Glen Park online: Useful (or just interesting) stuff revealed

Amnon Ben-Pazi (left) of the Planning Department and David Rojas (right) of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Photo: Bonnee Waldstein

And other news from the Glen Park Association

By Bonnee Waldstein

Sometimes it takes an incident, or string of them, to propel a person to action, or in-depth research.  Such was the case recently when several Glen Park residents were suddenly ticketed for not curbing their wheels on streets that were heretofore assumed to be on the level.  There was an outpouring of outrage in the form of blog postings and petitions. The parking control officer believed to be responsible was vilified. The situation was even covered in the local news and warranted a note on National Public Radio, possibly a Glen Park first.

Jeremy Anderson, who lives on Surrey Street, was curious as to where the official information about street grades resides.  It turns out there’s a state law that wheels must be curbed on any street with a grade of three percent or more. Thus began an odyssey of data mining through numerous websites related to the City of San Francisco, and other general websites.  Anderson uncovered not only the street grading mystery, but also nuggets of information about properties that many would think are privately ensconced in their filing cabinets (they do still exist) at home. At the quarterly Glen Park Association meeting at the Recreation Center on July 19, Anderson presented a fascinating tour of digital Glen Park.

Among the highlights:

San Francisco Property Information Map

The San Francisco Planning Department has this page on their website.  Enter the address of a property and a treasure trove of information becomes available.  The property is located on a map (with a street view link) and such items as census tract, zoning and supervisorial district are listed.  In addition, property values, permits, complaints and appeals for the property are detailed.

Department of Public Works Key Maps

The City is divided into numbered areas and with a search by street name, a very high quality map appears.  Here can be seen infrastructure details –what’s underneath the street, sewer rights of way, fire hydrants, and curb cuts, among others. This is also the site which shows the percentage street grade! 

DPW also has a monument map which locates brass markers in city streets, which are used for street surveys.

David Rumsey Map Collection

This is a huge collection of historical maps of North America. In it are the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: 1905 maps of San Francisco based on the risk of fire in every area.  As Anderson noted, perhaps this became a moot point the following year, but nevertheless they are of significant historical value.

The maps also show former names of streets, many of which were changed when Glen Park was developed, around 1909.  San Jose Avenue was Bernal Avenue, Chenery Street was Glen Avenue, and Bosworth Street was Berkshire Street.

Also here are 164 aerial views of San Francisco from 1938, which show that developers had the notion to lay streets out in a grid pattern; however, they seemed not to take into account the hilly terrain of San Francisco.  In Glen Park, the only remainders of this grand scheme are Castro Street and Diamond Street, which never did get connected to their counterparts elsewhere.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

This looks like Google maps but with much higher resolution.

USGS Topographical Maps

Want to know how high is the highest point in Bernal Heights?  Answer:  About 400 feet.

1940 Census

(Unified 1940 Census ED Finder.  ED = Enumeration District).

This is the first census to be indexed and made available online.  A handwritten log, it can now be viewed, most easily by block number, narrowing down to specific address.  You can find out who lived in your house in 1940, their ages, country of origin, occupation, and income.

San Francisco Apartment Association

Christopher Verplanck, a local architectural historian, has put together the most comprehensive architectural and social history of Glen Park in this periodical from December 2001.


In other news:

Glen Park residents got progress reports on major projects in the neighborhood.  Alexis Ward of the Recreation and Parks Department told the group that improvements to Glen Canyon Park — funded by $6 million from the 2008 Clean and Safe Bond Act — are on schedule and about to get underway.  Among the projects are renovating the playground, relocating the tennis courts, improving trails, reconfiguring the park entrances, and building an accessible exterior restroom.

The projects are going out to bid, with groundbreaking in late September/early October and construction wrapping up next July.  During that time the recreation center, park, fields and trails will be open.  Signage will direct people to alternate access points as necessary.

As this work begins, Glen Park has the opportunity to vote for a new parks bond on the 2012 ballot.  If approved, $12 million would be allocated to renovate the Recreation Center, now the oldest one in the city and in desperate need – of everything.  The planning process for that would begin in late spring/early summer of 2013. In addition, the bond would provide $2.8 to rebuild Christopher Playground.

Ashley Hathaway, of the Glen Park Association board, emphasized that Glen Canyon Park is an important resource for many neighborhoods in the City.  It’s a venue for team sports, family gatherings, meetings and classes, as well as one of the City’s few wild areas.

A lively Q and A followed.  One question was raised about the possibility that bond funds would be used for other purposes in the city budget.  Andres Power, legislative aide to Supervisor Wiener, explained that the legal language in the bond is very specific that funds can only be used for projects identified in the bond.  He added that issuance of bonds does not affect property taxes, as new bonds are issued only as old ones are retired.  As to whether there are provisions for cost overruns, Power responded that the language of the bond uses phrases such as “costs not to exceed”, etc.

A resident of the Excelsior felt that bond funds were unfairly distributed, and that failing playgrounds such as in her neighborhood, have been overlooked, while Glen Park got funding in 2008 and possibly 2012. Miriam Moss, longtime advocate for Glen Canyon Park, pointed out that our park did not get any bond funds in 2000 or 2004, and the funding in 2008 is barely enough to begin to address all the needs.

After further discussion, Power told the group, “The $195 million total proposed parks bond for the City is not pitting one neighborhood against another.  The needs throughout the City far exceed what we have money for, and the intent of the bond is an equitable distribution across the City, based on need.”

Next was an update on the Glen Park Community Plan by Amnon Ben-Pazi and David Rojas, of the Planning Department and the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), respectively.  In a process that was begun in 2003 (no typo there), with extensive community input, the Plan has gone through environmental review and approval by the Board of Supervisors.  It includes many improvements to the downtown (“village”) area, which will make traffic flow more smoothly and provide enhanced pedestrian safety.

The first phase will be improvements to the Diamond and Bosworth Streets intersection.  Specific details were not available, but in general the areas being addressed are issues like turn lanes and shortening crossing distances. Many city agencies will be working together, including  MTA, Planning, and DPW. The design phase is beginning and work should get underway this fall. BART will be involved in revamping the station plaza, but they work on their own schedule.  The Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) will also dovetail in, routing buses to mitigate traffic snarl.


1 Comment

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One response to “Glen Park online: Useful (or just interesting) stuff revealed

  1. Mic

    For those concerned about pesticide spraying in Glen Canyon during the rainy season, you should know that new rules restricting the use of pyrethroid and 16 other pesticides take effect July 2012::

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