Fire in Glen Canyon Park: How Likely? How Prepared?

Story and photos by Bonnee Waldstein

The long period of California drought, coupled with the recent wildfires in the north and south, are a reminder to Glen Park neighbors of the fragility of our environment.

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Residents, especially those whose homes are adjacent to the park, have been concerned about the possibility of a fire in Glen Canyon Park.

For years, neighbors have spoken about the areas of dense brush. Friends of Glen Canyon Park have fought the battle against it for years, with work gloves and hand tools. Folks have also traded stories about teens using the fire pits near Glenridge Nursery School/Silvertree Day Camp, and sightings of homeless people camped out in the park.

At the quarterly meeting of the Glen Park Association on January 24, people had the chance to discuss all these issues with Battalion Chief Jack Crements. A little bit about the organization of the SF fire department: The City is divided by areas into nine batallions. Glen Park is part of Batallion 6, which includes our local fire station, Engine 26, on Digby Street at Addison Street, and four other fire stations. Battalion 6, is located on 26th and Church Streets.

The department has an incident action plan, only shared internally, which is continually updated. Every year in early summer, engine companies that would be responding to a one- or two-alarm fire, assemble in Glen Canyon Park. Engines and trucks arrive, and the firefighters get into wildland gear. For three days, the companies walk through the canyon and discuss different fire response options. It’s a great refresher course, said Crements. These tours are not announced in advance to the public.

The intensity of a fire in any locality determines the response. Crements noted that there are a large number of engine companies; in our battalion each one, from Ocean Avenue to Folsom Street, has to be familiar with the entire territory. There is plenty of manpower and response time is quick, he assured the group.

In the park, the new Rec Center is very safe and secure. There also haven’t been many fire incidents lately.  The most common occurrences are students from the two nearby high schools (Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and The Academy at McAteer) hanging out around the fire pits. People walking their dogs have seen young people carrying armloads of firewood and beer and homeless people cooking. Any fire must have a permit.  If anyone sees any fire, they should call Engine 26 to check it out.

 

In contrast, the fire pits at Pine Lake are covered and locked.  No fires are allowed.  If the community wants similar action, they need to speak with a strong voice to Rec and Park.

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Fire pit in front of Glenridge/Silvertree

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Rear of Glenridge/Silvertree. Steps in foreground lead to picnic tables and fire pits in following pictures.

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“Unofficial” fire pit?

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Fire pit on left of bench

 

 

There are a number of issues that the fire department is concerned about.  The main one is evacuation of the nursery school and day camp. In the event of fire, the first responders would go straight to the children.  The second or third companies would deal with the fire.

Secondly, the homes along the ridge adjacent to the park need to take precautions.  There should be at least a thirty-foot clearance of trees around a property. This is the safety zone established by Cal Fire for wild/urban interface areas. If residents want brush cleared within that established standard safety zone, especially after a rainy season — again — they need to work with Rec and Park. “You might not think you’re a big group, but you are.  The more you stay on it and address them to make them responsible, you will get a response.”

In the Wine Country fires, embers traveled for miles and greatly increased the scope and severity of the fires. Crements said that this was a rarity of a “perfect” situation, with the dry condtions and 80 mph winds.  “It can happen anywhere, but the likelihood is not high.”

Trash should be disposed of and not be allowed accumulate around the property.

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Homes along the ridge of the canyon

 

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SOTA/Academy at McAteer high schools

 

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Homes near O’Shaughnessy Hollow

In the event of a fire spreading widely in the park, Chief Crements said that, while that could happen, the department would be able to stop it.  Though not a large concern, eucalyptus trees can explode during a fire.

Another potential problem is the water supply.  There is only one fire hydrant near Silver Tree; there’s another on Bosworth Street and a third on Elk Street.  The O’Shaughnessy/Malta area is short on water.  Gold Mine Drive has plenty.

A fire engine carries 500 gallons of water and 1200 feet of hose. To get into tight spaces to fight small fires, they use mini-pumpers. Large fires are put out by having other fires meet and extinguish each other.  A fire truck is used for manpower and carries the ladders, jaws, and emergency tools

Someone asked about the possibility of using water from Islais Creek right there in the park.  Crements said that it isn’t a reliable supply and would contain too many rocks and debris to use.

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Islais Creek

There are also cisterns with ample water in the Glen Park neighborhood.  “We know where our water sources are,” said Crements.  “Even if the hydrants break down, we have hose tenders throughout the City.”

Chief Crements was asked about the drive to green Glen Park by adding street trees.  Does that goal conflict with the danger of fire? No, he replied, as long as the trees are kept healthy and trimmed.

While there seems to be no cause for panic, it will take the ongoing efforts of Rec and Park, the fire department, and the determination of the people of Glen Park to keep the canyon as safe as possible.

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City Agency Hearings + Sheehy Legislation

  • The Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Board of Supervisors meets Monday, February 5, 1:30 p.m. in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.
  • The SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board meets Tuesday, February 6, 10 a.m., in City Hall, room 400. See full agenda here.
  • The Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday, February 6, 2 p.m., in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.
  • The Assessment Appeals Board (2) meets Wednesday, February 7, 9:30 a.m. in City Hall, room 406. See full agenda here.

10) Hearing, discussion, and possible action involving: APPLICATION: 2017-0769
APPLICANT: SWANN, JESSICA
PARCEL NO.: 6706 060
PARCEL ADDRESS: 0729 CONGO ST,
TOPIC: Decline in Value
CURRENT ASSESSMENT: $2,562,997.00
APPLICANT’S OPINION: $1,495,000.00
TAXABLE YEAR: 2017
APPEAL TYPE: Real Property
ROLL TYPE: REGULAR
STATUS: POSTPONED

  • The Government Audit and Oversight Committee of the BOS meets Wednesday, February 7, 10 a.m., in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.
  • The Planning Commission’s Historic Preservation Committee meets Wednesday, February 7, 12:30 p.m., in City Hall, room 400. See full agenda here.
  • The Recreation and Park Commission’s Capital Committee meets Wednesday, February 7, 2 p.m., in City Hall, room 416. See full agenda here.
  • The SF Board of Appeals meets Wednesday, February 7, 5 p.m., in City Hall, room 416. Agenda not up yet; see supporting docs here.
  • SFMTA ISCOTT meets Thursday, February 8, 9 a.m., One South Van Ness Ave, room 3074. See full agenda here.
  • The Budget and Finance Committee of the BOS meets Thursday, February 8, 10 a.m., in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.
  • The Planning Commission meets Thursday, February 8, 1 p.m., in City Hall, room 400. Agenda not up yet; see supporting docs here.

This isn’t Glen Park, but anyone who commutes along Cesar Chavez will someday notice one of the low slung industrial buildings being replaced by a 6- to 7-story residential over retail building. See Conditional Use Summary here.

  • A meeting for SFMTA’s MUNI Service Equity Strategy will focus on the Mission on Saturday, February 10, 9 a.m. to noon, City College, 1125 Valencia Street. See powerpoint describing this effort to improve service to disadvantaged neighborhoods here.

SHEEHY LEGISLATION

  • The Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Board of Supervisors meets Monday, February 5, 1:30 p.m. in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.

180054 [Building Code – Waiver and Refund of Investigation Fee for Persons Registered with the Office of Cannabis] Sponsor: Sheehy
Ordinance waiving and refunding investigation fees imposed by Building Code, Section 107A.5, for persons (as defined in Police Code, Section 1602) registered with the Office of Cannabis.
1/9/18; ASSIGNED UNDER 30 DAY RULE to the Land Use and Transportation Committee.
1/22/18; REFERRED TO DEPARTMENT.
1/25/18; REFERRED TO DEPARTMENT.

 

  • The Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday, February 6, 2 p.m., in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.

5. 171262 [Accept and Expend Grant – Public Health Foundation Enterprises – DOT Diary – $173,559] Sponsor: Sheehy
Resolution retroactively authorizing the Department of Public Health to accept and expend a grant in the amount of $173,559 from Public Health Foundation Enterprises to participate in a program entitled DOT Diary for the period of August 1, 2017, through July 31, 2018. (Public Health Department)
Question: Shall this Resolution be ADOPTED?
Present: Supervisors Yee, Tang

11. 171285 [Housing Code – All-Gender Bathrooms in Hotels] Sponsors: Mayor; Ronen, Kim, Sheehy, Peskin, Fewer and Safai
Ordinance amending the Housing Code to require that single-stall bathroom facilities in hotels be made available for the use of all residents, regardless of gender or gender identity, and to require that signage be posted to indicate the same; and directing the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors to forward this Ordinance to the California Building Standards Commission upon final passage.
Question: Shall this Ordinance be PASSED ON FIRST READING?

12. 171287 [Negotiate Purchase and Sale or Lease Agreements – California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) – Homeless Services on Caltrans Property] Sponsors: Mayor; Sheehy
Resolution authorizing the Director of the Real Estate Department to negotiate with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for the purpose of executing purchase and sale or lease agreements to provide homeless services on Caltrans property to protect the health safety and welfare of people experiencing homelessness.
Question: Shall this Resolution be ADOPTED?

 

  • The Budget and Finance Committee of the BOS meets Thursday, February 8, 10 a.m., in City Hall, room 250. See full agenda here.

180084 [Public Employment – Amendment to the Annual Salary Ordinance for the Office of Public Defender – Legal Unit to Defend Immigrants from Deportation – FY2017-2018] Sponsors: Fewer; Ronen, Sheehy and Peskin
Ordinance amending Ordinance No. 157-17 (Annual Salary Ordinance FYs 2017-2018 and 2018-2019) to reflect the addition of 14 new positions (3.50 FTEs) in FY2017-2018 at the Office of Public Defender for supporting immigration unit expansion to defend immigrants from deportation. (Fiscal Impact; No Budget and Legislative Analyst Report)
1/23/18; ASSIGNED UNDER 30 DAY RULE to the Budget and Finance Committee.

180085 [Appropriation – General Reserve – Support Immigration Related Legal Services – FY2017-2018 – $1,280,468] Sponsors: Fewer; Ronen, Sheehy and Peskin
Ordinance appropriating $1,280,468 from the General Reserve to the Office of Public Defender to expand immigration unit, to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to fund legal representation and rapid response social services, and to the Department of Election to fund non-citizen voter outreach and education services in FY2017-2018. (Fiscal Impact; No Budget and Legislative Analyst Report)
1/23/18; ASSIGNED UNDER 30 DAY RULE to the Budget and Finance Committee.

 

 

 

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Notes from the Soggy Glen Park Association Winter Quarterly Meeting

By Bonnee Waldstein

(Note: A feature on the presentation by SFFD will miraculously appear later.)

The weather gods frowned and doused the City with rain as the Glen Park Association held its quarterly meeting at the Rec Center on January 24.

Thus, it was a cozy group that gathered to look back on the challenges and achievements during 2017, and to gaze ahead toward tackling problems in 2018.

It was also time for the annual election of officers of the Association. The current office holders stood for re-election and were swept to victory: Scott Stawicki, President; Stephany Wilkes, Vice President; Dennis Mullen, Treasurer; Hilary Schiraldi, Membership Secretary; Heather World, Recording Secretary, and Bonnee Waldstein, Corresponding Secretary.

2017 Glen Park Association Board Review

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Glen Park Association President Scott Stawicki

GPA President Scott Stawicki outlined three major areas of focus in 2017.

First was the Glen Park Greenway, a feature of the Glen Park Community Plan adopted in 2012. The Greenway is the green space along Bosworth Street from Brompton Avenue to Burnside Avenue, which provides a green connection for pedestrians from the Village to Glen Canyon Park.

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Proposed Greenway riparian woodland

 

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Coastal Oak acorn planted along Greenway

The Association built upon a $40K initial grant in 2015 for planning the contours of the Greenway. In 2017, it secured a $70K Community Challenge Grant for tree care and replacement; and a $42K Community Garden Grant from the SF Public Utilities Commission for water meters.

Throughout the year, several work parties of Glen Park neighbors and the DPW Green Team worked on site preparation and planting, culminating in the first tree planting on December 9, in which over 50 volunteers participated. They planted seventeen saplings, including Island Oak, Coastal Redwood, California Buckeye, and Silk Tassel, plus 33 plots for local coastal oak acorns.

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Planting work party, December 9, 2017

The Greenway is a long-term project which will require community commitment and additional grants and funding far into the future.

The second goal for 2017 was to increase membership in the Association. Due in large part to a drive at the Glen Park Festival, membership went up by 74%, from 137 to 239.

Third, the Association wanted to maintain a conservative financial plan of fiscal discipline, equivalent to 2016 spending. The GPA limited its grant program to two projects and funded one — $2K was committed for a grant application to award landmark status to the Glen Park BART Station. As the station approaches 50 years old, it will need upgrades and improvements. Landmark status will ensure that these will respect the architectural intent of the station (Note: which is the best in the entire BART system!).

Stawicki observed that Supervisor Jeff Sheehy has been very supportive of Glen Park over the year. He drove the Greenway project so that planting could commence before year’s end. He helped secure funding for the replacement of the Sussex Street stairs into the park. Sheehy is responsible for the ongoing assignment of traffic control officers at the Bosworth and Diamond Street intersection. He is accessible to community concerns and attends GPA meetings regularly. And, he’s provided effective leadership across city agencies.

The past year has seen the Glen Park Association work on numerous projects and issues through its various committees. Among them:

” The Transportation Committee worked on community outreach for a new Bosworth bike lane, sought new signage on Bosworth to improve pedestrian safety, advocated for improvements at the BART station, and reviewed Phase II plans for the Bosworth/Diamond intersection.
” The Rec and Park Committee worked closely with the Rec and Park department on the new rec center and advocated for the Sussex Street stair replacement.

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Mayor Ed Lee and state Senator Scott Weiner at a sneak peak of the Glen Park Canyon Rec Center

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Rec and Park Committee member Ashley Hathaway

” The Zoning and Planning Committee worked to obtain additional grants for a historical survey of the Glen Park Bart station, and a strategy for completing a historic survey of remaining areas of Glen Park. This involves evaluating properties approaching or over fifty years old, to determine which are potential architectural resources.

Glen Park residents have learned from many civic leaders and City agency representatives, who have spoken about their work on important neighborhood projects and issues at Association quarterly and special meetings. These include our district supervisor, police, fire, rec and park, the mayor’s Fix-It Team, public works, and planning.

There were also presentations about special projects such as the SF Bike Share Program, the Recology rate increase and recycling program changes, a Canyon Market permit issue, and architectural plans for the 683 Chenery Street site of the former Chenery Park restaurant.

In addition to community meetings, the Glen Park Association keeps neighbors up to date through its quarterly newspaper, The Glen Park News, and its up-to-the-minute postings on http://www.glenparkassociation.org.

GPA president Stawicki acknowledged the volunteer reporters and columnists who write hyperlocal Glen Park stories, and the staff who puts it all together to be brought to the doorsteps and computers of Glen Park.

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Glen Park News distribution manager and reporter Murray Schneider, and Graham

The Glen Park News is the only neighborhood newspaper in the City that is hand-delivered to Glen Park homes. The distribution manager picks up bundles from the printer and delivers them to the 27 volunteer carriers who ply their mail routes every three months. That’s 4000 newspapers delivered to residents and merchants of Glen Park and Sunnyside.

Ideas, Concerns, and Solutions for 2018

After the preceding lengthy exposition, it was time for the neighbors to weigh in on what they’d like the Glen Park Association to focus on this year. It was also their turn to offer solutions.

The ongoing issues of safety, transportation, growth, and cleanliness continue as the major concerns in Glen Park.

A major focus of the feedback is the seemingly intractable problem of traffic patterns in the Village. Rush hour clogging along Bosworth Street cause collateral jams on Chenery Street. Mapping applications have exacerbated it.

Speeding on Bosworth continues at a dangerous level and calming measures are needed. Flashing lights at Chilton and Bosworth might help, as well as more rigorous enforcement of the speed limit. Chenery Street also has a speeding problem, as does the Arlington/Bosworth/Highway 280 onramp maze.

The congested Diamond/Bosworth intersection still causes frustration for motorists. The work done to try to improve the situation – bulb-outs, signal changes, lane adjustments – have not solved the problems and, some feel, have made things worse. For example, someone said, the bulb-outs interfere with the traffic flow at the BART station and should be removed. The BART plaza is a lot of wasted space that could be restructured to alleviate traffic congestion.

Stawicki “confided” that the transportation issues get the least results. “The reality is that the problems are very difficult and SFMTA has its hands full. We work in constant communication with them and chip away,” he said.

Neighbors also had much to say about crime and safety. Glen Park has not been spared from the epidemic of car break-ins that is plaguing the City. Beacon and Miguel streets have been recent particular targets.

Alarming reports roll in about muggings on neighborhood streets and at the BART station, and home burglaries.

The most popular solution is increased foot patrols in Glen Park. For now, staffing shortages at the police department prevent the desired level of police visibility. However, there is hope, as Captain Hart works on staffing patterns at the Ingleside Station. In the meantime, residents need to report each and every crime. That’s the only way to get the attention of the police.

Residents also need to be proactive: to keep their porch lights on, use landscape lighting, motion sensor lights, and keep their trees pruned, to increase visibility and deter crime.

Dumping is another thorny issue — for example, along the Greenway and the Glen Park Elementary School. Public Works has workdays to collect the discards, but better coordination is needed. When residents observe dumping, they should report it to 311 and/or go on Twitter. Also, more receptacles are needed for regular trash.

Another trouble spot is along the Arlington path adjoining San Jose Avenue. Homeless campers create trash. People hanging out and being rowdy disturb the peace of the neighbors. Dealing with this requires a number of agencies. The Mayor’s Fix-It Team is currently working on coordinating a number of activities.

There was also discussion about the pattern of developers coming into Glen Park and building “bulky, monstrous, McMansion homes,” in the words of one of the group. The houses meet code but are out of scale with their surroundings. We need to distinguish between homeowners improving their dwellings versus developers helicoptering in for profit.

Despite the small turnout due to the inclement weather, many issues and ideas were hashed out. They seemed to be representative of the concerns of much of Glen Park.

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Recording Secretary Heather World

Every issue raised and solution offered was documented by the recording secretary and will form a basis for a very long to-do list for the Glen Park Association.

The discussion closed with GPA president Stawicki giving some statistics: The Glen Park Association has 18 volunteers that serve 239 members. That’s 7.5%, or less than 1/10 of the 7,000 residents of Glen Park.

He then posed the question: “How will you help the Community??!!?”

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Put your talents and expertise to work for Glen Park! Write to president@glenparkassociation.org

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