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Chan proposes cars return to JFK Drive—heading east only

Cyclists ride through the intersection of Transverse and John F. Kennedy drives in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. | Ekevara Kitpowsong

A competing proposal to reopen most of JFK Drive to cars is now on the table after Supervisor Connie Chan introduced a plan to allow one-way eastbound car access on the Golden Gate Park thoroughfare at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The plan would restore eastbound car access between Transverse Drive and 8th Avenue and reopen southbound traffic on 8th Avenue to allow access from the Richmond District to JFK Drive, according to a copy of the ordinance obtained by The Standard. It would also allow cars to take Arguello Boulevard and go either east or west on Conservatory Drive. 

Last month, Mayor London Breed announced her own plan to keep JFK Drive closed to cars permanently, following the recommendations of the city’s parks and transit departments. Supervisors Matt Haney, Dean Preston and Rafael Mandelman all cosponsored the bill, and Supervisor Ronen’s office has signaled her support. 

Chan’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the proposal. 

She told The Standard last month that she is “cautiously optimistic” her ordinance will have enough support from the board. Board President Shamann Walton and Supervisor Ahsha Safaí have been critical of the closure in the past. 

The future of JFK Drive, which was closed to cars as an emergency measure during the Covid-19 pandemic, has sparked a heated debate among walking and biking safety advocates—who favor permanent closure of the road—and those who say that eliminating cars has made accessing the park more difficult, particularly for people with disabilities. Leaders at the de Young Museum have voiced their opposition to the permanent closure of JFK Drive. 

Robin Pam, an organizer for Kid Safe SF, said she’s worried that instead of improving access and equity, the plan would make JFK Drive dangerous. 

“Our main concern with all of this is safety,” Pam said. “JFK is a high-injury corridor and putting cars back on any part of it increases conflicts between kids, seniors, community members who are enjoying the park and ensures that someone is going to get hit by a car at some point.”

Last fall, Chan headed a resolution that called for a “Beach to Bay” car-free corridor with the exception of potential car access between 8th and 10th Avenues. That resolution was passed by the full Board of Supervisors in September. 

The full text of the legislation is expected to be released on Thursday.