letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Reply to Objection to Upper Great Highway Mobility Study


The recent opinion piece written by Mr. Charley Perkins in your April 2021 edition of the Sunset Beacon about the District 4 Mobility Study was disingenuous, inaccurate and misleading.

The District 4 Mobility Study was passed with funding from Proposition K by the SFCTA and Board of Supervisors for $500,000 to study a number of streets in District 4, including the Upper Great Highway closure and many other safety improvements on streets connected to the Upper Great Highway.

Mr. Perkins infers that these tax dollars that are being used for the study comes from the City’s general fund and it does not. Mr. Perkins himself may not have wanted Proposition K to pass, but the voters of San Francisco passed Proposition K and it reserves a half a cent of sales tax paid in San Francisco to be used as seed money for developing transportation projects for alternative forms of transportation in San Francisco, specifically what the District 4 Mobility project is doing.  

The Mobility project is about figuring out solutions for the Upper Great Highway that balances all the users of this space, including drivers of cars, but the focus is on coming up with alternative plans for making bicycling and walking safer for these neighborhood streets that are in and around the Upper Great Highway and the Great Highway. The $500K of taxpayer dollars that Mr. Perkins is referring to is being used for its intended purpose, and this money cannot be used to help the City solve other problems, such as cleaner streets or homelessness. It can only be used for projects such as the District 4 Mobility Study.

I would also like to address the more direct argument that Mr. Perkins makes about just re-opening the Upper Great Highway to the 18,000 cars that drive on it every day, which was happening pre-pandemic. The closure of the Upper Great Highway has been not just an opportunity for the residents of San Francisco to get some needed outdoor relief from sheltering in place because of COVID-19, but it has also provided a key corridor for many people to use other forms of transportation to get around the city, such as cycling or walking. It has also made a great outdoor space more accessible to people for a more livable city.  I am not sure there are many residents in San Francisco that would prefer to have 18,000 cars pass in front of their house vs. 4,000 people walking, biking, scootering or running each day. 

The main objective of the District 4 Mobility Study that Mr. Perkins does not want to fund is to find a balance between traffic safety for cars, the residents of this area and the people using the new open space for more environmentally friendly forms of transportation. It is trying to find a balance that works for everyone, not just the commuters in cars who drive through these neighborhoods without the appreciation of adverse effects that car traffic, car pollution and car noise has on the residents that live near and around Upper Great Highway. The money could be rescinded but it could only then be used for Proposition K-type projects if not this one then another.

Janelle Wong, Resident of Inner Parkside.

9 replies »

  1. Regarding Janelle Wong’s comments criticizing Charley Perkins’ letter to the Editor, I am one of the residents living across the street from the Great Highway and the 18,000-20,000 vehicles including big rigs, buses, trucks, dirt bike groups in numbers of 100-300 now race down my block less than 10 feet from my front door at all hours of the day and night instead of on the Upper Great Highway where they belong, too far away to hear them or breath their toxic fumes. The SFMTA/SFCTA traffic calming is not working and we have been overwhelmed by highway traffic creating dangerous intersections, gridlock, combined with closed streets turning everyone in gas burning circles and requiring more driving instead of less. Additionally, we have Taraval closed and a section of the Lower Great Highway closed due to the 3 year L Taraval Improvement Project, and 19th Avenue with most lanes closed due to SFMTA construction for 3 years. The people visiting to recreate should not decide for those who are permanent local residents living right by the Great Highway. This was supposed to be temporary during a pandemic, closed under an emergency order. It should not be permanent and I strongly object to it becoming permanent. I totally agree with Mr. Perkins. OPEN THE GREAT HIGHWAY!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with Judy Gorski’s rebuttal. I live in the outer Richmond and use to use the Upper Great Highway for north-south traveling to the Peninsula and Sunset district. Now that the GH is closed to cars, I used Sunset Blvd no go north and absent mindedly forgot to move to the right lane so I could exit at 36th Avenue to make a left on Lincoln. I ended up in GG Park which has it’s own series of closed roads for recreational justifications which forced me to backtrack, return to Sunset, make multiple turns through previously quiet residential streets to get back north, only to find Chain of Lakes with 10-15 car backups. Lower GH is now traffic clogged and an obstacle course. 46th Ave was suggested as an alternative which I tried once. Coming back from Twin Peaks along Lincoln, there was a 20-30 car back up of cars trying to turn N at 19th Ave which was clogged at the Crossover intersection from cars diverted to 19th Ave. You don’t close a major artery for 18,000 cars a day without providing adequate alternatives to provide recreation for 4,000 (which I doubt is actually occurring based on multiple photos showing how little used the GH is being used by walkers and bicyclist during most of the day and night). You are merely displacing that traffic into residential streets. Public transportation is a poor option right now. Bicycles are not an option for everyone with injured knees, age or carrying children/supplies in larger quantities. You particularly don’t close a major artery when the two arteries this program is attempting to divert traffic too has it’s own impediments (the Chain of Lakes bottle neck for Sunset) and the construction on 19th Ave and the bottleneck at Crossover. Proponents of the closure seem to not recognize how counterproductive it is to attempt to create a “park” out of a HIGHWAY and force cars into an actual park (GG Park) as well as create MORE CO2 emissions by the trips which use to take 15 minutes now taking 30-45 minutes and heavier traffic in residential areas. The GH was safer (timed lights to control speed, controlled intersections to allow pedestrians to cross, a median to reduce the chances of head on collisions, few intersections for cars reducing those collisions. Now cars travel on streets with NONE of those design features.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janelle Is a bike coalition member and it’s kind of weird that in her letter to the editor she does not state this. The Bike coalition is single-handedly trying to shut the city down and force people to ride bikes, It’s not realistic it’s not right and we do not have the infrastructure to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not required to state that. I am resident, taxpayer and a voter in this city, go ahead and disclose it. It doesn’t change my opinion that his letter to the editor was misleading the tax money is suppose to be used for projects like this.


  4. Your letter to the editor is yet another completely tone-deaf response that many of us are so used to hearing. Perhaps you are unaware that the numbers of vehicles in SF are back to pre-Covid numbers and in some cases *higher* than pre-Covid numbers (check: https://covid-congestion.sfcta.org – choose VMT change relative to Pre-covid on the right, and then click on a street). Information is missing for the Great Highway, but we feel it is on par with the rest of the city.

    The closure of the Great Highway has been mainly for the benefit of D4 residents, so trying to paint it as this amazing place where people go to recreate is a joke; it’s mostly empty most days, specifically during commute times (contact me for pictures if you would like).

    And lastly, many other people can’t cycle or walk – which I’m not surprised that you aren’t thinking about – our seniors, disabled, and others – who are also cherished citizens of SF. They join us in ranks with the people who work south of SF, drive children to school using the GH, take care of family members south, and so on.

    This great outdoor space you speak of – you MUST be referring to Golden Gate Park or Ocean Beach, right? The two areas that are within walking and bicycling distance (see how that works) that could and should easily be accessed by the many people you speak of.

    Imagine if you live in the Russian Hill, and close down a section of Lombard Street, because… why not? We need to bike! walk! and roll! Funnel all those cars through neighboring streets, and think of the absurdity of it. That is precisely what is going on here. So don’t try to paint it as this amazing recreational space that is used by 4,000 people per day (read: blatant lie). Call it what it really is: a area for people who live in Sunset and Parkside, who don’t really use the Great Highway for driving, and don’t want to trek to Golden Gate Park or get their feet sandy by utilizing the entire wide open beach.

    Let’s not even get started about the adjacent pedestrian path that is ALSO empty…


  5. P.S. just looked at “Janelle Wong, Inner Parkside.”

    This person doesn’t see the Great Highway every day, or likely doesn’t even use the Great Highway being closer to 19th Avenue. She is spared the incessant traffic, noise, the angry drivers, the running of stop signs, speeding over the “cushions”, construction, or even being detoured relentlessly because of closed off streets. All this person sees are people trying to close down an area that she goes to when she wants to get outside and get some fresh air.

    Janelle, what are you even thinking… Smh…


  6. Wait. . . Is Janelle Wong the same person who is on the SF Bike coalition’s payroll $100k/year? So she’s basically paid to write this rebuttal!


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