Board of Permit Appeals denies appeal, Rec Center Renovation can go forward

Anastasia Glikshtern addressing the San Francisco Board of Permit Appeals. Photo by Michael Waldstein

At a meeting at 5:00 o’clock Wednesday, the San Francisco Board of Permit Appeals denied an appeal by Anastasia Glikshtern that had stopped renovation of the Glen Canyon Rec Center, playground and tennis courts. The vote was four in favor of denying the appeal, zero opposed.

A standing room only crowd filled the room at the 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416. About 20 people lined up to talk, about half in favor of the stoppage, about half were opposed. Most who opposed the work spoke of concerns about trees being cut down to accommodate it. Those in favor tended to focus on the need for a new playground, rec center and bathrooms

Glen Park Association president Michael Rice speaks in favor of the Glen Canyon renovation. Photo by Michael Waldstein.

Phil Ginsburg, the director of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department, said in email he was “optimistic that we will soon be able to break ground on phase 1 of the Glen Park renovation. Because SF voters passed proposition B with 72% of the vote, we now also have funding for phase 2 — which will allow us to rebuild the recreation center, too.”

Ginsburg said he was especially grateful for the parents who took the time to write letters or come to the meeting. “As a husband and dad in a hectic 2 working parent household with young kids, I am certainly aware of how difficult it is to find time to engage in civic issues and debate, no matter how worthy.  We are doing our very best at Rec and Park to represent the interests of working families living in this City.”

The $5.8 million Glen Canyon Park renovation as funded by the 2008 Clean & Safe. Neighborhood Parks Bond. It will include:

* 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.

Glikshtern’s last-minute appeal, filed on Oct. 15, called into question the building permit. Work had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 16. In a one-page statement filed with the appeal Glikshtern said she felt that significant trees in the park should not be marginalized and that their destruction was being misrepresented to the public.

The appeal also stated 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.”

A lively discussion on the Glen Park Association blog and the Glen Park Parents list on the topic has included multiple parents pushing for the renovation and equally passionate neighbors arguing that the eucalyptus trees that line the path by the tennis will be needlessly cut to make way for a newly placed tennis court.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Board of Permit Appeals denies appeal, Rec Center Renovation can go forward

  1. Rec & Park is simply holding those popular improvements hostage with their arbitrary plans to remove historic, healthy, and safe trees and to dramatically and forever change the much-loved forested character of Glen Canyon, aka Gum Tree Ranch. The appeal is absolutely not about stopping the playgrounds, the Elk Street drop-off, ADA access, restrooms, heaters, fixing the tennis courts, or removing hazardous trees. There would be no appeal if that was the project.

    Rec & Park could remove any truly hazardous trees immediately, even without this project. Why aren’t they?

    The main debate issues are:

    1) Should the City comply with State environmental protection regulations?
    2) Should the historic entrance to Gum Tree Ranch, which includes the 130 plus year-old Grand Eucalyptus and Alms Road, be retained?
    3) Should the new tennis courts be aligned correctly with the sun instead of just being moved over to make room for a new grand entrance and native plant gardens?
    4) Is the controversial natural areas program being implemented, high-jacking Rec Center funds, even though it hasn’t yet been approved?
    5) Should funds intended for the active recreation area (aka Rec Center) be diverted to unrelated and expensive tree removals and new native plant landscaping in the Natural Areas and the new grand entrance?
    6) Are the trees truly “hazardous” or just “unsuitable” for Rec & Parks plans for a new Glen Canyon that highlights native plant gardens?
    7) Do the community workshops represent community consensus, particularly when many people keep asking RPD to revise the plans to save the trees, and there is no clear public mandate?
    8) Should hundreds of upcoming tree removals, which RPD plans to do with several smaller projects, be disclosed and evaluated together for environmental impacts such as air quality, carbon sequestration, global warming, wildlife habitat, property value, historic resource, noise, sight, water, and wind buffering, etc.?

  2. dolan eargle

    To take down nine beautiful, giant trees just to move a tennis court uphill 40 feet?? Incomparable nonsense and destruction.  Such a lack of respect for nature and a terrible waste of the funds for the people! -dolan eargle, (forester)

    ________________________________

  3. Vince

    So, I will add my counterpoint. I was at the hearing last night, and while there was obviously some opposition, most people (and the appeals board) were clearly in favor of continuing with the construction as planned. Community outreach happened for two full years, and anyone who was remotely active in the neighborhood had ample opportunity to influence these plans. The removal of 58 mostly dangerous trees (two of which have fallen on their own) seems like a responsible thing to do honestly, and hopefully construction can begin again soon.

    This project (while not perfect) is a big win for Glen Park, and most residents are clearly behind it.

    • I counted eleven members of the public speaking for continuing the construction and eleven against. Those for continuing the construction were pretty equally split between native plant advocates and those wanting the Rec Facilities now. One person also spoke about immediately removing hazardous trees, which we can all agree with.

      The Appeals Board actually said they don’t have jurisdiction over the main issue, which is whether Rec & Park is complying with California Environmental Quality Assurance Regulations. This project is removing many scenic, historic, and healthy trees and dramatically changing the character of Glen Canyon.

      About 44 of the 58 tree removals and the massive native planting on the hillside is just high-jacking funding to mostly just thin trees Rec & Parks deems poorly suited and that money should rightfully be spent on the Rec Center. Even if one agrees with removing the trees, those trees and all the expensive Natural Areas landscaping on the hillside rightfully should be funded by the upcoming forestry project that will take down around 60 more trees or the Natural Areas trails project that will take down another 32.

  4. Stephen Labovsky

    At two Rec & Park workshops, held on Jan 19, 2011 and Jan 21, 2011,
    parents were polled about what they wanted with regard to the playground and the Rec Center. (see below)

    The majority of parent said they were happy with the playground the way it was. They thought the size was appropriate, they liked the location and while they wanted some general upgrades, they did not want another playground. What they wanted was for the money to be spent on major improvements to the Rec. Center so toddlers could enjoy some of the programs Rec & Park provides for little kids.

    So if these were the parent’s wishes, why is Rec & Park intending to spend almost the entire $5.8 million on building a new entrance way, constructing two new tennis courts and destroy the 125 year-old Alms Road and many, many magnificent old trees.

    Perhaps the anonymous writer of the above article could explain that to me
    _____________________________________________________
    Trust For Public Lands— Meeting Minutes from the Jan 19 & Jan 21, 2011
    Playground Workshops
    • (The playground) is okay. Not on the top of the list of priorities
    • They like having sand on the playground.
    • Make playground safer by having play equipment without hazardous
    materials.
    • Sand at this site is pretty clean.
    • Current size is appropriate
    • They do not want another playground. They prefer the children playing in nature
    • It would be good to have another access point to the playground from the top on Elk St., but they still do want the playground fenced
    • Current number of benches and tables is adequate. They do not use the ones outside the fence very much
    • Like the location away from the street and like the experience of coming along a path and discovering the playground
    • Desired adjacencies to the playground: bathroom, planting, indoor space with glass to see outdoor space
    • Playground works well, they like it and it seems safe enough. They like the slide and rings. Love the slide by the stairs
    • Upgrade fencing but keep it transparent
    • Would like to see examples of what the playground could be
    • Likes that playground is challenging and has equipment for different aged
    children.
    • Cement steps adjacent to the slide are scary (but thrilling)

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