Park road closure fight comes to a head 

The controversial issue of extending Golden Gate Park’s Sunday road closure to Saturdays has re-emerged and battle lines are being redrawn.

Citing the popularity of Sunday’s road closure in The City’s beloved and largest park, advocates for extending the closure to Saturday are hoping the latest proposal will finally become a reality after several failed attempts.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick introduced legislation Tuesday that would enact a six-month trial of a closure of about a 1.5-mile stretch of roadway — mostly along John F. Kennedy Drive — on Saturdays from May 5 until Nov. 3.

Voters rejected a similar idea at the polls in 2000, and McGoldrick introduced similar legislation last year, only to have it vetoed by Mayor Gavin Newsom. With his veto, Newsom said the closure could adversely impact the area and saw no reason to overturn the will of the voters.

McGoldrick said he is moving forward again with the idea because of a new study, released earlier this month, showing what he called the benefits of Sunday’s closure. The study’s findings, however, have not convinced past opponents.

"Our position remains unchanged," Newsom’s spokeswoman Jennifer Petrucione said on Tuesday. As for the study, she said, "We’re using the data as a starting point to find alternative solutions."

The study found park usage of skaters, bikers and walkers doubles on Sunday — when JFK Drive is closed — compared with Saturday. It also noted that the park’s underground parking structure is 42 percent full on Saturdays and 62 percent full on Sundays, and those asked said they are more likely to visit the park’s institutions on Sunday. McGoldrick’s effort has found the backing of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and other environmental and pedestrian groups.

Opponents of the Saturday closures say the report does little to change their minds. They still worry Saturday closures would result in adverse traffic impacts on nearby neighborhoods, limit park access to those with disabilities and diminish the attendance at the museums.

IN OTHER ACTION

HEALTH PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS DELAY PROPOSED: Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced legislation that would postpone from July 1 until January 2008 employers’ minimum spending requirements per employee. The spending requirements are part of The City’s new Health Access Program. The program is still expected to launch July 1, but serve only The City’s "most vulnerable, uninsured local residents." HAP won’t be rolled out to serve employees until January 2008.

BOARD SLAMS ASIANWEEK: Supervisors jointly submitted a resolution condemning AsianWeek for a Feb. 23 column titled "Why I Hate Blacks." The resolution urges all city departments to withdraw any money spent on advertising in the publication due to the "inappropriate and damaging column explicitly encouraging racial discrimination."

JEW CHASTISES McGOLDRICK FOR BYPASSING COMMITTEE: Supervisor Ed Jew criticized Supervisor Jake McGoldrick for sidestepping a board committee by bringing a resolution before the full board with four signatures of his colleagues. The resolution would urge Muni to offer discounted Fast Passes for riders ages 18 to 24. Jew wanted the item referred back to committee. In a 7-4 vote, the resolution was continued for one week for a vote before the full board.

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