Doyle Drive construction comes to the Marina

The reconfiguration of Doyle Drive – the Presidio Parkway project – will include the construction of a temporary roadway through the Exploratorium’s primary parking lot. The federal stimulus of 2009 accelerated the building schedule for the temporary roadway, while at the same time the Exploratorium’s departure from its current location has been delayed. As a result, the Exploratorium will lose 250 parking spaces in early 2011. As a remedy, representatives from the Presidio Parkway project have prepared a draft proposal to create temporary parking spaces for the Exploratorium. If this proposal is adopted, it could increase traffic and congestion, as well as the risk of accidents, in the Marina and Cow Hollow.

The draft proposal has several key elements. In early 2011, the west parking lot of the St. Francis Yacht Club, with 132 spaces, would be prioritized for the Exploratorium, and the west side of Yacht Drive would yield another 22 spaces. The proposal would also create angled parking adjacent to the Palace of Fine Arts, along the west side of Baker Street and the north side of Bay Street, to provide an additional 32 spaces. Finally, the proposal would create yet another 23 temporary spaces in the undeveloped triangle of land bordered by Baker, Lyon, and Richardson.

In mid-2011, the Exploratorium could reclaim 52 spaces from its parking lot and add 11 spaces of angled parking along Palace Drive. In late 2011, following the removal of a Doyle Drive onramp, a temporary parking lot with 218 spaces would open on Mason Street in the Presidio.

In addition to visitor parking, the proposal also includes a temporary parking plan for buses. Each day, approximately 15–25 buses bring visitors to the Exploratorium. The Presidio Parkway project would create temporary parking lots inside the Presidio, but the buses would return to Richardson and the Exploratorium by traveling along neighborhood streets in Cow Hollow including Lombard, Lyon, and Chestnut.

Although it is appropriate for the Presidio Parkway project to create temporary parking for the Exploratorium’s visitors, the current draft proposal would produce unacceptable negative impacts in the Marina and Cow Hollow neighborhoods. By increasing parking on the residential streets around the Palace of Fine Arts, the proposal would intensify traffic and the demand for parking on these busy streets. Many drivers already drive too fast on Baker, which has no stop signs. The addition of cars moving in and out of angled parking would create more hazards along the street, potentially increasing the chances of an accident involving cars or pedestrians.
Furthermore, the residential streets in Cow Hollow should not be used for bus circulation. These buses would contribute to traffic along these already busy streets, especially at the intersection of Lombard and Lyon. Buses making turns at these tight intersections could increase the risk of accidents.

The Presidio Parkway project should not use residential streets for additional parking and bus circulation. Fortunately, sensible alternative solutions exist.

Temporary visitor parking could be concentrated in the area around the yacht club. In addition to using the yacht club’s western lot, more temporary spots can be obtained by paving the large oval of grass in the middle of the eastern parking lot. This grassy space is currently vacant and unused and it could yield a large number of spots. Additionally, more temporary spots could be created by paving a small sliver of the western edge of Marina Green, which is adjacent to Yacht Drive. This solution would reduce some green space for recreation, but the impact would be minor and temporary and it would certainly be preferable to the alternative impacts on the neighborhoods.

Attractive alternatives also exist for bus circulation. For example, buses could return along Gorgas in the Presidio and make a left at Lyon onto Richardson. At present, there is no access to the Exploratorium from this turn. The existing access road could be reconfigured, or a temporary access road could be built through the undeveloped land bordering Baker, Lyon and Richardson.

Members of the community have suggested creative proposals to provide temporary parking for the Exploratorium without negatively affecting our neighborhoods. The Presido Parkway project team will evaluate these suggestions and we hope will issue a revised plan. Ultimately, the final proposal will require the approval of multiple authorities, such as the Recreation and Park Commission and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. If you would like to share your ideas or stay informed on this issue, please contact the Marina Community Association at

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