SF voters will decide whether to keep JFK Drive car-free, if Great Highway should be fully reopened

J.R. Stone Image
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
SF voters will decide whether to keep JFK Drive car-free
JFK Drive is closed to traffic at all times & Great Highway is open during the week, closed weekends. Now the issue is being brought to the ballot.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The battle over what to do with San Francisco's John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway along the Pacific Ocean just heated up.

JFK Drive is currently closed to traffic at all times. The Great Highway is open during the week and closed on weekends. Now it appears groups opposing both of these plans have enough signatures to bring the issue to the ballot.

All eyes are now on San Francisco's closed-to-traffic John F. Kennedy Drive and the city's Great Highway, which is closed to traffic on weekends -- both of which could be changing.

"I'm very excited that voters will be able to decide the fate of the streets. Whether they can be shared with vehicles or vehicles have to be banned with them," said Judi Gorski of Open the Great Highway Alliance.

RELATED: San Francisco supervisors vote to keep Golden Gate Park's JFK Drive permanently car-free

Supporters of the campaign to reopen these roads turned in thousands of signatures Monday, which, if verified, will bring the issue to voters in November.

"I'm convinced that the voters in San Francisco are just flat out tired of closed streets at every turn, a 'let's do all we can to punish people who drive vehicles,'" said Charley Perkins of San Francisco.

The measure would restore car access on JFK Drive during weekdays and keep the road closed to traffic on weekends and holidays. It would also fully reopen the Great Highway, which is currently only open on weekdays.

But not everyone is a fan of the plan.

"My opinion is they should keep it closed because it's just a good time for everybody. You have joggers coming through here, bicycle riders coming through here, people on skates, it's great," said Erik Larsen of San Francisco.

"I like to see people running, riding bikes, the family atmosphere, dog walking, and holding hands such as with my wife so yes, I do like to see this environment I love it actually," said Kole Jackson, who is visiting from Hawaii.

Some neighbors believe the closed roads put traffic and fumes on their neighborhood streets, not to mention the added commute times.

"It does add a lot of time to get through the city, 19th avenue with all the construction is not very fun," said San Francisco resident and cyclist Laurie Rummelhart.

Whatever is decided on these roads, it may not end -- even after a vote.

Neighbors on the Great Highway question the city's current maintenance of the road, and those who enjoy the closed streets say it can be a madhouse with near collisions on the regular.

"There's two things I can predict; it's going to be a real interesting battle, and no matter what the outcome, they'll keep fighting it," said ABC7 News insider Phil Matier.

The signatures collected will now have to be verified. The group collecting them needed more than 9,000 signatures and turned in more than 17,000 on Monday.

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