Sep 30, 2013

NoPa NERT stages a drill at the Panhandle

When the next disaster occurs, it's the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) that will be best prepared to respond by providing information and assistance to people in need. Our local NERT has been working to build its capacity to respond to a variety of situations, so last Wednesday Sept 25, they deployed their people, plans, and supplies for a staging area drill on-site at the Panhandle Park.  

Special thanks goes to Steve McPherson and Lt. Erica Arteseros for the photos.   

The tables set up on the paved area west of Masonic don't just look festive, they are color-coded to help you find the leaders of planning, logistics, and operations. And since disasters don't stop when it get dark, your local NERT now has some experience in keeping the emergency response going even when the lights go out. I am certain that I will feel really glad to see these folks out and on the scene in the event of a disaster. 

You can meet local NERT leaders at one of the upcoming events of the Panhandle Park Action Project. On Sunday Nov 17, from 11 am - 1 pm, Picnic with other advocates covering the themes of safety, crime prevention, and preparedness  and meet Park Station officers (with the talking police car) and also reps from SF Bike Coalition, SFMTA, SFDPW and SF SAFE, and NERT.

Sep 26, 2013

Action project: Playground event coming up on Sunday, October 13

The Panhandle Park Action Project is up and running, offering events above and beyond the monthly community workday in the Panhandle. The first of our special events is all about our Panhandle Playground! 

Sunday, October 13, 10 am - 12 noon
Meet at the playground

Originally built in 1965, the Panhandle Playground sees thousands of children and their families throughout the year. The playground was renovated in 1998 and is now in need of some TLC. The Parks and Rec Department, in partnership with the San Francisco Parks Alliance, is deciding where to spend playground renovation funds in 2014. With the Panhandle Playground rating a grade of C- and below every year, we think it's the perfect time to make our little playground the shining star it can be. 

Please come help us celebrate, schmooze, meet your neighbors and get involved. Featuring a neighborhood magician, balloon art, activities and more! 

This event is led by volunteers organized through the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association. The Panhandle Park Action Project is a series of events organized with support from the San Francisco Parks Alliance. 

Come celebrate the day at the Panhandle Playground. For more information about this special event, contact 

Sep 22, 2013

A pine and a eucalyptus slated for removal this week

SF Rec and Park have posted another two tree removals in the Panhandle. Department staff have informed me that an assessment by an arborist found they were hazardous, and that the removals will happen this coming week.

One tree is a Red River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) located near Fell @ Cole. The tree, though not very large, leans heavily over the cars parked at the curb on Fell Street and its trunk is riddled with holes.

The other tree posted for removal is a tall Monterey Pine near Oak @ Cole. Like the eucalyptus, this tree also shows some damage at the base of its trunk, and the only remaining branches are near the top of the tree. Monterey Pines are one of the major introduced species of trees in Golden Gate Park, but they are growing more scarce in our local green spaces such as the Panhandle due to pitch canker. McClintock's Trees of the Panhandle, published in 1965, mapped four Monterey Pines in just the one block of the park between Cole and Shrader.


In 2012 we had a substantial number of tree removals in the Panhandle, and in 2013 we have seen the beginning of tree planting. A larger-scale tree planting is now expected to commence in early 2014.

Photos of a rainy September workday

Yesterday's rain showers started just before our 9 am starting time, but a good-sized group of both new and regular volunteers still came out for the community workday. We broke into two groups, the larger of which was tasked with planting nearly 50 plants that had been provided and laid out by Rec and Park staff.    

The new plants were designated for a patch around the playground that has been mostly weedy and sandy. A couple of months ago, we added thick layers of soil and mulch to start suppressing the weeds and building better conditions for plants. We chose California native plants like ceanothus, heuchera, currant, and penstemon, all of which will remain short in stature so as to keep the views into the playground. The area is partially shaded by tall eucalyptus and Monterey Cypress, and it will be interesting to see which of the plants are able to survive.  

Even with the recently added soil, in order to dig deep enough for the new plants, we ran into tough soil and a bunch of roots, which meant a lot more work. I was incredibly impressed by the volunteers who kept going, even as the rain started falling more steadily. 

The other volunteers worked in our rain garden, removing weeds and eucalyptus leaf litter.

By 10:30 the rain was steady, and we helped the waters breach the border of the rain garden. Everyone was stoked to see the garden working as designed. And with about a half-inch of rain accumulated, we called an early end to our workday. Sadly, we also cancelled the picnic that had been planned to celebrate the completion of our 2012 Capital Project. 

Sep 21, 2013

Today's picnic cancelled due to rain

Our picnic today is cancelled due to rain. We carried on through our morning workday and so if you are by the park later today you'll see our new work, however, the persistent rain was just too much for us.

Sep 16, 2013

Picnic in the Panhandle this Saturday, Sept 21

It's time to celebrate! This Saturday, September 21 from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm is a Picnic in the Panhandle to celebrate the accomplishments in the park and to kickoff the Panhandle Park Action Project.

Our picnic runs from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Bring a frisbee to toss or games to play, or just come to spend time with neighbors and enjoy the improvements around the center of the park. We'll provide refreshments and hope to have enough for everybody.  

The Panhandle Park Action Project is a series of special events at the Panhandle, funded by the SF Parks Alliance. We're already working with volunteers from the community to plan several more events that will bring neighbors together and build our network of people interested in new ideas for the park. We'll have flyers with the dates for all of our events on Saturday.

Sep 15, 2013

North Panhandle News features history of the Panhandle park

The North Panhandle News, distributed to about 3,500 households in the boundaries of Turk, Divisadero, Masonic, and Fell Street, has a brief history of the Panhandle in its September/October issue. The article is written by Sean Sullivan, who is organizing the public safety event for the Panhandle Park Action Project. The newsletter was just printed, and I delivered newsletters along my route yesterday. If you live outside the boundaries, or if you haven't received a copy of the newsletter, you can also check the newsletter online

This issue also has an update on the Arts Commission plans to build a fence around the McKinley Statue. Neighborhood groups have reluctantly come around to supporting the plan to protect the piece from vandalism, and the Commission's agenda for this past Monday, September 9 included a motion for approval of an octagonal iron fence.

Clayton Street accessibility work in gear

The Clayton Street entrances to the Panhandle are undergoing a rebuild to improve accessibility, and signs posted on the site indicate the work will continue through September. Once the work is done and the grass grows back, most of us will probably take the yellow, accessible curb ramps for granted.

In May 2012, new curb ramps of this type were installed at Lyon Street. With this project and the curb work that came with the repavement of Stanyan in August 2012, the curb ramp infrastructure of the Panhandle is about a complete job with at least one major exception: Baker Street, across the street from Mercy Terrace, where most cyclists enter and exit the park. 

On each side, North and South of the park, a single crosswalk leads from the east side of Clayton Street to the Panhandle's pathways. The north path (approaching Clayton @ Fell Street) used to skirt alongside a large eucalyptus, but the tree was removed as a hazard in December. The north side job looks complicated, with digging, removal of roots and reconstruction of a stretch of curbside along the park.

Clayton @ Fell - some digging and removal of roots

Clayton @ Fell - re-build of the curb
The work on the south side of the park at Oak Street appears less complicated. However, this access point is important because it serves as an entry point for Park and Rec's vehicles that need to reach the dump.
Clayton @ Oak

Sep 10, 2013

Workday and community picnic coming up Saturday, September 21

The Panhandle workday for September is happening on Saturday, September 21. If you've got your calendar marked for our normal second Saturday, please make sure to note the exception that this month's event is one week later.

 Come out at 9 am and meet up at the bulletin board, (near Oak @ Ashbury). We'll be working in the area close to the playground and rain garden with Rec and Parks staff - probably planting some new plants! Tools are provided.

Right after our community workday, we're planning a community-wide picnic to celebrate the accomplishments that were completed this year. Everyone is welcome, whether or not you have ever participated in a workday. It will be a fun event and a chance to meet other people who care about the park and want to figure out how to make it even better. For more about our picnic, check out the attached flyer or our event page on Facebook.

The picnic is the start of the Panhandle Park Action Project, a series of events for neighbors at the Panhandle to bring people together and start dialog about ways to continue to improve our neighborhood park. Bring your friends and share this flyer with others!