Press Release

Press Release: Mar Proposes Keeping UGH Closed to Vehicles on Weekends Until 2025

From Supervisor Gordon Mar’s office:

Supervisor Mar Introduces Legislation to Officially Pilot the Great Highway’s Weekend Promenade

Proposal would preserve current configuration for three years while the City continues to study the road use

District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar today introduced legislation that would maintain the Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard as a car-free promenade on weekends and holidays under a three-year pilot study.

If approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the ordinance would codify the Great Highway’s current configuration until Dec. 31, 2025. During this time, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department would collect vital information such as visitor usage data,  traffic conditions and gather public feedback before issuing a recommendation to the Board regarding its long-term future.

“Keeping the Great Highway as a promenade on weekends and holidays when it’s used the most, while allowing car access on weekdays when motorists use it the most, is a win-win solution,” said Supervisor Mar.  “Millions of visits to the promenade have shown its value as a space for community and civic action, active transportation, and joy. The weekend promenade has been popular and successful, and I’m proud to keep it in place while we continue to study this roadway in the face of climate change.”

The Ocean Beach Master Plan developed by SPUR recommended potential changes to the Great Highway’s use as part of a managed retreat from the coastline in response to climate change. The City is already planning to permanently close the Great Highway extension south of Sloat to vehicles in 2024 due to sea level rise and erosion impacts as part of the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project.

Mar’s legislation will transition the weekend promenade between Lincoln and Sloat from an emergency status to a pilot project, with the City enhancing its data collection and analysis of visitor usage, and engaging the public about the space and its use. It specifically requires City departments to make recommendations on managing traffic and sand, which is frequently blown onto the roadway.  

The City will be submitting Environmental Applications required by CEQA, in addition to a Coastal Development Permit application. The Great Highway is within the Coastal Zone, which requires additional approval from the California Coastal Commission for land use changes. 

In April 2020, the City temporarily closed the four-lane thoroughfare to cars in order to prioritize safe recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. On August 15, 2021, Mayor Breed reached an agrement with Supervisor Mar to modify the closure to apply only between Fridays at noon until Mondays at 6 a.m., and on holidays. 

From April 2020 until May 2022, people made more than 2 million visits to the scenic public promenade, with a total 3,700 average daily visits during the full-time closure, and 3,300 average daily visits since the current part-time closure was instituted.

“One of the silver linings of the pandemic was the creation of new open spaces for people to exercise, connect, and enjoy the outdoors,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “As we evaluate what works beyond the health emergency and into the longterm future, I look forward to continuing our work with the public, SFMTA, and other agency partners.

The New York Times listed the promenade as one of 52 places to go in the world in 2022, writing that a “Great Highway has become a unique destination – in a city full of them – to take in San Francisco’s wild Pacific Ocean coastline by foot, bike, skates or scooter, sample food trucks and explore local cafes, restaurants, record stores, bookstores and more.

12 replies »

  1. Common sense requires that the closure time be moved from noon Friday to 6:00 a.m. Saturday. Mayor Breed said that she consented to reopening the Highway to cars Monday through Friday to accommodate parents safely dropping off and picking up children from school. If that was her goal, she should have said “to safely drop off and pick up children from school nine times out of ten,” not exactly in tune with “Vision Zero” safety strategy. Metaphorically pulling the rug out from under commuters and other Highway users in the middle of the worst day and time of the week for traffic is something only the bully from the Simpsons would do, before pointing and going “Ha! Ha!”

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  2. WORST IDEA EVER. OPEN Friday for those of us who are commuting. The road is EMPTY. and there are plenty of options to walk on the pedestrian path AND the beach. You cannot even see the beach along most of the highway with the sand dunes (which have been decimated by people on the weekends).

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  3. Further proof that the reason to close the GH “temporarily” for “emergency pandemic” reasons was a false pretense. Closing at noon on Friday is ridiculous. Just like making MLK reopened but only in the east bound direction, not westbound. Do they not understand that people need relief at congestion points not only in one direction but both and for the GH for times going to and returning (or picking up) for school, work, etc? This “compromise” is inadequate. Why does Mar think it was so easy to get 18,000 petition signatures in only 3 weeks to reopen the GH permanently? Does Mar really think he is in step with his constituents when they rejected his support for Proposition A and opposition to the Boudin and BOE recalls. The Sunset and Richmond districts voted opposite to his stances in all those situations.

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  4. UGH needs to remain open all day Friday as well, it’s the busiest commute day in the City – including traffic trying to maneuver from the Peninsula. If you’re going to do this pilot program think of EVERYONE especially those who need to drive their families to get to school and work M-F, it doesn’t end at noon on friday! Have a true compromise!! PS I’m also an avid biker. Share the roads!

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  5. Unfortunately, the Ocean Beach Master Plan’s proposal for managed retreat is dead. The point of retreat / relocation for the road was both for safety (remove it from the erosion hazard), AND to allow for quality shoreline restoration. SFPUC has changed course on this key objective of the OBMP vision. Instead, the agency is proposing to build a massive concrete seawall about where the southbound lane of road is, a structure that will protect wastewater assets, but probably drown what is left of Ocean Beach south of Sloat. So, it’s Managed Retreat for automobile users, but maximum protection for wastewater infrastructure (and Rec/Park’s proposed concrete bike/jog:pedestrian path). For any beach preservation to occur, it’s going to take regular, expensive sand replenishment work- exactly what the OBMP aimed to avoid. Sorry to report!

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  6. This is the typical sleaziness we see more and more of in San Francisco, and it’s essentially the same scam Mar pulled on us when he claimed the initial closure of the GH was temporary in the first place. Now he’s going to try to get the BOS to intervene in order to deny what voters want in November. This man is really a sorry piece of work.

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  7. Except that sometimes the Great Highway is closed some of the week because the Parks department doesn’t get around to sweeping the sand that gathers on the road. So you might say publicly that the road is open Monday through Friday, but the reality on the ground is more often less than that, because some employee from the Parks department has to unlock the gate or run the sand sweeper, so if that doesn’t get done, oh well, the Great Highway is closed.

    Also, have you seen the insane traffic having to turn East onto Lincoln during the weekends? Cars get diverted onto the back streets or onto Sunset Blvd. where the lights are never timed correctly, all of which actually causes more pollution because of the stopping and starting.

    You can’t just close down streets and expect people to stop driving cars unless there is a viable investment in public transportation. For me, if I have to divert my 40 mile commute elsewhere, I lose 3 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency and spend at least 10 more minutes on the road. I wish I had options, but expecting me to suddenly ride my e-bike 40 miles is asking me to spend an extra hour a day commuting. Now I love my e-bike, but I don’t really wanna spend 5+ more hours commuting per week either.

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