Mar 31, 2012

Oak & Fell bikeway proposal unveiled

Today the SF MTA presented a proposal for improvements on Oak and Fell, including bikeways (see previous post). Although the plan does not modify Panhandle pathways, transitions to and from the park could be much improved. Neighborhood concerns about parking removal have led to proposals for angled, head-out (rear-in?) parking on several blocks, including Baker Street from Oak to Fell. The angled parking is proposed for the west side of Baker, directly on the front end of the Panhandle Park, to keep the flow of traffic from the adjacent blocks of Baker in alignment.

Baker at Oak (the upper left is the Panhandle Park). Proposed angled parking appears upper left. Proposed bulbouts would shorten crossing distances. Proposed bikeway appears lower right on south side of Oak. 

Additional blocks of Baker Street (up to Haight St) would also get angled parking on the west side. Baker Street north of the Panhandle already has perpendicular parking to maximize spaces.

Proposed angled parking appeared in orange. 

My concern is that angled parking on Baker Street would make the entrance to the Panhandle less attractive, from the vantage point of anyone traveling along Baker St or approaching from the east. The proposal also represents a missed opportunity; while making this change and the proposed bulbouts, we should also make a coordinated effort to address the overall neglect of the park's eastern edge. The lack of attention to detail (especially on the walkway) makes visits to the edge of the Panhandle utterly unremarkable. 

Walkway on the Panhandle's eastern edge. Asphalt, cement, asphalt, cement.

Mar 14, 2012

March workday: Much to report

Today's steady rain was welcome at the Panhandle, giving a much needed soak for all of the plants - and especially a bunch of new ones that we put in the ground at Saturday's community work day.

Working with a big crew of volunteers, including families of the seventh graders from the SF Day School, we worked on several projects near the east end. Next to the multi-use path for the two blocks between Baker and Central, shrubs were clipped, beds were weeded and supplemented with compost, and several nice sized ornamental bushes were added.
All photos in this post by Liz Acosta Photography. Copyright, all rights reserved.
On the south path, we worked on a large bed that needed to have some weedy rumex crispus dug out, huge roots and all.  
Copyright Liz Acosta Photography
A project that took some extra planning was a special planting close to the redwoods at the southeast corner of the park. On Friday, the seventh graders learned about California's native redwood habitats during their science class. They drew pictures of two plants commonly found with the coast redwood: redwood sorrel and Western bleeding-heart. On Saturday, they planted several of these plants close to one of the redwoods, and posted some of their pictures to encourage some respect and hopefully prevent trampling.

photos Copyright Liz Acosta Photography 

The success of Saturday's work day was due to everybody coming together - students, parents, repeat volunteers, first-timers, and our crew from the Rec and Park Department. 
Final group photo by me.
Copyright Liz Acosta Photography

Mar 2, 2012

Update on the Panhandle Park's Capital Improvement Project

The plan to improve the central area on the Panhandle Park will be realized soon, though city staff have told me that a delay pushes it back to April 2012 at the earliest. Conceived by community members and selected by a review panel in December 2010, the plan is one of several San Francisco park projects funded by the Community Opportunity Fund, a program of the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond.

The plan is a commonsense approach to addressing chronic problems near the bathrooms and basketball courts. There'll be better seating, repaired paths, new grass, and native plants. The work should eliminate standing water, improve routing of service vehicles, and rejuvenate grassy areas. It will make the area between the playground, bathrooms, and basketball courts an appealing area for the community to gather.

I previously prepared a video explaining the planned changes and want to summarize the main improvements that are included:

New grass. And of course, drainage and irrigation, are planned for large areas next to the north pathway, marked here as A and C. Mound A, which is closest to the basketball court, will get a low, arching wall, pictured in orange here, to provide some new seating near the court. 

Native plants. Area B will be planted with native plants that can thrive in the local conditions and will be planted and maintained by local residents. The plants will be donated by the HANC Native Plant Nursery. The arrows pointing inward indicate a slight slope downward where water will seep.   

Bike racks are also included in the plan and will be installed near the east gate of the playground.

No more muddy ruts. The plan repairs pathways along the Ashbury cross-over and rationalizes access for the service vehicles that enter the park several times each day. We've  worked closely with park staff to assess which access points are safest and most convenient, and will slightly widen the path in those places while limiting access at other points.

The project will be implemented by the city, either by city staff or by a company selected by and overseen by the parks department.

These changes are coming soon, and are possible due to contributions of time and funds from residents and neighborhood organizations.

Next park workday coming up March 10

Our next Panhandle workday is coming up on March 10, a week from Saturday. It's still planting season, and we've got plants on order for the east end of the park. Come join regular volunteers along with the families of the SF Day School 7th Graders at the March work day and increase the biodiversity of our park.  We'll meet at 9 am at the usual spot, near the Playground. 

Panhandle community work day
Saturday March 10
9 am - 11:30 am