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Dueling Ballots: The Central Freeway’s Fate

Historical Essay

by Jason Henderson

Second Freeway Revolt (Part 3)

In March 1997 the San Francisco Neighbors Association placed one thou-sand pro-freeway signs on major roads throughout the city. The signs proclaimed, “Open Central Freeway” and displayed a telephone number, which, when called, was answered by a service that asked for the caller’s name and phone number. That spring and summer the association collected this information and organized a petition drive to put the question of rebuilding the freeway on the ballot. Joined by the Sunset Merchants Group, made up of white business owners, the association gathered over twenty-eight thousand signatures and qualified Proposition H to be on the ballot in November. The question was simple: “Shall the City authorize Caltrans to rebuild portions of the Central Freeway, and shall the City end the ban on construction of new above-ground Freeway ramps north of Fell Street?”(48)

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Demolition of Central Freeway at Duboce and Valencia, 2003.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

The Yes on Prop H campaign was run by the Committee to Save the Central Freeway, and paid arguments in favor of the proposition included a range of conservative-leaning political organizations such as merchants’ groups, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, a conservative umbrella neighborhood organization, the Republican Party, building and construction trades unions, the association of realtors, and an array of local politicians with conservative positions vis-à-vis automobility. Freeway proponents used data from the environmental impact assessment of 1996 to argue that rebuilding the freeway was “safest for pedestrians and bicyclists,” would be “least disruptive to public transportation,” and would “end eight years of gridlock.”(49) The logic was the same as that deployed decades earlier, that is, elevated freeways would minimize high-speed automobile interaction with surface streets and thereby improve conditions on them. The Prop H camp also noted that Los Angeles rebuilt its earthquake-damaged freeways in one year and that Oakland had already rebuilt the Cypress Freeway.

ASTAC fell into the lead in organizing against Prop H and created a political action committee called the Committee for Sensible Transportation Solutions, No on H. ASTAC built an extensive phone list too, and the organization used a phone tree to lobby against Prop H. A core group of ASTAC members did much of the groundwork and fundraising, soliciting citywide progressives and some neoliberals, including SPUR and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner recommended a no vote on H, calling the ballot box approach a folly, premature, sloppy, and expensive.(50) Mayor Brown wrote an op-ed with Supervisor Bierman arguing against it.51 The city’s Democratic Party opposed Prop H and put out a “No on H” mailer calling it a quick fix that was costly and unsafe and would lead to gridlock because it would take longer to build and thus prolong traffic conditions. The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, which counted key female politicians among its ranks, mailed a pamphlet calling the Prop H proposal expensive, disruptive, and unsafe. The Committee for Sensible Transportation Solutions mailed a flier with excerpts from Chronicle and Examiner editorials opposing Prop H, highlighted that the Chamber of Commerce was opposed to Prop H, and called it a quick fix. The progressive–neoliberal rapprochement was epitomized in a campaign sign that read, “Chamber of Commerce and Sierra Club Agree: No on H, Costly, Unsafe, Gridlock.” On the eve of the election it looked like Prop H would be defeated by a loose progressive and neoliberal political consensus.

On November 4, 1997, Prop H passed with 53 percent of voters in favor of rebuilding the Central Freeway. The passage of the proposition shocked not only the anti-freeway advocates and Hayes Valley residents but also the political establishment of the city. But in context it should not have been that surprising. It was an unexciting election year, with little enthusiasm in the political press. Progressives, beyond the sustainable transportation advocates and Hayes Valley organizers, were generally disorganized, and many were not attentive to the implications of Prop H. There was no major attraction on the ballot such as a high-profile mayor’s race or national candidacy to draw more progressive voters.

An illustration of the political geography of all four of the freeway ballots, including Prop H in 1997 and the ballots of 1998 and 1999 (see below), is revealing (map 2 below). Citywide, voter turnout in 1997 was very low, at 28 percent; in most of the more progressive inner precincts voter turnout ranged from around 20 to 25 percent, while on the west side it ranged above 25 percent to as high as 35 percent in the Sunset and almost 40 percent in the precincts of West of Twin Peaks.(52) These are the most conservative, pro-automobile precincts in the city. Prop H was defeated in the Western Addition, Cole Valley, the Haight-Ashbury, Lower Haight, Downtown, and the Mission, but the turnout was too low in the Victorian Belt to counter the conservative pro-freeway vote on the west side. All of the progressive precincts proximate to the freeway voted no, and immediately adjacent to the freeway the opposition ranged from 60 to 70 percent. These numbers were obviously too small compared to the voter turnout on the west side.

Prop H was about more than rebuilding the Central Freeway. It was the springboard for organizing the new, politically conservative Chinese American and other Asian constituencies that were asserting themselves in San Francisco.(53) By 1998, some 35 percent of the city was Asian, and 18 percent of San Francisco voters were Asian, the majority of that subgroup being Chinese. The most prominent Chinese American political figures, such as Leland Yee on the Board of Supervisors, championed Prop H. Chinese American political activists used this campaign as a launching pad for possible campaigns for the Board of Supervisors and sought citywide name recognition. They would continue to organize around the freeway question in two subsequent rounds of ballot-box planning because progressives were not ready to concede their goal of removing the freeway.

In early 1998 it looked as if progressive efforts to check the automobile were getting nowhere in San Francisco. Caltrans and freeway proponents moved quickly to get the rebuilding started. The state senator representing the west side quickly acquiesced to the Prop H victors and sought state funds to underwrite the rebuilding.(54) In another defeat for progressives, voters approved the building of a publicly funded parking garage in the middle of Golden Gate Park for the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. Just as in the previous Prop H vote, the precincts in the progressive Victorian belt opposed the garage and the outer neighborhoods supported it. The Victorian Belt neighborhoods were joined by citywide progressive organizations such as the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and San Francisco Tomorrow. Progressive neighborhood groups like the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council and ASTAC also opposed the garage. But the garage had the widespread support of various groups, including the neoliberal establishment, and it revealed the weakness of the freeway removal coalition. SPUR, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, labor unions, and even Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi supported the garage, along with the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce. Many of these groups and politicians had either stayed silent on or opposed Prop H, but a neoliberal–progressive alliance on mobility was not solid.

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Demolition of Central Freeway at Market and Octavia, April 21, 2003.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

Activists in Hayes Valley were devastated when Prop H passed. A core group met early in 1998 and sought a strategy to confront the rebuilding of the freeway. They considered a second ballot but found it difficult to recruit support so soon after the defeat. Many supporters of removing the freeway felt that the battle was lost. But in view of the low voter turnout and a close election (47 percent voted to oppose the rebuilding) the core group in Hayes Valley felt there was a chance that a second ballot could bring better results. Supervisor Bierman, the veteran of the freeway revolts in the 1960s, encouraged activists not to lose hope and stimulated enthusiasm for a second ballot sponsored by progressives. This ballot would spell out and illustrate the idea of the surface boulevard first introduced by the SFPD and Mayor Brown in early 1997.

The activists received assistance from sympathetic insiders at the SFPD who helped craft the language of a second ballot that promoted the boulevard concept. A core group pushed forward by paying for early campaign materials out of their own pockets, used their phone tree from 1997, and called on allies to circulate petitions. They targeted movie theater lines and other spaces where crowds gathered. Momentum grew in the spring of 1998, and more progressives rejoined the effort.

The reinvigorated anti-freeway campaign formed into San Franciscans for a Better Freeway, and enough signatures were gathered to put the boulevard option on the ballot. Designated as Proposition E, it asked, “Shall the city repeal 1997’s Proposition H and authorize Caltrans to replace the Central Freeway with an elevated structure to Market Street and a ground-level boulevard from Market along Octavia Street?”55 The group redoubled their efforts from the previous year and established committees such as volunteer organizing, outreach and education, media and publicity, and fundraising. Using a strategy of phone banking, they believed that spending money on slick mailers was counterproductive because voters were sick of getting bombarded with that kind of propaganda. The group held house parties instead.

San Franciscans for a Better Freeway tightened their message with three to four simple points and designated a spokesperson to speak with media. Significantly, they focused on progressive precincts where voter turnout in November 1997 had been miserably low. The idea was to make sure that the progressive base voted en masse rather than making an effort to ap-peal to the entire citywide spectrum of voter ideologies. The group made a visible presence at local events in the Victorian Belt like the Castro Street Fair, Folsom Street Fair, the Latino Summer Fiesta in Mission, and the Jewish Festival. Learning from Prop H, the Prop E campaign was more media savvy and focused on the design of the boulevard, comparing it to Sunset Boulevard and Park Presidio Boulevard on the west side of the city. Comparing the proposed boulevard to the existing west-side boulevards was a tactic meant to suggest that all Hayes Valley was asking for was something the west side already had.

The result was that the anti-freeway campaign had a much broader coalition than in the previous year. It included all citywide environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the San Francisco Democratic Party, progressives on the Board of Supervisors and in the State Assembly, the city’s gay rights organizations, including the Harvey Milk Club and the Alice B. Toklas Club, architecture and historic preservation organizations, housing advocates such as the San Francisco Tenants’ Union, and, to counter the rising conservative Chinese American vote, the Chinese Progressive Association was recruited into the fold. Rounding out support for Prop E were most of the Victorian Belt neighborhood organizations, including North Beach, Telegraph Hill, and Russian Hill. As noted in the introduction, Lawrence Ferlinghetti also chimed in in favor of Prop E with his sermon on the poetry of the city.

Conversely, the west-side pro-freeway activists were less organized and less politically active leading up to the Prop E campaign, perhaps believing that the people had spoken and no one would take Prop E seriously after the vote in 1997. Prop H had been the first real flexing of conservative Chinese voter clout and was a symbolic victory to show that they could get something done, but further consolidation of this bloc had fallen short.

The west-side conservatives restarted the Save the Central Freeway organization, but they were less aggressive than before. The San Francisco Labor Council, the city’s small Republican Party, and the Richmond Review newspaper all opposed Prop E, consistent with the city’s political alignment of conservative homeowners and construction trade unions.

Caltrans and the DPT, rather than west-side activists, led the thrust of the publicity campaign against Prop E, circulating reports and pamphlets that disputed the merits of a surface boulevard. Caltrans released a “Central Freeway Fact Sheet” in October 1998 to influence absentee voters, who tended to vote early and more conservatively and who lived on the west side. Caltrans argued that the costs of the boulevard were underestimated by its proponents and that the boulevard was poorly engineered and designed.(56) The rebuilding of the freeway was actually cheaper, claimed Caltrans, and the boulevard concept would take two years longer to build than their alternative. Using data from the environmental impact assessment of 1996, Caltrans argued that the surface boulevard would create more air pollution than the freeway-rebuilding alternative. Last, Caltrans asserted that if Prop E passed, a new environmental assessment would be required, adding further delay and cost. The DPT contended that the boulevard proposal would lead to more traffic and more pollution, impede Muni, make driving riskier and walking and cycling more dangerous. The chief of DPT openly opposed Prop E during the run-up to the election in November 1998.(57)

Disputing the local highway lobby, the Board of Supervisors transportation agency, the SFCTA, again presented its version of the facts, lending strength and legitimacy to the Prop E side and questioning the credibility of Caltrans. The SFCTA pointed out that Caltrans was misrepresenting the actual boulevard proposal by estimating the costs for a road that was 25 percent wider than the one Prop E was actually proposing. In reality, Caltrans was estimating the cost of Prop E based on a very wide street with traffic islands. Moreover, SFCTA reiterated that the Caltrans alternative failed to acknowledge that the widening of the elevated freeway would take the land parcels out of play, thus decreasing available revenue for the project. The SFCTA disputed the claim that a new environmental assessment would be required for the boulevard alternative, reminding voters that the assessment in 1996 had included a boulevard alternative in its analysis.

Prop E won at the ballot box on November 3 by ten thousand votes, receiving 54 percent of citywide votes in a much higher voter turnout (55 percent) than the previous year. The geography of the vote was almost identical to the vote on Prop H. Consistent with San Francisco’s progressive voting patterns, core Prop E votes were cast in the Victorian Belt neighborhoods and northeastern San Francisco. Bayview-Hunters Point, an African American neighborhood, also supported Prop E.(58) Large mar-gins favoring Prop E were in the Western Addition (71 percent), the Mission (69 percent), the Lower Haight (76 percent), and the Upper Market area (70 percent). The core anti–Prop E areas were the Sunset (63 percent against) and Lake Merced, West of Twin Peaks, Visitacion Valley, Ingle-side, Excelsior, Chinatown, Richmond, Sea Cliff, Marina, Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, and Laurel Heights. Prop E, like Prop H, only in a more pronounced way, reflected the geography of a progressive Victorian Belt surrounded by a conservative C-shaped arc (see map 2).

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In December 1998 the Board of Supervisors, not wanting to lose its momentum, requested that Caltrans demolish the remaining Central Free-way and follow through on the commitment to local control by allowing the city to build the surface boulevard spelled out in Prop E. The board established a Central Freeway Project Office in the Department of Public Works (DPW) to develop and oversee the boulevard. DPW would be the lead agency for engineering and building the boulevard, and the SF-CTA, controlled by the board, not by the mayor, would be the fiscal agent and would develop a traffic management plan. Notably, control over the boulevard was not given to the DPT, whose traffic engineers opposed it. The Central Freeway Citizens’ Advisory Committee was established to al-low citizens’ input into the boulevard project. The committee, appointed by the board, was made up of advocates from Hayes Valley and citywide groups that had supported freeway removal.

At the state level, a newly elected state senator representing the east side of San Francisco successfully passed legislation to formally exempt the boulevard from environmental review should there have been a legal challenge by Caltrans or some other pro-freeway organization.(59) The senator had previously served on the Board of Supervisors and supported freeway removal, and his legislation required that the state hand over the freeway parcels to the city and that the financing of the boulevard come from the sale of the parcels. By early 1999 the city had finally wrested control of the boulevard right of way from Caltrans. But the battle was not over.

As design issues were hammered out and the new citizens’ advisory committee began to meet regularly, the pro-freeway faction reconnoitered and circulated petitions for yet another ballot initiative to rebuild the en-tire freeway. Once again the effort was led by the Chinese American San Francisco Neighbors Association. They warned anew that removing the freeway to south of Market “would cause a total traffic nightmare.”(60) And once again they were successful in gathering enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in November. The Neighbors Association put Proposition J on the ballot, which repealed Prop E and required a full rebuilding of the freeway to Fell and Oak Streets. For good measure, the ballot language stated that a two-thirds vote would be needed to repeal Prop J.(61)

The summer saw a flurry of letters to the editor in the local papers and maneuvering by west-side politicians to halt the design and planning process of the boulevard as well as, in July 1999, a vote by the Board of Supervisors to approve the concept plan for the boulevard. Enraged at the momentum building toward freeway removal, local proponents of auto-mobility held a Critical Car Mass starting at City Hall. An angry anti-bike member of the Inner Sunset Merchants Association called upon motorists to rally and clog up Polk Street. Fewer than twenty-five cars showed up, but one of the people who appeared was Supervisor Yee. As in the Prop H campaign, the politics involved more than the freeway: for conservative Chinese Americans it was an opportunity to use the publicity surrounding the freeway issue as a path to higher office.

Now, progressive anti-freeway activists had a third ballot initiative to contend with. Exhausted from signature gathering, the progressive camp convinced four allies on the Board of Supervisors to place a counterinitiative on the ballot instead. That initiative, Proposition I, expanded the political tent for freeway removal even further, and there was now a fourth ballot! Prop I contained explicit provisions setting up the process for put-ting housing on the old freeway parcels in addition to reaffirming the boulevard idea. The Chamber of Commerce, frustrated with the antics of the rebuild camp, with ballot-box planning, and aware of the development potential, supported freeway replacement with a boulevard more aggressively than it had previously. Neoliberals and progressive factions revived their loose ad hoc coalition in spite of their deep differences on other transportation issues. Business-friendly, neoliberal-leaning progressives aligned through the San Francisco Environmental Organizing Committee, which formed around defending the boulevard concept and stopping Prop J and included members of SPUR and other development-oriented organizations.

The broader list of supporters of replacing the freeway with a boulevard and housing was impressive. Environmental organizations in support of I and against J included the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Golden Gate Park (which had opposed the garage in the park), the San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, San Francisco Tomorrow, and Urban Ecology. The more moderate San Francisco Beautiful also supported Prop I, as the boulevard came with landscaping and was, to this organization, an issue of broader aesthetics. Neighborhood organizations supporting the final vote on freeway removal and replacement with the boulevard included Alamo Square, Castro Area Planning Association, Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Mint Hill Neighborhood (which merged with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association [HVNA] shortly thereafter), North Beach Neighbors, North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Sunset-Parkside Education and Action Committee, Telegraph Hill Dwellers, and, of course, Hayes Valley. Supporting mer-chants’ organizations included the Haight-Divisadero and Hayes Valley Merchants Associations.

Political clubs that supported removal and replacement included the San Francisco Democratic Party, the Harvey Milk Club, the Richmond and Sunset Democratic Clubs, the Alice B. Toklas Club, and the Western Addition Political Action Coalition. Housing advocates included the Affordable Housing Alliance, the San Francisco Tenants’ Union, the San Francisco Tenants’ Network, and the Council of Community Housing Organizations. Women’s organizations were recruited, including the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Women’s Forum, and the San Francis-co Organization for Women. Preservation groups included the National Trust for Historic Preservation, San Francisco Heritage Foundation, and a small group called Friends of 1800 Market Street, defending a historic building adjacent to the freeway on Market Street. Sustainable transportation groups supporting Prop I included the SFBC, Rescue Muni, and Walk San Francisco. Local politicians who backed Prop I included former mayor Agnos, State Senator John Burton, Assemblywoman Carole Migden, Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Bierman, Amos Brown, Leslie Katz, and Mark Leno, and the newly elected BART board member Tom Radulovich.

In sum, almost every identifiable progressive organization or influential progressive figure in the city was engaged. Moreover, 1999 was an election year that really mattered in broader progressive politics. Supervisor Ammiano, a stalwart gay rights advocate, was recruited by progressives to run as a write-in candidate against the neoliberal Brown and the conservative Jordan, the two front-runners in what had been an uninspiring mayor’s race. Ammiano, representing the Mission District, was a relatively new member of the Board of Supervisors and was well to the left of Brown on housing and development issues.(62) His campaign tapped into the wider progressive movement, which had been in the doldrums but was now responding to the housing and gentrification pressures of the dot-com boom. Ammiano’s candidacy also signaled a fusion with a politically dissatisfied younger generation of voters.

The tone of progressive advocacy for freeway removal included a concern about how to keep San Francisco from morphing into a Silicon Valley bedroom community. There was an active anti-gentrification movement, particularly in the Mission District. As housing prices skyrocketed and evictions of renters increased in the city, it was apparent to many progressives that much of the city’s new wealth was linked to commuting by car to jobs in Silicon Valley. In extreme cases luxury cars parked in the Mission were targeted by vandals as symbols of gentrification. Tenants’ rights and affordable housing advocates helped steer energy to Ammiano’s brief campaign, gathering new low-income immigrant voters into the fold in the Tenderloin and South of Market. Ammiano spoke often about his sup-port for removing the freeway, and a vote for Ammiano most likely meant a vote for Prop I.

In November 1999, Prop I won with 54 percent of the vote citywide, and Prop J failed, receiving 47 percent favorable votes. Although Ammiano’s bid for mayor was defeated in a close runoff election a month later, San Francisco’s second freeway revolt was over.

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David Best's Temple (a smaller version of what he built at Burning Man) in Patricia's Green on the former freeway route of Octavia Blvd., 2005.

Photo: Chris Carlsson


Freeway Removed

When progressive transportation and neighborhood activists suggested removing the Central Freeway many local officials laughed at them. They were told by Caltrans, local politicians, and the agencies that managed the city’s streets that removing the freeway was impossible. The politics of possibilities about transportation futures were narrowly defined, and progressives were bumping up against the ideological supremacy of automobility. Yet activists in Hayes Valley would not accept this narrowly defined set of possibilities. They challenged the assumptions of a traffic nightmare and economic decline if the freeway was removed. They organized and built alliances citywide, engaged in a long political struggle, and remained persistent. Even their persistence did not guarantee victory, as they almost lost the struggle.

The advocates who managed the final campaign for freeway removal acknowledge that their victory was partly serendipitous. The great enthusiasm shown for a charismatic gay candidate for mayor who challenged neoliberals over the future of the city drew thousands of progressives to the polls, and the spirit of the progressives was high, despite their candidate’s loss in the runoff for mayor a month later. Ironically, progressives, with neoliberal support, had beaten pro-freeway factions and established a political foundation for future possibilities to contest automobility. In 2000 that organizing momentum led to progressives’ seizing a majority on the Board of Supervisors for the first time in San Francisco’s history. Over the next decade this enabled a more robust discourse about mobility, including very explicit new challenges to automobility.

But whatever enthusiasm one might feel over these developments should be tempered. Although progressives have promoted freeway removal as part of a broader agenda of reducing car dependency, the necessary substitute investment in public transportation, bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian improvements has lagged. The areas in the immediate vicinity of the new terminus of the freeway continue to have major traffic problems and associated safety and quality of life concerns. Parts of the neighborhood remain saturated with cars during peak periods. The arterial one-way Fell and Oak couplet and the Franklin and Gough one-way couplet still carry more than 150,000 cars through the neighborhood every day. Residents of the area, despite having lower rates of car ownership compared to other parts of San Francisco, are shouldering the burden of other people’s automobility while, paradoxically, the cost of housing re-mains prohibitively expensive.

Further, the removal of freeways may be consistent with the progressive mobility vision, but it is complicated by the desires of neoliberals to profit from attractive new development opportunities and the broader gentrification and displacement that are occurring. After the freeway was removed, SFPD produced a land use plan called the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan (MOBNP) for the area around the freeway.(63)

The plan emulates many of the livability principles of dense, compact, mixed-use infill development that is walkable, bicycle friendly, transit oriented, and partly zoned to limit the amount of parking. Yet the plan, coupled with freeway removal, has contributed to an increase in land values in Hayes Valley, turning a once relatively affordable part of the city into an unaffordable one for many.(64)

A tacit and localized progressive–neoliberal détente over land use enables dense new housing development on former freeway parcels, but the neighborhood became inaccessible to many working-class people. This exposes rifts and remains a challenge to progressive organizing. The central location and livability of the neighborhood contribute to its desirability as a place to live, but ironically its proximity to the new rebuilt freeway segment just south of Market Street means there is tremendous pressure to build new housing that accommodates people commuting by car or private corporate commuter bus to Silicon Valley and other suburban job centers. New luxury infill housing is often marketed by realtors for both its walkability and easy access to the freeway, but it is also part of a transformation of many San Francisco neighborhoods into exclusive bedroom communities.(65)

Footnotes

48. San Francisco Department of Elections, “Prop H: Central Freeway,” City and County of San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet and Sample Ballot, Consolidated Municipal Election, November 4, 1997 (San Francisco: Department of Elections), 82–96.
49. Ibid, “Proponents’ Arguments and Paid Arguments in Favor of Proposition H,” 86.
50. San Francisco Chronicle, Editorial, Prop. H: A Freeway Folly,” October 29, 1997.
51. Willie Brown Jr. and Sue Bierman, “Why Central Freeway Ballot Proposal Is a Dead End,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 3, 1997.
52. The San Francisco Department of Elections presents historic voter turnout data at www.sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=1677.
53. Edward Epstein and Ramon G. McLeod, “New S.F. Voter Bloc Shows Clout: Chinese Americans Were Key to Freeway Retrofit Ballot Victory,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 6, 1997; Chuck Finnie, “Central Freeway Win a West Side Story,” San Francisco Examiner November 6, 1997.
54. Edward Epstein, “Central Freeway Work Should Start, Finish Early: Funding for Project Nearly All in Place,” February 20, 1998. The same state senator also submitted paid arguments in favor of Prop H.
55. San Francisco Department of Elections, Proposition E: Central Freeway, City and County of San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet and Sample Ballot, Consolidated Municipal Election, November 3, 1998 (San Francisco: Department of Elections), 87.
56. Caltrans, Central Freeway Fact Sheet (Oakland: Caltrans District 4, Office of Highway Operations), 1.
57. Chuck Finnie, “High Road or Low Road: Prop E Will Determine if Central Freeway Is to be Rebuilt or Replaced,” San Francisco Examiner, October 27, 1998.
58. David Binder, “SF Propositions Results, Presentation to SPUR, Nov 4, 1998.”
59. SFCTA, Strategic Analysis Report: Implications of Relocating the Central Freeway Touchdown Ramps (San Francisco: SFCTA), 1.
60. Rachel Gordon, “One More Vote for Central Freeway?” San Francisco Examiner, June 18, 1999.
61. San Francisco Department of Elections, Proposition J: Central Freeway Replacement, City and County of San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet and Sample Ballot, Consolidated Municipal Election, November 2, 1999 (San Francisco: Department of Elections), 175.
62. Chester Hartman, City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 268.
63. The geography of the MOBNP area expands well beyond this intersection and was delineated by planners because it reflected the potential for transit-oriented infill around Muni Metro stations as well as infill opportunities on former land parcels that were once part of the freeway.
64. Some transportation scholars posit that gentrification and increased land values are indicators of the benefits of freeway removal. For example, see Robert Cervero, “Transport Infrastructure and Global Competitiveness: Balancing Mobility and Livability,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 626.1 (2009): 210–25. Cervero discusses the place-making aspects of the removal of the Embarcadero and the Central Freeway, invoking Richard Florida’s thesis of the creative class and suggesting that the gentrification of Hayes Valley was a good outcome of freeway replacement.
65. In 2012 San Francisco had the most expensive housing in the nation, owing largely to a new tech boom. See Nancy Keates and Geoffrey Fowler, “The Hot Spot for the Rising Tech Generation,” Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2012.



Second Freeway Revolt (Part 1) / Conservative Fight to Save Central Freeway (part 2)


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This article is excerpted, with permission, from Henderson's book "Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco"', 2013