January 12, 2012

An Engineering Catastrophe or How Not to Construct a Parking Garage at a Veterans Administration Facility

The nearly complete patient and visitor parking garage at the San Francisco VA Medical Center has severe physical barriers to its main purpose, i.e., a place for parking vehicles. In addition, in spite of the construction of an elevator and stairwells, it is a non-wheel chair accessible facility!

The garage was built as an exact overlay of the existing ground level parking lot on the east side of the VA complex. Concrete and ramps were built above it to add two additional levels. This disaster can be summed up by the quote: "Those who copy (especially architects who trace over old blueprints) instead of creating anew, are condemned to live with their mistakes and should be fired."

You cannot match the number of existing parking spaces in the same amount of space when the old space contained no walls, rails, or ramps! Nonetheless, this is what the builders have/are attempting to do. There are at least a twelve parking spaces marked that are essentially non-usable. In these dozen or more spaces, one of the bordering lines is about one foot from a rail or a concrete wall. When parking in these spaces, either the passenger or the driver cannot exit the car on their side. And since the parking spaces are themselves as narrow as the previous open air lot, guess what happens if the adjacent vehicle parks at the edge of the opposite border? Now neither the driver nor the passenger of the first car can re-enter without one of the vehicles being towed or by using a rear entrance if the vehicle happens to be a station wagon or an SUV.

The purpose of this letter is to get the problem fixed before authorities sign off on a finished project.

Sincerely yours,
Alan H. Lubke, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Retired
2550 Fleetwood Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066, 650-588-9299.

To: The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary, Veterans Affairs, 813 Vermont Ave N.W., Washington D.C. 20420, envelope marked "Personal for General Shinseki in the memory of _______ ______."

cc: Ms. Sheila Cullen, Network Director, VA Sierra Pacific Network, 201 Walnut Avenue, Mare Island, CA 94592.

cc: Mr. Lawrence H. Carroll, Medical Center Director, VA Medical Center, 4150 Clement St., San Francisco, CA., 94121. email: lawrence.carroll@va.gov

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