I am retired and able to visit Golden Gate Park when I wish. However, there are retired girlfriends of mine who worked many years as civil servants in SF who do not enjoy that privilege.
Maria Luisa is one. She lives in the Excelsior with serious diabetes and is dependent on her college-aged son for assistance. Her grown children, with their children, were priced out of SF and unable to purchase a family home near their mom. Now they live far off in the East Bay. Like many displaced native San Franciscans, they return “home” on the weekends to visit and care for their aging sick mother. Their generation, though born here, has reluctantly left SF, slicing a once whole family that is now both physically and emotionally split. To these individuals, leaving their elderly parents isolated and fearful in the City only adds to their daily stress as they worry about their parents’ health and safety.
The torment created by this unrelenting situation subsides as the weekend trip into the City approaches and an emotional peak is felt by all members of the family. Grandparents clean and cook and prepare for this special visit of the little ones with their parents. At last, all together for the day, a great undertaking takes place as the entire family recreates “the old times” and packs up everything and everyone for a trip to Golden Gate Park and the Conservatory of Flowers, and maybe the Music Concourse for a free concert, like the old days. Most likely this three-generation family outing will remain within their budget and only take advantage of the free amenities.
We watch the day commence by stacking the family van with the baby stroller, grandmother’s walker, a couple of chairs. a cooler heavy with ice, drinks, homemade tortas and potato salad, and lastly, the vitally important soccer ball. Also, several blankets. And don’t forget the hoodies, caps, and other layers that make the afternoon fog and wind tolerable on the west side. And off they go!
Now that the illusive parking place is spotted and conquered on JFK Drive in close proximity to their favorite area, the family releases all their gear. Each of them, at their own pace, with a tricycle here, a walker there, make their way to a nearby grassy area where they can set up their picnic, walk or run around, visit the gardens and other nearby attractions and have a joy -filled memorable family outing.
Those were the good old days! And they could be gone forever!
If we do not vote “yes” on Prop. I and “no” on Prop. J, Mayor London Breed and the SF Board of Supervisors will have their way and JFK Drive will be closed forever, 24/7. The accessibility enjoyed by Maria Luisa and her family and many others like her, in the Mission, in the Bayview, in Visitacion Valley, and other distant neighborhoods will vanish. These are SF families who are essential workers with multiple jobs who do not rely on traditional work hours. Their spouses and other members of the family may have competing work schedules. Their family time is precious.
The permanent closure will make JFK Drive inaccessible to these families and force them to abort their excursion to the park and ultimately deny them their weekend enjoyment and their opportunity for real time relief and self-care.
Some say that JFK Drive will remain accessible through the operation of the GGP Shuttle service. Now families will be forced onto a Shuttle service that reeks of failure. The frequency of the shuttle is limited and unreliable, the comfort and safety, per ADA is not adhered to, and the waiting area provides no protection while waiting in the sun, wind or wet fog on non-compliant park benches. Bad for humans, bad for pets. Currently, the shuttle service has no allowance for Lobo or Chico or any family pet to board. This whole scheme is a far cry from SF family traditions and values.
The spirit of generosity and sharing, well-established in San Francisco, are lost on the new residents. We are human beings, not a tech upgrade nor a device to be tossed for a faster, fancier, more convenient version of what still works! We are not your throwaways! For generations, people have arrived from outside California to embrace and be included in the ambiance of SF. The SF style was and is LOVE. And it shall prevail. Please remember this when you vote. And please vote to reopen JFK Drive. Yes on Prop I and No on Prop J.
Categories: letter to the editor