MLK Drive Widening Protest

By Savannah Blackwell

SFProgressive.com Editor

The effort to get city officials to stop their plan to widen a portion of Martin Luther King Drive inside Golden Gate Park was stepped up today when a group of 35 to 40 activists gathered on the steps of City Hall to protest the project.

A new coalition, including various neighborhood and merchants’ groups in the Inner Sunset, Haight and Cole Valley areas as well as city-wide environmental organizations, has formed in the hopes of developing opposition to the project – part of the city’s plan to build an 800-space parking garage under the park’s Music Concourse – among members of the Board of Supervisors.

One supervisor, freshman Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the area, spoke at the protest and said that those gathered were concerned about protecting the park from increased traffic impacts. He also said that officials moved forward with the plan without adequately addressing greater public concern over the matter. 

Though the plan has been approved by the Golden Gate Concourse Authority and the city’s Recreation and Park department, coalition members are hoping that the supervisors will have some leverage over the issue. 

Proposition J, the 1998 voter approved legislation that allowed for construction of the garage, calls for the supervisors to approve “traffic circulation patters” in the area. 

“We’re trying to put out the message that this is about protecting the nature of Golden Gate Park, which will be drastically changed for the worse if they allow a 4-lane road to be pushed through at 9th Avenue,” Green Party member Susan King told the SF Progressive.

The plan, which calls for widening a two-lane section of MLK Drive running from the entrance at 9th Avenue to Academy Drive into four lanes, would worsen gridlock conditions in the commercial area along 9th Avenue, the coalition says. 

Moreover, it would make a dangerous intersection even more so, especially for seniors, the disabled and small children, the activists say. 

Since it calls for one of the lanes to be used by both MUNI and bicyclists, the SF Bicycle Coalition and Rescue MUNI are opposed. 

The organizations involved in the coalition also include the SF Council of District Merchants Associations, the Inner Sunset Merchants Association, the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors, the Cole Valley Improvement Association, the Sunset District Neighborhood Coalition, the Sierra Club, the SF League of Conservation Voters, SF Tomorrow, the Sunset-Parkside Education and Action Committee, the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Walk SF, the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, the SF Green Party and the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association. 

Email SFProgressive editor Savannah Blackwell at savannah.blackwell@gmail.com


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