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SF voters to decide on reopening JFK Drive to cars in Golden Gate Park

S.F. voters to consider reopening JFK Drive in GG Park
SF voters to consider reopening JFK Drive in GG Park 02:55

SAN FRANCISCO -- With election day looming in less than a month, on Thursday KPIX 5 takes a closer look at what's at stake when San Francisco voters decide whether to reopen JFK Drive to cars.

JFK Drive mural
JFK Drive mural. CBS

Proposition J will affirm that JFK Drive remain a pedestrian and bicycle promenade with a restriction on where cars are allowed.

Muralist Josue Rojas isn't your typical artist. He likes to paint on a big canvas  

"There is this myth about artists being locked away like Van Gough. The idea of doing things like murals -- street art, graffiti -- it flies in the face of that, because we are out in the community. We are out with the people," said Rojas.  

You've probably seen his work on the sides of buildings in the Mission. This week, his canvas is on the concrete of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, a place he's been coming to since he was a kid.

"I use the space. Me and my friends; me and my wife. We get on our bikes and we just use the promenade -- you know. My mom is 75 years old -- [we] use this space on our bakes on the way to the beach," said Rojas.

Rojas is one of dozens of artists whose work is displayed on the mile long stretch of JFK Drive. The street has been closed to cars since 2020 to give folks a place to safely get outside during the pandemic.

His mural is part of a public art installation spearheaded by Ben Davis of Illuminate, the same arts organization who created the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge.

"The opportunity to help this area evolve into putting people first. And culturally, we are just coming together in very short order," explained Davis.

Davis gets offers to do public art projects all over the world, but he only has eyes for his hometown of San Francisco.

"I think San Francisco is an inherently magical place, but its up to us to keep it that way," said Davis.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to keep JFK closed to cars back in April, but ultimately its up to the voters on Election Day on whether it will stay that way.

Richard Corriea has lived in the nearby Richmond District for most of his life. He even worked as an SFPD captain at the Richmond Station.

"On the weekends you'd never get a parking place here. And the parking lot fills up too," said Corriea, who is opposed to the proposition.

He hopes voters will see past the fancy makeover and see Prop J for what, he says, it really is: unfair to a lot of people in San Francisco. 

"Some of the most iconic and desirable venues in the entire park are located on JFK between Tranverse Drive and Stanyan Street: the Rose Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, the various meadows," said Corriea. "All that area is cut off so that people just cant get to it.

As for Rojas, he's not worried about politics. He's painting a labyrinth; a place to find peace.

"It's kind of an act of love for her and for the city and also truly for ourselves. A place to give ourselves a moment of breathing," said Rojas.

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