DHCA Announcement: Reminder – Volunteer for Median Project Workday July 10! Plus Article about the Project in Glen Park Blog

Why is the median on Diamond Heights Blvd.
so lovely these days? These volunteers
are the reason. And you can help.

Reminder – Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project Volunteer Workday 
Saturday, July 10, 9-12 noon – Please join us for even an hour or two!

Glen Park News Blog on Median Project
Please read Why is the median on Diamond Heights Blvd. so lovely these days? These
volunteers are the reason. And you can help. July 7, by Murray Schneider. In the story
included below after Volunteer Workday Details,  Murray tells about the history of the
Median Project and gives updates on our current work. A huge thank you to Murray! 

Volunteer Workday Details
Date: Saturday, July 10
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon – helping us even one hour would be terrific!
Location: Meet in front of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church on DH Blvd. at Gold Mine Dr.
Work: Pull weeds on the median islands 
Recommended for 12 years and older
No gardening experience required:  Kneeling pads, gloves and safety vests will be provided.
You may wish to wear masks to avoid breathing in dust and bring your own gloves and
weeding tools.

In the future, we may be able to offer lunch for volunteers when St. Aidan’s will be open
to groups. On July 10, bathrooms will be available for volunteers in the upper level
of the church. Water will be provided.
 
Please let me know if you plan to attend.
 
Please reply if you have questions about the Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project.
 
Betsy Eddy
Acting Coordinator

JULY 7, 2021 BY MURRAY SCHNEIDER

Diamond Heights Boulevard Median Project — June 5, 2021 work party
Standing, left to right —
MIke Davis, Linda Kern, Gilbert Chavez, Joan Chaplick, Todd Siemer, Betsy Eddy
Kneeling, left to right —
Betty Carmack, Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain
Volunteers who left before photo taken —
Jaime Cid, Elaine Carlino, Margo Lark, Nicole Miller

Betsy Eddy is a middle of the road kind of person.

Literally. In the middle of Diamond Heights Boulevard tending to a the plantings.

On June 5 she put in a three-hour stint keeping San Francisco beautiful, one block at a time.
This time it was between Gold Mine Drive near St. Aidan’s Church and north to Duncan Street
at Saint Nicholas Church.

Eddy, who has lived on Farnum Street for 35 years, supervised 12 neighborhood volunteers
in the service of filling 36 refuse bags with grass and foxtails along three median islands.

Significantly, this was the first project work party since the onset of COVID-19 sequestration.

“We left the thistle, though,” Eddy told the Glen Park News, “because gold finches
like its nectar.”

She took up the mantle from Paul Matalucci, the former Diamond Heights Boulevard Median
Project Coordinator. He moved to Hood River, Oregon in June 2020 to fulfill a dream of
planting an orchard of rare apple trees.

Paul Matalucci, who project coordinator for the Diamond Heights Boulevard Median Project before moving to Hood River, Oregon to plant an apple orchard.

Never one to allow the grass to grow under her feet, she now finds herself overseeing
what she hopes will become monthly work parties to continue an effort that Matalucci
began in 2014, but remained dormant during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her mission? To inspire neighbors to replant and maintain islands along Diamond Heights
Boulevard between Duncan Street and Berkeley Way.

“The resumed median project will schedule a volunteer workday each month,” with
the next work party scheduled for July 10, she said.

Standing near a teepee of trash bags on June 5, Eddy, who is also a columnist for the 
Glen Park News, watched automobiles pass while volunteers tugged weeds buried
in soil hardened by lack of rain.

“When Paul started the project,” she added, “the medians from Berkeley Way to the corner
of Duncan were a jumble of dead trees, tall growing shrubbery and brush that obscured
sight lines for pedestrians and motorists.”

Up in Oregon, Matalucci and his husband, Tom Osborne now run the Apple Core Farm,
where they are establishing an apple orchard with heritage trees developed by early
pioneers. This spring, with the help of a Yakima, Washington apple grafter, Matalucci
grafted 120 trees representing 11 unique varieties. One of them was the Hewes Crab,
considered the best cider apple by Thomas Jefferson who grew it in Virginia.

The botanical scene is a little different along Diamond Heights Boulevard. There, Eddy
and the crew looked out at 14 Canary Island pines, purchased by Friends of the Urban
Forest and planted by DHBMP volunteers in September 2016.

In the past year, only four of the graceful trees have succumbed to the elements.

The team worked to daylight the hearty survivors, along with drought tolerant plants
such as red buck wheat, thanks to the efforts of the Matalucci-Eddy corps of volunteers

Gilbert Chavez is one.

Volunteers clear the median at Diamond Heights Boulevard.

Chavez has lived in the Tenderloin for 15 years, and has been involved in the median project
for five years. A congregant of St. Aidan’s for 35 years, Chavez didn’t take long to throw in
his lot with Eddy when he learned she’d revived pre-pandemic efforts.

“The good work of the people of Diamond Heights often goes unappreciated, and I wanted
to do my part to make the neighborhood safe and beautiful,” he said.

Eddy has long labored to make Diamond Heights a better place. She‘s been the Diamond
Heights Community Association president for 12 years, a term that’s included advocating
for park renovations at George Christopher and Walter Hass Playgrounds, championing
traffic improvements such as crosswalks and cement sidewalks, lobbying for the repair
and or replacement of City water pipes along streets such as Diamond Heights Boulevard,
Topaz Way and Jade Court, and jawboning with the MTA about retaining the 35 Eureka bus
loop down Farnum Street and back up to Addison Street and extending the 35 bus to BART.

The pandemic was not good for the medians. Waist-sized grasses threatened half-a- decade
of earlier planting of gold leaf, pink kaboom and a host of succulents along the thoroughfare.

The median project leadership had mapped out a six-year timeline that included installation
of plants and gopher baskets, coordination with both PUC and DPW to confirm status of
median irrigation and landscape design and finally neighborhood review of the design.

The beautification effort began in the spring of 2014 when Matalucci got a District 8 Greening
Grant from Supervisor Scott Wiener that helped him launch Phase 1 of our project.
That included replanting of the ‘thin’ median islands between Diamond Street and
Berkeley Way.

The DHBMP then received two Community Challenge Grants, the first awarded in 2015 to
the tune of $46,000; the second, in 2017, for $40,948.

“The first CCG included funds to hire a landscape architect who created a water use and
attractive assortment of California native plants,” Matalucci wrote in an email to the News.
“We also worked hard to develop relationships with San Francisco Public Works and were
grateful for its partnership.”

The money was earmarked for shrub removal, soil remediation, landscape design, gopher
abatement and the purchase of plants. And along the way the project received an anonymous
donation from generous residents that allowed the median project to retain the services
of a professional garden service to remove weeds from Gold Mine Drive near the shopping
center up to Saint Nicholas Church.

Surveying the morning work on June 5, Eddy envisions setting reasonable goals as the
median project springs back into action.

“We have no plans for new plants in the immediate future,” she said, eyeing Diamond
Heights Boulevard, rife with swaying knee-high grasses propelled by ever-present
neighborhood winds. “We need to get a handle on clearing weeds and getting the
irrigation system back in operation. We are also waiting for Public Works to repair a
city water pipe break at the south entrance to the shopping center.”

And Eddy, after nearly four decades as a community advocate, is stepping back.
She relinquished her DHCA presidency one year ago and now shares the office as
co-president with Mike Kramer.

Succession planning has taken center stage.

“I am hoping someone with more gardening experience takes on the role of project
coordinator,” she revealed.

Fresh from the COVID-19 lockdown that thwarted their efforts, Eddy’s volunteers bagged
the last of the encroaching grasses by 11:30. Removing their safety vests, they began
eclaiming parked cars and preparing to walk to nearby residences.

Prior to the pandemic volunteers were treated to lunch at St. Aidan’s, but the church
is still in lockdown mode, not yet ready to open its doors for social gatherings.

It’s this ongoing effort that keeps the medians looking lovely for everyone.

“The real work is ongoing maintenance and I’m grateful to Betsy for taking up the cause
and reenlisting many of our core volunteers to weed and clean the median islands now
that it’s safe for people to gather outside again,” Matalucci said.

DHCA Announcement: Volunteer for Median Project Workday July 10!

Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project Volunteer Workday Saturday, July 10, 9-12 noon
Please join us to improve the appearance of our median islands along Diamond Heights Blvd. Helping maintain our medians is important because Public Works has indicated they do not have the staff to maintain the area. Public Works is watering the plants and trees until it fixes a broken City water pipe that provides water to the drip irrigation system installed by the Median Project. 
 
The medians are in good shape from Addison St. to Duncan St. for several reasons:

  • 12 volunteers including the ones pictured above filled 36 leaf bags with weeds on one median on June 5. One of the volunteers weed whacked much of the tall grass.
  • Anonymous neighborhood residents donated funds to weed the median islands in front of the Shopping Center from Gold Mine Dr. to Duncan St. The Median Project is very thankful for this generous donation. The weeded medians made a huge difference in the appearance of our neighborhood.
  • A volunteer weeds the median from Addison St. to Diamond St. and cares for all the geraniums and jade plants on the hillside. Another volunteer turns on the drip irrigation system not affected by the broken City water pipe for this median once per week.

Volunteer Workday Details
Date: Saturday, July 10
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon – helping us even one hour would be terrific!
Location: Meet in front of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church on Diamond Heights Blvd. at Gold Mine Dr.
Work: Pull weeds on the median islands 
Recommended for 12 years and older
No gardening experience required:  Kneeling pads, gloves and safety vests will be provided. You may wish to wear masks to avoid breathing in dust and bring your own gloves and weeding tools.

In the future, we may be able to offer lunch for volunteers when St. Aidan’s will be open to groups. On July 10, bathrooms will be available for volunteers in the upper level of the church. Water will be provided.
 
Please let me know if you plan to attend.
 
Please reply if you have questions about the Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project.

Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!
 
Betsy Eddy
Acting Coordinator

DHCA/RDH Announcement: Reporting Fireworks and Tips for People and Pets

Have a Safe July Fourth
Last July 4th, 108 fires caused by fireworks were reported in San Francisco in a 12-hour period. Fireworks caused a fire in a backyard in Diamond Heights early on June 27 of this week. Fortunately flames did not reach homes. It seems many people do not realized that all types of fireworks even sparklers are illegal to possess and use in San Francisco. Every year fireworks scare and injure people. People with dementia, people with PTSD including many of our Veterans and pets are impacted adversely by fireworks.
 

Safety Tips for People and Pets 
The attached flyers provide information on alternatives to setting off fireworks, dangers of fireworks including sparklers and tips for keeping your pets safe.
 

Reporting Fireworks: A Message from Capt. Nicole Jones, Ingleside Station Captain 
“Please report illegal fireworks only if you see the person lighting them, can describe them, and can give an exact location or address.  If the circumstances observed meet this threshold, please call 311 and provide the aforementioned information. 
 
In regards to reporting noise from fireworks, please know that SFPD is aware of the noise generated by fireworks and how that impacts many in our communities.  SFPD will be out in the field mitigating these complaints.  If you feel it is necessary to call, complaints about noise should also be directed to 311. 
 
During the holidays when fireworks are prevalent, namely the Fourth of July, SFPD receives a high volume of fireworks-related calls requiring our Dispatch to triage based on the severity of the call.  Therefore, SFPD may not be able to respond to every firework-related call unless fires or injuries are involved.  In these latter instances of fire and/or injury, please immediately call 911. 
 
 As always, please keep 911 available for people with police, fire, or medical emergencies.” 

Have a safe and fun July Fourth! Resilient Diamond Heights

Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project Volunteer Workday Saturday, June 5, 9-12 noon

Please join us to improve the appearance of our median islands along Diamond Heights Blvd.
 
We miss Paul Matalucci who moved with his husband Tom to Oregon last summer to realize their dream of developing an apple orchard and cut flower business. Our Median Project Team is determined to continue Paul’s vision of having maintained median islands with beautiful flowers and plants.
 
In the future, we may be able to offer lunch for volunteers when St. Aidan’s will be open to groups. On June 5, bathrooms will be available for volunteers in the upper level of the church.
 
Date: Saturday, June 5
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon
Location: Meet in front of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church on Diamond Heights Blvd. at Gold Mine Drive
Work: Pull weeds on the median island on Diamond Heights Blvd. at Goldmine between Vista Del Monte and St. Aidan’s Church.
Recommended for 12 years and older
No gardening experience required; there will be bending and kneeling (pads and gloves will be provided). You may wish to wear masks and bring your own gloves.)
 
Please RSVP to me, so we have a headcount for work areas.
 
Thanks are due to Nicholas Crawford, Public Works, for having his team cut the weeds on both sides of the crosswalk mid-block between the shopping center and Delphine on Diamond so that drivers could see people in the crosswalk. Nicholas is also having a truck water the plants installed by the Median Project until the irrigation system is back in operation.
 
Please reply if you have questions about the Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project.
 
Betsy Eddy
Acting Coordinator

Habitat Ground Breaking for Affordable Housing in Diamond Heights


On Wednesday May 19th, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman joined Habitat Greater San Francisco to celebrate the start of work on affordable homes in Diamond Heights. Construction work will start immediately and families will be moving into the 8 new homes by the end of 2022.

The Diamond Heights Community Association thanks Maureen Sedonaen and staff at Habitat for bringing this exciting affordable housing to our neighborhood. In the video, Ms. Sedonaen describes the immense support of the community for this housing development.

In the video of the event, Mayor Breeds describes Diamond Heights: “This is an amazing community. This is a resilient community” that welcomes affordable housing. The Mayor relates her memory of how the neighborhood fought to keep the Police Academy in Diamond Heights when the City wanted to move it to Treasure Island.

Link to the video of the event
https://habitatgsf.org/amber-drive/
 
Press Release from Mayor London Breed
https://sfmayor.org/article/mayor-london-breed-announces-groundbreaking-affordable-housing-diamond-height

New homes at 36 Amber Drive will provide housing and homeownership opportunity for eight San Francisco families, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity 

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the groundbreaking of a 100% affordable housing complex in Diamond Heights at 36 Amber Drive. Once complete, the building will consist of eight homes available for purchase for low- to moderate-income families, providing more housing for San Franciscans and an opportunity for families to become homeowners. The affordable housing that will be built on this site is the first City sponsored affordable housing partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and will expand the City’s growing affordable housing pipeline.

“As we work to recover from this pandemic, now is the time to build more housing of all types and do all we can to make San Francisco a more affordable place to live,” said Mayor Breed. “Thanks to the generous donation of this land and our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, this new complex will provide much-needed housing that will benefit San Francisco families for generations to come.”

The 36 Amber Drive parcel was donated to Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) by Mischa Seligman and his wife Brigitte, in memory of Mischa’s mother, Maria Kolisch. In the 1950s, Maria was one of the first residents of the newly created Diamond Heights neighborhood. In the winter of 2020, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) selected Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco to lead development, of the affordable housing proposed for the site.

“High land costs and a scarcity of developable sites have made building new affordable housing in District 8 neighborhoods especially challenging. Nonetheless, I have made it one of my highest priorities to find affordable housing opportunities and new approaches to building and preserving affordable housing in the neighborhoods I represent,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “Infill affordable homeownership projects like 36 Amber Drive create a blueprint for how District 8 can get more homes that are affordable to middle and lower income San Franciscans. We need hundreds of 36 Amber Drives throughout San Francisco. Thank you to Mayor Breed, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and Habitat for Humanity for working with my office and the neighborhood to bring affordable homeownership to Diamond Heights.”

In April 2021, MOHCD provided a critical $1.5 million investment that allowed the $7.9 million-dollar project to move forward. In addition to City funding, the development is benefitting from a number of other funding sources including CalHome and the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program.

“There was no one who loved San Francisco and its people more than my mother. It gives Brigitte and I such joy to know that these Habitat homes, being built on the site of her house, will allow more families to live in the city,” said Mischa Seligman, who donated the land at 36 Amber Drive in honor of his mother for the purpose of building affordable housing. “We are grateful to Mayor Breed, Supervisor Mandelman, the Habitat for Humanity team, and all of the residents of Diamond Heights for supporting this project.”

The land that 36 Amber Drive sits on previously held a single home and the construction of the new building will be an ‘urban refill’ project. The eight new homes, consisting of three-bedroom, two-bedroom and 4-bedroom units, will be built on the 6,414 square foot lot in Diamond Heights. Each family living at 36 Amber drive will have all electric appliances and utilities powered by rooftop solar panels as well as private outdoor space.

Construction will begin in late May 2021 and will be undertaken by Habitat’s professional construction staff together with hundreds of volunteers including the residents who will eventually live in the new homes. In September 2021, the project will be marketed on DAHLIA, the City’s Affordable Housing portal. The lottery winner households invest 500 hours building their homes alongside their neighbors. Each family benefits from a 0% down, 0% interest mortgage from Habitat and have their housing costs capped at 30% of household income. Eight first-time homebuyer families will be able to move in to the building in January 2023.

“This is an exciting time for affordable homebuilding in San Francisco. Getting homes built in our region isn’t always quick, and it isn’t always easy, but under Mayor Breed’s leadership the city now boasts a pipeline of construction at all affordability levels and for all family sizes,” said Maureen Sedonaen, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco. “The donation of land by Mischa Seligman, and his wife Brigitte, in memory of Mischa’s mother, Maria, is a shining example of the incredible generosity that powers Habitat’s work.”

“It is so important for our city that working families can continue to live here in the place they know and love, so it’s great to see these affordable homes being built in Diamond Heights,” said Betsy Eddy, Diamond Heights Community Association Co-President. “From the first community meeting, neighborhood residents overwhelmingly supported the concept and plan. This proves again that San Franciscans welcome homebuilding when it is done in a collaborative way and with homes designed to complement the character of the neighborhood in which they are built.”

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco
Since its founding in 1989, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco has built hundreds of homes in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. They have also undertaken hundreds of critical home repairs for seniors – making sure that they can continue to live in the homes they know and the communities they love. They are supported by an extensive network of individual and corporate volunteers and donors across San Francisco.

Steve Jacoby – naval aviator and United pilot – founded Habitat’s San Francisco chapter after being challenged to bring Habitat to the city by former first lady Rosalynn Carter. Even when Steve knew he would die from complications of AIDS, possibly before his effort bore fruit, he mobilized the entire community to start a Habitat for Humanity chapter in the last major city in the U.S. without a Habitat affiliate.

Join Resilient Diamond Heights for Discussion of COVID and Fireworks

 Wednesday, June 2, 7 pm via Zoom

 For the Zoom link and more information, please contact Betsy Eddy, by emailing betsy.eddy@gmail.com. Please forward to neighbors and friends who may be interested. Thank you!

COVID Overview presented by Greg Carey
Resilient Diamond Heights (RDH) has kept a close watch on the measures affecting the COVID-19 pandemic since it started 14 months ago. San Francisco was the first large city to respond with measures to protect the residents, and as a result had the lowest numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities of any large US city. We will take 30 minutes to both review the local successes and look at the national and international situation as they stand at the end of May. Please join our free on-line program to bring your family and friends up to date.
 
Fireworks: Getting ready for a loud and potentially dangerous July 4th 
We will have a discussion of what can be done to avoid a repeat of too many fireworks in the neighborhood this year. On July 4, 2020, fireworks caused 108 fires from 3:00 pm on July 4 to 3:00 am on July 5 in San Francisco. Many professional grade fireworks were set off in Walter Haas Park, many spraying sparks on nearby roofs and yards. See photo of fireworks that were ignited in the park. Our discussion will include where to call to report fireworks, tips for pets scared by fireworks and an overview of July 4th last year. Please join us to share your comments and concerns.

Muni 36/52 Special Route Starts May 15th

Message from Jacob Bintliff, Supervisor Mandelman’s Office:
I just wanted to confirm the final route and details for the combined 36/52 loop that will start service on Saturday, May 15th. The loop will run in both directions with 30 minute headways between buses, between 10:00 – 6:00 pm. The buses will also run from 8:00 – 10:00 am and 6:00 – 8:30 pm in the clockwise (southbound on Diamond Heights) with a 1-hour headway. This information will be posted to the MTA website this week. 

Again, we recognize this is not a replacement for full service on either of these lines, but are glad to be getting some service in Diamond Heights after more than a year. The next opportunity for service restorations will be in August, and we’ll keep on MTA about bringing these routes back fully. 

Link showing the 36/52 bus routes in both directions:
https://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/pdf_map/2021/05/36-52_special_pdf_map.pdf

Jacob Bintliff 
Legislative Aide
Office of Supervisor Rafael Mandelman
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 284
San Francisco, California 94102
(415) 554-7753 | jacob.bintliff@sfgov.org

Friends of Christopher Park would like your comments about the renovations for George Christopher Playground

Message from Brynna McNulty, Coordinator:
“Friends of Christopher Park would like to thank everyone for your patience while construction was underway for improvements to the park and the renovation of the George Christopher Playground. There has been a long road of advocacy and hard work by Rec & Park, Public Works and Treaty Construction through challenging times to reach this exciting milestone. Some additional work is still to come. You may read about that and more in future Glen Park Association blog posts.

Friends of Christopher Park would like to create a photo essay documenting first impressions and experiences in the new playground and improved park grounds. Please consider emailing a photo and/or quote to be included @ 
friendsofchristopherpark@gmail.com or post to our Facebook page. As always we’d also like to hear concerns and new ideas, so please email us!  Many thanks and enjoy!” 

George Christopher Park Opening: Mayor’s Press Release, GPA Blog, Photos and Project Spotlight

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications, mayorspressoffice@sfgov.org

*** PRESS RELEASE ***

LONDON N. BREEDMAYOR

MAYOR LONDON BREED ANNOUNCES REOPENING OF

REMODELED GEORGE CHRISTOPHER PLAYGROUND

Kids welcome new play equipment and nature exploration area in the Diamond Heights park
following renovation.

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the reopening of the newly
renovated George Christopher Playground in Diamond Heights. Mayor Breed was joined by
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the Recreation and Park Department, Public Works, and kids
from Noe Valley Nursery School and Eureka Valley Arts to cut the ribbon on the $5.2 million
renovation of the site, located above the northeastern rim of Glen Canyon.

The new play area at George Christopher Playground features structures for both big and
little kids and includes swings, a whirl, and an imagination garden with a bridge, playhouse,
and stepping stones. A dry riverbed nature exploration area supports imaginative play. New
safety surfacing has also been installed.

“Safe, engaging playgrounds and accessible parks are essential for the health of our
children and our communities,” said Mayor Breed. “We’re investing in our children, families
and seniors by updating neighborhood gems like George Christopher Playground so they can
continue to shine. Thanks to the support of so many neighbors and organizations over the
years, this community now has a wonderful new space to enjoy.”

The renovation of the beloved 6.8-acre park also includes improvements to its pathways,
landscaping, lighting, drainage, and irrigation systems. An improved design focuses on safety
and connection of the park’s elements. A small amphitheater has been transformed into an
accessible plaza with views of the playground. Fencing has been expanded around the east
side of the clubhouse, which houses Noe Valley Nursery School. The clubhouse restrooms
have been reconfigured to a new single user accessible restroom, a gender-neutral, multi-user
restroom has been made more accessible, and a ramp has been installed from the playground
to the outside restroom.

Steps from the updated playground, two pieces of mid-century play equipment have been
preserved as a climbable modernist sculpture garden. Concrete Saddle Slide by sculptor
Jim Miller-Melberg and metal Pleasure Dome by sculptor David Aaron were part of the
playground when it opened in 1971 and are examples of the experimental Creative Play Design
movement of the 1950s and 60s. A third piece in the garden is a replica of Miller-Melberg’s
concrete sculpture Playwall.

1 DR. CARLTON B. GOODLETT PLACE, ROOM 200 SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 94102-4681 TELEPHONE: (415) 554-6141


Christopher Park Playground Opens After Remodel Link:

https://www.glenparkassociation.org/christopher-park-playground-opens-after-remodel/
 
By Brynna McNulty, Friends of Christopher Park

APRIL 29, 2021 BY BRYNNA MCNULTY, FRIENDS OF CHRISTOPHER PARK

Playground photos courtesy of SF Rec & Park

George Christopher Playground in Diamond Heights has reopened after a near
two-year, $5.2 million renovation and park improvement project. The 6.8 acre park
is tucked between the Diamond Heights Shopping Center and the northeastern rim
of Glen Canyon. The park improvements include a new playground, resurfaced
pathways, lighting, drainage, and irrigation systems. The clubhouse restrooms
have been reconfigured into a new single user accessible restroom and a gender
neutral multi-user restroom.

The project, which broke ground in late 2019, was shaped by feedback gathered
through neighborhood meetings, community surveys, electronic voting, and
outreach at the “Where in the World is Christopher Park? Festival,”
a free community event to raise awareness for this park.

With improved accessibility and visual connection between spaces as guiding
design goals, the park amphitheater has been transformed into an accessible
plaza with views of the playground, and a ramp to connect the playground to
the new accessible restroom. Pathways connecting the Little Red Hen Community
Garden and Christopher Park have been resurfaced. The tennis court will be
resurfaced and new lighting installed as a future project phase.

The renovated playground features play areas for both big and little kids and
includes swings, climbing structures, a whirl, and an “Imagination Garden,” a
concept developed by landscape architect Jasmine Kaw, who led the SF Public
Works design team for this project. Nature-based play enthusiasts from the Noe
Valley Nursery School, located in the Christopher Park Clubhouse, asked Rec and
Park to draw upon the natural surroundings of Glen Canyon in the new playground
design.

This was a fit for Kaw, who is a member of San Francisco Children and Nature, a
citywide collaborative working to expand opportunities for nature connection in
parks, schools, and neighborhoods. Kaw explains,

“We were excited to integrate a nature exploration area within the playground
footprint, with child friendly plants, a dry riverbed, logs, tree stumps and loose
natural parts to encourage imaginative play, especially for the younger age set.
This is a first for a city park where a large natural play space is directly adjacent
to two structured play areas, giving children more play choices.”

Big Kids play area
South facing view of Big Kids play area. Imagination Garden in foreground
Imagination Garden on right
Sculpture Garden from original playground

Community advocacy created an additional opportunity for creativity in Kaw’s
design, when members of Friends of Christopher Park requested the preservation
of three beloved play structures. This request came as the SF Planning Department
completed design plan review and environmental impact analysis for the project.
The Planning Department took an interest in the original playground and
amphitheater, in part because its 1961 schematic design was by one of California’s
foremost modernist landscape architects, Robert Royston.

Steps from the updated playground, two pieces of mid-century play equipment have
been preserved as a climbable modernist sculpture garden. Concrete Saddle Slide 
by sculptor Jim Miller-Melberg and metal Pleasure Dome by sculptor David Aaron
were part of the playground when it opened in 1971 and are examples of the
experimental Creative Play Design movement of the 1950s and 60s. A third piece
in the garden is a replica of Miller-Melberg’s concrete sculpture Playwall.

The Planning Department completed a thorough review of the architectural
significance of the playground, which included the playground structures
community members were asking Kaw to save.

Friends of Christopher Park researched these artists and were fascinated to learn
that their “play sculptures” were part of the experimental Creative Play Design
movement of the 1950s and 60s. This information laid the groundwork for
community advocacy to save the historic play sculptures.

Friends of Christopher Park requested a safety inspection for the sculptures and
sought support for their preservation from District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman
who, together with prior support from former Supervisors Jeff Sheehy and
Scott Wiener, ultimately secured an additional $552,000 in funding for salvaging
the vintage play sculptures and making pathway improvements, ball field fence
replacement, and new tennis court lighting.

Original play structure

Rec and Park Project Manager Lauren Chavez worked diligently to provide
remaining funding through Rec and Park deferred Maintenance and Open
Space funds.

Thanks to the good work of local contractors Treaty Construction, Kaw’s excellent
design team and Rec and Park’s dynamic project management team led by Chavez,
two original and one replica of the mid-century play equipment comprise a
climbable modernist sculpture garden just steps from the updated playground.
Friends of Christopher Park is delighted that current and future generations will
enjoy these play sculptures, and is grateful for the experience of working with the
project team, the Diamond Heights Community Association, and the Office of
District 8 to make the new George Christopher Playground exceptional.

Mayor London Breed presents Certificate of Honor to Betsy Eddy as
co-president of Diamond Heights Community Association.
Sup. Mandelman on left. Photo: Josh Aberant

Mayor London Breed is fired up about the new playground. 

The usual crowds for a ribbon cutting ceremony weren’t in attendance due to
Covid-19 concerns. But Mayor London Breed, District 8 Supervisor
Rafael Mandelman, and  Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg,
were among the city dignitaries who brought spectacular weather to the opening
festivities. And excited kids from Noe Valley Nursery School and Eureka Valley Arts
eagerly tried out all the new fun stuff.

“George Christopher Park has been called the best kept secret in San Francisco
for its views and trails that connect to Glen Canyon. Now its playground is among
the most innovative and fun in San Francisco,” said Ginsburg. “This space has been
beloved by the neighborhood for decades, which was reflected in the community’s
enthusiasm guiding this project.

Christopher Park is Open!

The park is beautiful and will be loved by children and adults. Many thanks to all the Rec and Park staff that made the new park possible.

Mayor Breed, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and Phil Ginsburg, Rec and Park General Manager; Brynna McNulty, Friends of Christopher Park and I spoke at the opening of George Christopher Playground this morning. 

Mayor Breed presented the Diamond Heights Community Association a Certificate of Honor for its critical role in the creation of the new playground. Brynna McNulty received a Certificate of Honor for the Friends of Christopher Park also for working on the park development.

More photos of the event will be posted soon.

Enjoy the park!

Betsy
DHCA Co-President