Mission district business owners want parking lot, not park 

Several business owners around 17th and Folsom streets say they would rather keep a secured parking lot than see it developed as a new park plaza.

A coalition of 15 businesses within a one-block radius of the 220-space lot have appealed The City’s decision to allow construction of the new park without an environmental review.

“My company has been here since the early ’70s,” said Michael York, who owns Ocean Sash and Door, a custom door and window warehouse and company that operates in two buildings across from the lot. “The installers have tool boxes. They prefer to park in there.”

On Saturday, within a few blocks of the lot, a man was shot to death and another seriously stabbed. Police said the incidents were likely unrelated. No arrests were made.

The transition from parking lot to open space is part of a decade-old Eastern neighborhoods plan to make the area more accommodating for industrial businesses and residents.

The Recreation and Park Department, which would eventually manage it, has secured $2.7 million from a state grant to build the park in the neighborhood that is considered to be in grave need of open spaces.

“This is a community-approved plan,” said Recreation and Park spokeswoman Sarah Ballard. “The City doesn’t necessarily prioritize private parking for projects, but we will continue to work with them on that.”

Park officials are working to secure about $2.3 million to buy the land, owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, through impact fees of future developers.

Hans Art, owner of Hans Art Automotive Repair near 17th and Folsom streets, acknowledged that fighting for private parking spaces in The City is a rare feat. He said the business owners do not agree on whether the park should be built, but they all use the lot and want some consideration.

“We don’t think it’s an appropriate use,” Art said. “But if it does move forward, we’d like to have accommodations made for the parking.”

The Planning Commission will vote to either uphold the appeal or scrap it.

“The merchants are fearful. They’re concerned about their business,” said Oscar Grande, who works with People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights, working on outreach in the neighborhood. “And from the residents, we’re hearing, ‘Finally. Great.’”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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