Letter to the Editor: Lifelong Richmond District Resident Implores SFCTA to Open UGH


Here is a copy of the message I sent to various city agencies and representatives. It’s my public comment for the June 22 San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) meeting:

I am a San Francisco native and have lived in the Richmond District for more than 60 years. I am a member of the groups Open The Great Highway and Concerned Residents of the Sunset. I strongly believe that the Upper Great Highway should immediately be opened fully and that there should be no two-year pilot study.

For any of you who haven’t taken the time to thoroughly visit the Upper Great Highway, walk its entirety, evaluate the nearby streets and do so at various times and days of the week and weekend, I encourage you to do so. I think you will be surprised by what you find. A picture speaks a thousand words and is especially telling if you see it in person.

Especially on weekdays, the Upper Great Highway is very lightly used and those who are using it can be easily accommodated on the existing pathway. On weekends, there is gridlock on many intersections and alternative streets (e.g., Chain of Lakes and Stanyan Street.) Why do you want to subject your constituents to that?

Prior to the Upper Great Highway’s closure, the dunes and beach along that stretch were pristine and healthy. Now, because of the overuse and misuse, the dunes are being destroyed and litter is common. Many, if not most, of the people coming to the Upper Great Highway are not biking or walking there; they are driving, adding to the traffic, gridlock and ignoring the traffic mitigation measures, for which there is virtually no enforcement. They then traipse through the dunes, and after their fun and games, they dump their garbage.

As a Richmond District resident, I feel trapped. The drive time south of the neighborhood has greatly increased because my regular thoroughfare, the Upper Great Highway, is closed. This requires me to drive further, under unfavorable conditions. Emergency response crews must add time when on rescue calls because they can’t easily access the ocean due to the closure. The Upper Great Highway is a designated Emergency Escape Route, and it is now unusable. A street that was a very safe thoroughfare, for walkers and drivers, is now unsafe.

Aggressive bike riders add to the safety issues. Drivers are diverted to neighborhood streets, with intersections, thereby creating a situation where the odds of a vehicle and/or pedestrian collision are much increased. Prior to the closure, there were rarely if any accidents on the thoroughfare, consistent with the mission of Vision Zero. It seems so odd that you are deliberately creating a situation at odds with Vision Zero.

Driving is not illegal yet in San Francisco. It is the policy to get people out of their cars and making them suffer if they need or choose to drive. Drivers represent a significant number of SF residents, as do visitors, tourists, etc. Not everyone has the ability or luxury of being able to walk or ride bikes, especially in that part of the City.

By keeping the Upper Great Highway closed, you are catering to a few people while ignoring the rest. How is that fair? How is that right?

Please be mindful of EVERYONE as you navigate this issue and most importantly, OPEN THE GREAT HIGHWAY!

Jamie Kendall

1 reply »

  1. Thank you to Jamie Kendall, whose views and observations are exactly the same as my own, although I’m a resident of the Sunset District and live across the street from the Great Highway.


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