Key City Agencies Vote to Make J.F.K. Promenade Permanent
1:57 PM PST on March 11, 2022
In a special joint meeting Thursday, the SFMTA Board of Directors and the Rec and Parks Commission voted to endorse making the J.F.K. Promenade a permanent feature of Golden Gate Park. The SFMTA Board voted unanimously 7-0. The Rec and Parks Commission vote was 5-2, with commissioners Laurence Griffin and Larry Mazzola voting against.
SFMTA and Rec and Parks join Mayor London Breed, the Chronicle editorial department, and other prominent voices in endorsing a J.F.K free of dangerous cut-through traffic.
Meanwhile, the de Young Museum made a last-ditch attempt to sway that vote with a banner ad in the San Francisco Chronicle that apparently went up sometime Wednesday. Prices for banner ads depend on a variety of factors, but an account manager at the Chronicle told Streetsblog that they run between $4,000 and $8,000 a day.
Keep in mind San Francisco taxpayers helped pay for this ad, as well for the museum's lobbyist, Platinum Advisors. Museum members paid an even greater share.
"I hate seeing $17 million in annual San Francisco taxpayer funding used by the de Young directors and lobbyists in an AstroTurf ad campaign all with the goal of making the center of Golden Gate Park unsafe for kids," wrote People Protected Bike Lane advocate Matt Brezina in an email to Streetsblog. "Is this how our hard-earned tax dollars should be spent?"
The AstroTurf campaign Brezina is referring to is Access 4 All, the name of the group behind the ad. The connection to the museum isn't exactly hidden. A FAQ on the web page for the organization says: "The Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums sponsors this site."
The ad continues the museum's favorite gaslighting approach of trying to frame the move to put cars back on J.F.K as a disability rights issue. Except, of course, that there's an 800-space, underutilized, multistory garage right under the museum (which, obviously, is far closer to the museum entrance than J.F.K is), and it has disabled parking spaces right at the door:
At Thursday's meeting, staff reminded the boards that paratransit vehicles and shuttles are and will continue to be permitted on all of J.F.K. Rec and Park officials also pointed out that they provided more free on-street disability parking on adjoining streets than was taken from J.F.K. to create the promenade.
That didn't stop museum officials at the meeting from claiming they have no influence over the price of the 800-parking-space garage (even if that were true, and it isn't, they could, of course, provide vouchers to their staff and disabled visitors to park in it). If they're short funds for providing vouchers, maybe they can take some from their anti-Promenade lobbying budget?
Most of the handful of public speakers who wanted J.F.K available for driving complained that they can no longer use the park as a through-way to destinations in the Sunset. Of the over 100 people, including many seniors, who were in support of keeping the promenade car-free, most spoke about feeling safe when they walk, bike, and skate in the park.
David Miles, who runs a roller-skating school in the park and who has been lobbying for a car-free J.F.K. for decades, said he feels like he's in "Groundhog Day" with the same issues coming up about parking and access over and over. "The people want this. This is something that enhances quality of life," he said of the new promenade.
Walk San Francisco's Jodie Medeiros told the boards that "...turning the 1.4 miles back into a dangerous, cut-through space would be a step back from Vision Zero."
Now the vote will move on to the S.F. Board of Supervisors. Walk San Francisco has set up a form for people to urge the Supes to support the J.F.K. Promenade forever.
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