letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Luring More People Onto JFK Drive


We have been told that great bunches of people, adults and especially children, are enjoying the blockage of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park.  Hmmmm.  A Sept. 27 article in the Chronicle revealed “a project to lure (emphasis mine) more people to JFK” which includes installing three 7-foot-tall Doggie Diner heads along JFK, plus “food trucks, places to grab coffee, areas for buskers and even a small beer garden.”  Imagine what this does to one of the loveliest parts of GG Park, not to mention the inevitable trash generated by it.

Meanwhile, since we are no longer able to park along this lengthy stretch of roadway as we once did, thousands of elderly and disabled people find it very difficult or impossible to get to some of the best features of the Park including the dahlia and rose gardens, Conservatory of Flowers, museums and more.  One thousand free public parking spaces have been eliminated, including spaces for handicapped placard holders. Yes, there are some of these spaces behind the bandshell but that is much too far for people using crutches or walkers or who struggle with MS or Parkinson’s or people (like me) with arthritic knees, heart problems and endurance lost to years of wear and tear. Yes, we could wait for shuttles where there might or might not be shelter from sun or rain. Shuttles do not accommodate everyone, purportedly run every 24 minutes and might or might not be headed for where you want to go. 

Last week, I tabled for Prop I during a fair at 37th Avenue and Pacheco Street.  There I heard multiple stories about the effects of shutting down the Upper Great Highway.  People living on nearby parallel streets are angry and worried about the diversion of thousands of cars diverted onto their narrow residential streets, sitting in gridlock and spewing fumes.  Worse – they cite the big trucks rumbling along or sitting in that gridlock on streets not designed for this volume or kind of traffic. Beachgoers’ cars are parked on these streets, occupants dash across the Highway anywhere, scrambling and sliding up and down the fragile dunes often damaging the nests of endangered birds. Of course, there have always been some heedless people damaging the dunes but, people parked in the beach parking lots are more likely to use designated walkways and stairs.

Cars which once drove through the Park or along the Upper Great Highway, now clog other roads in the Park (esp. Chain of Lakes Drive) as well as residential streets such as Fulton and Lincoln.  These closures are unlikely to actually reduce driving. People will just go another – probably longer –  way to reach their destination creating even more gas fumes. The “law of unintended consequences” is at work here.  Public Transit and electric cars may one day suffice – one can only hope and work for that – but I doubt it will be in my lifetime and certainly not for so many others who are elderly and/or disabled.

Some claim the need for closures of JFK Drive and the Great Highway to cars, citing a need for kids to safely play.  But there are places all over our city for that including (inside GGP) a length of Middle Drive and a skate park above the Conservatory, both of which have been closed to cars since the Compromise of 2007 and still are. That stretch of Middle Drive has just been repaved. How about the 14-acre Presidio Tunnel Top, Crocker Amazon, McClaren, Noe Valley Center, Glen Park, Cayuga and so many more.  Why must we put all these proposed eyesores along JFK to “lure” people to use it when these other parks are available and using them can be done without depriving elderly and disability challenged people of some of the most beautiful places in the Park?

Accident rates on JFK Drive are given as a reason to close it to cars.  Have more crosswalks – raised to double as speed bumps, brightly striped, fitted with lights flashing when someone is crossing – been considered? This could also decrease jaywalking.  All could be done without depriving thousands of elderly and disabled people from real access to so much of our beloved park. NB: Bike lanes already exist there.

Proposition I offers a compromise which would render the currently closed JFK Drive open to cars on certain days and closed on other days.  Proposition J would render the current closures permanent.  

Vote “yes” on Prop I;  “no” on Prop J.

Glenda Hope

3 replies »

  1. Thank you to Ms. Hope and to the Editor for publishing the hard facts about the necessity of returning our roads to the conditions they were in prior to the Shelter-in-Place closures that were promised to be only temporary. Vote Yes on Prop I and No on Prop J.


  2. Everything written by the author is true. As someone who worked as a caregiver for years, I can attest to how much joy is brought to someone with physical challenges to be taken for a scenic ride along the coast, or to an art museum or through beautiful gardens that are no longer accessible due to these road closures and removal of free parking close to Golden Gate Park’s exhibitions. Thank you to Ms. Hope and the Editor for publishing this honest and informative piece.


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