Controversial Golden Gate Park
Car-Free Saturday ordinance stalled
Supervisor Alioto-Pier amends legislation
Martin Luther King Drive, Golden Gate Park.
By Aldrich M. Tan
May 3, 2006
Discussions over the Healthy Saturdays ordinance, which would
close a 1.5 mile stretch of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate
Park on Saturdays for a six month trial, will continue to next
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced three amendments to
the legislation at the Board of Supervisors meeting during the
ordinance's second reading which brought the legislation back
to its first-reading state. The amended ordinance passed on first
reading this Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting.
Alioto-Pier amended the ordinance to create a deaf-friendly information
line for individuals to call, to make the three major requirements
addressing accessibility for the disabled community mandatory,
and to continue ongoing application of those programs on Sundays
when the Saturday trial ordinance expires.
Alioto-Pier said she disagrees with the Saturday closure. However,
the legislation must completely addresses issues regarding disability
access to make sure that it does not violate the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Such violations could have legal repercussions
since The Arc of San Francisco is seeking legal advice.
"I don't like being the person who constantly brings forward
the little intricacies on how the Americans with Disabilities
Act works," Alioto-Pier said, "I don't want to have
to do that every single time I see a piece of legislation, but
I will do it on this one because I see some big holes within it."
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said Alioto-Pier's amendments strengthen
"It would have been nice to pass the legislation a week
early in time for summer," McGoldrick said, "but it
is important to address the needs of the disabled community."
The original legislation implements disability-specific access
programs for Saturday and Sunday road closures during the six
month trial period. Alioto-Pier asked for the disability access
programs to continue on Sundays even after the trial period ends.
Burke Delventhal, Deputy City Attorney, said he would amend the
ordinance as requested.
Alioto-Pier also expressed concern over the wording of the legislation
addressing disability access. The legislation provides for an
intra-park transit, additional parking places and additional signed
drop-off zones "or any combination of the above."
"It's important that these three components work in conjunction
with each other to make sure that the park is fully accessible
to communities with disabilities," Alioto-Pier said.
McGoldrick assured Alioto-Pier that all three requirements would
"I think there is good faith on the table from my office
and from the proponents of the ordinance that we'll make it happen,"
McGoldrick said. "I guarantee it."
Alioto-Pier said she wanted to see it written in the legislation
"I appreciate the guarantee but it still worries me especially
as someone who has worked on disability issues for quite some
time," Alioto-Pier said. "We can't take anything for
Alioto-Pier asked for the creation of a deaf-compliant information
phone line so that people with disabilities can access information
about park accessibility on weekends.
Yomi Agunbiade, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation
& Parks, said that the development of a weekend information
line would be challenging because the park lacks the staffing
to run the program.
"Essentially, we would need staff in the lodge but that
area is not staffed during the weekends, Agunbiade said. "We
have park patrol working on weekends who can use cell phones but
that doesn't take care of the TDD access."
McGoldrick agreed with Alioto-Pier that the program should be
"We have until mid-June before this trial is incorporated
so I would appreciate Mr. Agunbiade making sure that the staffing
will be available by that time," McGoldrick said.
The revisions of the amendment will delay the amendment's passing
by one week, Supervisor Aaron Peskin said. McGoldrick initially
said the legislation needs to be passed as soon as possible.
"I'd like to get this legislation moving because summer
is coming up and I'd like to make the park accessible as soon
as possible," McGoldrick said.
The ordinance passed with Supervisors Fiona Ma, Bevan Dufty,
Sean Elsbernd, and Alioto-Pier voting against the ordinance.
Then, Supervisor Chris Daly made a motion to rescind the previous
"I disagree with the 11th hour substance being employed
while moving a piece of legislation that the supervisors had already
voted on during its first reading," Daly said.
The motion to rescind the previous action failed 7 to 3 and the
ordinance passed on first reading as amended.
David Miles, president of the California Outdoor Skateboarding
Association, agreed the additional amendments will improve the
legislation and increase accessibility to the park on Saturdays.
"We have waited 26 years for this ordinance to pass,"
Miles said. "We can wait one more week."
Susan Mizner, Mayor's Office on Disabilities director, said the
disabled community will benefit from the revised legislation.
"There are real access issues that this legislation addresses,"
Mizner said. "The disabled community did not have access
to the park on Sundays before and now it will."
Timothy Hornbecker, executive director of The Arc of San Francisco,
applauded Alioto-Pier for her amendments, but said the amendments
are not enough.
"There has been little discussion about the financial cost
of the program," Hornbecker said. "I want to see that
also in writing."
McGoldrick said he is looking at a variety of different sources
for the shuttle trams, including electric-running vehicles to
McGoldrick said the costs of implementing the recommendations
could cost up to $25,000. The committee working on the ordinance
will have a more precise figure in the coming weeks.
"We're not going to let the issue of money stand in the
way," McGoldrick said. "We will easily find the funding
for this ordinance."
Mayor Gavin Newsom still has not made a decision if he will veto
the legislation, said Wade Crowfoot, Mayor's Liaison to the Board
Newsom is concerned over access to the Conservatory of Flowers
and is interested in leaving Arguello Boulevard and West Conservatory
Drive open to provide approximately 30 to 45 vehicle parking spots
and a courtesy drop-off point for the Conservatory.
"It would open up an excellent drop-off point for people
with disabilities," said Rebecca Green, San Francisco Parks
Trust board member.
Newsom also has a copy of The Arc of San Francisco's legal consultation
with Protection & Advocacy, Inc., Hornbecker said.
The Arc of San Francisco sought the legal counsel of the Oakland-based
private nonprofit organization that protects the legal, civil
and service rights of persons with disabilities on April 28.
An analysis of the situation, based on phone conversations between
The Arc of San Francisco and Protection & Advocacy, Inc.,
suggests that the ordinance may be in violation of the Americans
with Disabilities Act, said Diana Honig, staff attorney for Protection
& Advocacy, Inc, in the consultation
"I need to see what else happens to this legislation,"
Hornbecker said. "If our requests aren't met, we will take
McGoldrick said he would consult with the city attorney if The
Arc of San Francisco does take legal action against the city.
"We'll deal with the situation accordingly if it gets to
that point," McGoldrick said.