Reauthorizes the city’s Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, which closed select park roads to car traffic for recreational purposes and made public space improvements to the park.
What the Measure Would Do
The measure would reauthorize the Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, effectively negating the conflicting measure, Proposition I, on the same ballot.
In Golden Gate Park, Proposition J would make permanent the conversion of former roads into open and recreational space that was created along and around John F. Kennedy (JFK) Drive and other park streets. The implementation of the program is a collaboration between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (Rec Park) to bring safety, mobility and access improvements to the park. The program elements were informed by months of community engagement and feedback from more than 10,000 community members.
Park improvements under the program include the following:
- An improved free park shuttle program, with updated schedules and service
- Expanding and upgrading available American Disabilities Act-compliant parking
- Ensuring vehicle access from the Richmond neighborhood to Golden Gate Park and reducing traffic congestion on Chain of Lakes Drive
- Improving the service and reliability of Muni lines that serve Golden Gate Park
- Increasing awareness of pick-up/drop-off options for vehicle access to the park
- Partnering with community-based organizations on programs that connect residents of equity priority communities to the park
- Bringing bike-share and micro-mobility services to the park
The measure makes permanent the conversion to open and recreational space of the former JFK Drive and other park routes from Lincoln Way to Kezar Drive. These areas will continue to allow access for emergency vehicles, paratransit vehicles, park maintenance vehicles and vehicles permitted to use Golden Gate Park facilities by Rec Park.
Prop. J’s Impact on Golden Gate Park
In Golden Gate Park, the JFK Drive (as it was formerly known) between Kezar Drive and Transverse was made available for recreational use without private cars on Sundays and holidays starting in 1967. In April 2007, the city extended recreational use of JFK Drive to include Saturdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. from April to September each year.
In response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the City of San Francisco established open spaces for recreational use throughout the park in an effort to create safer spaces for people to socially distance while walking and biking in the park. This change became immensely popular. The protected open spaces, which included JFK Drive, created a virtually continuous open space route from one end of the park to the other. Close to 7 million visits have been made to the JFK portion of the open space route since the change, which amounts to 36% more daily park visits than before.
Supporters of the expanded recreational open space in the park organized and advocated to make the pandemic-era response permanent. About 70% of 10,000 respondents to a city survey said they wanted the routes to stay open space. In April 2022, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation in a 7-4 vote to convert JFK Drive to the JFK Promenade open space and included amendments requiring city officials to provide two years of quarterly reports about progress in improving parking options and access for disabled people. Known as the Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, this decision greenlit more than 40 improvements to make the park easier to access for seniors, disabled people and other residents. Moreover, the program qualified under SB 288 — which expanded the list of transit projects that are statutorily exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) — allowing the project to be exempt from CEQA analysis and extensive litigation. This means that the implementation of the program will meet its goals to improve access, mobility and safety for all park users.
Those opposing Prop. J claim that allowing cars to traverse the park on a greater number of routes reduces traffic in surrounding neighborhoods. However, traffic analyses done by SFMTA found no significant impact to travel times contributing to traffic congestion in north-south and east-west trips since the route’s conversion to open space.
A simple majority (50% plus one vote) is needed to pass the measure; however, it is in direct conflict with Prop. I, also on the November ballot. If both measures pass but Prop. J gets more votes, then Prop. J would prevail in its entirety and would nullify Prop. I. However, if both measures pass but Prop. I gets more votes, then the entirety of Prop. J would be null and void. (Read our analysis of Prop. I.)
How Does Proposition J Relate to Propositions I and N?
Prop. I, a measure put on the ballot through signatures, would do three things. First it would eliminate the protected recreational space along JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park by allowing cars on weekends. Second, it would prevent the city from keeping the Great Highway along Ocean Beach open for recreational purposes on weekends and holidays by allowing cars at all times. Third, it would prevent the city from moving forward with its sea-level rise adaptation plans on the Great Highway extension by preventing future road closure. Prop. I is a conflicting measure to Prop. J. In the event that both measures pass but Prop. I receives a greater number of votes, Prop. J would be nullified in its entirety.
Additionally, Mayor London Breed filed a proposed initiative ordinance (Proposition N) that would allow the city to acquire, operate and subsidize public parking in the Golden Gate Park Concourse Underground Parking Facility. The measure would transfer jurisdiction of the facility to Rec Park and effectively dissolve the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority. Voter support for this measure would potentially make the 800 parking spaces below the museums more accessible after the city is given jurisdiction to set rates or subsidize them. The parking garage has existing elevators that carry passengers directly to the museums. Prop. N is not in conflict with either Prop. J or Prop. I. Read our analysis of Prop. N.
Prop. J would continue the existing Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, which was developed with community input and includes steps to improve park access for seniors, people with disabilities and residents of equity priority communities. In early 2021, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority convened a working group of key stakeholders to identify shared values for the park and unmet needs for park visitors, and develop a framework to meet the needs identified in this process. These action items informed the development of the Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program. City staff also engaged residents from the Richmond, Sunset and other nearby neighborhoods to address concerns about traffic congestion. These actions represent a multilayered approach to engage the community in expanding equitable access to the park.
The program is currently working to address concerns raised by advocacy organizations such as Senior and Disability Action and others regarding accessibility for seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. Specifically, the program is pursuing alternatives to improve access to the park for all users, especially under-represented populations from equity priority communities. Many of these are being implemented now, such as efforts to improve shuttle travel times. Other steps, such as reducing price barriers or creating programs to help under-represented populations feel welcome in the park, are being considered.
- The legislation that was passed by the Board of Supervisors to create the JFK Promenade Open Space was developed through a multi-year public process that incorporated significant data analysis and public input, especially from those most impacted by the projects.
- JFK Promenade was the most used open space in the city over the past three years, and this measure would ensure its continuation and accessibility.
- SPUR could not identify any cons to this measure. For what opponents say about Prop. J, see The Backstory.
Converting JFK Promenade to open space was one of the most successful interventions the city made during the pandemic, and the decision to make it permanent was undertaken with considerable community engagement and support. In adopting the Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, the city has taken an important step toward providing solutions for equitable access to the park. By reauthorizing the program and making it permanent, Prop. J would preserve these newly created recreational open spaces and continue the city’s progress in solving for equitable access to Golden Gate Park. These spaces should continue to be protected and made more accessible for everyone.
 San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, https://www.sfmta.com/projects/golden-gate-park-access-and-safety-program (accessed on August 8, 2022).
 J.D. Morris, “Golden Gate Park’s JFK Drive will stay permanently car-free after S.F. supes vote following marathon meeting,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 27, 2022, https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/car-free-JFK-Drive-17126175.php
 Sacramento Area Council of Governments, “SB 288 (Wiener) Expediting Transit Projects with CEQA Exemptions, through 2023,” https://www.sacog.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/03-sb_288_fact_sheet_2021_0.pdf?1632434275 (accessed on August 7, 2022).
 San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program Report, March 6, 2022, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21397174-3-10-2022-ggp-access-a…
 See Note 3.
 Ricardo Cano, “S.F.’s JFK Drive should remain car-free permanently, a city report recommends,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 7, 2022, https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/SF-JFK-Drive-closed-16983604.php