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Vote to overturn veto of Golden Gate Park
'carmageddon' fails

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who worked tirelessly to ban cars from Golden Gate Park
on weekends, failed to overturn a Mayoral veto at yesterday's
Board of Supervisors meeting.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Aldrich M. Tan

May 24, 2006

The Board of Supervisors did not override Mayor Gavin Newsom's veto of the Healthy Saturdays ordinance at Tuesday's meeting. The ordinance 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.

Eight votes are required to override the mayor's veto. The vote remained 7 to 4, with Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd and Fiona Ma voting against the veto.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said he would continue pursuing the Saturday closure legislation.

"I will continue to work with all the stakeholders," McGoldrick said. "This is not the last chapter of the book."

McGoldrick then introduced legislation to improve disability access to the Sunday car-free program, and announced that he would further improve access to the park by repaving John F. Kennedy Drive.

Supervisor Chris Daly, who voted in support of the legislation, said the legislation should go to the ballot to let the public to decide.

"It may have a victory on the November ballot," Daly said.

Supervisor Chris Daly

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval said Newsom and other Supervisors are siding with wealthy museum benefactors.

"Healthy Saturdays is good legislation and it does not deserve to die here today," Sandoval said.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval

Elsbernd fired back at Sandoval saying he is not siding with wealthy museum benefactors.

"Nobody has mentioned the needs of people who live by the park," Elsbernd said. "These are the people who I am siding with and whose issues need to be acknowledged by the legislation."

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

Michele Stratton, co-chair of North Park Neighborhood Association, applauded Elsbernd for standing up for the neighbors.

"We agree that there is a need for Saturday recreation," Stratton said, "but not by closing the same road on both days of the weekend."

Stratton said McGoldrick should consider closing down alternative roads in the park like Middle Drive West.

Rebecca Green, board member of San Francisco Parks Trust, said the legislation is poor public policy in its current form.

"We need to address the issues that the surrounding neighborhoods around the park have," Green said. "I think people do want to support this legislation but the research needs to be more thorough."

McGoldrick should examine the idea of street closures of the western end of the park and even other parks such as McLaren Park, Green added.

Despite failing to overturn the Mayor's veto, McGoldrick introduced disability access legislation that will apply to the current Sunday park closures.

The legislation includes additional accessible parking places in and around Golden Gate Park, accessible drop-off zones, an accessible intra-park transit shuttle to operate frequently along the area, and additional signage.

The Recreation and Parks Department and the Department of Parking and Traffic would conduct a study on the impact of the Sunday road closures on the use of Golden Gate Park and report back to the Board of Supervisors, McGoldrick said.

"I am pleased that we can strengthen the Sunday car-free program in the park after all these years by complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act," McGoldrick said.

Following the board meeting, McGoldrick told the Sentinel that Mayor Newsom has allocated $500,000 to repave John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park.

McGoldrick said he and his legislative aides visited Golden Gate Park multiple times two weeks ago to test the feasibility of disability access amendments regarding the Healthy Saturday ordinance. They discovered that John F. Kennedy Drive was in serious need of repairs.

"The street is full of potholes and huge cracks," McGoldrick said. "It's a disaster."

McGoldrick said he will use the funding to repave John F. Kennedy Drive from Kezar Drive out to Transverse Drive.

"It's going to be smooth as a baby's behind," McGoldrick said.

The Mayor's budget will be released on May 31.




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