Press Release

Press Release: Sup. Chan’s Statement on the Future of Pandemic Road Measures

From District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan’s office:

Supervisor Connie Chan’s Statement on Future of Pandemic Road Measures in San Francisco 

Supervisor Connie Chan proposed transit policy question to Mayor London Breed 

At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Connie Chan asked Mayor London Breed about her vision for post-pandemic road measures in San Francisco, specifically Great Highway, JFK Drive, and Slow Streets. In response, Supervisor Chan provided the following statement: 

“Last September, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed my vision for a car-free connection in Golden Gate Park, which would create new and improved accessibility measures for JFK Drive. The resolution specifically addressed access needs at 8th Avenue and the need to provide free garage parking for people with disabilities and those from underserved San Francisco neighborhoods.  

For the Great Highway, I supported the compromise that Mayor Breed enacted: opening the highway to cars during the week, and creating a car-free promenade on the weekends. In the long term, I support creating a hybrid with one side of the highway becoming a widened promenade for bicycles and pedestrians, and creating one vehicle lane in each direction on the opposite side of the highway. This way, bicycles and pedestrians can travel and recreate separately from cars, and cars – and ideally in the future, public transit – would still be able to utilize the highway. 

I believe Slow Streets should be decided on a case-by-case basis after properly determining the level of support from residents living in the nearby neighborhood. One of the problems I see is that we have blurred the line between comprehensive transportation planning and recreation space planning. We need to decide if the purpose of these road measures are to provide safer connections for sustainable modes of transportation, or to provide a place to play and recreate. 

Slow Streets have made it safer for people to bike and walk, but has also created a conflict between drivers who live on the block and those who use the streets to recreate.  

Meaningful road safety measures means we must work to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and drivers, not encourage them. Therefore, I demand our city departments provide our constituents with a fair and transparent public outreach process that isn’t merely checking a box for a predetermined outcome. We all deserve better than what we have now.  

Regardless of my vision or anyone else’s, at the end of the day, all of these road measures deserve a transparent and inclusive public process led by city departments which encourages compromises between all stakeholders, rather than a ‘winner takes all’ approach.” 

Background: 

There has been a lot of attention on the future of road measures put in place during the pandemic, specifically Great Highway, JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, and various slow streets throughout the city. These measures have changed the way people recreate and travel around the city. While some have enjoyed the space to walk and bike, the City can do better with safety infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. Others are frustrated by facing reduced public transit options and have to rely on cars to get around. 

Last August, Mayor London Breed directed General Manager Phil Ginsburg to reopen the Great Highway to vehicle traffic on weekdays. This has allowed the residents living in the Richmond who do not have many north-south public transit options and must drive for essential travel to access the highway, while also providing residents a fully car-free promenade on the weekends and holidays. But the next steps for the Great Highway are not clear. 

The debate over making JFK Drive car-free has been going on for decades, but thanks to the hard work of the Golden Gate Park Sustainable Travel Study working group, many solutions to address long-standing access and safety issues have been identified.  

Last September, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Supervisor Connie Chan’s resolution – based off of the working group’s report – calling for the creation of a “Beach to Bay” car-free connection throughout Golden Gate Park, from JFK Drive through to MLK Drive, so long as the City addressed the access needs at 8th Avenue and in the parking garage for people with disabilities and those living in underserved neighborhoods who lack efficient public transit options to Golden Gate Park. 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Recreation and Park Department have been conducting outreach on whether to reopen JFK Drive to cars when the emergency order is lifted. Unfortunately, the departments chose not to pursue and include in their survey the option unanimously endorsed by the Board of Supervisors. 

Over 10,000 people responded to SFMTA’s survey, and the vast majority supported keeping JFK Drive closed to cars. However, SFMTA also informed Supervisor Chan’s office that they are doing additional outreach because key demographics, including seniors, communities of color, and non-English speakers were underrepresented among the survey respondents.  

Conversely, an online poll from the San Francisco Chronicle, with over 6,000 respondents, shows a preference for reopening JFK Drive to cars by a 2-to-1 margin. The accuracy of these results is in question. 

Meanwhile, the Chronicle’s Editorial Board has endorsed car-free JFK Drive while noting the caveat that, “it will never be fully car free. At least some vehicles will need access to all or parts of the street in perpetuity.”  

Board President Shamann Walton suggested in his op-ed to the San Francisco Examiner that JFK Drive closure is recreational redlining, and he requested the Transit Authority to conduct an equity study on the closure of JFK Drive, to really understand who is visiting the park and what barriers to access exist. 

There are many slow streets throughout the city that were put in place during the pandemic, some of which are being proposed to be made permanent. In District 1, there are 3: Cabrillo, 23rd Avenue, and Lake Street, with SFMTA proposing that Slow Lake Street be made permanent. 

Supervisor Chan has heard very strong opinions from constituents on both sides, those who love slow streets and see them as a new safe route to bike or walk or recreate, and those who see the slow streets as creating additional traffic and bad driving on parallel streets and the rest of the neighborhood. 

Supervisor Chan also heard a common concern that city departments haven’t been transparent about the decision-making process for whether to make any of these temporary road measures permanent. 

Supervisor Connie Chan represents all constituents and after spending almost the entire 2021 discussing and listening to them, there is a notable divide on all of these road measures with both sides believing that they represent the majority of San Franciscans. Therefore, she proposed the transit policy question to Mayor London Breed on January 11th during the Board of Supervisors meeting. For more information, please email ChanStaff@sfgov.org.  

2 replies »

  1. The SFMTA is corrupt and can’t be trusted when they pay the Bicycle Coalition and Walk SF to lobby for SFMTA’s positions.

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  2. I appreciated Supervisor Chan’s questioning the Mayor re: the city’s many current street closures in yesterday’s 1/11 BOS meeting, but was quite taken aback by just how naive and dismissive Breed’s response was. MTA’s and RPD’s online “statistics” re: the Great Highway, JFK, Lake Street and all the “slow streets” closures are obviously corrupt and inaccurate. It doesn’t take close examination to discover that the web surveys can clearly be repeated and re-submitted several times by anyone (and can be completed anywhere in the world) using different email addresses and zip codes, and the “results” of every one of these surveys always seem to be inevitably skewed to fit whatever MTA’s current agenda is (surprise, surprise!). Before any decisions are made the City needs to investigate just how these survey results are conducted and compiled. Re: Breed, either she’s completely clueless re: the way city politics are regularly being manipulated, or she’s in cahoots with MTA/RPD… which is beginning to look more and more likely.

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