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Politics & Policy

SF votes in favor of car-free JFK Drive

Fennel Doyle walks during a legislative session at City Hall in which the Board of Supervisors voted to make JFK Drive car-free in San Francisco on April 26, 2022. | Nick Otto | Source: Nick Otto for The Standard

San Franciscans who have spent the last two years skating, cycling and walking on John F. Kennedy Drive without cars rejoiced Tuesday as returns were tallied, with Proposition I losing out to a rival measure that will keep the Golden Gate Park roadway car-free.

Prop. I came in at just 39%, while 59% of voters went yes on Prop. J. Shortly before the third round of votes were counted, the Prop. I campaign issued a statement admitting defeat.

Prop. J will keep JFK Drive car-free, locking in a pandemic-era change made by Mayor London Breed and approved by the Board of Supervisors in April. Emergency vehicles, government vehicles and deliveries to the de Young Museum would be exempt.

A JFK Promenade sign hangs on a street pole behind a bicycle direction sign on John F. Kennedy Drive in San Francisco on Oct. 18, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

Prop. I would have mostly returned JFK Drive to pre-pandemic norms: Cars would be allowed back on the road, except on all Sundays, Saturdays during the summer, holidays and special events. Prop. I would fully reopen the Great Highway to cars as well.

"Tonight’s results ensure that Golden Gate Park’s crown-jewel amenities will remain permanently closed off to people without the physical ability or financial capacity to access the park," said a statement from the Prop. I campaign.

The campaign also encouraged the city to find "ways to compromise in the future" regarding closing down streets to vehicles.

Prop. J, also called the Safe Parks for All Measure, is supported by Walk SF, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Myrna Melgar, Matt Dorsey and Hillary Ronen.

Its supporters say that car-free JFK Drive is a much-needed open space and that more car access and parking is unnecessary; the park already has roughly 4,700 parking spaces and a shuttle that runs along JFK Drive every 15 minutes.

Prop. I was submitted to the ballot by Richard Corriea and Howard Chabner, a disability rights advocate. Chabner said closing the roads restricted access to those who need vehicles to get around, including people with disabilities, and funneled high amounts of traffic into residential streets.

Financial backers of of Prop. J include Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Uber, whereas Prop. I's main financial supporters are socialite Dede Wilsey and the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums, the nonprofit that handles day-to-day operations at the de Young museum.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at garrett@sfstandard.com