GPA Quarterly Meeting Notes

By Bonnee Waldstein

The summer meeting covered a number of topics, new and old, that are of interest to Glen Park.

GPA GRANTS

GPA President Michael Rice presented a two thousand dollar grant from the GPA to the San Francisco Mime Troupe, who will perform in Glen Canyon Park in August. The grant will defray the cost of the use of the park, which used to be free; but in the past ten years the fee has gone up to $770 per day plus a $500 deposit. (Admission is free; donations are strongly encouraged.) Other awards presented earlier as part of a three-year-old program funded by the GPA went to Sunnyside Elementary School and Friends of Penny Lane.

Troupe writer and sometime director, Michael Gene Sullivan, accepted the award. Sullivan explained that the Troupe does political musical comedy, and not silently: “We are the loudest mimes in the world!” This year’s show is “Schooled,” which is about the privatization of education and questions whether the purpose of school is to load kids up with information, provide a place to put them when their parents are at work, or create a generation of consumers – or citizens.

TREE PLANTING

Rice announced that Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), which works with neighborhoods to increase tree planting in San Francisco, will have a tree-planting day in September, in the neighborhoods of Glen Park, Miraloma, and Mt. Davidson. The application deadline is in August.

FUF accepts requests for tree planting on frontages of a minimum of 6-1/2 feet. They evaluate the sidewalk for suitability. The cost is a sliding scale of $300-$500, with a minimum of $135. This covers the cost to open the sidewalk, install the tree, and maintain it on an on-call basis for three to five years.

For information: http://www.fuf.net/programs-services/greening/neighborhood-tree-planting/

For application: http://www.fuf.net/programs-services/greening/neighborhood-tree-planting/tree-planting-forms/

CLEANPOWERSF

The audience needed to turn its conscious awareness up a notch for the next presentation, by Amy Sinclair from the S.F. Public Utilities Commission. She explained the CleanPowerSF program that is being unveiled. After Sinclair’s explanation and a Q&A, the main points of the program are:

  • CleanPowerSF refers to San Francisco’s participation in the Community Choice Aggregation program, which allows cities to partner with their utility (PG&E) to deliver cleaner energy.
  • It’s a partnership between the City and PG&E, administered by the City. Marin and Sonoma counties have this program already.
  • PG&E will still be responsible for handling outages and its regular services.
  • The goal of the program is to increase the use of renewable energy, mainly wind and solar. The City now uses 29.5% renewable energy. CleanPowerSF aims to push that up to 35%.
  • The renewable energy will go into PG&E’s existing power grid. The analogy is that the grid is like a bathtub. PG&E is putting 29.5% renewable energy into the tub. CleanPowerSF will add significantly more, to at least 35%.
  • This program does not include individual incentives or benefits such as putting solar panels on individual homes.
  • Individual customers will not see any change in their service or their payments with the 35% renewables. Billing statements will be more detailed.
  • The program will be auto-enrolled, as authorized by state law passed in 2002. It will be phased in over six years. However, customers will have four opportunities to opt out of the program, i.e., just use plain vanilla PG&E. However, there is no cost benefit to the customer in doing so.
  • Customers can also enroll on their own initiative anytime online or by phone.
  • There is a higher tier to the program, called SuperGreen, whose goal is to deliver 100% renewable energy. It is optional and will cost customers about six dollars more per month.
  • It’s not the individual customer that is getting 35% or 100% renewable energy; it’s the overall power grid.
  • The program tries to source its energy locally as much as possible, from rooftops and reservoirs, like Sunset Reservoir, and the Altamont wind farm, for example. The further away the energy source is, the more the energy “bleeds off” by the time it reaches its destination.
  • CleanEnergySF will create local jobs by building facilities and introducing new technology.
  • District 8 happens to be in the earlier of the six-year phase. This fall residents of the District will get the first of the four notices explaining the program.
  • For information, go to cleanpowersf.org.

 

PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENT PLANS AT DIAMOND HEIGHTS BOULEVARD/SUSSEX STREET/ELK STREET

One of the major traffic and pedestrian problems plaguing Glen Park is the lack of a crosswalk on upper Elk Street, between Arbor and Sussex Streets, into Glen Canyon Park. The steep grade of Elk Street and inadequate sightlines are a safety hazard that residents have long endured.

Casey Hildreth and Kimberly Leung of the Livable Streets division of SFMTA presented some alternatives for mitigating this long-standing situation. They proposed five options, which could be combined in various ways, and solicited reactions and ideas from the audience.

Click here to see SFMTA’s Elk_Sussex Pro-Con List

The consensus of those in attendance was that something simple should be done right away in advance of a solution. Putting in a pedestrian crossing sign and an advance warning sign would help in the short term.

Several people voiced their antipathy about bulb outs, which seem ineffective and also reduce parking space and may even increase accidents. Stop signs have their pros and cons in terms of speed control. Many favored the rectangular rapid flashing beacon option. Another suggestion that had support was the flashing sign, which shows the driver’s speed and encourages them to slow down.

Long-term fixes require more study and must comply with ADA requirements.

The process towards a solution begins with the feedback the SFMTA receives at community meetings such as Glen Park and Diamond Heights. Then there are other public outreach efforts, more feedback, draft recommendations, a formal public hearing and funding requests. The project could take 1-1/2 years to begin, depending on the complexity of the final plan.

There will be an update at the next quarterly GPA meeting in the fall.

People are encouraged to complete the SFMTA Public Participation Survey until July 31:

https://www.sfmta.com/news/notices/2016-public-participation-survey

Meanwhile, the patience of neighborhood residents is tested as they wait for pedestrian safety solutions to become reality on Elk Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hoodline adds Glen Park to its news lineup

Hoodline is a local blog founded in 2010 to cover the Haight (at that point it was called Hagighteration.) It’s since turned into a blog about neighborhoods in San Francisco and it just added Glen Park to its coverage area. You can see the most recent story below. Writer Alisa Scerrato contacted us at the Glen Park News to ask what was up in our community and what they should be writing about. We’re happy to have more eyes on our bit of heaven here – so welcome to Hoodlime and say hi if you run into their reporters wandering our streets.

Glen Park Hardware For Sale, Will Close By End Of Summer

After serving the neighborhood for 38 years, Glen Park Hardware will be closing its doors by the end of the summer. Owners Susan and Hal Tauber are retiring and have put their store up for sale, but so far, no buyers have shown interest in the space. We caught up with Susan Tauber to learn about their nearly four decades in the neighborhood, and their future plans.

The Taubers are longtime residents of Glen Park. Prior to opening the store, they were both teachers, but when the ’70s recession hit, they decided that they needed to try something different. The hardware store was up for sale, so they gave it a go and bought the business.

Please read more here.

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String of trails addition helps connect Glen Park

ribbon cutting.JPGStory and photos by Murray Schneider

While not exactly a stairway to heaven, the recently completed Beacon Trail is comprised of 74 steps, which ascend to Diamond Heights’ Walter Hass Playground from Upper Noe’s Beacon Street.

More about the opening here.

The latest addition to the Recreation and Park Department’s greenbelt mosaic of connector trails, such as the Creeks to Peaks Trail that meanders through Glen Canyon, the Beacon Trail wends its way from Billy Goat Hill, affording day trippers and dog walkers a safe and accessible recreational experience.

The completed project, made possible by the Open Space Fund Undesignated Contingency Reserve, connects the two paths with 680 feet of pathway, comprised of 560 feet of earthen trail and 120 feet of box steps, with assigned entrances and erosion control.

The project was celebrated on July 14 at a Walter Hass Playground ribbon cutting ceremony, attended by Rec and Park’s General Manager, Phil Ginsburg, and District 8 Supervisor, Scott Wiener, Rec and Park Commission members and dozens of neighbors.

Trail“I want to thank our community for coming together to find solutions for connecting our parklands through a beautiful new trail,” said Ginsburg, introducing the afternoon’s three o’clock event. “This improvement project allows families increased access to the basketball courts at Walter Hass and the incredible trails and views from Billy Goat Hill.”

“I am thrilled that we’re increasing connectivity between or neighborhoods and our parks,” said Supervisor Wiener, after being introduced by Phil Ginsburg, who had earlier recognized Project Manager, Melinda Stockmann, and Natural Areas Program manager, Lisa Wayne, both of whom proved pivotal in envisioning and reaching consensus among neighborhood stakeholders.

“Prior to the construction,” Wiener would say later, “there was an unsanctioned trail that wasn’t particularly safe or environmentally friendly.”

Wiener referenced multiple “social” trails that hikers and off leash dogs had fashioned, sometimes by trampling vegetation that was important for area animals, birds and insects.

Taking the microphone from Ginsburg, Betsy Eddy, a member of Friends of Walter Hass Park, pointed to what used to pass for a scrabby trail that plummeted haphazardly down to Beacon Street.

“I only tried the old trail twice,” she said, smiling ruefully, “and that was by sliding down on the seat of my pants.”

“The new trail now connects us safely,” she said of the path that boasts a number of salutary switchbacks. “I especially want to thank neighbor Fred LaCosse and Lisa Wayne, who chaired several community meetings.”

Wayne is a recent 2014 recipient of a SPUR annual Good Government Award.

Former KRON newscaster, LaCosse, stood next to Ginsburg, Wiener and RPD Commission president Mark Buell. LaCosse lives on Beacon Street, and for years he has assisted the Natural Areas Program in maintaining and restoring park habitat. Recently, along with Lisa Wayne, he assisted as a planning and design facilitator, brokering compromises, nudging neighbors toward solutions that bridged Upper Noe privacy concerns with issues of community accessibility.

“I want to thank Fred,” said Mark Buell. “He helped us move people without violating neighborhood rights.”

“Rec and Park was sincere, particularly Lisa Wayne,” LaCosse said after the ceremony. His wife, former KRON broadcaster Terry Lowry, stood by his side.

With the full imprimatur of the Diamond Heights Community Association, the community-driven project addresses two key parts of Rec and Park’s strategic plan: Increasing interconnectivity on City parkland and maintaining San Francisco’s urban trail network while strengthening the quality of parks and facilities.

“People want connectivity,” said Wiener about the new trail he believes will support a healthy lifestyle and give residents an alternative to walking along paved roads.

Trails connect people to nature and serve as a place where they can walk safely and meet their neighbors, Ginsburg said before he led walkers along the new trail to Beacon street.

At a time when San Francisco residential property is at a premium, public spaces such as the Beacon Trail connector between Walter Hass Park and Billy Goat Hill are a conduit, one that contributes to community and lets us smell the flowers along the way.

“It’s a bit off the grid,” said Ginsburg, who will allocate man-hour resources to pushing back invasive Himalayan ivy threatening to encroach upon the path. “This trail connects us to nature; it connects us together.”

Who could argue with that?

Certainly not the two young women who parked their car on Beacon Street only two days later.

They weren’t Glen Park or Diamond Heights neighbors; in fact, both originally came from India. One now resided in Union City. The other, her friend, a visitor from Toronto, Canada.

They’d made Billy Goat Hill a destination.

They approached an elderly couple on their Saturday morning constitutional. Below them, down the steep hill, Laidley Street cut a picturesque swath, dead ending at 30th Street and heading toward the Harry Street steps.

“We’ve come to see the swing,” the East Bay resident announced.

Half way down the hill, the foursome stopped. The swing, an amusement highly unauthorized by Rec and Park, had been severed from its ropes, a common Rec and Park action to protect it against law suits. They now dangled in the air, acting as punctuation marks to a paragraph of dog walkers and hikers who’d accessed the hill.

Disappointed, the two out-of-towners accepted a consolation prize.

Past where the swing had hung Bernal Hill loomed large, a backdrop against Noe Valley that now glistened in the morning sunshine.

Fittingly, it wasn’t left for Phil Ginsburg to get in the last word about heavenly Billy Goat Hill views.

The young lady from Union City, taking it all in, simply whispered.

“Wow.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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