A long-running quasi-legal parking lot in Glen Park owned by the family of fire chief Joanne Hayes-White was legalized Tuesday, with a catch.
The Board of Supervisors approved zoning changes that would create an official permit for the lot to charge customers for the first time, but it will only last for six years.
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy wrote the legislation to bring resolution to an ongoing debate in the Glen Park neighborhood — whether to turn the empty lot into new housing, or let it stay as parking.
The parking lot has operated for free for 10 years without a permit, according to Planning Department documents. Transportation advocates hoped the lot would be a future site of development, especially since it’s a stone’s throw from the Glen Park BART station, which would enhance livability near a dense transit hub.
Tom Radulovich, executive director of the transit group Livable City, wrote a pointed letter to the Board of Supervisors decrying the deal.
“The lot in question, and adjacent lots owned by the same owners, have been a blight on the neighborhood for decades,” Radulovich wrote in an email to supervisors. “The owners have permitted illegal vehicle storage on the lots, and the abutting sidewalks are impassible.”
Sheehy introduced a late amendment to his proposal to add a sunset provision to his legislation, which would only allow the parcel to be a parking lot for six years. Sheehy told the San Francisco Examiner that the Hayes family, who yes, are related to The City’s fire chief, Joanne Hayes-White, are not ready to develop yet.
“We can’t make them develop it, it’s their property,” Sheehy said. Instead, “we’re giving them an incentive.”
That incentive is to charge people to park, which Sheehy said may help pay for future development.
That may be good news for some neighbors, especially restaurants, who told Sheehy they count on the lot to usher in customers. Carl Scheidenhelm, an architect who is also a member of the Glen Park Merchants Association, wrote to the Board of Supervisors in support of the move.
“Even though there is an ongoing transition for the village to be ‘transit oriented’, there remains a need for some parking to support the local businesses,” Scheidenhelm wrote. “Over time, as people’s habits change, perhaps this need will lessen. The alternative of removing the lot immediately will be a great shock to the village merchants and customers.”
Sheehy said the six year sunset clause straddles both worldviews — a need for parking, and housing.
Besides, he said, “who knows what the world will look like in six years?”
The parking may not even be needed, he said. “We may all be riding scooters.”