Parking changes around Exploratorium in place

With the parking lot behind the Exploratorium closed as of mid-January, you may notice more traffic on the surrounding streets for the next few years.

The lot was closed for the construction and operation of temporary bypass roadways for the Doyle Drive reconstruction. According to CalTrans, portions of the Exploratorium parking lot will be restored in mid-2011 and the entire lot will reopen when Presidio Parkway construction is completed in 2014.

The good news is that the temporary bypass is supposed to reduce the parkway construction timetable by 1.5 years. The bad news is that 256 parking spaces used by individual and group visitors to the Exploratorium and the Palace of Fine Arts were eliminated with the closure of the parking lot.

In December 2010, the Recreation and Park Commission approved several changes to parking configurations in the yacht club parking lots to help alleviate parking congestion. Parallel parking spaces have been added along the west side of Yacht Drive and the east and west yacht club parking lots have been restriped to accommodate more cars. You will also notice new Exploratorium directional signs at the intersection of Marina Boulevard and Yacht drive, as well as within the yacht club parking lots.

The commission held off on approving a more controversial plan to create new parking spaces in the “Richardson Triangle” – the empty lot formed by the triangle of Lyon Street, Palace Drive and Richardson Drive, across from the new south entrance of the Palace of Fine Arts. According to Toks Ajike of S.F. Recreation and Park Department (RPD), “That plan is not moving forward yet, as some of the commissioners are asking questions about it.”

A number of neighbors had questions about it as well, and raised concerns with RPD and the commission over noise, additional traffic, and sightlines along the small stretch of Lyon Street that borders the lot.

The Exploratorium now directs visitors arriving by car to the yacht club parking areas, but it gets messy for those coming from the Golden Gate Bridge since cars cannot turn left onto Yacht Drive. A right-turn loop off Marina Boulevard is recommended – by taking Divisadero, Jefferson and Broderick back to Marina Boulevard, cars can then turn west on Marina Boulevard and turn right onto Yacht Drive.

Busses are directed to offload passengers at the pullout on Richardson Drive just north of Lyon, where Exploratorium employees direct visitors to the museum and busses to parking areas in the Presidio.

Sightseeing busses stopping at the newly renovated Palace of Fine Arts are still allowed to turn onto Lyon from Richardson, and are jockeying for position along Palace Drive with the help of parking monitors. Since these busses stay only a short time, they are not redirected to off-site parking lots, but instead are queued up by the monitors for the easiest exiting.

A map showing the parking changes is available online at

A Presidio Parkway construction advisory released in January shows the configuration of the new bypass roadway and can be found through the links at

Any questions or concerns regarding the Presidio Parkway construction can be directed to the project office at 415-263-5953 or by e-mail to