letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Prop. I is Climate Change Denial


Proposition I is climate change denial; it will cost taxpayers big. 

Wildfires erase rural towns from the map, mega-droughts devastate our agriculture and supporters of Proposition I want to lock in more climate killing pollution for decades. They also want you to pay for it. 

Car and truck travel is the largest source of greenhouse gasses created by San Franciscans, not to mention the cause of dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries annually. 

San Francisco has been fighting this climate and safety crisis by building a network of safe streets to encourage active transportation, reduce intra-city car traffic and decrease the pollution-causing climate change. 

Prop. I would reverse this effort, forcing car traffic back on JFK Drive and destroying the weekend compromise for the Upper Great Highway that District 4 residents support. (Source:  https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/closing-upper-great-highway-for-good-is-popular-survey-finds/)

Prop. I would also force the City to maintain the southern extension of the Upper Great Highway, a redundant bypass that’s falling into the sea. The cost of trying to ban erosion with a ballot proposition will be, at minimum, an $80 million bill to SF taxpayers. (Source:  https://sfelections.sfgov.org/sites/default/files/Documents/candidates/Prop%20I%20-%20Uses%20of%20the%20Great%20Highway%20and%20JFK%20-%20VIP%20final.pdf

My family lives in the Outer Sunset and we drive, but we also bike and walk when possible. When the Upper Great Highway is closed to cars, we use it to ride to the Ortega library, and to visit businesses on Judah and Noriega. Eliminating this safe route for us to ride on will cause us to drive more. That’s our minivan in “your” spot now. Sorry!

A hundred years of trying to manage traffic with more freeways has taught us the same thing: building roads for cars leads to more cars on the road. Having lived through the Upper Great Highway closure and ‘re-opening’ has only proven this point. Weekday traffic on my local street is as bad as it has ever been, and all the while our planet gets warmer and warmer. 

Supporters of Prop. I don’t have any solutions to this great challenge of our time. Given their campaign is funded by a major Trump donor, they either don’t believe climate change is real or don’t care how it will harm future generations. They do want to pay for it though. Vote “no.”  

Josh Kelly is a 20-year resident of San Francisco and lives in the Outer Sunset. 

7 replies »

  1. The suppositions here are absolutely false.

    The fact is that closing streets and roads (as opposed to removing them which the anti-democratic Bicycle Coalition will not stand for) just creates more pollution as vehicles have to detour.

    And irritated drivers are MORE likely to have an accident on those same streets which entitled YIMBYs force them to detour on.


  2. There has been no evidence whatsoever that closing the GH has done anything to decrease carbon emissions – not a single environmental impact report has been done (which was requested by the Sf Sierra Club before the GH was closed permanently). When traffic is displaced to other roads with more stop and go traffic, potentially MORE CO2 is generated. SF had to traffic calm five parallel roads to mitigate the displaced traffic. Bicycles are used as a primary mode of transportation by only 3% of SF residents and rose only by 1% between 2019 to 2021 despite all the road closures and slow streets, creation of bicycle lanes, etc. Private vehicle use rose in that same time period by 13% and are the primary mode of transportation for 61%. That increase is probably driven by the decrease in Muni use (which dropped by 11%). Slow streets, closing the GH, etc are doing nothing to move people out of their cars. If you really want to do that really focus on public transit that’s reliable, safe, accessible and incentivize the move to e vehicles. The Great Highway is an efficient, safe major traffic artery that is essential to the western part of SF, particularly when 19th Avenue is undergoing 2 years of construction and public transportation is so substandard.


    • Funny you mention the Sierra Club — they agree with Josh and endorsed Prop J and reject Prop I. Maybe the Prop I team should try and get the Heritage Foundation or the Koch Brothers to endorse their proposition — Dede probably knows them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I looked at the SF Sierra Club endorsement and it says no on I reopening JFK but nothing about the Great Highway which they earlier stated an Environmental Impact Report should be done before permanent closure of the Great Highway. I assure you most of the volunteers and donors I have been in contact are not wealthy conservatives. Dede Wilsey is a strong supporter of the deYoung which has been hurt by the JFK closure so no surprise she supports opening it


    • The I want it all poor political judgment of the car zealots in combining JFK Promenade and The GreatWalkway in one ballot measure sealed Proposition I’s fate. I find it interesting that these same people and groups who participated in the political lynching of Chesa Boudin are fighting just as vigorously to maintain CAR FREE spaces. Politics makes for strange road companions.


  3. Indeed. Great letter Mr. Kelly. Sadly sea level rise and increased storm intensity is a reality and thus the city must implement its plan to protect the wastewater treatment plan by the Great Highway Extension and thus close it to cars. Proposition I would prevent the city from implementing this longstanding plan and thus either risk a sewage spill on ocean beach or spend $80M on replacing that part of the beach with a seawall, which would be crazy. Unfortunately mother nature has spoken with the storms and we have to close the Great Highway Extension.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Want to get people out of cars, give them the real alternative….robust, reliable, nationwide public transportation.

    Anything else is just feel good policy that leads to nothing more than patting each other on the back and claiming victory.

    Pushing cars off the GH in to my neighborhood with no planning or forethought has certainly done nothing for the environment.


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