Endorsement: Don’t Forget to Vote Yes on “N”

The de Young and garage management isn't just indifferent to road safety; they seem dedicated to breaking our bones. They need shown the door.

Proposition N: Shall the City be allowed to use public funds to acquire, operate or subsidize public parking in the underground parking garage below the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park, and direct the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority to dissolve, transferring management of the garage to the City’s Recreation and Park Commission?

The future of the J.F.K. Promenade will be at stake on Nov. 8. Remember to vote YES on J and NO on I.

But don’t forget to also vote YES on N.

I’ve seen on social media that advocates for safe and livable streets are urging colleagues to vote YES on J and NO on I. But sometimes they forget about N.

Proposition N, which would allow the city to manage the park’s 800-space garage/tunnel under the Music Concourse and JFK, is integral to the success of the JFK Promenade.

The garage is currently managed by the same people as the de Young museum. As such, they have basically sabotaged the garage and made it difficult to use by people who really do have access issues and need to drive. As expressed well by Kid Safe SF, which is also advocating for a YES on N:

The Garage is controlled by the Museums. 6 of 7 garage board members are museum insiders: museum executives and trustees, and the CEO of Swinerton, who built the garage and is a vendor to the DeYoung. The garage board could enact solutions like more ADA parking, lower parking rates, and affordable parking for employees, but for 15+ years they have chosen not to. The museums pretend they have no influence over the garage, which is disingenuous. The DeYoung stated: “We’ve also been advocating for lowered rates in the garage but to little effect” dodging the heavy overlap between the garage board and museum insiders.

In other words, it’s only because the museum’s management has enacted absurd policies, such as closing the garage at 7 p.m., that anyone can claim drivers and the disabled need additional parking on J.F.K.

One of several locations for bikes inside the garage where management banned bikes. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
One of several locations for bikes inside the garage where management banned bikes.

Morever, the garage is required by its charter to provide bike parking. The garage management has sabotaged this too, recently banning bikes from the main entrances (more on that below) and hiding the bike parking behind pillars. The above photo doesn’t begin to describe how difficult it is to find the bike racks.

And then there are the garage’s deadly grates:

The front wheel of my bike, showing how it fell into one of the gaps between the grates on the ramp in Golden Gate Park (the blue tape is part of a handle I made so it's easier to carry on the bus). Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The front wheel of my bike, showing how it fell into one of the gaps between the grates on the ramp in Golden Gate Park (the blue tape is part of a handle I made so it’s easier to carry on the bus)

Many Streetsblog readers are aware that, while riding my bike doing research for a story on the garage’s bike parking last July, my front wheel fell into one of drainage grates at the Fulton Street garage entrance. I was catapulted over the handlebars and into the concrete, seriously injuring my left hand. Crashing, for the record, is my least favorite way to do research for a Streetsblog post.

A reminder of how Jan Berckefeldt, President and Managing Director or the Music Concourse Community Partnership (which oversees the garage), responded when I emailed them about the hazard:

I have reviewed your photos and visited the area itself. Bicycles and skateboards are prohibited in the Garage for safety reasons. I am wondering why you were riding on an automobile ramp entering the Garage. That would pose a danger to drivers and yourself.

There was, of course, absolutely nothing to indicate it was an “automobile ramp.” Quite the contrary.

A bike lane is actually marked on the top of the "automobile ramp."
A bike lane is actually marked on the top of the “automobile ramp.”

The grates, which could be repaired by the park’s welding shop in a couple of hours, remain as they were now, waiting to injure another cyclist. In fairness, after my crash she added signs banning bikes to the sides of the ramp retaining walls, where a cyclist would be unlikely to see them until after they crashed (see the view down the Fulton ramp below). There are still bike stencils at the top of the ramp (see above) and some of the park attraction websites direct cyclists to enter the garage via these entrances.

Signs banning bikes are placed in the periphery of the view down the ramp and are unlikely to be noticed in time to prevent a crash.

I’ve spoken with several city employees about this issue, including SFMTA’s Tom Maguire and the Mayor’s transportation deputy. Everybody wants to fix the grates. Maguire even said he’d like to paint a green bike lane down the ramp and through the garage to guide cyclists to the all-but-hidden bike racks. But they can’t.

N would change that.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, Livable City, SPUR, and every other advocacy group is endorsing a YES on N.

Even if you think cars should be permitted on J.F.K., at least vote YES on N. There’s literally no argument for opposing it (a screenshot from the actual ballot below):

For more on the ballot, don’t forget to check out SPUR’s voter guide. And check out its remaining live events explaining the ballot, Tuesday, tonight, Oct. 11, 6-8 p.m. a the SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission Street in S.F. and online Wednesday, Oct. 12, 5-6:30 p.m. for a look at Oakland measures.