Report on the First Community Meeting -- February 1, 2014

Report on the First Community Meeting for the Community Opportunity Fund Held on February 1, 2014

We were thrilled to have a good turn-out for the first of three meetings required for our application to the Community Opportunity Fund (COF).  Twenty-five people showed up on Saturday morning, February 1, 2014, to express their opinions on the state of the park and the kind of improvements they would like to see made.

First and foremost, people were concerned about the deteriorating pathways and the irrigation and drainage problems in the park.  We spent almost the entire meeting discussing those problems.  Unfortunately, the COF Program's available funds are designated for beautification and park elements other than such basics as pathways, drainage, and irrigation.  The good news is that the outrage felt by so many of the people at the meeting resulted in our arranging to consult with Supervisor Mark Farrell to determine whether we could get some help from him.  Here is the letter we wrote to Supervisor Farrell and that we delivered to him in person:

February 12, 2014

Dear Supervisor Farrell:

We are writing with a sense of great urgency concerning Alta Plaza Park. This beautiful park on an amazing site -- a "Grande Dame" of San Francisco's parks -- has suffered from a variety of insults to her beauty and integrity -- some inflicted by age, but mostly by lack of maintenance and piecemeal and poorly-conceived "improvement" projects by city agencies. The latest of these "improvements," completed about three years ago, was a water conservation project for the south side of the park, initiated by the Public Utilities Commission and planned in cooperation with the Department of Recreation and Parks. The results of this project were described by participants at a recent community meeting as "outrageous" and "disgraceful."

Lack of appropriate ongoing maintenance, the water conservation project, and the continued neglect of long-term problems have brought the park today to a devastated state, as shown in:

  • seriously-deteriorated pathways with decomposing asphalt, potholes that are tripping hazards, and depressions where stagnant water breeds mosquitoes
  • drainage problems that create slippery slime on park pathways and along the streets bordering the park
  • cracks in and serious deterioration of concrete/stone walls and stairs
  • a watering system that continues to waste water
  • rampant weed infestation of the “no-mow” grasses installed during the water conservation project
  • barren areas where landscaping was not replaced following the water conservation project
  • battered waste containers with missing tops and/or front panels; broken, splintering benches
  • an unsightly, unsanitary “green waste” area.

Some of these problems have existed for many, many years – like the eternal slime on Clay Street

-- and it was hoped would have been addressed during the recent water conservation project, since the entire landscape on that side of the park was torn apart and laid open for many months.

The conditions in and around the park are not only unsightly; they are unpleasant, hazardous, and not ADA compliant. For years, the regular channels have been explored by numerous community members -- calls to “311” and E-mail and phone messages to/meetings with staff from the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Public Utilities Commission, the Public Works Department, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance. To date nothing - absolutely nothing - has been done to fix the problems.

The Public Utilities Commission is now proposing another water conservation project, this one for the north side of the park (along Jackson Street).  As already described, the results of the completed south side project have been horrific.  Will we see yet another disastrous result there?

Funds are needed to rescue Alta Plaza Park:   funds for engineering to determine how best to fix the drainage and irrigation problems of the park; funds to actually fix those problems; funds for construction of new pathways; funds for landscaping to replace missing plants and those that are not appropriate for the park site; and funds for stringent management and oversight of construction and ongoing maintenance.

We no longer have confidence in the regular channels for getting Alta Plaza Park’s problems fixed. We would be extremely grateful for your help.

Friends of Alta Plaza Park

We met with and delivered the letter to Supervisor Farrell on February 12, and are optimistic that he will be extremely supportive of our requests for funds to engineer an appropriate solution to the irrigation and drainage problems in the park, to fix those problems, and to repair and replace the deteriorated pathways.

At our next Community Meeting, on Saturday, March 1, we will report further on our efforts to get repairs/replacements made, and on the survey we have been conducting among park users to find out what we can do to beautify and improve other aspects of the park.  Please come to the meeting to show your support for making improvements to the park and to voice your ideas.