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Commentary: Say “No Way” to More Delay on J.F.K.

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on Tuesday/tomorrow morning, April 26, on whether or not to retain the car-free, J.F.K. promenade from Kezar to Transverse in Golden Gate Park. Mayor London Breed has introduced legislation to permanently ban motor vehicles from this stretch of asphalt. Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Matt Haney, and Dean Preston co-sponsored. Myrna Melgar seems to be coming around to supporting it.

Given past statements, Supervisors Connie Chan and Shamann Walton will almost certainly vote against it. As to the remaining five Supes, as the Chronicle reported, their positions are uncommitted.

Note all the streets in grey remain open to cars. The portion of JFK that's in question is only the green part, upper right. Map: SF Rec and Parks

Late last week, Streetsblog had a frank conversation with one of Mayor Breed's deputies about the pending vote. The deputy said the Mayor's office and Rec and Park have met all the supposed demands from Chan and Walton about making sure all areas of the park remain accessible. And, of course, the city did a robust, multi-lingual outreach study, which showed that 70 percent of the public wants this portion of J.F.K. to remain a safe venue for kids and families.

It's unclear then why the vote should be up in the air unless the lobbying from Platinum Advisors, hired by the de Young museum to push to re-open all of J.F.K. to drivers, has had its effect. Either way, the staffer said that if Chan senses that they can't defeat the bill outright, she will push for more delay.

The J.F.K. Promenade. This could be lost depending on Tuesday's vote. Photo: Sergio Ruiz
Photo: Sergio Ruiz

But a further delay, he opined, would spell doom for the J.F.K. promenade.

It's important to reiterate: all this controversy is only about banning cars on J.F.K. from Kezar to Transverse, less than half of the roadway and a portion that's fully paralleled by Lincoln Way on one side of the park and Fulton on the other, with a tunnel to the underground parking complex that's connected directly to the museums. As to getting around inside the park, as the map from Rec & Parks clearly shows, the vast majority of the streets in Golden Gate Park, including Martin Luther King Drive, are and will remain fully open to motorists.

But amidst all the years of gaslighting and distortion by the de Young's lobbying, one could be forgiven for thinking this is about banning motorists from the park. This isn't about car parking either. There's parking on all those other streets and there's the aforementioned 800-space underground garage that the de Young wants to pretend doesn't exist.

But the $55 million garage does exist.

The parking garage lobbyists pretend doesn't exist. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The parking garage lobbyists pretend doesn't exist. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

In fact, it was built specifically to reduce the need to have cars on this stretch of J.F.K. The museum can make this still-underutilized garage affordable for everyone. The de Young obviously has ample money in its budget for low-income parking vouchers; otherwise, how could they possibly afford lobbyists hired specifically to keep cars on all of J.F.K?

The entrance and tunnel to the parking garage at 10th and Fulton. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The entrance and tunnel to the parking garage at 10th and Fulton. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

But it wouldn’t play well for the de Young museum, founded by San Francisco’s most famous billionaire family, to admit this isn't really about access for the poor.

Regardless of whether someone drives, rides transit, bikes, or walks to the park, no visitor should ever be endangered by a selfish, entitled minority of wealthy motorists who prefer to use the park as a freeway. The Supervisors need to say "no" to more delay and "yes" to a safe J.F.K.

Walk San Francisco urges people to come to the rally at City Hall from 8 - 9 a.m. Tuesday, tomorrow, April 26.

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