Merchants in the Ferry Building Marketplace fear their businesses will suffer after plans were dumped to add parking spaces to the adjacent plaza.
As The Examiner reported in December, the Port of San Francisco planned to add 65 spaces to the Ferry Plaza for six years to raise funds for an $879,000 plaza improvement project.
But the proposal was dumped following strong community opposition to use of the site for parking, according to Port waterfront planner Jonathan Stern.
“In the face of these kinds of controversies, we need some kind of demonstration that parking is necessary,” Stern said.
Ferry Building merchants on Thursday expressed anger about the decision to dump plans for new parking, saying the additional 65 spaces would have benefited the boutique grocers, butchers and other nearby businesses.
“I’m hopping mad,” said Bo Thompson, co-founder of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, which opened in 2002. “For us to be considered a place where people want to actually go shop for their groceries, they need to drive. If you’re carrying six bags of groceries, you’re not thinking about catching a bus.”
The merchants lost regular customers and a noticeable chunk of business when roughly 100 adjacent spaces were closed in mid-2008 after a pier was ruled unsafe for parking, according to Jane Connors, property manager for Ferry Building master tenant Equity Office.
Although the Ferry Building site is transit-rich, serviced by buses, trams, ferries and trains, the market competes with other ventures that provide parking for their customers, such as Whole Foods locations.
But neighbors, cyclists and pedestrian groups and local nonprofit Livable City opposed the use of public waterfront space for parking.
“We want to create a more walkable and bikeable Embarcadero,” Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich said. “All that constant traffic, plus the queuing in the bike lane, would have created huge conflicts.”
The Ferry Building was overhauled and reopened in 2002 as a chic marketplace, but the project didn’t improve Ferry Plaza. The plaza is a hodgepodge of driveways, loading areas and dilapidated benches when it isn’t being used for a weekend farmers market.
Several new ferry terminals could be built next to the plaza in the coming years to accommodate new ferry services, according to Water Emergency Transportation Authority planner Michael Gougherty.
The Port could look to other funding sources for plaza improvement efforts or improve the area gradually, according to Stern.
“It will have to go back to the drawing board,” he said.
100 Parking spaces lost in 2008 when a pier adjacent to the Ferry Building was ruled unsafe
65 Parking spaces proposed in Ferry Plaza in December that will no longer be created
6 Years the parking spaces were proposed to remain at the plaza
$879,000 Estimated cost to overhaul Ferry Plaza
266 Parking spaces available near Ferry Plaza on Saturday mornings
$1.4 million Annual rent paid to Port of San Francisco for Ferry Plaza commercial space
Source: Port of San Francisco