Newsom vetoes Golden Gate Park auto ban
Copyright fogcityjournal.com 2006
By Pat Murphy
May 15, 2006, 2:52 p.m.
Mayor Gavin Newsom today vetoed legislation which would have
closed a 1.5 mile stretch of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate
Park on Saturdays for a six month trial period.
Authored by District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, the measure
was approved on May
9 by a 7 to 4 vote of the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors Fiona Ma, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd, and Michela
Alioto-Pier voting against the ordinance's passing.
Eight votes are needed to override a mayoral veto.
Newsom explained his veto decision in a written statement
May 15, 2006
Gloria Young, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors
One Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, California 94133
I write to communicate my veto of ordinance 060250, which establishes
Saturday closure of roads in Golden Gate Park. Over the last several
weeks, my office has worked hard to identify solutions to several
concerns raised by this proposal. I have met personally with both
supporters and opponents of Saturday closure to better understand
different perspectives on this proposal. Through this dialogue,
I have concluded that this proposal in its current form is unsupportable-due
to a lack of understanding about its impacts and my concern about
contravening the will of the voters.
The intent of road closure in Golden Gate Park is well meaning
and aligns with my administration's goals of increasing health
and fitness opportunities for local residents. Closure of JFK
Drive and nearby roads in Golden Gate Park provides a safe space
for residents to explore San Francisco's most magnificent park.
Many families, children and seniors have long-enjoyed Sunday closure
to explore the park on foot, bikes and skates without auto-traffic-
a welcome natural retreat from the hustle and bustle of our dense
While road closure offers clear recreational benefit, it appears
to have adverse impacts. Residents of the Richmond and Sunset
report increased traffic and parking problems in their neighborhoods
that compromise their quality of life. Nearby businesses that
rely on parking for their customers report decreased sales on
Sunday. The Conservatory of Flowers, a cherished community institution,
reports sharply decreased Sunday visitation. And importantly,
leaders of the disability community report access concerns to
the closure area.
Any decision to expand Golden Gate Park road closure must be
based on an objective analysis of reported impacts. However, these
positive and negative impacts have never been studied. As a result,
policy makers have little more than anecdotal information on which
to base their decisions about Saturday closure. I propose that
Saturday road closure be considered only with information on the
impacts of Sunday closure. Indeed, such information would lead
to a proposal that maximizes positive recreational impacts of
closure and minimizes other negative impacts.
In addition to better understanding impacts of current road closure,
future proposals should unite-rather than divide-our community.
The current specific closure proposal has been the source of great
controversy since it was placed on the ballot in 2000. As my office
has discussed this specific proposal with supporters and opponents,
road closure alternatives in the park have become apparent that
promise less negative impacts. I have asked the General Manager
of Recreation and Parks to explore these other closure alignments
that provide similar recreational benefits with less negative
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, I am very concerned about
passing legislation to advance a proposal that has already been
rejected by the voters. In 2000, two ballot measures proposing
some form of Saturday closure failed at the ballot. Although many
explanations exist why these measures failed, the simple fact
remains that they failed. Pursuing the same exact road closure
through the Board of Supervisors after rejection by the voters
is not a path I can support.
I commend Supervisor McGoldrick and supporters of this legislation
for working closely with our office in recent weeks to address
concerns from my administration and community members. Their efforts
have been appreciated and have underscored the benefits of creating
more safe recreational spaces in our city. I look forward to coming
opportunities where we can collaborate to achieve their vision
for a healthy and more environmentally friendly city-beginning
with more organized promotion of the Sunday closure as a recreational
opportunity for local residents.