|The Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 for a trial ordinance
shutting down a 1.5-mile stretch of John F. Kennedy Drive and some connecting roads on
Saturdays between Memorial Day and November. A similar ban, which has existed for nearly
40-years on Sundays, draws thousands of people each week.
The vote came after supporters
and opponents of the measure shouted each other down at dueling press conferences on the
steps of City Hall. Supporters, who have dubbed the initiative Healthy
Saturdays, said it will give people a chance to skate and ride around the park
without having to fear being hit by a car while encouraging exercise. We like riding
our bikes with no cars, said a young Sophie Aufdencamp, who spoke at the press
conference for Healthy Saturdays. Nearby, stood her bright purple bike complete with
Supporters said the time is right for the measure, which was defeated in two separate
ballot measures in 2000, because a new 800-spot parking garage has been completed below
the de Young Museum that will be accessible during the closure.
Opponents fear it will hurt attendance at museums ,such as the de Young and the
Conservatory of Flowers, and send park goers trawling for scarce parking spaces in the
Haight, Richmond and Sunset districts. They also worry about handicapped access to the
attractions.The conservatory is virtually landlocked on Sundays, there is a 37
percent drop in attendance, said Rebecca Green of the San Francisco Parks Trust.
The money that comes in to keep it open and beautiful comes from visitors.
To mitigate the impact on disabled people, the legislation creates new handicapped
parking spaces, drop-off zones and a shuttle to get around the closed portions of JFK
It does not appear there will be enough votes to make it veto-proof, and the mayor has
not made a decision yet whether to support or veto the ordinance but hopes the warring
sides can come together.
City officials said that might mean creating some kind of body to monitor and report on
potential concerns with the closure, such as parking problems in the surrounding
neighborhoods and declining attendance at museums. The legislation does call for the
Recreation and Park Department and Department of Parking and Traffic to produce reports on
the impact of the Saturday closure.