Commentary

Commentary: Paul Kozakiewicz

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. 

6 replies »

  1. Paul. All your comments re JFK Drive are just untrue. I cycle by the De Young loading dock. There is no problem whatsoever. So stop this pandering to whatever audience you represent. BTW. The Recreation and Park Department just decided to make JFK Drive PERMANENTLY CAR FREE.

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  2. Contrary to Lee Heidhues personal observation, I attended the Board of Trustees virtual meeting where the museum staff described multiple instances of harassment and vandalism of delivery trucks, staff vehicles, and vendor vehicles as they legally attempted to maintain museum operations. On Lake Street there have been documented statements from people who live on Lake being harassed by self-appointed vigilantes enforcing their “vision” of slow Lake street. These street closures have not created community, they’ve created division, rancor, and harassment. The recent PR attempts by Park and Rec showing their work on increasing access for the disabled (better shuttles, more ADA accessible paths, more handicapped spaces) just reinforce how inadequate the alleged accommodations for the handicapped have been for the past two years despite pro closure people telling mobility impaired or fragile people to just park on another street, use the clearly inadequate shuttle, use the garage “drop offs” or park in the Concourse garage which is in itself non ADA compliant. Multigenerational families, fragile seniors, people from remote neighborhoods HAVE been impeded in their ability to enjoy the eastern parts of GG Park. Time to stop and re-open all these “temporary” road closures. Time to re-set and re-think so that the unintended and/or ignored problems/consequences can be recognized, mitigated, and addressed before these “temporarily closed” roads are made permanent.

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  3. Christina. Please. What do you expect from the FAMSF Board of Trustees. A posse which is a totally owned subsidiary of Thomas Campbell, Dede Wilsey and their well heeled lobbyists Platinum Advisors. Christina, I agree with you. There have “PR attempts” by the aforementioned well paid Platinum Advisors to Lobby City politicians. Finally, I would argue vigorously The City has gone to unnecessary extremes to accommodate those who want to return to the old climate killing JFK Drive. The most recent manifestation of the destruction of a pristine area adjacent to the Tea Garden. What is replacing this historically nice area? A concrete parking lot with 20 ADA parking spaces. I say, ENOUGH!!

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    • Listen to John Rothman’s radio show from last night. You are going to find out that the ADA will prevail. All these “mitigation” efforts just highlights how people have been shut off of the park by the removal of blue parking spots and closure of JFK with its street parking close to the attractions in GG Park. Telling people to use the shuttle (universally panned), just use the Concourse garage (itself not ADA compliant), just drop off people (you can’t drop off and leave frail people unattended alone) is laughable. The touted “70% approve” survey is plagued with problems. Duplicate entry of paper surveys into the results, poor participation by non English speakers, closure supporters being mostly white, young, making $200,000/year, people self-identifying as mobility impaired or older supporting re-opening, and entry by Park and Rec staff of entering two zip codes on surveys with missing zip codes. over https://www.kgoradio.com/johnrothmann/?fbclid=IwAR1jrKhEE29SYwwWYugbeWDatBfHa5mw7aLY6SoaULkyHm5_lYYy01c17h8

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  4. I’ve driven along some slow streets with no problems and as a pedestrian or cyclist, have seen many hundreds of vehicles pass along without incident along JFK Drive and various slow streets around the city so I imagine this harrassment constitute a very small slice of experiences along these streets. But having said that, harrassing others should not be condoned – and that goes both ways. The number of close calls I and my family have had with drivers speeding, passing closely, not yielding, rolling through stops at high speeds, honking, and generally driving aggressively or absent-mindedly certainly feels worse than harrassment. It feels threatening – and it is. No one likes to have their hood pounded, and no one certainly likes to end up in the hospital or a coffin. I for one applaud the efforts to have our city park have ONE corridor where one can feel safe using the road and enjoy the park in peace.

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  5. What do you think now Paul? All your obsequious pandering to The FAMSF, bought Supervisors and the legions of The Entitled crashed and burned. Thank goodness the 1950s mentality was buried at long last. JFK Promenade is here to Stay.

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