Vote Yes on I (Include Everyone) and No on J (Just Elites)

Yes-On-I-No-on-J-Art-by-William-Palmer-1, Vote Yes on I (Include Everyone) and No on J (Just Elites), Local News & Views
Yes, let’s include everyone, and no, not just the elites in Golden Gate Park. – Art: William Palmer

by Tomasita Medál and Nicky Tresviña

Proposition I and Proposition J on this November’s ballot will impact Bay View families for generations. Proposition I would reopen JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park to cars, thus enabling families from the Bayview to once again be able to drive right up to places in the park where their families want to be, park, then get out of their cars and be at their destination. 

It would reopen 1,000 free parking spots to families from the outer neighborhoods, enabling families with elders and small children to bring the entire family together to enjoy the Conservatory of Flowers (with free admission to San Francisco families), the Dahlia Garden, the Rhododendron Dell, the Rose Garden, the deYoung Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. It would also reopen the Upper Great Highway to cars seven days a week, thus eliminating 20,000 cars from using the nearby neighborhoods daily.

Proposition J would permanently close JFK Drive to cars 24 hours a day, seven days per week. This would forever make it impossible for families from distant neighborhoods to visit the amenities along JFK Drive. The deYoung Museum has on permanent display a significant collection of art made by the Indigenous people of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific Ocean. Admission is free to residents of all nine Bay Area counties every Saturday of the year. A visit to these collections can be life-changing for a family of color, seeing the fabulous art that their ancestors created. 

Since Mayor Breed ordered JFK Drive closed to cars 24/7 in March of 2000, thousands of families have been denied the pleasures of the gardens as well as, during the winter, the nightly light show at the Conservatory of Flowers and the Enchanted Forest neon lights installation. Proposition J expects elders and people with disabilities to park outside the park, walk to a shuttle stop, wait for a shuttle, then board the three steps up into the shuttle bus, ride a non-ADA compliant shuttle bus to another shuttle stop, then disboard and walk to their destination, then repeat that painful and time consuming process to return. This is simply physically impossible for an elder or for a person with disabilities. The shuttle bus program does not provide equal access.

During winter, expecting a family from the Bayview to wait at a bus stop in the cold, take a bus ride all across the entire city, get off in front of the Academy of Sciences, walk the few blocks to the Conservatory of Flowers to see the light show and the Enchanted Forest neon light installation next door, then walk back in the dark to the bus stop in front of the deYoung Museum, wait in the cold for a bus, then ride that bus all across the city back to the Bayview is simply unrealistic. The Bayview community and all other communities far from the park are now excluded from enjoying the night attractions during winter in Golden Gate Park. This is not equity.

The cruel and callous exclusion of the elderly, the disabled and multi-generational families from the distant neighborhoods should be seen within the context of the gentrification of San Francisco. The road closures are integral parts of the agenda of the director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the director of the Recreation and Parks Department, both of whom have declared an intention to exclude cars from as much of San Francisco as possible. 

Excluding cars brings about the exclusion of families of color because we cherish our elders and bring elders, parents and children all together when we go places. Bus lines and bus stops throughout the city have been eliminated, causing great hardship to the elderly and those with mobility challenges. Red zones have been created along commercial corridors without merchants’ consent, forcing hundreds of small businesses to close. 

The proof that the closure of JFK Drive 24 hours a day every day of the week is not about providing recreational opportunities for families and is all about eliminating families of color and the elderly and the mobility challenged from Golden Gate Park is that this road closure does not need to be 24 hours per day seven days per week. People don’t teach kids to ride bikes at night. 

During daylight hours during the week, JFK Drive is empty except for the occasional bicyclist. This is the time that people used to bring their elders to visit the Conservatory of Flowers and the surrounding gardens. People would drive right up to the little circle by the Dahlia Garden, get out, and be right there to view the flowers as well as enjoy the grass. 

It was very peaceful all along JFK Drive during weekdays. Families would just drive up all along the Drive, days and evenings, get out of their cars, and be at their destinations. On Saturdays, working class families would come on their one day of the weekend when they had full access.

Conservatory-of-Flowers-in-Golden-Gate-Park-031121-by-Charlie-Melody-Wambeke, Vote Yes on I (Include Everyone) and No on J (Just Elites), Local News & Views
Everyone loves the Conservatory of Flowers, bursting with beautiful blossoms from all over the tropical world. – Photo: Charlie and Melody Wembeke

The previous road closure since 1967 was only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. A proposed Saturday closure from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m was defeated by San Francisco voters in 2000. A partial daytime Saturday closure April through September was added as part of a negotiated compromise agreement in 2007, which has been in successful effect since then. Night time closure was never considered. 

For Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors to close the road during the week, evenings and Saturdays day and night shows that this is about giving the JFK Drive amenities over to the exclusive use for their preferred demographic, the tech bro community. These are the same privileged people who have now organized to push high rise market rate developments throughout California under the name YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard) and who are pushing Proposition D on this November’s ballot.

The backers of Proposition J include several billionaire tech company founders, including a co-founder of YIMBY California and the owner of Yelp. We wonder what purpose is served by excluding communities of color from JFK Drive and why are people being so dismissive of the needs of the three vulnerable groups. We call upon all San Franciscans to feel empathy, compassion and respect and uphold inclusion rather than exclusion on our city streets.

Those who support Yes on I include:

Access Advisory Support Group of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Central City Democrats

Chinese American Democratic Club

Church Women United, SF

Coalition for San Francisco neighborhoods (CSFN) 

Concerned Residents of the Sunset (CRS)

District 11 Democratic Club

East Mission Improvement Association (EMIA)

Excelsior Action Group (EAG); Older Women’s League (OWL) PAC

OMI Cultural Participation Project

OMI Neighbors in Action

Planning Association of the Richmond (PAR)

Rose Pak Democratic Club

San Francisco Building Trades Council

San Francisco Gray Panthers

San Francisco Labor Council

San Francisco Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

San Francisco Latinix Democratic Club

San Francisco Living Wage Coalition

San Francisco Taxpayers Association


Save Our Amazing Richmond (SOAR)

Sunset Heights Association of Responsible People

Take Action SF

The Arc San Francisco

Proposition I returns us to how it was before the pandemic, giving everyone day and night access every day except daytimes every Sunday and holiday, with partial closures during the day Saturdays April through September. Let’s return to SHARED SPACE NOT EXCLUSIVE USE. Reopen JFK Drive and the Upper Great Highway to everyone.


Tomasita Medál and Nicky Tresviña can be reached via