An undemocratic lark in the park 

Ah, the weekend, and what better way to spend it than to while away the hours in Golden Gate Park? Push strollers, pedal bicycles, picnic, perhaps pick up a still-floating vibe from a free hippie concert performed 40 years ago. It’s all part of the special quality of life that San Francisco offers. On Sundays, thanks to the beflowered city government, you can even enjoy the park sans automobiles.

You may do all this, that is, on Sundays, when the beloved park becomes a magnet for people across The City. The car-free dispensation already seems an honored tradition, and a recent survey, produced during a Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, suggested that the Sunday road closures brought multiple benefits. More people used the parking structure, you see, and the park’s institutions took in more visitors.

So enthusiastic was the supervisor about these idyllic days in the park that he introduced legislation to extend the road closure to Saturdays, for a six-month trial. Never enough of a good thing, what?

The problem with the extension, as with all faintly utopian measures, has to do with social ecology, the first rule of which is that you cannot change just one thing. Other things happen as a consequence, some of them quite unintended. As it happens, Golden Gate Park has neighbors, who have noticed more traffic on their own streets when John F. Kennedy Drive is blocked. Some of the neighbors are disabled. To them, car-free days mean one thing: "Stay home."

No, your memory hasn’t failed you. In 2000 voters did reject the Saturday extension, but a persistent McGoldrick pushed it through the board last year, only to have Mayor Gavin Newsom veto it. But the vision of a car-free future is fixed in the progressives’ ideological firmament. McGoldrick et al. know what’s good for you. Voters, schmoters.

This is no way to run a transit system.

The City’s newest supervisor, Ed Jew, stirred up things at the last board meeting, and, if it hasn’t happened already, it won’t be long before some self-designated Mr. Inner Working will take him aside to explainhow it’s not done. Jew felt circumvented (he was) when Supervisor Jake McGoldrick invoked a procedure whereby the signatures of four supervisors could pluck a measure from committee and bring it before the full Board of Supervisors.

McGoldrick’s notion was to grant Fast Pass Muni discounts to young people. Yes, Muni — whose financial hemorrhaging the supervisors haven’t stanched. McGoldrick’s touching gesture apparently depends on taking tax dollars from less affluent communities across America to subsidize the comings and goings of The City’s comparatively affluent youth. Jew protested on moral and economic grounds — Mr. Real World explaining how it is done, and deserving our applause.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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