City Hall

City Hall: Gordon Mar

Headed Toward the Finish Line

By Gordon Mar

The year is coming to an end, and so too is our time in this office. I’ll have a longer reflection to share in January, but I wanted to thank everyone who made their voices heard in the November election.

I’m grateful to the 13,278 District 4 residents who voted for our work and vision, and whether you voted for me or not, I’m grateful for the democratic process. It has been a tremendous honor representing you on the Board of Supervisors.

I congratulated Joel Engardio on his victory and look forward to staying involved as an active Sunset resident in the years to come.

I hope you all are able to take some time this holiday season to spend with family, friends, and community, giving thanks and being together – a celebration of what’s most important in life. While the election season may be over, we’re as busy as ever wrapping up our work at City Hall, and there are several big policies we’re bringing across the finish line.

Great Highway Pilot Ordinance

The Great Highway Pilot Ordinance, my legislation to keep the current compromise in place, unanimously passed out of the Land Use and Transportation Committee and will soon be voted on by the full Board of Supervisors. This legislation is the fruit of years of labor to try to find common ground and build consensus for the path forward for one of our City’s most iconic roadways. This has been one of the most contentious issues we’ve contended with over the past four years, and this legislation is the result of a meaningful compromise and a tremendous amount of outreach and public input.

The Great Highway will change. It must. Coastal erosion has been exacerbated by climate change-driven sea level rise, and the Great Highway extension south of Sloat Boulevard will have to be closed to cars permanently in the coming years because it cannot be maintained as a roadway. We didn’t decide that – climate change did. When that happens, the usefulness of the rest of the road between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard as an easy arterial for cut-through car traffic will be diminished.

Meanwhile, for decades, the Great Highway has been frequently closed to cars due to sand in the roadway. One of those closures was in April, 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we were desperate to create safe space for people to recreate and exercise outdoors for their mental and physical well-being. So, I asked Rec. and Park and SFMTA to keep the Great Highway closed to cars, and open it for people – people biking, rolling and walking. In the years since, people have embraced this space in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It has become a newly iconic waterfront park and a key connection for active mobility on the west side. It has hosted art installations, music, dancing, roller blading and more. An entire generation of westside kids are learning how to ride a bike safely on this road when it’s free of cars. And it has inspired civic actions previously unseen in the Sunset – marches for Black Lives Matter, and to Stop Asian Hate, and new community spaces and pop up events. The “Great Hauntway” even became the largest trick-or-treating event in the entire City the past two Halloweens.

I am proud of my work to foster this space. I’m prouder still of how the community has made it a real treasure – a place for neighbors to meet neighbors, to feel and express joy, to learn and connect and live, in one of the most stunning natural settings in our City.

When we started to emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we kept the best of this new vision, while adapting it to meet the needs of traffic circulation. This legislation maintains the compromise that was put in place last September to restore vehicle access on weekdays, when car commuters use it most, while preserving it for walking, biking, and rolling on Friday afternoons, weekends and holidays, when it has been most used as a promenade. This configuration has been effective, popular and successful. So, this ordinance simply authorizes the current configuration to continue as a pilot through 2025, to give us time to see how traffic patterns change when the southern extension is closed, and to plan accordingly for the future of this roadway. The legislation also requires comprehensive traffic management planning, ongoing data collection and reporting, and, finally, the creation of a real sand management plan.

Parkside Library

Continuing our work to recognize historic landmarks on the west side that have been too often overlooked, we’re also working to pass our legislation to initiate the designation of the Parkside Branch Library as an historic landmark. The history and culture of the Parkside and Sunset districts have long been ignored in the registry of City landmarks, and this legislation is our latest step to correct this oversight. When the Parkside Library becomes our newest City landmark, it will join the Mothers Building at the Zoo, and the Trocadero Clubhouse in Stern Grove, which we also landmarked, as part of our close partnership with SF Heritage, and our neighborhood-dedicated chapter, Parkside Heritage, SPEAK and other neighborhood groups.

Sunlight on Dark Money

This month I introduced an ordinance amending our campaign advertisement disclaimer requirements. Three years ago, San Franciscans voted overwhelmingly to pass Sunlight on Dark Money, the strongest dark-money disclosure law in the nation, which I authored and put on the ballot as Proposition F in November 2019. As we saw in this election cycle, and every election cycle, third-party interests with immense resources spend big on trying to influence our local races, and this law was based on a simple idea: You deserve to know who’s paying to influence your vote. Since Sunlight on Dark Money was adopted, some of those big money interests have sued the City to try to undo the law, because they don’t want voters knowing who’s giving Super PACs big checks. Thanks to the good work of the City Attorney’s office, we have successfully defended this law twice – as part of that, we also agreed that some of the disclaimer requirements can’t feasibly be used on very small print or short video ads. The ordinance I’ve introduced codifies that exemption, to conform to what we’ve already agreed in court, while maintaining the strongest dark money disclosure law in the country and preserving its legal defensibility for years to come.

I’ve also been working to restore the 7X-Noriega Express bus service that has been suspended since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This express route provides quicker travel times between the Sunset and Civic Center and Downtown than the regular 7-Noriega service. Additionally, I’ve also supported advocacy by the Sunset Chinese Cultural District and Chinatown TRIP to have the 7X-Noriega Express, when it is restored, connect to Chinatown, creating direct bus service between two of our City’s largest Chinese communities.

Military Leave Pay Protection Act

Finally, we’re also moving forward our Military Leave Pay Protection Act, groundbreaking legislation to protect economic security of military reservists and members of the National Guard. It will require large employers to pay the difference between a service member’s civilian and military pay for up to 30 days per year if there is a difference, protecting their income while they protect us. This is a first-in-the-nation policy that sets a new standard for standing by our service members, and one we hope to see inspire similar legislation across the country.

Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at 415-554-7460 or marstaff@sfgov.org.

5 replies »

  1. Gordon. Thanks for doing an honest ethical job as Supervisor. City Hall will be a lesser place without your quiet effective style. In the long run The People will come to appreciate your work.

    Like

  2. You do realize that this “compromise” still includes the Friday noon closure which is irrational. I’ve emailed Joe Engardio and at least he agrees if there are ANY closures it should start at 6 am on Saturday.

    I hope you also realize that studies as traffic picks up from recovering from the pandemic that CO2 emissions have remained unchanged on the Great Highway from when it was closed to when it was reopened but that 19th Ave has gotten worse, probably from the diversion of cars from the closed GH and the ongoing construction.

    Closing the GH was a terrible decision to create “recreation” from a critical traffic artery when adjacent areas provide true recreational opportunities (the paved path adjoining the GH), Ocean Beach itself, etc. The allegations that climate change mandates the closure of the upper Great Highway was never recommended by the Ocean Beach master plan which recognized it’s role as a major traffic artery although lane narrowing and diverting the GH extension east around the zoo was recommended.

    Putting this poison pill legislation in play as a lame duck is a lame maneuver and one of the reasons why you were not re-elected. Closing the GH abruptly under the false pretense of needing it for COVID reasons has been one of the most divisive actions in recent memory and not something to be proud of. For all of the “happy” photo ops of Halloween parties on the GH, there are four more people significantly injured by the GH closure – the nearby residents suffering from the diverted traffic, the commuters who are forced on to more congested roads and in particular your lack of action with the tantrum riders obstructed traffic even when it was suppose to be open to cars and we heard NOTHING from you.

    >

    Like

    • The Voters have Spoken. Yes on J. No on I. The 9-2 vote of the BOS is simply an affirmation of the elected officials following the overwhelming majority of the Voters. 65% voted NO on I. 63% voted YES on J.

      Like

      • Not in the Richmond and Sunset districts which favored I because the closure of the GH affects them the most. Should Daly City residents be allowed to vote to close Hwy 1 which runs through their city, even though many more people than Daly City residents use Hwy 1? Should Richmond and Sunset District residents get to vote to shut down Monterey Blvd, a major artery, even though it doesn’t affect them?

        Like

  3. It is the repurposing of JFK and UGH into urban theme parks (and a cash cow for “nonprofits” such as Illuminate, KidsSafeSf, etc. that I find most concerning.

    What has been done so far has been incredibly distasteful.

    Mar also was a strong proponent of privatizing the Tea Garden and handing it over to an irresponsible “nonprofit.”

    Mar failed to stand up for what is right which is why San Franciscans are cursed with an even more liberal, more pro-elite candidate……

    Like

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