Homes Not Cars


root - Posted on 08 July 2002

The Hastings School of Law proposes to build an eight-story 885 space parking garage into a neighborhood already overrun by cars

by Maggie Gonzalas

"They are only considering healthy, able bodied middle class students in the planning of this parking lot.." A member of Senior Action Network was speaking loudly into a megaphone while he leaned precariously between his crutches and the steel fence that surrounded the parking lot at Golden Gate and Larkin streets, at a rally held in opposition to a proposed parking lot across from my former apartment building.

You see, I used to live at Ground Zero of a pending plan by The Hastings School of Law to move in an 800 car parking lot into a neighborhood already overrun by cars - or should I say a neighborhood that is known for the amount of times it's cars has run over pedestrians.

"This neighborhood has a very high instance of pedestrian fatalities and the Hastings plan does not address pedestrian safety at all." Dave Snyder, from The San Francisco Bike Coalition and Walk SF was confirming what I already knew.

One of my best and few living friends was seriously injured from a hit and run at that very corner. She later died from complications from those injuries.

After her passing I knew I couldn't bear to stay in that neighborhood any longer and now as I visit my other elderly friends who still live there, they tell me that they are afraid to ever leave their apartments.

"Hastings does not care about the seniors or children who would be affected by this parking lot" Glenda Hope from Network Ministries spoke into the megaphone - her slight body shaking with might. "100 religious leaders have signed a letter urging Hastings to drop the parking lot plan, as well, The Mid-Market Merchants Association, The chamber of Commerce and John Burton have sent letters to Hastings urging them to drop this proposal."

"The Sierra Club opposes the construction of the garage as it encourages more driving, and causes more pollution," A representative from the Sierra Club spoke to the crowd, " If you build more homes not more homes for cars you will solve homelessness rather than causing more problems."

After the rally at the fence, I carefully and much too slowly crossed the busy Golden Gate Ave to visit my friends at the Madonna Residence across the street. As we sat drinking tea in their apartment, I related the opinions of the people at the rally to my friend Moska, "It seems like poor old folks like us were not even thought about, but that's not unusual, Maggie, folks like us are never really considered. I mean
what kind of choice is that anyway, "Homes or Cars?"

Maggie Gonzalas is a very low-income elder and member of POOR's writer- facilitation project which aims to give voice to very low and no-income adults, elders and youth locally and globally"

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