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Mayor Breed, key city agencies back car-free future for JFK Drive

Both the parks and transportation departments are throwing their support behind a car-free JFK Drive, balancing their recommendation by also announcing efforts to improve access and parking affordability in the park. 

The new recommendations came in a joint press release Monday from the San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, and they call for the permanent closure of JFK Drive—along with improvements like adding bike-share stations, expanding parking and ADA access, and improving public transit through the park. The two agencies announced they will present their plan in a joint informational hearing Thursday. 

The proposal comes amid an ongoing fight over the future of the street, which has been closed to cars since the start of the pandemic. Last fall, the department launched a public input process to find out if San Franciscans like the current closure or want to revert back to allowing cars on parts or all of JFK Drive. 

Mayor London Breed announced her support for the recommendations in a tweet on Monday.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Connie Chan has been leading her own effort to gather input on the future of JFK Drive. The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed her resolution calling for a “Beach to Bay” car-free corridor last September, when she proposed reopening the stretch between Eighth and 10th Avenues to improve access to the de Young Museum and other attractions. 

Now, Chan’s office is forming its own working group to analyze the departments’ new recommendations and it’s even considering a ballot measure that would give the city more control over a parking garage in the park to make it more accessible to drivers. The city’s recommendations call for flexible pricing at the garage and to expand the current Museums for All program to include free or reduced parking rates with museum admission.  

Proponents of the full closure of JFK agree that access for people driving to the park is important, and making the parking garage more accessible and affordable would ease concerns about removing the free parking options along the road.

Nesrine Majzoub, communications director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said her group’s efforts to improve accessibility and affordability to the park will be ongoing, and they should continue while city departments work to secure car-free JFK for the future via a vote from the full Board Supervisors. 

“This is a continual process that we are absolutely committed to putting 100% of our energy into,” Majzoub said. “Also, this is not exclusive of making it permanent now and having a commitment to protect this space.”