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Press Release: Golden Gate Park Supporters Win Approval of Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods

Contacts: Craig Dawson, Inner Sunset Merchant's Assoc.; Joan Downey, Cole Valley Neighborhood Improvement Assoc. 

SAN FRANCISCO.  Merchants, environmental groups, and representatives from a broad range of neighborhood associations working to stop the proposed widening of Martin Luther King Drive (MLK) in Golden Gate Park won a decisive victory in their efforts to preserve Golden Gate Park on Tuesday.

The proposed MLK widening was the central issue at Tuesday's Coalition for SF Neighborhoods meeting, where members considered two competing proposals. At the end, park advocates prevailed, stated Evelyn Wilson, the Sunset Parkside Education and Action Committee (SPEAK) representative.

CFSN president Barbara Meskunas said the membership voted 13-8 to oppose the southern entrance as currently planned, i.e. including the widening of MLK Drive. CSFN did not vote to oppose a southern entrance to the garage.

"This vote illustrates a broad base of support across the city for opposing plans to turn MLK Drive into a four-lane freeway into Golden Gate Park," stated Craig Dawson, of the Inner Sunset Merchants Association.

The second proposal was submitted by Concourse Authority staffer Mike Ellzey. "Mr. Ellzey's claim that only a handful of people oppose these plans does not hold up when you consider the breadth and scope of the groups represented in the coalition to stop the widening of MLK Drive," said Becky Evans, San Francisco Group chair for the Sierra Club, whose organization alone boasts over 10,000 members in San Francisco.

Other prominent opponents of the widening plan include the Inner Sunset Merchant's Association, SF Council of District Merchants Associations, Cole Valley Improvement Association, the Sunset District Neighborhood Coalition, the Sierra Club, SF League of Conservation Voters, SF Tomorrow, Sunset-Parkside Education and Action Committee (SPEAK), Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, SF Bicycle Coalition, Rescue Muni, Walk SF, Pedestrian Safety Advisory committee, the SF Green Party, and the CA Outdoor Rollerskating Association.

This latest development is the second major set back for the MCCP, the non-profit organization overseeing the garage development. Earlier this year, the Sunshine Task Force ruled that the Concourse Authority had violated San Francisco's Sunshine Ordinance (Section 67.6f) at their November 16 meeting. This decision is now before the Ethics Commission for review.

Pat Christensen of the San Francisco Council of District Merchant Associations said, "The Sunshine Task force ruling reinforces our claim that the MCCP are not acting in good faith and are not adequately serving the public in their rush to get this controversial plan approved."