letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Reply to Rebuttal of Great Highway OpEd


Janelle Wong responded to my opinion piece in the April 2021 issue of the Sunset beacon about the unjustifiable expenditure of $500,000 in tax dollars to address problems created by the closure of the Upper Great Highway and, in addition to basically calling me a liar, offered a smokescreen of irrelevant information while completely failing to address the key issue.

She does not deny that the Highway worked perfectly fine for all interests, and without complaint, its entire existence. She spends most of her letter quibbling with the pot of taxpayer funds from which the $500,000 is being drawn, but cannot deny that a half-million dollars of City tax dollars are being spent to try to fix problems that the closure creates, and which would not exist if the Highway is reopened.

Specifically, she cannot deny that regardless of any mitigation measures, the streets in the Sunset District are far more dangerous with 18,000 cars unable to use the Highway each day and forced to divert to other routes; quality of life goes down for residents living on those alternate routes and frustrated drivers forced to spend far longer times behind the wheel; and air pollution necessarily goes up as so many people must be in their cars longer.

As she admits, the money is being spent to look to try to “figur[e] out solutions for the Upper Great Highway.” No “solutions” are needed if the Highway is simply returned to its pre-pandemic use, which worked wonderfully for all and didn’t lead to any problems! Use the money for some other laudable purpose, but don’t waste it here.

Lastly, I believe Ms. Wong is the same Janelle Wong who is a high officer in the San Francisco Bike Coalition. If you help run an organization having an agenda that’s directly relevant to an issue on which you weigh in publicly, don’t you think that’s a relevant fact to disclose to readers? And she labeled me “disingenuous”!

Charley Perkins, Sunset District resident

5 replies »

  1. I totally agree with Charlie Perkins’ letter. Mar CREATED this problem that is requiring $$$$ to “mitigate” when merely reopening the Great Highway for it’s intended purpose (namely cars – hence the name “highway”) would put 18,000 cars back where they belong. Bicyclists, pedestrians and cars existed perfectly fine when the GH was used as intended, pedestrians on the paved pathway parallel to the GH or on the beach itself, bicyclists on either that paved pathway or the wide shoulder. The bicycle coalition is strident in their belief that everyone should bicycle instead of using cars – failing utterly to take into consideration people with disabilities, small children, commuting needs down the Peninsula, shopping needs requiring a car because of weight or size.


  2. I completely agree with Charlie Perkins. My commute from the San Mateo coastline to run my business on the west side of the city has changed from a very peaceful drive with timed lights to fighting traffic on 280 and on 19th Avenue while under construction. I’ve already been sideswiped once on 19th Ave. and had many, many close calls. It has added 15 to 20 minutes to my commute and a lot of stress. It is unbelievable that a North/South Highway has remained closed this long without widespread involvement of those who actually use the Great Highway. Our City is full of bike paths, multiple parks, beaches and many other places to enjoy the outdoors. Many people who work in the City can’t afford to live in the City, and many are elderly, disabled, have multiple children, etc. It just isn’t possible to assume everyone can ride a bike or take public transportation. This gross expenditure of money will not even solve the problem of more traffic on the Lower Great Highway. It will just cause more congestion and headaches for commuters and people who live nearby. My personal opinion is that the obvious and very low cost compromise is to open the Upper Great Highway for commuters Monday thru Saturday and close it on Sundays.


  3. The Great Highway will become a permanently CAR FREE zone. This Policy will put San Francisco in the worldwide leadership role of having a Policy which puts the Environment and the right to Open Space First. The Car is going to be put in its place and no longer the vehicle which drives Public Policy.


  4. Let’s do a little simple math. 18,000 cars spending an additional 10 minutes (more during rush hours) for each trip (20 min round trip or .33 hours) and let’s only use workdays (conservatively 45 weeks at 5 trips/week) and at SF minimum wages (very conservative estimate!) of $15.59/hour.

    We get 18,000 x .33 hours x 45 weeks x 5 trips/week x $15.59/hour =
    $20,836,035 wasted every year because of the closure of Great Hiway

    That’s not including any weekend traffic, and not taking into any account the impact on traffic along Sunset and 19th.

    For this type of money, we could build a tunnel underneath the dunes after a couple years.


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