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“Open the Streets”

Plaintiffs Decide
to Appeal Judge’s Decision

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Six plaintiffs have sued Rec and Park general manager Philip A. Ginsburg and the Recreation and Parks Commission for illegal street closures that have created hardship for tens of thousands of San Franciscans.


The Open the Great Highway Alliance calls for safe and fair usage of reopened streets; plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction

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Plaintiff “Open The Great Highway Alliance (OTGHA)” and five other plaintiffs will appeal a judge's decision denying their motion for a preliminary injunction against the continuation of three illegal street closures in San Francisco by Rec and Parks Manager Philip A. Ginsburg and the Recreation and Parks Commission. The plaintiffs are convinced that the judge made a legally unsound decision that likely will be reversed upon appeal.

“Respectfully, the judge misapplied the law and based his decision on unsupported and provably false data,” says plaintiff Steven Hill. “In his very short ruling, the judge did not analyze critical issues such as whether the two-year-long street closures qualify as a ‘temporary event,’ ignored key precedent on road closures, including a critical State Supreme Court case, and ignored the fact that the Legislature has established a procedure localities must follow if they wish to close a road, but that procedure has not been followed. Moreover, the judge accepted the City's flawed evidence without even considering the plaintiffs’ objections to the admission of that evidence as hearsay and irrelevant to the legal issues at hand. In short, the judge issued a ‘law-free’ decision that is vulnerable to being reversed on appeal.”


OTGHA member Charles Perkins, a San Francisco attorney, says: “The judge appears to have accepted the City's flawed evidence without considering the plaintiffs’ objections to admissibility, and without considering the irreparable harm the road closures cause to the innumerable individuals who cannot access these roads and the attractions surrounding them, to the fight against climate change as many metric tons of additional greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere every day the roads are closed forcing drivers to detour out of their way, and to the extreme dangers to life, limb, and property on streets in San Francisco's Westside that are created when drivers are forced into residential neighborhoods and onto high injury network routes, among other significant irreparable harms. Our appeal will be heard by a panel of three learned justices, and we think our chances of securing reversal of the lower court's ruling are good."  


Gautam Dutta, the plaintiffs'' attorney in the lawsuit says, “As a practical reality, many in the disabled and senior communities cannot use Golden Gate Park right now because of the closures. If one needs a wheelchair to access the Conservatory of Flowers, for example, the closures create a largely insurmountable barrier to the ability to appreciate this public attraction.  Many such individuals are effectively frozen out and denied equal access. Not to mention the impediments to carrying out day-to-day errands that these road closures create.”

Besides launching this appeal, OTGHA also is actively challenging the “insider dealing” and collusion between SFMTA, Rec and Park and nonprofit groups funded by these agencies. Through public records requests, OTGHA discovered that these groups and their activists have been given preferential access to insider information and unlimited access to city agency staff, contributing to disinformation campaigns by city officials.


“A growing number of San Franciscans are tired of city officials using the bogeyman of Covid-19 to advance pet projects that appeal to special interests but that are, in reality, inequitable and unjust to the broader public,” says Peter Pirolli, another member of the OTGHA. “San Franciscans are also tired of City departments who repeatedly demonstrate a lack of transparency and a lack of integrity in producing valid, independently verifiable information about the effects of the Great Highway closure.”


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