Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I watched the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development committee meeting on Monday, cheapo digital camera ready, to catch some fireworks.

I expected at least some vituperation during public comment—none. There was a Bike Coalition leader who used so much visual aids that we never saw his face. And by the time Dede Wilsey appeared the camera battery had pooped out.

The issue is closing part of Golden Gate Park to auto traffic (and parking). This part of the park is closed to autos on Sundays and holidays. Advocates want to extend the ban to Saturdays also.

The particular stretch of road in question also provides access to the park’s institutional attractions: the DeYoung Museum, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the in-progress reconstructed Academy of Sciences which houses a natural history museum, an aquarium, and a planetarium.

Because there were so many public commenters, each had a one-minute limit, which, like stop signs in this town, was seldom heeded.

This Saturday closure proposal was put before the voters a few years ago and rejected. Last year the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance for Saturday closure which our mayor, bless his heart, vetoed.

The bike people say visitors can take public transit (and travel light) or park in the new underground garage at $4 per hour.

The status-quoers are hiding behind ADA and the issue of access for the disabled.

In general, the anti-car people are promoting ideology, and the anti-closure people are concerned about the specific, practical effects the change would have on their lives. There are no creative ideas being generated about this, it's pure muscle.

Because of Sophie Maxwell’s dignity and scariness, plus the presence of children, elderly, and disabled people, the fireworks I expected never went off.

[Photo by Michael Sutter. Click on image to go to source page.]

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sfmike said...

As you know, I'm not a bike person or a car person. I'm a pedestrian who takes the bus. But if I have the choice of dodging cars or bicycles, give me the latter any day.

The easy compromise, it seems to me, is for the new underground garage to become inexpensive, like the public parking garage at 21st and Valencia Streets, where it's about $1.00 an hour. If it really is $4.00/hour under the deYoung, no wonder that nobody parks there. Gosh, the greedy idiots who come up with these schemes really don't give a damn.

sfwillie said...

Dear Michael,

The hardest part of the anti-auto argument in San Francisco is that the alternative for most people is Muni. And Muni mostly sucks.

A working class family living in Sunnydale might drive to Golden Gate Park, but if they had to take Muni, they just wouldn't go.

If society could be arranged so there was no need for private autos (without a huge standard of living drop), I would vote yes.

Re $4/hr, I thought bike people want to raise the cost of driving any way they can, as with parking meters which are now at least $1.50/hr.

The Blue Elephant said...

Public issues should all begin with the statement: "This is complex." I love the visionary idea that we might all stop polluting the environment and get out of our cars -- but if I walk home from BART late at night I will be mugged, and if I take certain MUNI lines I am, with the rest in the bus, at the mercy of sadistic thugs. One problem or solution interlocks with another. But politicians always oversimplify in order to sound as if they have the issue in hand.