SAN FRANCISCO — With Election Day approaching less than a month away on Thursday, KPIX 5 takes a closer look at what’s at stake when voters in San Francisco decide whether or not to reopen JFK Drive to cars.
Proposal J will affirm that JFK Drive remains a pedestrian and bicycle parkway with a restriction on where cars are allowed.
Muralist Josue Rojas is not your typical artist. He likes to paint on a large canvas
“There’s this myth about closeted artists like Van Gough. The idea of doing things like murals – street art, graffiti – goes against that, because we’re in the community We are with the people,” Rojas said.
You’ve probably seen his work on the sides of Mission buildings. 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 boardwalk — you know. My mom’s 75 — [we] use this space on our pastries on the way to the beach,” Rojas said.
Rojas is one of dozens of artists whose work is displayed along the long stretch of JFK Drive. The street has been closed to cars since 2020 to give people a safe place to hang out during the pandemic.
Her mural is part of a public art installation led by Ben Davis of Illuminate, the same arts organization that created the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge.
“The opportunity to help this field evolve by putting people first. And culturally, we come together in a very short time,” Davis explained.
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 it’s up to us to keep it that way,” Davis said.
but ultimately it is up to voters on Election Day to decide whether it will stay that way.
Richard Corriea lived in the neighboring district of Richmond for most of his life. He even worked as an SFPD captain at the Richmond station.
“On weekends you would never have a parking space here. And the parking lot fills up too,” said Corriea, who opposes the proposal.
He hopes voters will see past the whimsical makeover and see Prop J for what he says is really: unfair to a lot of people in San Francisco.
“Some of the most iconic and sought after locations in the entire park are located on JFK between Tranverse Drive and Stanyan Street: the Rose Garden, the Flower Conservatory, the various meadows,” Corriea said. “This whole area is cut off so people can’t get to it.
As for Rojas, he is not preoccupied with politics. He paints a labyrinth; a place to find peace.
“It’s kind of an act of love for her and for the city and also really for ourselves. A place to give us a moment of breathing space,” Rojas said.