Friends of Alta Plaza Park Update

Friends of Alta Plaza Park (FOAPP) have been moving ahead on a number of different fronts, including meetings with Miller Company, Landscape Architects, SFRPD and other City agencies. Initial meetings of both the Landscape and Maintenance Committee and the Water Recapture and Reuse Committee, composed of neighborhood residents who have participated in Community Outreach Meetings, were convened in early March to define goals, explore strategies and assign tasks. Our sincere thanks to the committee members for their invaluable time, counsel and commitment.

Following is a summary of our activities, project progress and next steps. As always, please contact us with your questions and comments. E-mail:, or visit us on our website at


The Master Plan, reflecting community consensus for the minimal Option A design, is in its final stage of completion by Miller Company, Landscape Architects. Our last update of January 30, 2015, indicated that the projected date for presentation of the Master Plan to the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission for approval would be April 2015. We have since been advised that the Master Plan will require a Historical Resources Evaluation (HRE) as part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review procedures.

The revised timeline provided by SFRPD for approval of the Master Plan and the subsequent completion of most of the north side Phase One is as follows:

March July, 2015: HRE

August September, 2015: Presentation of Master Plan to SFRPD Commission for Approval

October, 2015 April, 2016: Construction Document Development

May August, 2016: Advertising and Bidding Process

September April 2017: Construction of North Side Phase One

Marvin Yee, SFRPD Project Manager, advises that although the schedule for the HRE cannot be accelerated, as a City project it moves to the head of the line.


On February 9, 2015 several members of the Landscape and Maintenance Committee met with Marvin Yee, SFRPD Project Manager, Zack Taylor, SFRPD Park Service Area Manager Marina Complex, and Reza Baradaran, DPW Geotechnical Engineer. Each of these issues was subsequently discussed in a follow up meeting of the committee convened on March 5, 2015.

1. French Drains

Reza Baradaran described the testing, design and function of the French drain system that is to be installed around significant portions of the park’s perimeter to ameliorate long-standing drainage issues.

As all of the French drains are currently scheduled to be installed next year as part of the north side irrigation work, the group discussed whether it would be possible to “decouple” the south side drains from the north side work and install them as soon as possible.

SFRPD has agreed to install the south side French drains in Summer 2015.

2. No-Mow Grass

The problem areas of the no-mow grass were discussed. Zack confirmed that poor preparation, the possibility of contaminated seed and inadequate maintenance all contributed to the problem. Currently the total volume of no-mow grass requires far too much maintenance. Large portions of the no-mow grass are to be replaced with drought tolerant plantings per the Master Plan, while the off-leash dog area and other areas on the east and west sides are to remain as no-mow per the Master Plan. It was requested that a sample of the drought-tolerant plantings be done to assess the look and viability. Additionally, the committee requested a test patch of the new grass that will be installed on the north side.

SFRPD has agreed to plant a test patch on the north side prior to replanting the entire north side in conjunction with the SFRPD/SFPUC North Side Irrigation Project. Further, SFRPD has alsoagreedtoplantatestpatchonthesouthside. Thesuggestedlocationisthetoptieron the south side of the park, to the right of the grand stairway. The patches will be planted in April, 2015 and will be clearly identified by signage as test areas. Community feedback will be solicited.

SFRPD has committed to replacing, at its expense, the existing no-mow grass with new no-mow grass in the areas where it is to remain per the Master Plan, and to improve the appearance of the remaining grass utilizing a remote control mower until the grass is replaced with drought tolerant plantings. This work is scheduled to happen May July 2015.

FOAPP is working with SFRPD to also fund the installation of drought tolerant plantings that will be replacing the failed no-mow grass.

3. Other Repair Issues

a. Asphalt Repairs Marvin Yee advised that there is no current funding for these repairs. FOAPP is working with SFRPD Dennis Kern, Director of Operations, to resolve this funding and timing issue.

b. South Side Lower Pathway Leak – Zack Taylor’s team has repaired the plumbing and sprinkler head leaks. However, a pool of water still exists. The thinking is that because the soil in that area is largely clay, water collects and does not dissipate. Park staff is investigating the idea of filling that area with pea gravel or sand to facilitate drainage.

c. Broken Playground Equipment Zack Taylor followed up on this long standing repair issue and a replacement part now has been ordered. Delivery is expected in May 2015 with installation shortly after receipt.

d. Damaged Tennis Court Windscreens (3) Zack Taylor provided an estimate to replace windscreens of $2,000 each. His budget can accommodate one windscreen. Alternative sources of funding for the other two windscreens are being pursued by SFRPD and FOAPP.

4. Boggy Areas on the North Side

Questions were raised as to how the drainage in the boggy areas on the north side will be addressed in conjunction with the north side irrigation work. The concept of replacing the topsoil was identified to be a possible, but costly, solution. Revising watering schedules and grading may also aid in reducing water retention in the soil.

SFRPD will continue to investigate solutions to the boggy areas on the north side.

5. Reallocation of Funding from North Side to South Side

The north side Phase One, which coincides with the SFPUC Water Conservation Project, is projected to be completed in April 2017. As of now, the plan is to direct all of the money received from Supervisor Farrell’s City budget add-back of $1.343 million (less funds to install the uncoupled south side French drains) to Phase One.

This focus on funding for the north side pushes any remediation of the south side (other than the installation of French drains) to sometime after April 2017. Because the south side is in critical need of attention, the suggestion was made to reevaluate the allocation of the add-back funds.

In conjunction with SFRPD and Miller Company, FOAPP will investigate the possibility of reallocating City budget add-back funds negotiated by Supervisor Mark Farrell from the north side to the south side.

6. Work Order System and Park Personnel Resources

Zack Taylor reviewed the “work order” system which addresses maintenance repair requests.

FOAPP’s Landscape and Maintenance Committee will coordinate with Zack to review work order status on a quarterly basis and conduct any necessary follow-up. The Committee will explore developing its own data base with photographs to monitor the status of repairs

Zack Taylor provided information as to the personnel resources allocation system for the park. Four positions on Zack’s team (which is responsible for approximately 15 parks in the Marina Complex, including Alta Plaza Park) are to be filled, hopefully by October 2015. One additional gardener will be devoted to Alta Plaza Park in the near future, restoring the number of dedicated gardeners to two. With this staff addition, Zack is confident that the new plantings, trees and hedges per the Master Plan can be well maintained.

FOAPP will continue to monitor personnel resources allocated to the park. Anita Denz will pursue increasing the number of clean-up days with the SFRPD Volunteer Office to support gardening staff.


The Water Recapture and Reuse Committee met on March 11, 2015. In addition to committee members, attendees included Jeffery Miller, members of his staff, and Joel Pomerantz who is an authority on water in San Francisco.

After considerable discussion, the committee concluded more engineering will be required to determine the viability of a system to capture sufficient water within the park for irrigation. Jeffrey Miller stated that the PUC has endorsed such exploration.

Jeffery Miller will identify Bay Area geotechnical engineering firms and ask for proposals from them for a water recapture and reuse feasibility study.


At present, other than funding for the North Side Irrigation Project and the City budget add-back funds of $1.343 million negotiated by Mark Farrell, there is no funding to complete the balance of the Master Plan.

Possible funding sources include:

  1. City Funding

    The Landscape and Maintenance Committee is actively working with the City to prioritize the renovations per the Master Plan and identify City funding sources.

  2. Community Opportunity Fund Grant Application

    FOAPP is moving ahead with the application process for the Community Opportunity Fund Grant to fund park lighting. The first draft is due April 3, 2015.

  3. Other Funding Sources

    Other funding sources will include additional funds from SFRPD and the City (to the extent available), funds to be raised from a capital campaign, and perhaps proceeds from the next bond issuance anticipated to occur in 2018.

The Master Plan will be implemented in phases contingent upon the necessary funds being available.


The spring clean-and-green day once again benefitted from a large turnout by the November Project, a fitness group that works out in Alta Plaza Park every Wednesday morning. Augmented by members of the Canvas Church, along with volunteer regulars, the work party swelled to 55 -- the largest crew ever.

With perfect weather conditions and plentiful coffee from Peet's, juices from Trader Joe's and bagels and fixings provided by FOAPP, the volunteers enthusiastically tackled weeding of the south side no- mow terraces under the supervision of SFRPD Park Service Supervisor Tudy Aubry and gardeners Laura Garcia and Kendra Armitage. Great strides were made in addressing the unsightly appearance of these areas. Our deep appreciation to all volunteers for their enthusiasm and dedicated support.