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It’s Official: Supervisors Vote 7-4 in Favor of Car-Free JFK Drive
Monday, May 16, 2022

It’s Official: Supervisors Vote 7-4 in Favor of Car-Free JFK Drive

JFK Drive will stay car-free indefinitely after a 7-4 vote at a joint hearing between the Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. 

“We tried something different,” Supervisor Matt Haney said. “What we saw was powerful, beautiful, but it also has more work to be done.”

A loud protest on the steps of City Hall greeted supporters and opponents alike as they scaled the stairs to the hearing hall. Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Dean Preston and Haney each spoke at the rally in support of keeping the road closed to cars permanently. 

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, it still wasn’t clear what the vote breakdown would be, with three supervisors co-sponsoring Mayor London Breed’s proposal. Board President Shamann Walton had signed on to Supervisor Connie Chan’s competing initiative, and several supervisors hadn’t announced their positions.

But on Tuesday, the lines emerged and Breed’s proposal came out on top. Ultimately, Chan sent her plan back to the Land Use and Transportation Committee because it still would need environmental review and planning department analysis.

People are seen wearing shirts in support of a car-free JFK Drive attending a legislative session at City Hall in which the Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to permanently make JFK Drive car-free in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. | Nick Otto

Before making their decision, the board considered an equity study from the county transportation authority that found no meaningful change to the racial makeup of the users of the park, but that usership for people living in some districts farther from the park did decrease. 

Board President Shamann Walton, who voted against the proposal, said he’s worried about who is being left out when car access is removed. 

“It’s clear that access to the park has never been equitable for certain populations of San Francisco,” said Walton, who has previously equated closing JFK Drive to “segregationist” policy. “The closure has done nothing to make Golden Gate Park more diverse.”

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In presenting her proposal, which would reopen the road to eastbound traffic from 8th Avenue to Transverse, Chan questioned the validity of a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency survey that found 70% of San Franciscans support car-free JFK.

“Who are we prioritizing? Who are we willing to leave behind?” Chan asked. “It is fundamentally about race and class in this city—who gets to have a say about this space.”

A main flashpoint on Tuesday was parking availability and cost. The Music Concourse Garage costs $5.50 per hour, which Walton called too high. Under Breed’s proposal, SFMTA plans to implement flexible pricing, which Rec and Parks spokesperson Tamara Aparton said would require a resolution at the Board of Supervisors, but would not require approval from the Music Concourse Community Partnership, which owns and operates the garage. 

It was Haney’s last meeting before he goes to Sacramento to represent San Francisco’s Assembly District 17. 

Sarah Wright can be reached at [email protected].
  • Nice article, but which four supervisors voted to not make it car free? We want to thank them for caring about the non-entitled, since the entitled young will destroy the DeYoung Museum, an international resource, not just a San Francisco one, and refuse to actually care about others older than they.

  • Fighting for a more sustainable planet (while also allowing for a nice stroll/bike ride) is not ignoring any group of people. Were you there? Did you take your time and speak up on behalf of what you perceive as your need? If not, I would think you have the entitled attitude. Must you drive? Does everyone but you destroy museums? FYI I’m probably older than you.

  • This is a benefit for All of San Francisco. There is still plenty of parking along the perimeter of the park as well as MLK Dr. Chan will be voted out next election. She’s absolutely irrational and serves only herself.

  • Now that this section of JFK has been made car-free there is an opportunity to reshape this space to better support pedestrians, cyclists, runners, and other wheeled traffic since, as it stands, the space is now essentially just a disused roadway. A design competition would be an especially appropriate way of moving this forward.

  • Hallelujah! Great news for our City. It is insane that we ever thought it was a good idea to bring polluting, deadly vehicles into Golden Gate Park. Cars are the cause of obesity, climate change, poverty, traffic congestion, traffic deaths, air pollution, water pollution, stress, noise pollution, and economic inefficiency. Golden Gate Park should not be Interstate 5.

  • Golden Gate Park should be accessible to all. While it is true that bicyclists and those using alternate transportation should be protected, so should seniors and the disabled against rogue cyclists who have stricken frail people. Motorists pay taxes to the Park and should not be restricted access in any portion of its land. Every citizen of the city should have access to the Park, meaning that a democratic decision should have been reached, instead of the flawed vote that favored the bicyclists. Their motto is: “Today, JFK Drive. Tomorrow, the world!” Motorists are also human beings. Many of them could not ride a bike, due to their age or possible disability. Instead of the long meeting of the Board of Supervisors being a problem resolving session, it was a polarized armed camp, resulting in a shameful decision. All of this constitutes the rape of the old San Francisco and the erosion of a lovely culture that was not perfect but lovely all the same.

  • Thank you, supervisors, for voting to keep JFK Drive car free. As an elderly person I feel much safer in Golden Gate Park without having to dodge cars speeding down the road and ignoring the stop signs, especially when I am with younger family members.

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