And Other News from the Glen Park Association
By Bonnee Waldstein
College Hill is now part of District 8, since boundaries were changed citywide in April.
What is College Hill? It’s a neighborhood, newly registered with the City and County of San Francisco, that used to be home to St. Mary’s College before it moved overseas to Oakland in 1889, thence to Moraga in 1928. It has street names like College, College Terrace and St. Mary’s. Where is College Hill? It’s the small neighborhood on the “other” side of the Bernal Cut, opposite Glen Park. Specifically, it’s bounded by Randall Street, the 280 freeway entrance, San Jose Avenue, and Mission Street.
It’s easy walking from Glen Park via the Highland or Richland Avenue bridges, which cross over San Jose Avenue.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. Residents there had taken to calling themselves “The Lost Tribes of College Hill,” until some of them got together to literally put themselves on the map.
At the Glen Park Association meeting on April 19, Glen Parkers found out all about their new cousins from Tom Cantrell and Robert Lane, president and treasurer, respectively, of the College Hill Neighborhood Association. Although relative newcomers to the area – they moved there from the Castro in 2010 – they quickly got to work, along with other residents, trying to turn their turf from obscurity to San Francisco gem status.
They joined neighborhood activist Sandy Cardoza, and with the volunteer work of landscape architect Albert Cruz, they came up with a plan. It consists of six segments, three on either side of San Jose Avenue. They would have a number of beautiful and friendly diversions: a par course exercise station; improved stairways at Richland, Highland and Appleton Avenues; small park plazas and garden areas, sculpture under the Highland Avenue bridge; and possibly a mural on the Glen Park side of the retaining wall along San Jose Avenue.
At the San Jose Avenue level, they are proposing reducing the number of traffic lanes to make way for tree planting, and adding bike lanes. They want to clear, clean and plant the slopes along the avenue.
Cantrell and Lane hope that they can obtain a community challenge grant to begin work on the first two segments. The rest of the work would then follow.
Even before the official designation of the neighborhood, there’s been a longstanding cleanup of the walking paths on either side of the Cut, every third Saturday of the month.
As to the well-known problem of homeless encampments in the area, they don’t have an answer for that. Cantrell’s day job is working with the homeless, and he prefers to use persuasion and offers of resources, and to clean up the area. They hope that by making the area more attractive and used by pedestrians, the encampments will be discouraged.
This Saturday, April 28, will be the DPW/Starbucks volunteer day to work on the Gavin Newsom Lavender Garden at Appleton and Mission and the greenbelt at Arlington and Roanoke. On June 9, a DPW Clean Team event is scheduled, with the staging at Fairmount Elementary School. Details forthcoming.
Facebook: College Hill Neighborhood Association
GLEN PARK SCHOOL GOES GREEN
The Glen Park Association meeting was held at Glen Park Elementary School this quarter and it was a chance for Principal Marion Grady to tout the Green Schoolyard Concept Plan now underway at the school. The infrastructure has been updated with $5.5 million from the 2006 bond issue. The school now has entered the second phase, which is the greening of the schoolyard. They are looking for a landscape architect but have a drawing, which is essentially a wish list of everything that everyone could possibly want.
The first project will be the students’ garden of edible plants. They are also planning outdoor classroom garden space, adding onto the play structure space, a pavilion roof, and greening up the small kindergarten area.
The principal also wants to make a strong visual statement about Glen Park School – other than “big blue building” — possibly with a mosaic mural around the Brompton Street corner.
To get things underway, Grady reported that there were funds left over from the construction, and some initial design work done in that phase, so they’re in pretty good shape to start. As for the rest, volunteers and donations will play a big part. The school will have a number of fundraisers, starting with a bake sale at their booth at the Glen Park Festival.
To volunteer to help green the schoolyard @ 151 Lippard Ave., call the school office: (415) 469-4713
STREET TREE MAINTENANCE TRANSFER
After some upbeat presentations, residents were brought back to earth a bit by Chris Buck, arborist with DPW’s Bureau of Urban Forestry. He delivered a sobering account of eight years of budget cuts and resulting neglect of the City’s tree stock.
The City, through the Department of Public Works, now has responsibility for maintaining almost one-third of the City’s trees, mostly along thoroughfares or public rights of way, which in Glen Park includes several areas in the village and along Chenery, Elk, Bosworth and Diamond Streets. For public safety issues, DPW is responsible for all trees.
The recommended pruning cycle for a tree is three to five years. The reality in San Francisco is now ten to twelve years. This untenable situation has led the city to propose transferring the responsibility of DPW trees to the adjacent property owners. If anyone is astonished at this thought, Buck said it’s all legal and contained in the fine print of the San Francisco Public Works code.
The proposal is to transfer 230,000 trees to private property responsibility over a seven-year period, ending in 2018. The transfer process has already begun. It starts with evaluation by a certified arborist. The tree must have structural integrity and not require major maintenance, pruning or sidewalk repair. Then a notice is posted that the tree is being considered for relinquishment. A letter is mailed to the property owner, with a packet of advice on proper tree care.
So far they’ve reviewed 3,000 trees and sent out 1,600 notices to property owners about a proposed transfer. The property owner can have a hearing if he wishes. Of the 1,600 notified so far, only 65 have been taken off the transfer list for further review.
On the face of it, one might think no one would be in favor of the transfer. One resident, however, might have voiced the sentiments of others. In one of last year’s rains – not even a violent storm – a large tree branch from a DPW tree came down in her yard and would have wrecked the family car, had it been there. “We’ve been after the City forever, trying to get this tree taken care of – we’d be glad if we could just do it ourselves.”
Buck is hoping the political process stops this program. Supervisor Wiener is trying to pull funding together so the program doesn’t have to go forward.
UPDATE BY SUPERVISOR WIENER
Supervisor Wiener reported that the Glen Park Community Plan was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by Mayor Lee. Now vital parts of the plan can begin to be implemented in the next few months, notably pedestrian safety and traffic flow at the Diamond/Bosworth intersection.
Wiener is generally pleased with the results of the redistricting. He wanted to protect his entire district, “even the parts that didn’t vote for me.” He was largely successful. He lost part of the Lower Haight, a portion of Monterey and one side of Joost. On the other hand, he picked up College Hill, south of Randall, between San Jose Avenue and Mission Street.