Statement on the Closure of John F Kennedy Drive East

de Young Museum - "California Spring" by Albert Bierstadt

de Young Museum, "California Spring," Albert Bierstadt

The temporary closure of JFK Drive East for the duration of the shelter-in-place period has provided an important respite and recreation opportunity, especially for those who have the privilege to live near Golden Gate Park. Over the spring and summer, we were all reminded of the importance of outdoor areas and we remain thankful to operate in a city that is blessed with so many green spaces. 

The closure of JFK Drive East is set to expire 120 days after the shelter-in-place order is lifted in San Francisco -- a date that is still unknown at this time. The Slow Streets Program, that aims to provide greater outdoor access to SF residents, is an important response to the current moment. That said, should the closure of JFK Drive East be prolonged post shelter-in-place, it would deny vulnerable populations access to the de Young museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and the entire northeast section of Golden Gate Park. The closure allows for access to certain groups while not considering the needs of others. 

As the City’s art institution, we serve constituents from all walks of life, including families with young children, those with disabilities, visitors from outside of San Francisco, our labor force, and those who cannot afford to pay the $29 day rate at the Music Concourse Garage, operated by Music Concourse Authority. Transportation options to Golden Gate Park are limited, even more so at this time when many Muni routes have been discontinued and many people still are advised to refrain from using Muni due to health concerns. The closure of JFK East removed street parking spaces including 20 dedicated exclusively to the disabled without a plan to relocate. 

We are working with SFMTA and SF Recreation and Parks to develop a long-term solution for safe and efficient access to the Park. We believe that all visitors have a right to access Golden Gate Park regardless of whether they arrive on foot, by bike, or by car. The solution needs to take into account all members of our population, especially those who are unable to walk or bike here, who have been historically shut out of the planning process.

The Slow Streets closure of JFK East was designed in a vacuum without the consultation of the Park institutions and key community stakeholders. As we look to the future of our City’s greatest Park, we ask for an open planning process that is informed by objective data and that includes all stakeholders, to determine how people access the Park and its institutions, and how transportation to the park affects neighboring residents and businesses.