Report on the Second Community Meeting -- March 1, 2014

Thanks to those of you who attended the second in our series of three Community Meetings in connection with San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s Community Opportunity Fund.  Thanks also to all of you who remain supportive of our efforts to address the many problems of Alta Plaza Park.

Here's a re-cap of the meeting:

Although not related to our Community Opportunity Fund Program application,  the irrigation, drainage, and weed problems were a major focus of our first meeting on February 1.  For that reason, Janet Gamble and Teri Goodman reviewed the efforts that have been made to address them since our first Community Meeting. 

Irrigation and Drainage

We’ve been advised by Marvin Yee of Rec and Parks that proposals from hydrologists and engineers for resolution of the irrigation and drainage problems are expected in mid-April.  (We actually ran into Marvin when he was touring the park with the hydrologist.)  No promises are being made about when the problems might be fixed, although we are told that it's an item that's being proposed for inclusion in the 2014-2015 budget.  The budget is decided upon in June, so we should have more information at that time.

Weed Infestation of No-mow Grasses

Rec and Park’s Marvin Yee tells us that a contract is soon to be signed with a company that will rid the no-mow grasses of the weeds.  However, there doesn’t seem to be a guarantee that, without proper maintenance, the weeds won’t return.  This contract is supposed to cost $10,000.  In the meanwhile, the new gardener at the park, Marvin Mouton, has been heading up some work crews to go about the weeding.  From what we’ve observed, they’ve barely made a dent.  (As an aside, we think Marvin Mouton is making a big difference in other aspects of park maintenance; he’s a constant presence and appears to be a very hard worker.) The park covers 12 acres, however, which is a lot for one gardener to tend.  The question was raised at our Community Meeting concerning why the original contractor who installed the no-mow grass isn’t being held accountable for the weed infestation.  We have asked this question numerous times of various personnel in Rec and Parks without ever receiving a satisfactory answer.


We did not have much good news about the deteriorating pathways.  We’ve sent dozens of E-mail messages to and met onsite with various members of the staff of DRP, DPW, and PUC.   Community member George Getz had a meeting with Supervisor Farrell recently, as did we on February 12.  All along, in every E-mail message and at every meeting, we’ve talked about “the pathways” – that’s plural “pathways.”  Yet, a couple of days ago we received an E-mail message from Marvin Yee stating that he is proposing a budget item to fix one pathway – the one that trucks use to enter the park from Scott Street.   He says that is the most deteriorated one.  (We can cite many other candidates for the status of “most deteriorated” in the park.)  It's a question of the money it would cost to repave all the pathways -- estimated at about a million dollars.

Community Fund Opportunity Program (COF)

Much of the Community Meeting was spent discussing the results of a survey we’ve been conducting in the park, and combining that input with suggestions we had at the first Community Meeting.  Anita Denz, who has been tabulating the survey, reported on the results, which generated our list of desirable improvements:  lighting, benches, an enclosure for the green waste area, dog waste stations and signage, and possibly a “plaza”-type treatment for the open area between the children’s playground and one of the tennis courts.   We showed slides of the current status of the various fixtures of the park and the area of the park under consideration for a plaza.  SF Parks Alliance representative Sahiti Karempudi steered us in the direction of the plaza concept, as she said it would stand a better chance of receiving money from the COF than any of the other “standard” items because it had some “creative” aspect to it and would please Rec and Parks and other members of the committee that decides on awarding the money.  Those of you who attended the meeting know that we bought into this direction from Ms. Karempudi……HOWEVER…..

Janet and Teri, having thought a bit more about this situation, have realized that our immediate needs in Alta Plaza Park aren’t for something “creative,” but rather for solutions to such basics as safety in the park.  An application for lighting, for example, seems to appeal to many community members concerned about safety.  We are planning to step back, take a breath, and re-think what is best for our park rather than try to manufacture something that will “sell” our application to the selection committee.  We will keep you posted as we go through the process of gathering information from other parties who are knowledgeable about the COF Program and from landscape architects.   Since this will take some time, it is likely that we will postpone our application until the next round in 2015.

Please plan to attend the Thursday, March 13, meeting to hear an update on where we stand  and to find out how you can continue to support efforts to rescue Alta Plaza Park from its current downward spiral.  The meeting is in the evening -- 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. -- and at the Town School this time, 2750 Jackson Street (enter on Scott Street).

Again, our thanks for your continued support.