Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Compromising" away the will of city voters

According to a story in the SF Examiner, there's an effort underway to arrive at some kind of compromise on the Healthy Saturdays issue. But how do you "compromise" when the city's voters have already spoken clearly on the issue, rejecting the idea soundly twice on the same ballot in 2000? What we're going to get is some kind of split-the-difference deal brokered by the mayor with some insiders that ignores the expressed will of city voters, who have already clearly said that they don't want Golden Gate Park closed to motor vehicles on Saturdays. The park is either going to be closed on Saturdays or it isn't. How do you compromise that?

The Examiner reporter gives a flawed account of what happened in 2000:

In 2000, the battle over closing the park roads went to the ballot box with two competing measures: one supported by 18,000 signatures asking for an immediate trial closure and another asking that the roads remain open on at least one weekend day until a new 800-car underground garage could be built. With votes for the closure split between the measures, both lost.

There was no "split" between competing propositions because of a vote-for-only-one requirement. Voters were allowed to vote on both Proposition F and Proposition G. Both propositions meant closing the park to autos on Saturdays, and both propositions lost by wide margins, though the "progressive" Prop. F didn't lose by as much as Prop. G (F lost by 36,087 and G lost by 68,181).

Voters evidently didn't care about either the trial closure or the garage issues: They simply rejected both propositions. Closing Golden Gate Park to autos---and thus restricting access---affects the interests of everyone in the city. It's not right for the mayor to in effect dismiss the clearly expressed will of city voters by making a deal with a handful of insiders. The Healthy Saturdays issue should be put on the ballot, so that the voters can express that will again.

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