Community Blocks 880-Car Garage by Leah Shahum

After months of organizing, a coalition of housing, transportation, labor, religious, and other groups from around the city-including the SFBC-successfully put a stop to the Hastings College of Law's plans to build an 880-car garage in the Civic Center area. Not only would this have drawn thousands of cars each day to an area already hit disproportionately hard by car collisions injuring pedestrians, but this is also the most transit-rich area in the city and clearly does not need another garage. In addition, Hastings was refusing to include any housing units on the property, despite the city's dire need for housing and the college's earlier promise to rebuild 85 low-income units it demolished a decade ago.

Although the garage would have violated city policy, impacted pedestrian and bicycle safety, and impeded Muni efficiency, city officials had no authority to affect the project because the State of California-owned land is not subject to local regulations. Hastings officials ignored the testimony of hundreds of people at hearings and the hard work and research of the Coalition for a Positive Hastings Development, and went ahead with their garage-only plan. The SFBC activated its web-based fax service and along with the rest of the Coalition lobbied John Burton, president of the California State Senate, who responded by threatening Hasting's state funding unless it worked with the community on an alternative development for the Golden Gate & Larkin site.

On June 26, the Hastings Board reversed its decision to develop an 880-car garage, and created a Blue Ribbon Panel to explore other alternatives. Two community members will be appointed to that Panel, and the Coalition will work hard to make sure its voice is heard in that process.

"The Hastings victory feels like the start of the second wave of the 'Freeway Revolt'," says SFBC Executive Director Dave Snyder. "In the first wave, we realized how freeways destroy the quality of urban life. Now, we may be starting to realize how parking garages do the same thing. We should really take heart that the neighbors of this proposed garage were so uniformly opposed, and that we seem to have won!"

We thank the groups who worked together for this victory, including SF Network Ministries, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Central City Collaborative, SF Labor Council, and so many others. It was a great pleasure to build a winning coalition with these groups that we hope will grow.