letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Dwindling Natural Areas in GG Park


This is an open letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors:

Dear Supervisors:

The buildings, facilities, roads, parking lots, golf course, Polo Field, and the many sports venues (soccer fields, lawn bowls, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, etc.) in Golden Gate Park, leave very little parkland for people to experience.   

Here is a (partial) list of the areas in Golden Gate Park that are not available for “a walk in the park.”  A glance at a map showing the features of the Park quickly reveals how little parkland is left.  The list of the man-made, or “not-park”, areas of the Park is impressive.  Located within the boundaries of the Park are:

1. Kezar Stadium

2. Kezar Pavilion

3. Kezar Parking Lot

4. the considerable asphalt expanse of Kezar Drive 

5. the Tennis Courts 

6. the Horseshoe Pits

7. McLaren Lodge with its adjacent parking area

8. Racquetball Courts

9. Sharon Art Studio

10. JFK Drive

11. County Fair Building

12. MLK, Jr. Drive

13.  Academy of Sciences

14. de Young Museum

15  Japanese Tea Garden

16. the Disc Golf Course

17 Golden Gate Park Golf Course

18. the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields (7 acres of artificial turf, concrete and asphalt) 

19. the Dog Training Area (4 acres of artificial turf, sand, concrete and asphalt)

20. Route 1 – a six lane highway running more than the width of the Park

21. Crossover Drive – a four lane roadway

22. the Polo Fields and parking areas

23. the Horse Stables

24. the Bercut Equitation Field and adjacent area (now rented by a private vendor)

25. the Bison Paddock 

26. the Casting Pools, and the Angler’s Lodge and grounds

27. the Archery Range

28. Middle Drive

29. Chain of Lakes Drive

30. 47th Avenue

31. the  Park Chalet restaurant, backyard dining area and parking lot

32. various restrooms, playgrounds, maintenance yards, storage facilities, including a four acre yard south of the Soccer Fields

33. the Petanque Courts

34. Lawn Bowls Courts

35. the Richmond Senior Center and parking lot

36. the wood chipping facility and groundwater processing facility accessed by Overlook Drive. 

The Music Concourse, with its fountains, walkways, landscaping, monuments and many trees, used to provide visitors with a gracious and pleasant walk.  Now, that walk is marred by a gigantic Ferris wheel, with a noisy diesel generator, a photo booth, and stands selling food and gewgaws.  

When Dana Ketcham of the Rec and Park Dept. advocated for a four year extension for the Skystar Wheel in the Music Concourse, she repeatedly made the claim that out of Golden Gate Park’s 1017 acres, the Music Concourse was only 1.6 acres, and everyone had all the rest of the Park to be in a park.  We can see that isn’t correct.  Ms. Ketcham’s presentations to the Historic Preservation Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission, relied, in part, on establishing the negligible impact of the Wheel on our park environment, based on her claim that only 1.6 acres are directly impacted. In truth, the impact goes far beyond the Music Concourse, crowding visitors who come for the rejuvenating experience of being in “green space” into what little parkland is left.  

“Ready access to green space is proven to contribute to better health outcomes such as heart health, obesity and blood sugar as well as improved mental wellbeing.”  Is Golden Gate Park really for all San Franciscans?  by Carly Graf (SF ExaminerMay 21, 2021.)

In truth, the chance for a quiet walk in the park is fast disappearing.  Please protect our parks from encroaching development. 

David Romano

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1 reply »

  1. Golden Gate Park itself is the encroachment of development on the vast expanse of sand dunes that was western SF. So let’s really fight back against development and restore the Outside Lands!


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