Rec Center renovation stopped by appeal

UPDATE Oct. 19-2012

No response from Anastasia Glikshtern, who filed the appeal that’s stopped the park renovation to email or requests for interviews on bulletin boards she frequents.

No comment from the San Francisco Forest Alliance about their position on this.

Lots of discussion on neighborhood list servs.

Two comments that seem to sum up the options of those posting:

“I’m saddened by this development. It is not good for Glen Park. Democracy is about all voices being heard — but democracy is not working when all it takes is a single person to halt a project that has been approved (and funded) after years of work and extensive community outreach. It seems that Ms. Glikshtern is acting in her own interest rather than in the interests of her community. On top of that, the construction delays incurred by her petition will result in considerable financial expense, taking away money from an already financially strapped parks & rec system (and city).”

and

“This is very disappointing.  I’m astonished that anyone who has ever walked past the Elk Street entrance in the afternoon could think there is no need for a better dropoff arrangement. Ms. Glikshtern also seems to be unaware that there has been extensive public comment on and discussion of all the details of this plan. Her last-minute appeal subverts the democratic process in a destructive and costly way.”

For those who want to read the full SF Rec and Park plan, it’s all available here.

===

By Elizabeth Weise

A last minute appeal of the permit to renovate the Rec Center, playground and tennis courts in Glen Canyon Park has put the process on hold. A local resident on Monday filed an appeal calling into question the building permit. Work had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 15. It’s unclear if or when the work can now proceed.

The appeal, which stops the entire Glen Canyon Park renovation until it is resolved, was filed Oct. 15, the last possible day of the 15-day public comment period, said Karen Mauney-Brodek with San Francisco Rec & Park. The charge is $175.

Anastasia Glikshtern filed the appeal against the building permit for the renovation, which was issued on Sept. 28. A one-page appeal statement lists Glikshtern’s concerns about the $5.8 million Glen Canyon Park renovation, funded by the 2008 Clean & Safe. Neighborhood Parks Bond.

One of the reasons Glikshtern cites for the appeal is the city’s plan to remove some of the park’s trees. She also said the plan is being misrepresented to the public.

But Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents District 8 and Glen Park, disagreed. “The appeal is well-intentioned but misguided,” he said. “The number of trees being removed is much smaller than some have stated, and the trees being removed are either physically in the way of the project, hazardous, dead, or on the way to being hazardous or dead.”

Although much of the effort to stop the cutting of trees in Glen Canyon Park has been led by the San Francisco Forest Alliance, a group of city residents who oppose tree cutting in parks, the group did not file the appeal, said president Eric Miller. “Our group is currently considering our response,” to this action, he said.

The preliminary hearing to consider the appeal is scheduled for Dec. 5. Mauney-Brodek said she has asked for an earlier time in mid-November, the earliest date possible, but that Glikshtern would need to approve it. “Hopefully we’ll be able to have a quick appeal hearing and address this sooner rather than later,” she said.

Information about Glikshtern was not immediately available. The appeal lists an address on Chaves  St. in Miraloma Park. On Oct. 14 someone posting under that name commented on a story on the Glen Park News blog about the city’s Natural Areas Program, saying “How ‘natural’ is the program which routinely uses herbicides which are known carcinogens and are highly toxic even in smallest amounts? Do you know that according to the city records the amounts used by ‘Natural’ Areas Program have increased more than 300% from 2009 to 2011?” She has also posted on the San Francisco Natural Areas Program blog. Efforts to reach Glikshtern Wednesday were unsuccessful.

A close up of the proposed renovation. The full report is available here. http://sfrecpark.org/documents/2011-06-09PlanandBoards.pdf

Concerns

Glikshtern’s appeal included several concerns. The first is that the renovation project, which she associates with Rec and Park’s Natural Areas Program, should not be approved prior to the National Areas program’s final review in 2013.

Rec and Park’s Mauney-Brodek said that the Glen Canyon renovation is not part of the Natural Areas Program. That is a city-wide proposal to return some park and other city areas to habitat more closely related to what it would have been prior to the introduction of non-native species in San Francisco. However the Glen Canyon renovation is not associated with that. Instead it includes:

* Creation of an Elk Street welcoming entry/plaza and drop-off area, path, and related new landscaping;

* Relocation and expansion of the children’s play area;

* Relocation and reconstruction of the tennis courts;

* New Americans with Disability Act-compliant, exteriorly-accessible restroom within the recreation center, which can be open even when the recreation center is no.

“The Glen Park project is not part of the [NAP] plan,” Mauney-Brodek said. That plan, more which is available here, www.sfrecpark.org/naProgramPage.aspx, will not be finalized until next year.

Glikshtern’s appeal also states that significant trees in the park should not be marginalized and that their destruction is being misrepresented to the public.

Fliers distributed by the San Francisco Forest Alliance, a city-wide group that’s come together over tree cutting in city parks, have said that Glen Canyon park will be “deforested” and that over 400 trees will be cut as part of the renovation plan.

“It’s hard to know where that information is coming from” said Mauney-Brodek. The renovation plan “calls for the removal of 58 trees, and two of those just fell.” It calls for the planting of 163 trees and the installation of an irrigation system to insure they can establish themselves.

Of the 58 to be removed, eight have been rated “high hazard” with scores of 8 or more on a hazard scale of 3-12, Mauney-Brodek said in a statement earlier. Six trees are being removed due to design impacts. The remaining 52 have been evaluated to have poor suitability for preservation (this includes the eight that are high hazard).  This considers factors including: tree health, structural integrity, response (how well it can respond to construction impacts), tree age and other factors. Those trees which are rated as having “poor suitability for preservation” are “ in poor health or possessing significant defects in structure that cannot be abated with treatment. These trees can be expected to decline regardless of management.”

Rec and Park has provided additional documentation on the tree evaluations to the SFFA and to the Glen Park Association. The documents provide more technical detail on the condition of the 58 trees planned for removal. The evaluation was prepared by HortScience, a highly-regarded, independent arborist firm. The Glen Park News has posted the full Tree Assessment & Preservation Plan: Glen Canyon Park here.

glen canyon assessment Oct 1 2012

The San Francisco Forest Alliance website can be seen here.

SFFA statements have also said that much of what would be planted would not in fact be trees, but bushes. However Mauney-Brodek said that the species could include madrone, coast live oak, dogwood, evergreen elm, Islais cheery and cottonwood trees. “They range in size up to 100 feet at maturity.”

The appeal also states that the drop-off zone in the plan on Elk street and the relocation of the tennis courts is unnecessary and that the money should instead be spent on other failing playground in the city “instead of a grand native plant entrance that only a few people want.”

Artists rendering of the new entry way to Glen Canyon park.

Glen Park reporters at several of the 11 community meetings held to discuss the renovation plan have reported that numerous parents who bring their children to soccer and baseball practices and games at Glen Canyon Park, as well as parents bringing their children to Silvertree Day Camp in the summers, expressed a desire for a safe drop-off zone that would not block traffic on Elk Street. Mauney-Brodek also noted that the drop off zone is also designed to meet ADA requirements.

Under the renovation plan, the rec center would stay open through the winter. Contractors would begin work on the playground and tennis area until Dec. 23rd. Then work would begin on the heating system in the Rec center, which is building-wide and contains asbestos which must be removed.

Community input

Those opposed to the cutting of trees in Glen Canon Park have engaged in a lively debate in the neighborhood via fliers, at a protest in front of the park on Oct. 11 and in comments to stories posted on the Glen Park News blog at www.glenparkassociation.org. They have said that there has not been adequate input and that the community does not want the renovation if it includes cutting too many trees.

Rec and Park counters that there have thus far been 11 community planning meetings associated with this plan. December 16, 2010

January 13, 2011

January 20, 2011 (Trails Focus)

February 5, 2011 (Trails Focus)

February 17, 2011(Trails Focus)

February 24, 2011

March 24, 2011 (Trails Focus)

April 7, 2011

May 5, 2011

June 9, 2011

November 12, 2011 (Playground Design Focus)

December 10, 2011 (Playground & Design Elements Focus)

The appeal.

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14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

14 responses to “Rec Center renovation stopped by appeal

  1. Dixter

    This article is very poorly edited.

  2. elizabethweise

    We all are volunteers at the Glen Park News and welcome more people to help out. If you’d like to become a copy editor for the paper, we’d love to have you join us.

    • Mic

      I’m sure Dixter’s comment had nothing to do with the story’s content. It’s ironic though, because I just came online to say how well written -and edited- I thought it was. As a retired copy editor, I can’t help noticing these things. Beth, please thank everyone involved for this in-depth, breaking story.

  3. Monika

    I found this article very useful in tracking the ongoing park story. Thanks for the frequent updates!

  4. Charlotte

    What a disappointment to hear that the Rec Center’s renovation is being held up by one person. May it be resolved quickly to begin renovation! Having lived in Glen Park for over 20 years while raising two kids, it’s way past time to get this project started and completed. Our children and families, and yes, doggies, too, all deserve a top-notch park and open space area. The current drop off/entrance area to the park for young ones and their parents is especially stressful, due to the vehicular speeds that occur primarily because of the steepness of Elk on either end. As for the hyperbole of “deforestation”, all I can do is emit a heavy sigh. There will be no clear-cutting, only culling, which is a healthy way to manage a park’s trees. I, personally, welcome the cleaning out of some of Glen Park’s trees, and look forward to witnessing the long-term growth of planted saplings and the accompanying bird, insect and other native wildlife they will bring. I so wish the members of SFFA would not be so reactionary, and understand the actual need for tree culling. Their overly dramatic tactics detract from their credibility.

    And, by the way, a well-written article!

    • Mike

      If and when the appeal is found to be meritless, can we charge Ms. Glikshtern with the project’s cost overruns resulting from this delay?

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. Of course, the bigger question is why does the city have a policy that allows a single individual to stop a large project like this? There is a need to reform our policies. I hope Scott or other supes look into this.

  5. CRS

    Curious: are any of the playing fields planned as artificial turf?
    I followed the link, expecting to see the full report, but there were only photos, renderings, sketches and elevations. No text.

  6. Mic

    [Forwarded from Sup. Wieners newsletter]

    The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) serves a vital purpose — protecting our environment — but at times, it can be used as a last minute sandbag tactic by opponents of projects, including important public projects. The purpose of CEQA is to measure the environmental impact of projects like housing developments, park improvements and transportation projects. Unfortunately, the way the law is written, opponents of projects can use CEQA appeals to cause dramatic delays and cost escalations having nothing to do with environmental protection.

    On Tuesday, I introduced legislation at the Board changing the timing of CEQA appeals to prevent these abuses. Under the current law, a CEQA appeal can be filed up until a few weeks after the very last approval of a project, even if that occurs years after the CEQA determination was made. My legislation would change that timing so the appeal would have to be filed after the very first project approval is made. This will establish a clear and transparent time period for CEQA appeals so that those with environmental concerns about a project will have their concerns heard and examined in a timely and orderly way. This will prevent project opponents from using last minute CEQA appeals as a delay tactic that wastes time and money.

  7. PH

    the wholesale gutting of citizen sponsored review is dangerous. The process of Discretionary Review, for example, is threatened with significant change and diminution of neighbors’ input into private development. Having gone through one as a filer of a DR, it is shocking how Planning may selectively ignore code in order to allow a project to proceed. They know what Ed Lee wants, freedom to develop as that generates fees to pay the till. It is very sad that the government dominates such a process that by Proposition is intended to allow affected individuals to seek redress. I cannot say that this applies in this instance, however, instead of Wiener changing the timing of an Appeal, why not, rather, simply shorten the time that the City must respond to the Appeal? Oh, wait, that would require the City to act efficiently. We mayn’t have that because who knows the Citizenry may demand prompt service from other sectors of government, like Muni.

  8. Henley Hornsby

    Be patient everyone. One person held up the construction of the de Young Museum for over a year. It got built. We’ll get there.

  9. Pingback: “Reforesting” Glen Canyon with Bushes: What 163 trees? « Save the Trees of Glen Canyon Park, San Francisco

  10. Pingback: Glen Canyon: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly « San Francisco Forest Alliance

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