Notes from the quarterly Glen Park Association meeting

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Held April 21, 2016 at St. John School.

By Bonnee Waldstein

The Spring meeting of the Glen Park Association was dominated by two issues affecting the entire City as well as Glen Park – Prop. B and BART. Both required discussion of the usual sticky issues of money and maintenance.

Firstly, however —

2016 GPA Grant Program Awards:

GPA president Michael Rice announced three $1,500 awards for projects that benefit the neighborhood and its residents:

Rebuild of the Surrey Street Steps

Two years ago, Friends of Penny Lane, a group of volunteers led by local architect Adam King, built retaining walls and a stairway, and planted vegetation along the footpath connecting Surrey and Sussex Streets. The path had to be dismantled at the beginning of the year so that a break in the sewer line underneath could be repaired. The GPA awarded the grant, along with funds from the Parks Alliance, to put Penny Lane back together again.

iPads and other hardware for special needs programs at Sunnyside Elementary School

Principal Renee Marcy and PTA President Cynthia Payne noted the incredible progress Sunnyside Elementary has made with students with moderate to severe disabilities, including autism, special physical needs, and communication problems. The iPads are revolutionizing education for these kids, with the use of special apps. They are also providing motivation and structure for learning, and making it fun too.

The San Francisco Mime Troupe

The final award went to The San Francisco Mime Troupe, which each summer gives a free performance of its yearly play in Glen Canyon Park. The Troupe will once again present in our park this summer. 

Rec and Park Update:

Renovation of the Rec Center is proceeding on track for completion in Spring 2017. Current work is on the foundation for the new wing and reinforcing the gym foundation. Scaffolding will be going up to redo the stucco exterior.

Plans for the Sussex Street steps from Elk Street into the park are still in the decision phase. Work should begin after summer.

A concern was raised that the gate from the Bosworth Street entrance should be closed and monitored during construction. Speeding by construction vehicles within the park was also noted. These issues will be followed up on.

Proposition B Presentation:

Prop B will be an initiative on the June ballot. It is a charter amendment intended to strengthen ongoing funding for Rec and Park maintenance.

Before presenting the details, Todd David of Noe Valley (and the director for Scott Wiener’s state senate campaign) said why he supports the proposition. “I have three kids in public school, and one of the last things families can do in San Francisco at a reasonable price are the eight weeks of summer camp funded by Rec and Park.”

The department is unbelievably underfunded: There is currently $1 billion in deferred maintenance, and severe staffing shortages of gardeners and others, dating back to Prop 13 cuts in the 1970s. Prop B is about creating sustainable and predictable funding. (The renovation of the Glen Park Rec Center comes from bond funds, which can only be used for capital projects.)

Fifteen years ago the Open Space Fund was a mandate that the Rec and Park department receive 2.1% of the general fund. Today, that figure is literally reversed, to only 1.2%. Prop B attempts to right size that to a degree, by bringing the mandate to 1.5% ($64 million), and have it grow steadily as the budget grows.

Strikingly, last year 99% of Rec and Park maintenance was done on an emergency basis; 1% was done on a scheduled plan. The investment in capital projects without enough funds for maintenance means we don’t get the full life out of our projects. Instead of lasting for 50 years, they might last for 20.

Todd observed that we have set-asides in the City budget for other things we say are important: libraries, public school childcare, and affordable housing. While Supervisors, department heads, etc., come and go over the years, Prop B sets long term goals beyond the current political and economic climate.

Someone commented that the proposition doesn’t prioritize where the money goes and that there’s no accountability. Others were concerned that the funding numbers would become the ceiling rather than the floor: That Rec and Park would never get more than the mandate.

Michael Rice noted that the San Francisco Chronicle recommends a vote against the proposition, because it involves a 30-year expenditure commitment with no revenue identified directly, plus the unknowable needs in 20-30 years.

Prop B needs a vote of 50% plus one to pass.

(See protectsfparks.com)

 

BART update:

Veronica Bell, a consultant for BART, gave an update on BART’s current goals and priorities. All told, BART needs $9.6 billion to fund current and future needs. A $3.5 billion plan is being unveiled, which will be a bond measure on this year’s ballot, with 90.4% fix-it-first, and 9.6% prepare-for-the-future components. Another $1.3 billion would come from federal and state funds and around $4.9 billion from programmed funding. There are three areas of major focus.

Safety and reliability: Again, maintenance, or the lack thereof, is a big issue. Examples are water damage in the tunnel, safety of the tracks, corrosion of power conduits, and outdated power and control systems, all of which cause delays in service. The infrastructure and technology is so old, and the parts are unique and, at times, irreplaceable.

Relieving traffic on the freeways: Outdated cars need to be upgraded. 775 cars are on order for 2017. That will allow a 30% increase through the Transbay Tube during peak hours, and result in 8,500 fewer cars on the Bay Bridge, and 7,500 cars off the roads. BART was built for capacity of the 1960s and 1970s and the escalating ridership is straining the system. BART needs to prepare for 9.6% growth.

Better stations for everyone: This includes station access, for those with or without disabilities; elevator and escalator improvements; and more bike storage. The latest survey shows a significant increase in getting to stations by bike.

The bond needs a 2/3 vote to pass among three counties: San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa. An independent oversight committee would be responsible for monitoring the program.

Tim Chan, the station planner for the Daly City to Powell Street stations, addressed the local situation at the Glen Park station. There are no plans for development of the BART lot on the drawing board for the near future.

However, the lot will be used for construction staging and we will have seven possible weekend closures of Glen Park BART between July and October. They will be working on the rails and problematic track curves between Daly City and Glen Park. There will be a media blast several weeks in advance when the schedule is set.

In terms of upgrading the station, Glen Park is “last in line.” For any improvements, advocacy and searching for funding sources will be necessary. Sorely needed in the station is redundancy of elevators and escalators, so that access is uninterrupted if something breaks down.

The Daly City line will be extended to Warm Springs in Fremont without any change to Glen Park.

Supervisor Scott Wiener update:

Diamond/Bosworth intersection: Sup. Wiener summed it up with the comment: “Our long national nightmare will be over soon. This is the absolute worst-handled project I’ve ever experienced. We’ll live and learn from this debacle.”

Legislative achievements:

Mayor Lee signed the first in the nation 100% wage replacement for parental leave.

The Board of Supervisors passed legislation making San Francisco the first city to require installation of solar panels in new buildings from 1 to 10 stories. Shaded buildings are exempt. Our goal is 100% renewable energy in the City.

Wiener introduced a ballot measure to fix our broken street tree system. It mandates the City to take back responsibility for the 105,000 street trees in San Francisco. It would establish a lock box fund for tree maintenance, sidewalks damaged by trees, and liability for injuries caused by trees and sidewalks. It would expand the tree population by 50%. It would be funded by locking in the average spent in the last 10 years from the general fund — $10 million, plus another $8 million in a new parcel tax of $29.50 for condos and $35 for single-family homes. Homes with large frontages would pay more, and large offices buildings would be taxed several thousand dollars.

Transit changes:

The 35 Eureka route will be extended to connect with the Glen Park BART station. It will run more frequently during commute times. (See https://www.sfmta.com/about-sfmta/blog/muni-forward-details-upcoming-changes-routes-28r-18-35.)

All night Owl service has launched on portions of the 44 O’Shaughnessy line. (See https://www.sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/new-44-and-48-owl-routes)

Private shuttles:

MTA is no longer letting shuttles drop off and pick up at Glen Park BART and they’ve decreased the number of stops throughout the City. Moreover, the shuttles can only use arterial streets. Supervisor Wiener noted he’s the loudest supporter of the shuttles as they get people to work and get cars off the road.

Homeless crisis:

More navigation centers are being opened at Civic Center Hotel, Pier 80, and Dogpatch. They’re better than shelters, providing a range of services. The situation is challenging. Since 2004 we’ve gotten 12,000 into housing, yet the homeless count today is about the same.

We are increasing mental health services, putting more psychiatric beds at SF General, and building a mental health facility where the county jail is.

Drug addiction has exploded. The estimate is 20,000 addicts in the City. The idea of a safe injection site is being floated.

The mayor has been focusing more on the tent situation. It’s not an acceptable state of affairs. Although people can’t be forced into shelters, the encampments aren’t safe or healthy, and they are being dismantled.

 

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