February 5, 2002


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Proposal to close JFK Drive to motor traffic on Saturdays has consequences for everyone

Some city residents who have been working for years to close a portion of John F. Kennedy Drive n Golden Gate Park to Saturday car traffic, have been revisiting the idea. Although Propositions F and G were similar proposals that voters defeated in November 2000, Supervisor Matt Gonzalez has been sponsoring an ordinance that would make 'a portion of the Golden Gate Park free of motor vehicles on Saturdays.

Gonzalez argues that his proposed ordinance differs from Prop. F and Prop. G because it proposes a closure of a shorter span of JFK Drive from Kezar Drive to 8th Street and includes the closure of

some side streets as well: Arguello Boulevard; Conservatory Drive East and West; and Bowling Green Drive from JFK Drive to Middle Drive East. Prop. F and Prop. G proposed the closure of JFK Drive from Kezar Drive to Tranverse Drive. The proposed ordinance is receiving a similar response to opinions voiced con cerning Prop. F and Prop. G. While many park users who currently enjoy the partial closure of the park on Sundays support the proposal, the park institutions are opposed to the idea because of the potential negative ,impacts on traffic and parking to the institutions and the surrounding Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods.

The park institutions, such as the deYoung Museum, Conservatory of Flowers; and California Academy of Sciences, are concerned that patrons may find it difficult to access their facilities, said Carolyn Mcmillan, sopkesperson for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Although the de Young Museum would be closed for renovations until mid-2005, the museum officials would not support a closure until more progress is made with the underground Music Concourse garage, Macmillan said.

Once the Environmental Impact Report concerning the concourse garage is completed and certified - scheduled for August or September - then the museum officials would not be opposed to the Saturday closure ordinance, Macmillan said.

Ron Miguel, who owns property in the Richmond neighborhood, said the Saturday closure proposal should be held off until the EIR for the Concourse garage is completed, since that EIR would provide the Saturday closure proponents with a great deal of information that may be redundant in an impact report ,compiled for the Saturday closure.

"The Saturday closure is mistimed," said Miguel, the president of the Planning Association for the Richmond. Pat Kociolek, executive director of California Academy of Sciences, said Gonzalez's sponsored proposal does not adequately address the needs of all park users and those who live in close proximity to the park.

During a hearing on the proposed ordinance January 24 in the Board of Supervisors' Housing, Transportation and Land Use Committee, Gonzalez said every time the proponents of the ordinance try to meet the institutions' needs, the institutions create more requirements or needs. "They keep moving the goal posts," Gonzalez said. Supporters of the measure agree.

David Miles, A Resident who has been working. to close the park on Saturdays since 1985, said it has been difficult trying to appease the institutions. "Every time we compromise, it seems like they want us to compromise even more," Miles said. Miles said the last time the ordinance supporters met with the de Young officials about a month ago, the muse um officials were saying that the closure should be temporary - while the de Young, Museum is closed - and should be rescinded .once the museum is opened to study the possible traffic and parking impacts on its patrons.

While Miles was initially opposed to the idea, he later agreed to it, he said. But by that time, the de Young representatives were opposed to the idea, Miles said. Macmillan said it would be more difficult to stop the Saturday closure once it is implemented.

"We are not for it because we believe there needs to be a comprehensive plan," Macmillan said.

Supporters of Saturday closures have been meeting with park institutions, Recreation and Park Department officials, and community members to discuss the issue since January 2000, said Leah Shahum, a Saturday closure supporter and a member of the Bicycle Coalition. Shahum said the Bicycle Coalition strongly supports the legislation.

"It's important to create more car-free space so people, especially families could have a safe outdoor space to use without the threat of cars," Shahum said.

Miles said the Saturday closures should be' implemented for people who work or are busy on Sundays and do not have a chance to enjoy the car-free portion of the park. "The closure fulfills a mission of the park: to give people a place to enjoy themselves and get away from the hustle and bustle of life",Miles said.

Paul Maltzer, a planner of the city's' Planning Department, said an EIR needs to be conducted to study the traffic and parking impact the proposal would have on the neighborhood. Gonzalez said the area for the closure should allow for plenty of cross traffic between the neighbors of the park and sufficient access to the institutions. However, an EIR should be completed to ensure that the proposal would not bring about significant negative impacts, Maltzer said. The report should be completed in a few months, Maltzer said.