letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: No Sympathy for Drivers’ Complaints


Oh, the poor drivers!

San Francisco’s attempts to provide extra space for neighbors to get together, reduce auto pollution and make our streets less deadly have motorists up in arms. 

Because they can’t speed through just 45 of the city’s 1,088 miles of streets and highways or park on 1.5 miles of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, they’re feeling oppressed. And, they’ve lost the ability to use JFK as a shortcut to avoid traffic on Lincoln Way and Fulton Street. How awful! Some even support a measure on the November ballot to spend 80 million taxpayer dollars so the Great Highway, which abuts some of the best scenery and beaches in the country, can remain a prime commuting route for drivers who live on the far western edge of the city despite nature’s irresistible urge to keep the road covered with sand.

Well, I’m sorry. I don’t have much sympathy for the complaints. 

Drivers who are apoplectic about a slow street can find a perfectly driveable alternative literally one block away and, on our side of town, a bus route that will take them from the beach to downtown for $3. 

Emptying JFK Promenade of cars has made the park feel truly like a park the past couple of years. MLK remains open for those who want to see the park from inside a car, and buses provide a low-cost way for anyone to visit. 

The city has done a good job of making parking for the disabled there even more accessible than it was before the pandemic. 

Measure J, also on the November ballot, will preserve car-free JFK and make it possible to lower the cost of parking in the 800-space garage under the Music Concourse, which provides a safer and more convenient way for drivers to reach the museums that seem to be the biggest complainers about the loss of free parking on JFK.

San Franciscans are waking up to the reality that cities aren’t better when they’re car-dependent. Big tears from frustrated drivers aren’t going to change that.

Mark Plenke

11 replies »

  1. Plenty of other reasons, but like most of the people who have chosen to disregard that the extension of the emergency order has moved forward without proper planning, procedure and forethought have closed mindedly decided it works for them.

    Take the blinders off. SFMTA, walksf and SFBike just want a victory party without doing the proper work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with most of what you say Mr. Plenke, in that having a few areas that are car-free is a good thing and actually beneficial to our communities.

    However, I do not think the Great Highway should be kept car-free. I understand that mother nature want’s to toss sand all over it on a regular basis, but out here in Western SF mother nature wanted sand dunes sand scrub grass but we humans decided to build civilization and create a non-natural lovely park with non-native species. Okay so obviously using the mother nature argument is kind of self-serving to an ideology in need of a justification on that point.

    The traffic jam on Lincoln for car drivers turning East at the northern entrance to TGH is exceptionally unsafe. I’m okay with the weekend compromise, but I think you should go stand at the SW corner of Golden Park by Lincoln for an hour on Friday at 5pm and on the weekends during maximum peak traffic and see for yourself how dangerous it is.

    Furthermore, I have my own personal commuting experience that is shared by many other people out here in the Western part of the city, or the Richmond District. This is not about feeling “entitled” to driving a car, but about reality and common sense.

    If I drive down Sunset Blvd., the timing of the lights all the way to Sloat is not the same as those on the Great Highway. Hence there is a lot of stopping and starting of my vehicle. When you include the driver’s who cannot understand that driving over the speed limit and stop before the light turns green, then there is a lot more stopping and starting. Hence, in order to make my 35 mile commute to Highway One and beyond just south of Lake Merced, my miles per gallon will drop by at least 2.5 from 34 to 31.5, merely for that small 6 mile stretch of read called Sunset Blvd which is 17% percent of my commute.

    It’s even worse on 19th Ave. I will drop down to around 30.5 mpg and sometimes 30.3 mpg.

    If I am allowed to drive the Great Hwy however, the same 17% of my daily commute, I regularly get AT LEAST 34 mpg.

    Think about that, 31.5 (or 30.5) versus 34. That may seem trivial, but using the reciprocal rates that 2.5 mpg difference now requires an extra gallon of gas per week. In addition to more pollution being released because of all the stopping and starting.

    The truth does not have an ideology. Science and data stand alone.

    I’m not a car lover. I ride my electric scooter everywhere in the city and only use my car to commute to work. I’d choose any method I could if I had a choice to drive those 35 miles but the only alternative is figuring out how make 3 or more public transit connections and take 2 or more hours for what normally is around 35 minutes. I’d ride my scooter, but the rugged hills and extra hour ride renders that option null.

    Don’t become so ideologically blind that you don’t realize the impact car driving has had on our society. The only way to change that is to invest in public infrastructure. Shaming people does not compensate for a lack of that investment. Some people really do not have an alternative, so don’t confuse us with the people whom you call “entitled” who think they should have the right to drive their internal combustion engine to within 20 feet of where ever they want to go.

    Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Let’s remove those roads if they are not necessary!

    Sand has been removed from UGH to cater to the elite bicyclists whose millions have bought our government.

    Detouring drivers makes more pollution.

    Mark obviously is wealthy if he thinks $3 is an inexpensive bus fare.

    And he must not take the bus or he would know how bad the service is.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. No Sympathy? That’s been obvious since the Beginning of this Fight! … No Sympathy for the Seniors who are Shut Out of their favorite spots in GG Park, sad they can no longer visit the Dalia Dell, the Museums, the Conservatory of Flowers! … No Sympathy for the Handicapped and Disabled, who have been brutally IGNORED in this Theft of the Commons. Their once workable near-by parking spaces have been stripped away, (the Paint even Removed from the Roadway!), and moved a Quarter Mile away… Try THAT in a Wheelchair! This is an ADA VIOLATION, and a Lawsuit has been Filed. … No Sympathy for the large family with their picnic who want to enjoy Peacock Meadow! … No Sympathy for the Good Folks from out-of-town, (or across town!), who can’t figure out anymore How to access the key Museums and Attractions in the front of the Park! (unless they drop $30 or more on the greatly overpriced ‘parking’ garage. … This Land Grab was Rammed into place, as said above, ‘without proper planning, procedure, or forethought’. It ain’t legit! … If there were Planning, it would be seen that chosing JFK Drive for a Bike Park was Wrong, when there are miles and miles of paved road within the Park Far More Suitable, like Middle Drive! Why Cut Off the Museums? Their Attendance is Down 50% for the past 2 years of closure! And 30% of SF is Shut Out from the Park Attractions! … If there were proper Procedure, there would have been a Vote! And the wise SF Voters have Voted against this Closure TWICE! No wonder SFMTA chose to STEAL, rather than Bother with Proper Procedure. … And Forethought? None. Giving Away the Commons to the Biking 8% while Shutting Out the 30% makes Zero Sense. … Please Vote YES on I, (Aye!), and NO on poison pill J!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Enlighten me.
      The SFMTA, The Recreation and Parks Commission, The Board of Supervisors and, finally, Mayor Breed signed off on JFK Promenade. THAT’S DEMOCRACY.
      The Real coddled and Entitled are those who are the foot soldiers for Dede Wilsey, the De Young Museum, The Corporation for the Fine Arts Museums which has already spent over $750,000 to destroy JFK Promenade

      Liked by 1 person

      • This was a Perversion of Democracy. The forces for closure, the SFMTA and Rec & Park, have wanted for some time to eliminate cars from GG Park. It is their Agenda. Only 6 supervisors, none of whom live near the Park, were swayed by the dishonest and faulty arguments of the SFMTA, who concocted a grossly slanted ‘survey’ distributed to SF Bike Coalition members. (The Bike Coalition and WALK SF are funded by the SFMTA). This ‘survey’ was used as a bludgeon to convince anyone not too familiar with the Park issues to ‘vote’ their way. Disgusting.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mr. Peter Booth,
    you should read this article in the Frisc: https://thefrisc.com/de-young-says-jfk-drive-closure-is-crushing-attendance-its-neighbors-dont-have-the-same-problem-ea88072b7ea9

    ~ ~ ~
    “Through previous public record requests, The Frisc has asked the museum for attendance numbers that could support the claim of harm from the JFK closure, but officials have responded that they do not keep daily figures.”

    “The closure of JFK and the loss of 270 free parking spaces is impacting attendance,” said Thomas Campbell, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which governs the de Young and the Legion of Honor.

    The number of de Young visitors for the 2021–22 fiscal year was 45 percent of pre-COVID levels, Campbell reported, and the de Young and Legion have suffered more than $20 million in losses over the pandemic.

    But the de Young’s neighboring institutions told a different story. The California Academy of Sciences and Japanese Tea Garden, both steps away from the de Young’s front door, reported that attendance is almost back to pre-COVID levels. The SF Botanical Garden has seen record-breaking visitor levels the last two years.”
    ~ ~ ~

    There is access to the museums and the Botanical Garden’s from the South via 9th Avenue and by turning east from the cross-over onto MLK drive. You are quoting statistics presented by a partisan from an organization that admits they do not keep daily figures. And those nearby institutions that do say their attendance is almost back to pre-COVID levels.

    Your whole is argument is one big scream of sentence fragments, and your data is not sourced at all. The data is not reliable and is completely contradicted by proxy data that is reliable.

    Methinks you are ideologically blind and want to hide behind people you call “good” voters that you imagine back your fever dreams and your unsubstantiated claims.

    But I do agree, we live in a democracy, and voters will get to chose.

    Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sentence fragments? That’s weak.
    A 45% decline in attendance is Not Insignificant!

    Oh, and nice arrogant name-calling.
    You remind me of the Trumpies I’ve been battling for years.

    It is a blessing we (still) live in a democracy.
    I’m glad the Voters, and not you, will decide.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Weak is as weak does Mr. Peter Booth.

    So I suppose saying “methinks you are ideologically blind” is “arrogant name-calling”. I realize that I am just a mirror, but man that is rich.

    You never addressed any one of my fact sourced points and just repeated yourself. That 45% decline that you keep touting is coming from a partisan source that admits they do not keep daily attendance figures. Meanwhile, other nearby institutions that do keep daily attendance figures say their “attendance is almost back to pre-COVID levels. The SF Botanical Garden has seen record-breaking visitor levels the last two years.”

    And unlike the Trumpies you think you are battling (perhaps yourself), I actually provided a reliable source that backed up my points. You still have not done that and preferred to call me “arrogant” instead of — you know — actually say something cogent.

    But I do agree, your a 2nd attempt did not use sentence fragments, but unfortunately was not any better at giving a substantive reason for what you yourself typed with your own fingers.

    It is you who want to hijack voters into your own mental paradigm, not me. All I did was make a point backed up by a reliable source, and you got offended and yet were still unable to refute anything that I said. I did not say one word about what I thought voters should or should not do. That was you.

    Attitude and belligerent smug snarkiness is not a replacement for well articulated sourced points of view Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s