Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rewriting the history of car-free Saturdays

Maybe I'm the only one who actually reads MTA's bike documents, but I can't let the city get away with the blatant falsehood in the introduction of the San Francisco State of Cycling Report for 2008: "San Francisco voters asked for and received car-free Saturdays in Golden Gate Park." 

In fact city voters rejected---twice on the same ballot in November, 2000---the idea of car-free Saturdays in Golden Gate Park. But we ended up with car-free Saturdays anyhow, because the mayor's office and the Bicycle Coalition made a deal that ignored the will of the voters

Odd that no one involved in drafting this document caught that obvious falsehood before the report went to press, even though there are 27 names listed on the page before the introduction, including the MTA Board of Directors, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Technical Advisory Committee, the SF Bicycle Coalition, and consultants from Alta Planning + Design, and the Henne Group.

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At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of the majority of San Franciscans who voted against the car-free Saturdays when it was on the ballot (both times!), this really burns me up. Somebody should be held accountable for lying about the history of the car-free issue.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Just between you and me, Anon, it's the Bicycle Coalition, who have a strange hold on our political leadership, in particular the Board of Supervisors and the mayor. The Bicycle Coalition wanted the Saturday closure, and they got it. Why not put the issue on the ballot again, which they threatened to do before the great "compromise"? Because they knew they would lose. Mayor Newsom should have called their bluff and told them to fuck off. But Newsom has relentlessly courted the bike people over the years, even though they have treated him with contempt. He apparently actually believes all the bike bullshit. That leaves those of us who voted against the Saturday closure of the park without any representation in city government. representation at City Hall.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of the majority of people in the South who voted against giving black people an equal vote when it was on the ballot, this really burns me up.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Somebody should be held accountable for lying about the history of the car-free issue."

What do you propose we do. Send them to time-out?

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

All we can do now is not let them rewrite recent SF history. We also need to understand how shallow public support really is for the bike people, whose history in local elections has been spotty. How the city implements the Bicycle Plan without provoking a political backlash from the electorate will be very interesting.

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, you keep trying to rewrite history yourself. As has been pointed out to you time and time again, San Francisco voters did not get to directly vote on the issue of car-free Saturdays. There were 2 competing propositions, one of which narrowly lost. If there hadn't been the competing measure sucking away votes, we may well have had car-free Saturdays much earlier.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

If you had used the link I provided with this post, you would have learned this: In the November, 2000 election, the numbers for Proposition F: 162,895 voted "no" and 133,808 voted "yes." The numbers for Proposition G: 177,667 voted "no" and 109,486 voted "yes." That figures out to be 55% to 45% and 62% to 38%, respectively. Both of these measures were to ratify car-free Saturdays, one earlier and the other later. Neither measure came close to passing. Nor did either measure "suck" votes from the other, since people were able to vote for both measures.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and nickel beer drive-through night passed with a clear majority.

Bring back nickel beer drive-through night.

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll put it another way. Voters never got to vote on the GGP Saturday closing. They got to vote on

1) Close for Saturdays now
2) Close for Saturdays later

If there had been only 1 clear choice to vote on:

1) Close for Saturdays

we may well have had car-free Saturdays much earlier. But it wasn't clear -- as Michael Yaki intended when he did the last minute introduction of the 2nd prop.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

To put it the way it actually was: city voters rejected both measures decisively. They rejected an early closing and a later closing. What could be clearer than that? This, by the way, is why the Bicycle Coalition agreed to Mayor Newsom's compromise; they knew that they would probably lose if the issue went on the ballot again, just like they lost on the garage under the Concourse two years earlier.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

The overwhelming turnouts for Sunday Streets - in the middle of high density residential areas like the Mission, during Church services no less, is one more sign of a sea change. It is 2009, we are 2 bubbles removed from 2000.

If you are so sure that the car-free Saturdays would be rejected by the voters - YOU do the legwork and get it on the ballot. I'm not going to do your dirty work for you.

I was out there in the park this week. Unfortunately, we had to drive to the park. All of this talk of chaos and no parking and blah blah blah - I didn't see it at all. The world didn't end, and people are enjoying the park.

You are wrong.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Who's talking about "chaos and no parking" and in what context? Wrong about what? Except for some special days and sometimes on weekends, there's now plenty of parking in and around the Concourse now that we have the 800-space garage.

Car-free Saturdays was already rejected by city voters twice on the same ballot in 2000.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

if there is no chaos and no problem with parking, why the big uproar over Saturday Streets? An allergy to people having fun instead of being grumpy old men?

2000 is ancient history like yourself.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

As usual your comment lacks focus and a factual basis. The "uproar"---a minor one at that---over the first Sunday Streets was about how sneakily the mayor's office and the bike people went about it, which annoyed a lot of Fisherman's Wharf merchants. 2000 is ancient history? This post is about how city voters rejected closing JFK in the park on Saturdays like it was on Sundays. But the mayor and the bike people did a "compromise" that ignored the expressed will of city voters. A lot of people remember that, which is just one reason why I think popular support for the SFBC and the bike people in general is very thin. Critical Mass is another and the obnoxious behavior on city streets by a substantial minority of cyclists is yet another. That's why the SFBC agreed to the Saturday closing compromise, which pushed the closing on that day much deeper into the park than the Sunday closing. You may consider 2000 ancient history, but Leah Shahum remembers that year very well, as she does 1998, when voters passed the garage-under-the-Concourse measure opposed by the bike people.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Reading comprehension problem, partially caused by me using the misnomer "Saturday Streets"

I am talking about JFK. Part of it is now closed on Saturday, and by your own admission it causes no problems. So what the hell is the problem?

It's a very popular program and there is no way the voters would reject it. With the wild popularity of the "Sunday Streets" (the actual non-park closing) the people of San Francisco have realized the value of car free spaces. The Fisherman's Wharf merchants were annoyed because they believed that it would impact their business. Then they saw that they were biting off their noses to spite their faces, and BEGGED to have the closure include the Wharf itself.

Sunday Streets was to not include 24th St in the Mission because of an expected merchant backlash. There was in fact a backlash - the merchants were upset that the City was NOT planning to close 24th!

Vive le syndicate!

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I am talking about JFK. Part of it is now closed on Saturday, and by your own admission it causes no problems. So what the hell is the problem?"

The problem was that voters rejected the idea twice on the same ballot in 2000. Maybe they wouldn't reject it again, but they won't have the chance, will they? This is how the SF Bicycle Coalition operates, pushing their agenda regardless of what everyone else wants.

If people like Sunday Streets, there is no problem. But again it's something the people of the city have never had a chance to vote on.

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, I hate the bike coalition as much as I hate people who love cars. Put another way, I love watching the neighborhood kids have car-free spaces to play street hockey, ride their rollerblades, and YES, learn to ride a bike, which to you is sin-of-all-sins!

I love when streets are closed so kids can play.

And we should listen to Fisherman's Wharf merchants? For what? Ideas about how to spruce up our own neighborhoods?

That's precious, 9th and Irving as the "high street" of a medieval Scottish town!

Or Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum to replace Green Apple at 6th and Clement!

Heck, just let Fisherman's Wharf spread to the whole city and change the name of San Francisco to "Fisherman's Wharf City."

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh yes, it's all for the kids. Gag me with a bike lock. Look, Murph---your sappy prose is identifiable even in anonymity---the Sunday Streets thing is a done deal. People seem to like it, and it apparently is now embraced by merchants, including those at Fisherman's Wharf. You're pushing on an open door.

The original post is about how the city and the bike people unsuccessfully tried to rewrite the history of closing Golden Gate Park to cars. Nice try.


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