Controversial ordinance banning cars
from Golden Gate Park on Saturdays moves forward
District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick sponsored the Golden Gate
Saturday car-free legislation.
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 14, 2006
City officials approved a resolution to close 1.5 mile stretch
of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays for
six months at a special hearing of the Land Use and Economic Development
Committee meeting on Friday.
The resolution intends to replicate a similar traffic-free park
program on Sundays that has been active for 39 years and has attracted
thousands of people annually to the park, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick
"We have proof that this technique has worked for four decades
on Sundays," McGoldrick said. "Let's give this a try
The resolution is a trial closure of John F. Kennedy Jr. Drive
between Kezar Drive and Transverse Rive and adjacent roads connecting
with that portion of John F. Kennedy Drive, McGoldrick said. The
Recreation & Parks Department will conduct a study on the
impact of the Saturday road closures that it will present to the
Board of Supervisors by Feb. 1, 2007.
The resolution passed with additional amendments addressing the
closure's impact on the city's disabled community which is concerned
over the passing of the legislation, said Susan Mizner, acting
director of the Mayor's Office of Disabilities.
"Most people can drive and park within a half-mile radius
and can walk, bike, or skateboard to the park," Mizner said.
"It's not an option for people with mobility impairments.
They need to find an accessible place to park and be able to get
to their destination within a block or so."
Spencer DeBella, a ticket taker at the Conservatory of Flowers,
said he has a developmental disability and walks with Canadian
crutches. He gets dropped off by a cab to get to work.
"If this ordinance passes, it will be very difficult for
me to get to work on Saturdays," DeBella said.
DeBella said the cab would drop him off if he needed to work
on Sundays but he would need to get an official letter from the
conservatory to give to the cab driver. McGoldrick said he would
work with park officials and the cab companies to cater to DeBella's
An amended version of the ordinance provides for disability access,
city attorney John Malamut said.
Vehicles with disability placards will be able to cross from
Fulton Street to the Music Concourse and Tea Garden Drive through
Eight Avenue during the park closure, Malamut said. The amended
version of the ordinance includes additional handicapped accessible
parking spaces on 8th Avenue between Fulton Street and John F.
Kennedy Drive and a passenger drop-off zone for people with disabilities
on Bowling Drive as close as possible to John F. Kennedy Drive.
The Department of Recreation & Parks would also report on
the park closure's effect on disability access in their presentation
to the Board of Supervisors at the end of the six month trial,
The ordinance will still be a challenge for disabled people and
seniors even with the additional parking spaces, said Timothy
Hornbecker, the executive director of The Arc of San Francisco
"The new parking spaces are still too many blocks away for
disabled people to access the park," Hornbecker said.
Denise D'Anne, 72, of the Senior Action Network said the ordinance
does not hinder handicapped or seniors from considering alternative
routes of transportation to get to park destinations.
"I occasionally drove to the park and the museum before
I had my spinal problem," D'Anne said. "I have learned
to take public transit which lets me off in front of the museum.
I see disabled people and families with strollers on the bus all
Park museum officials also expressed concern about the ordinance.
John Buchanan, director of the re-opened de Young Museum, said
the ordinance would discourage visitors from coming to the museum.
"We are trying to bring as many people as possible,"
Buchanan said. "The closure of John F Kennedy Drive near
the museum on Saturdays prevents people from outside the Bay Area
traveling to the park and visiting the new museum."
According to the de Young museum's attendance report, museum
attendance on Saturdays since the park's reopening last October
ranged from 2,732 visitors to 10,546. Sunday visitors ranged from
926 to 11,694.
"I am not convinced that Saturday's attendance is going
to be less than Sunday's," Supervisor Sophie Maxwell said.
Supervisor Sophie Maxwell
Glenn Bailey of Encino, Calif. said he never rents a car when
he visits the city once a year.
"I got lost walking to the de Young Museum's grand re-opening
but it gave me an opportunity to see the Rose Garden and the other
parts of the park that I wouldn't have seen if I went straight
to the museum," Bailey said.
Dennis Kern, Department of Recreation & Parks director of
operations, said the department supports the street closure. The
department is looking for means to increase the visibility of
other sections of the park.
"We would like to create outdoor recreation options that
offer more pastoral and woodland-like experience than the current
state which is populated by the larger facilities," Kern
David Miles, president of the California Outdoor Rollerskating
Association, said he is pleased with the ordinance's passing.
Miles said he brings his family every Sunday to the park.
"Saturday's closure extends the experiences that I have
on Sundays," Miles said. "I can show up at the park
for free and bring my family to ride bikes and have a picnic."
Supervisor Geraldo Sandoval agreed with Miles and said he supported
Ive been to the park many times and it really resembles
more of a parking lot than a park, Sandoval said. Its
a park and that should be its first goal in the matter.
Supervisor Geraldo Sandoval
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said he viewed the ordinance from an
economic standpoint considering the 800-unit garage under the
"Closure on Sundays has shown that the garage isn't going
to pay for itself," Mirkarimi said. "We are stuck with
the garage and Saturday closure will make sure that the garage
is put to use."
Supervisor Maxwell said she wanted to hear both sides of the
arguments before making a decision on the ordinance.
"I am convinced that this ordinance is at least worth the
trial," Maxwell said. "Let's try it and see where it