Although there are many contenders, the Board of Supervisors’ recent decision to spend $500,000 to study and attempt to mitigate the negative effects caused by what was largely Supervisor Gordon Mar’s decision to close the Upper Great Highway (UGH) to automobiles, coming at a time when businesses are shuttered, many people are unemployed, and homelessness is at record levels, is the most indefensible approved use of taxpayers’ monies in recent memory.
As a four-lane divided road having no cross traffic, the UGH is by far the safest north-south route through the west side of San Francisco. For at least the 31 years I have lived in the Sunset District, the UGH, bordered, on either side by parallel pedestrian/biking paths, has effectively and safely served its function of providing a (quite scenic!) route of access between Sloat Boulevard and Lincoln Way, without complaint and to everybody’s satisfaction.
Its closure to cars has forced approximately 18,000 frustrated drivers each day to detour out of their way through residential streets and/or travel as far east as Sunset Boulevard or even 19th Avenue- – two of the most dangerous streets in the entire City – to traverse the two-mile stretch between Sloat and Lincoln. The results have been disastrous.
Among other things, Sunset District residents have seen their safe, once-quiet streets become dangerous thoroughfares; in an effort to appease angry neighbors, automobile access to parallel streets in the vicinity of the UGH has been reduced, creating gridlock and chaos in every direction near the western ends of Sloat and Lincoln, and forcing residents on avenues even farther east to absorb a dangerous increase in traffic; and additional carbon emissions are pumped into the atmosphere as drivers are forced to spend more time in their cars, often in slowed or gridlocked traffic, stopping and starting at every intersection. (As most westside residents know, the lights are timed on the UGH between Sloat and Lincoln so that by maintaining a comfortable 30-35 mph, a driver never has to stop.)
Now, at a time when public dollars are particularly precious, the Board of Supervisors has approved spending $500,000 to study and try to address the many problems that the UGH closure has created. This is unforgivable, when by simply reopening the UGH to cars, thereby returning to the pre-pandemic status quo that worked wonderfully for all, every one of the problems the half-million expenditure seeks to “study” goes away.
I do not want my tax dollars spent trying to address City-created problems that can be fixed immediately simply by removing the barriers to the UGH at Sloat and Lincoln. And notably, regardless of how the $500,000 is spent, forcing 18,000 drivers each day to detour off the UGH onto more dangerous routes necessarily will result in a needless increase in automobile collisions causing death, injury, and property damage, and additional harm to the environment as drivers must spend more time in their cars. This is an indefensible waste of tax dollars in an effort to perpetuate a bad result, and the Board of Supervisors should rescind immediately the approved $500,000 expenditure.
Categories: Upper Great Highway