Danger at the Dock
The closure of the eastern end of John F. Kennedy (JFK) Drive in Golden Gate Park has created a dangerous situation for couriers, delivery people and employees at the de Young Museum.
In 2005, the de Young and the Recreation and Park Department agreed that the loading dock would be located on JFK Drive. It is open 24 hours a day to facilitate the enormous delivery of goods, food, and services as well as the movement of City’s extensive artwork collection.
But some of the 150 to 200 people a week driving on a short stretch of JFK Drive have had their vehicles pounded on by angry fists. They have been yelled at and harassed by some self-righteous anti-vehicle zealots who feel compelled to police the roadway with their strict code of compliance.
According to Paria Dea, the senior records and executive administrator at the de Young Museum, some bikers, joggers and walkers try to block vehicles from reaching the loading dock or bang on them while shouting profanities. Another way the miscreants have tried to intimidate and threaten museum employees has been to post their photos on social media sites so they will be cyber-bullied. Racial slurs are sometimes muttered in the ugly encounters on JFK Drive and nails have been found in the tires of vehicles parked at the loading dock.
The reality of the closure of JFK Drive to vehicles on weekdays has created an exclusive zone for young and healthy people who can walk, jog or ride to get there. I find it disturbing that they, and our public officials, think it is okay to use a pandemic to try to permanently exclude seniors, families with small children and the handicapped. How many San Franciscans will never see the wonderful exhibits at the Conservatory of Flowers, Peacock Meadow and Music Concourse because of their inconsiderateness?
Rec. and Park’s Three-Ring Circus
When the pandemic struck two years ago, Rec. and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg ordered the closure of portions of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. drives in Golden Gate Park and the Upper Great Highway to allow for more recreation space. A compromise was reached on the Upper Great Highway last year allowing the roadway to resume with vehicle traffic from Monday morning to Friday at noon. The roadway is closed to vehicle traffic on the weekends and holidays.
In February, Ginsburg removed food trucks from the three-ring circus on the closed Upper Great Highway when the roadway is closed because they were taking business away from local restaurants.
But I understand you can still see clowns on bikes blocking traffic on Thursday evenings and, of course, watch the Rec. and Park Department employee lock the gates to the Upper Great Highway on Fridays in a “high noon” showdown.
The closure of the roadway has also brought out some bad actors.
When I’m walking on the closed Upper Great Highway speeding bicyclists have whizzed by, some electrified and traveling more than 20 miles per hour, with the rider sometimes yelling and offering a Bronx salute.
It is unfortunate that these cyclists, who feel entitled to travel as fast as they want without sharing the roadway, should taint the reputations of the majority, law-biding riding public. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
Last month, I reported that the Sierra Club has called for the Upper Great Highway to be reopened to vehicle traffic. In fact, the San Francisco Group of the Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club has not taken a position on that proposal. It has called for a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to be prepared before the city adopts any pilot programs or makes any permanent changes to the roadway.
FEM Dems Kick-Off
California Treasurer Fiona Ma and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis have kicked off re-election campaigns and Malia Cohen has started a campaign to become state controller.
A large crowd with local officials in attendance at Manny’s in the Mission District on Feb. 6 cheered as the women gave their visions for the future of the state. State Sen. Scott Weiner and City Attorney David Chiu spoke in support of the candidates.
Ma was an Assemblywoman representing the west side as well as a San Francisco supervisor representing the Sunset District before becoming state treasurer. Cohen was also a city supervisor and served on the California Board of Equalization.
The three women candidates used the first letters of their first names to come up with the moniker FEM Dems. They pledged to support each other and other women candidates trying to get re-elected or break into politics.
Friend of Disabled Dies
Bob Planthold, an activist fighting for the Constitutional rights of disabled people, passed away in February at 73 years of age.
Planthold was stricken with polio as a child and walked with the help of braces throughout his life. Once, about 20 years ago when he found himself on the dating circuit, he dyed his hair a bright “copper” red. From then on, I called him “Rusty.”
Planthold was involved in numerous local issues, including the attempt to rebuild a portion of the Central Freeway in the late 1990s. He served on the city’s Sunshine Task Force and Ethics Commission and always spoke truth to power while standing up for the little guy.
A service was held at the Columbarium on Lorraine Court in the Laurel Heights. Rusty will be missed.
Paul Kozakiewicz is an editor, and the founder and former publisher of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers.