, and many other programs that will both provide needed services, as well as strengthen our community by allowing older adults to stay in independent housing, rather than moving prematurely to assisted living units.

To learn more about IOA’s work in the community, I encourage you to visit our website at http://www.IOAging.org.

Kind Regards,

Cecily Peterson
Director of Communications
Institute on Aging

Civic Center said...

Dear Ms. Peterson: Thank you for the correction about the Buck Institute/Institue on Aging confusion. I've gone back and corrected it.

As for all the good you are presumably doing with your Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention, good for you, but I really don't give a damn. That still doesn't mean you and your organization should feel entitled to requisition a very busy neighborhood's parking all day on a Sunday (when you don't actually have to feed those meters and there are many competing uses for those places). I can say with some certainty that there is an equally deserving charity event taking place in the Civic Center neighborhood every week of the year, and yet somehow they don't feel compelled to be hogs with parking. There's an AIDS Christmas Event in the Green Room next week that's been going on longer than your fundraiser, and somehow they manage to put on the all-day event without having the police put up "No Parking" signs everywhere.