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Readers respond to the call to create a new, permanent park along the Great Highway

The black-and-white image depicts a street scene with cyclists and pedestrians along a hilly road. In the foreground, two children play on a grassy slope.
Gabrielle Lurie/SF Chronicle/Getty Images

In response to our recent opinion piece calling for the creation of a permanent park along the Great Highway, The San Francisco Standard is publishing a selection of readers’ comments, which have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Why not compromise?

“I’ve bicycled the Great Highway many times when it was closed, but permanent closure is the wrong solution. It was very controversial when it was tried at the beginning of the pandemic. Now that traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels it would only be worse.

Much of the traffic did not go to Sunset Boulevard, but to Lower Great Highway and to other local streets in the Sunset that are lined with residential buildings. The additional travel time is also not insignificant. 

We should instead look for ways to use the area as both a roadway and a park. I’ve ridden many times on the current bike path and it is not optimal. It is too hilly and it is not wide enough for both bicycles and pedestrians.” 

—Andy Fields

It’s already a city of parks

“Our marvelous city has a tremendous number of beautiful parks. To appease special interests and turn the Great Highway that connects San Francisco southwards into a park would be a travesty. It creates additional traffic through John F. Kennedy Drive and Sunset Boulevard. If needed, the right thing to do would be to close off Kennedy to traffic so people can walk freely without having to worry about cars.”

—Vinod John

Let’s restore nature along Ocean Beach

The authors “have a lucid argument for ending cars on the Great Highway. I live with my partner and dog in the Outer Sunset (34 years) and walk Ocean Beach twice daily. It pains me to share this sacred space with motor vehicles that should no longer be joined with the wild nature of Ocean Beach and steal the joys of human recreation. I am all for a permanent Great Highway Park.”

—Anne Herbst

SF is already hard enough to navigate

“San Francisco is a city of impediments for travel in an automobile. Why add another, especially with the emerging conversion to electric automobiles and the decline of combustion pollution that will accompany it? People will always need to get around and to make it more difficult here is not a fair solution.”

—John Moran

Closure would only add to smog

The authors “ignore the damage to the dunes with people trampling the plants, dogs chasing after protected wildlife, that did not happen before it became a ‘park.’ Nor the fact that the ‘park’ is adjacent to a real national park, Ocean Beach, where people can and do recreate to their heart’s content. For decades people have walked along the walking path parallel to the Great Highway and bicyclists have used the shoulders safely.

The claim that the Great Highway is only minutes from another traffic artery and thus superfluous ignores the fact that when one of three main north-south arteries for the west side of San Francisco is closed, the remaining two will become smog-generating stop-and-go traffic jams.”

—Christina Shih

Bikes are not always an option

“Shutting down the highway is a terrible idea and I will continue to hold that near and dear until my dying days. It is a beautiful scenic route that helps clear the mind when going to and from work or even for a simple errand. 

But the city, the special interest groups and the California Coastal Commission really do not care about the people who have to travel or even go shopping along this route. Many say to use a bicycle. It is very difficult to go to Home Depot on a weekend on a bicycle with several bags of dirt—even with an electric bike!”

—Perrin Belway

Now is the time for a new park

“Yes, yes, yes!! This is an idea whose time has come. I am all for turning the Great Highway into a multi-use park.”

—Kelly Lowry

We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our opinion articles. You can email us at Interested in submitting an opinion piece of your own? Review our submission guidelines.