Gavin Newsom, Mayor
Recreation and Park Commission
April 2, 2009
Commissioner Lazarus called the meeting of the Recreation and Park Commission to order on April 2,
2009 at 4:07 p.m.
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
Jared Blumenfeld: I will turn to the budget, which continues to be the most important thing we’re
probably dealing with on a macro scale. The city is in continued negotiations, and I think there’s a tentative
agreement. The Mayor’s office came out with a press statement today with SEIU, so we’ll wait to see what
the details of that agreement are. But obviously, the majority of layoffs that were affected, going to be
affected May 1 are in SEIU, so hopefully, there’s some movement on those in a positive direction. The
other work that we’re doing is really to start fleshing out each of the fee proposals that we came before you
and were passed by this Commission. So the first fee meeting relates to the Arboretum and Botanical
Gardens. Their meeting will be on April 6th, this coming Monday. I think it’s 6:30, starting at the Hall of
Flowers. And then the next day will be April 7th, and that will be at Bernal Heights. We’ll be discussing all
the fee increases in a public venue, and those have been pretty widely distributed and should have fairly
high attendance levels. I think that concludes the General Manager’s Report.
Gordon Manning: My name is Gordon Manning. I’m the Vice Commissioner of the San Francisco Gay
Softball League. And the reason that I’m here today is just to educate you a little bit about our organization
and some desires for some improvements. We are the oldest gay softball league in the country. We started
over 35 years ago. We’re part of a national organization of over 40 cities across North America. One of the
problems that we have the adequacy of the softball fields in San Francisco. Someone else will be talking
about health and safety regarding that, but we just want to tell you a little bit about the benefit the city
receives of having us here and its importance of having a league as viable as ours. Each year, we hold an
annual tournament that brings people from all over North America, but we can’t have it in San Francisco.
Last year, we went to Napa. We’ve been to Sunnyvale. This year, we’re going out to Walnut Creek. Each
year, the Gay World Series is held, and it rotates cities according to cities that bid, and we can’t bid on
them for San Francisco. We just don’t have the facilities to do that. The benefit of the Gay World Series –
over 5,000 participants and spectators come to the city. Seattle received tremendous benefit this past year.
The city of Naples, Florida doesn’t have a league, and they’re bidding on the World Series. That just
addresses our unusual events, which is our annual tournament, the World Series, but with our 52 teams and
900 members, most teams are sponsored by one to two businesses that receive a mutual benefit from
sponsoring our league. They’re bars, as you would expect, but there are also restaurants, they’re mortgage
companies, they’re apparel companies, they’re distributors. On any given Sunday in the spring, from March
to July, you will see hundreds of players entering these business, and the benefits accrue to them.
Additionally, we think that improving the fields will also help grow our league even larger, because some
people don’t want to play because of conditions. They’d rather go to other cities where there are better
fields. So you’ll hear from someone else today about the specific conditions and the players’ concerns on
them, but thank you for listening. Vincent Fuqua: Hi. I am Vincent Fuqua, and I’m actually the
commissioner of the San Francisco Gay Softball League, and Gordon went over some history of it. Also,
I’m just here more just to talk about the conditions of the fields. We are a San Francisco league, which
means that we play in San Francisco. But because of the condition of the fields, it does create a lot of
injuries. I know for me personally, a couple of years ago, I had to have knee surgery because of Kimball
Field, because I was in the outfield. And I went for a ball and my foot got caught in one of the gopher holes
that was there and I twisted my knee and I went to have surgery, you know, because of the conditions of the
field. And so we feel that it’s important…I understand that the budget and the crisis all of a sudden that it’s
hard to put money towards facilities and towards recreation. But these are San Franciscians who are playing
on park facilities, and they are at risk every time they step on the fields because of the conditions of the
fields that we actually have right now here in San Francisco. As Gordon said, we are a very big league and
we bring a lot to this city, and we will continue to grow. But in order for us to continue to grow, it’s going
to be very important that we figure out a way of how to make sure that the fields are very viable and very
healthy for all of us to continue to participate. And because, you know, it does create a lot of injuries that
we have to deal with every year, and that is something serious that happens, you know, in our league. And I
know it’s something that the City itself doesn’t want to have to continue to worry about, liabilities all the
time because somebody’s getting hurt or injured in their fields that are out there. So I just wanted to bring
that attention to you guys as well, to help aspect of fields and how important it is to figure out a way of how
to put money towards that, to make the fields much more conducive for us to continue to play. And as
Gordon mentioned, we are a large league, and people want to come to San Francisco to give back to this
city, since it’s a very powerful city. And in order for us to do that, [it’s important for us to] come up to the
standards as other cities have across the world regarding our athletic fields that exist here in San Francisco.
Commissioner Harrison: I have one question for the speaker. I just wondered if your league has had an
opportunity to try the artificial turf fields that the City Fields Foundation is sponsoring and if you have any
comments on that.
Vincent Fuqua: I know my team, we play on the city league, and we have played on those fields and they
are very good fields that we actually love playing on. Those fields are very, very good to use. So yes, I have
played on them and my team played on it and we actually liked those fields a lot, the way they are being
Brian Hornback: Okay. I represent the San Francisco Skateboarding Association, and I have a few
pictures to show. This is a picture of some of our members that we took in the horseshoe pits a couple years
ago when we had a skateboard contest, an event. And as of now, we’re three or four times that size. We
have about 400 members ranging from the ages of 7 to 47, and above. What I came to do today was just to
show you the range of people that use skateboarding activities and to let you know that there are actually no
skateboarding activities except for Potrero del Sol right now, which is a great park that we had put in.
Here’s another spot that we usually skate at. Let me just flip that around. This is over at 3rd Street and
Army. It’s a spot that is actually kind of a nowhere destination. Right now it has no water or no bathroom
and a lot of homeless people, and it’s really windy and it’s kind of smelly over there. But that’s the only
other place besides Potrero del Sol -- and this is about a half a mile away from Potrero – for kids to go
skate. We have had some different contents on Waller Street, right next to Kezar Stadium. And this is just a
picture of some of us when we were throwing out t-shirts and stuff. Here’s another picture of some of the
guys skating. It’s a really popular activity, and it’s underrepresented here in the city. And we’re hoping that
you can find some funds in this next year to fund the design aspects of making this spot here at Golden
Gate Park a skatepark and a plaza for a farmer’s market and other activities for the community right there at
the end of Haight and Waller and Stanyan. I’m going through this kind of quick and that’s okay, because I
know you guys don’t have a lot of time. But the last thing I want to show you is our team of kids that have
nowhere to skate. And that’s them. And a lot of those live over in Sophie Maxwell’s neighborhood. And a
lot of those guys are from out in Geneva over where Crocker Park is, which is also an inadequate skatepark.
And they follow us around and they go to a lot of activities that we sponsor that sometimes, we have to
spend a lot of time and effort to give them a place to skate. You know, we can’t just go to the skatepark and
say, “Let’s hold an event where we have music and a barbecue and stuff to bring the community together.”
We have to make a place. And this right now is one of them. We have ten other parks, skateparks, that
we’re looking to develop within the city. And hopefully we can come to you guys later on and put those
projects in front of you. Thanks so much. Dan Schneider: Hello. My name’s Dan Schneider, and I
represent SF Urban Riders. We’re a new non-profit seeking better recreational cycling for youth of all ages
in San Francisco. And we’ve been around for about a year and a half and we’ve been working to make
good relationships and good community partners. And recently, we’ve been fortunate enough to have
Neighborhood Parks Council host some meetings about multi-use trails and some trail projects related to
the Prop 8 bond measure. And we brought in the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the International Bike Association,
Natural Areas Program, SF Rec and Park, and a few others together. What we’re trying to do, what we’ve
identified is there’s not a lot of recreational opportunities for, bicycling opportunities in the city of San
Francisco. And the need is really great. They estimate that there’s 50 million mountain bikers nationally,
roughly somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the population. And around here, again, we have issues
with confined space. And with what, what we’re basically noticing is that the larger open spaces that we
have could be used as part of an interconnecting trail system. And what I want to point out is we value the
natural history and the sensitivity of our open spaces, but we also recognize the recreational history of these
areas that they’ve had over the years, and it’s always been an outlet for people for recreation and to get
around. We also realize the movement in San Francisco to become a more green city, a more connected
city, a less car-using city. And so, by putting people on bicycles and especially giving kids a chance to get
on bicycles, we will educate them the proper way to use them. We’ll teach them environmental education.
They’ll grow up strong, healthy, confident, and they’ll become bike commuters. We have a complete
master plan that I can leave a copy with you if you’d like to review it. And it addresses a lot of the issues
that’s happening in our parks right now related to bicycles. It also highlights some great examples in other
cities and lots of other great facts. It brings a lot of health benefits to the city, and we’re not just talking
about bicycle recreation. We’re talking about bicycle skills areas, which are isolated areas, and multi-use
trails, which have benefits to all users. And again, it’s all explained here. I do want to point out that these
bicycle skills areas are usually natural and they’re usually pretty low-cost. And at the same time, we’ve
identified a lot of unique funding opportunities, grants, donations, etcetera, that we could bring to this
partnership. And again, we have some examples in here. And again, just, youth of all ages, if you look
around, there are no bicycling opportunities. And there’s also a lot of great history. McLaren Park, Golden
Gate Park have always bicycle events. And again, it’s all here. I’d like to leave a copy, and I’ll leave some
of my cards, and if anybody wants to know more, I’d like to talk. Ernestine Weiss: Good afternoon. I just
want to say thank you to everybody who had anything to do with the Ferry Park renovation going forward,
especially Mike, Jared, and most of all, Rick Thall, who has been wonderful in keeping me advised of the
dates and everything, so I’m happy to say that the next meeting of April 16th, we will get the approval, and
two weeks afterwards, we will get the bids to go out, and the construction will start in the Fall, so thank you
all again. I can finally rest about this. Bye.
The Commission presented Ernestine Weiss with a Recreation and Park Department baseball cap.
Commissioner Lazarus: Thank you. Regarding the skateboard situation in Golden Gate Park, we’ve
heard this numerous times. I mean, we go to smaller communities around the Bay Area. Everybody has
skateboard parks. We’ve been slow to get there. We’ve started to do it. Clearly, the Golden Gate Park east
end is an issue. Do you have thoughts in your short tenure here how to deal with this environmentally
sound way of moving around?
Jared Blumenfeld: So, I mean, we would concur on the staff level, the first critical thing for the Waller
Street skatepark to move forward would be to get designs done. And then once those designs have been
done, I think that would create sufficient momentum to get the capital to do the rest of the program. So
between now and the next Commission meeting, why don’t we look into potential avenues for getting that
design dollars done, and we’ll report back to you.
Commissioner Lazarus: Thank you. Regarding the softball issue, I mean, this is not just a Gay Softball
League issue, but it’s everybody that plays softball on our fields, and I’ve done it over the years in a trainee
league softball. My kids have played that, or used some of the same fields that are acceptable for hardball
high school games. And we look at the revenue structure that comes in from those league uses and can it be
structured to give us the revenue we need to maintain the fields? There’s a disconnect somewhere between
either we’re not -- I hate to say this – either we’re not charging enough, or we can’t charge enough because
maintaining the fields is more expensive than we can directly get from the various league play that occurs,
whether it’s – and some of them are multi-use. They’re soccer as well as baseball or softball. Is there a way
to, you know, could we look at it to determine whether or not a fee structure would result in…are we close
enough to a fee structure that would be dedicated to maintaining those athletic fields appropriately so the
gopher holes are filled, or so the sprinklers are working, or whatever it might be?
Jared Blumenfeld: Actually, Danny Kern and I have been talking about softball in the last few days. I
mean, I think it would be great to get you guys in with the American Softball Association, and there’s a
number of softball issues that we have to deal with. We have about 292 teams that play at Rec and Park
presently registered, so a huge number amount of interest. Obviously, the more that we can have multi-use
fields that are synthetic turf, the better, because everyone likes those. There’s a lot of multi-use
jurisdictional issues. Some of the fields aren’t designed in a good way so that you can have softball and
soccer at the same time. And I was out at Silver Terrace, for instance. There’s kind of conflicting uses
there. So, I mean, I think it would be kind of good to kind of sit down and try and work out. The fees, I
think, will have to go up because of the way it’s being restructured anyway. And so if there’s an
opportunity to get full cost recovery on our side and on your side, get a better feel, I think everyone wins.
So we’ll get back to you on that.
Meredith Thomas:Good afternoon, commissioners. Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks
Council, and I am commenting on item number 5C, which is the request for qualifications for outreach to
accompany the 2008 Neighborhood Parks Bond. Of course, we’re really excited to see this opportunity
coming out for an organization to partner with Rec and Park and make sure that the community outreach
associated with the bond is strong and good. I just want to flag for your attention, though, that this RFP
seems rather broad, and it’s going to be hard to craft a proposal that can adequately address the needs of
doing outreach for the San Francisco…I mean, the Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond program and other RPD
planning capital and strategic initiatives. The RFQ, as it’s written, sounds incredibly broad, and I wanted to
call that to your attention, because I think it’s going to be difficult to craft proposals that are comparable.
The other thing that I wanted to point out is that on page seven, it indicates that interviews will be
conducted the week of April 20th, 2009, but the proposals aren’t due until the end of May, so I think there
are some errors in the proposal itself. And I just wonder if there really is a requirement to have a consulting
arborist on the team of the public outreach, or if that’s remnant of the forestry RFQ that went out. So I’m
really pleased, again, to see this moving forward. And we fully intend to explore the possibility of this. But
I think that the way that this document stands is pretty confusing, and the scope is incredibly large. And it
could be more clearly defined so that people responding to this document know exactly what you’re asking
for, especially because these bond projects, in theory, are going between now and 2013. And so,
understanding what a fee structure would look like and what an outreach plan would look like between now
and then, with such a broad scope of work where other capital projects could get tacked onto this
requirement. It’s sort of hard to nail down. So I thank you for your consideration of this proposal and
making sure that it’s in a good form before it goes out for people to respond to. Thanks.
Lisa Gruwell: The issue of the interview is one that we’ll take a look at. What might be the confusion
there is we plan on having a session that is a question-and-answer for intended applicants, so we’ll
definitely take a look at that. The issue of the arborist has to do with a grant we received to do planning
around both tree maintenance and trails. So we are hoping to have, you know, one kind of major firm or
major organization that would do the outreach, but also have someone who would be a sub-consultant that
would do the work under those two small grants that we have received.
Commissioner Lazarus: What was the date issue that Meredith brought up?
Jared Blumenfeld: She said that they’d be interviewed in May, but…
Lisa Gruwell: I’ll take a look at that, and we’ll correct that if that’s wrong. Yeah, that’s the issue of the
– we do have a grant for some small outreach that we want to include in this as well.
On motion by Commissioner Martin and duly seconded, the following resolutions were unanimously
RES. NO. 0904-001
RESOLVED, That this Commission does award a professional services contract in the amount of
$1,643,095 to Winzler and Kelly for engineering services for the Marina Yacht Harbor, West Harbor
RES. NO. 0904-002
RESOLVED, That this Commission does issue a request for qualifications for outreach for 2008 Clean
and Safe Neighborhood Bond projects.
RES. NO. 0904-003
RESOLVED, That this Commission does: 1) approve a request from the Center for Lao Studies to produce
a “Lao People Celebration and Festival” at the Joseph L. Alioto Performing Arts Piazza on April 11, 2009
from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p .m. and 2) approve a request to sell beer and wine.
HARVEY MILK RECREATIONAL CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Keith Kawamura with the Capital Division presented this item. I’m here before you today for discussion
and possible to award the construction contract with Angotti & Reilly Contractors for the Harvey Milk
Center for the Recreational Arts in the amount of $528,531 over and above the previously approved
contract amount of $7,955,000, and to extend the term of the contract to July 31, 2009. This is a follow-up
from an item that came before the Commission previously last year. There are two items, if I can bring to
your attention, in the agenda. Under background, item number one, where we listed some items that were
going to be added scope to the base contract to be funded separately. One item, which is under item one, to
fill in and re-sod soil in open-lawn area, that has been removed from the scope of work for the contractor
due to the required time extension impact it would require to perform that work. The second item I’d like to
just bring to your attention, the funding source. We had listed in the agenda reference to 2000
Neighborhood Park Bonds surplus funds. Since we submitted this, we have reassessed that, and we are now
proposing the funding, the better funding source would be the 2006 lease revenue bond. The reason for that
is the bond surplus funds require a Board of Supervisors action, which would take a number of time to
process, whereas the revenue bond funding is available immediately.
Commissioner Harrison: . Am I right that this is the second time this has come back for an amendment of
this contract? Was it increased in amount previously?
Keith Kawamura: That is correct, Commissioner.
Commissioner Sullivan: I haven’t been on the Commission that long, but this is relatively rare that this
would happen twice. Is there a reason that this contract is particularly unusual? What’s the explanation for
the multiple requests for amendment?
Keith Kawamura: We are right now reviewing all those types of issues that you just referred to as
part of our project close-out review process. And it’s something that we could better handle, answer your
questions in a closed session.
Commissioner Lazarus: I gather you have disputes with the contractor?
Rhoda Parhams: Commissioners, Rhoda Parhams, Capital Program Manager. We have encountered a
number of issues and things which were not actually foreseen in the design and the build-out of the project
itself. And as we’ve moved through the project, we’ve had to increase work and make sure that things that
were safe. There were some things that were encountered, literally, and I think we came before you some
time about this, where we had at one time unknown conditions where water, rainwater, was coming through
the sides of the building, so that was an unknown condition at the time. That cost us money to correct some
things of that nature. We are dealing with working out some mitigations with, both in design and, right
now, in design and something that we’re not in a position to discuss at this time, but we are working
through some of the issues that we have encountered. And we’re very anxious to get this one finished, so
we apologize if there’s any confusion. We’ll know better probably in another two weeks.
On motion by Commissioner Martin and duly seconded, the following resolution was adopted:
RES. NO. 0904004
RESOLVED, That this Commission does amend the construction contract with Angotti and Reilly ,Inc.
Contractors for the Harvey Milk Center for Recreational Arts in an amount of $528,531.00 over and above
the previously approved contract amount of $7,955,000 and to extend the term of the contract to July 30,
MISSION DOLORES PARK PLAYGROUND
Mary Hobson with the Capital Division presented this item to the Commission. The item before you is a
Memorandum of Understanding between Recreation and Park and the Neighborhood Parks Council, who is
acting as a fiscal agent for the Friends of Dolores Park Playground for the renovation of the Mission
Dolores Park Playground. Several years ago, the Friends of Dolores Park Playground formed for the
purpose of pushing the renovation and enhancement of the Mission Dolores Park Playground site. This was
before, long before the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Park bond was planned, and has been a very
successful community organization in putting forth the interest of parks and recreations, particularly for
that site. The proposed memorandum is attached for your review. Some of the highlights of the agreement
are that the scope of the project is to find site preparation, construction of the new playground, and
associated ADA access for the new playground. The project is going to be funded collaboratively with
$1.75 million of city funds. This includes $250,000 in general funds, as well as $1.5 million in 2008 Clean
and Safe Neighborhood Park Bond dollars that were planned and sold for the purpose of renovation of the
playground. The Friends of Dolores Park Playground, through NPC, have committed to donating $1.5
million towards this project. It’s a very large sum. We’re very excited about it. And it will allow us to move
forward with a very state-of-the-art playground facility at the site. They are proposing a gift that includes
three components. They are going to provide professional services for design and construction management
as well as a gift in place of materials, furniture, and equipment, and a monetary gift towards the
construction of the project. As a condition of this agreement, however, Rec and Park will seek this
Commission’s approval to name the completed renovated playground the Helen Diller Playground. And the
final thing is that after the construction of the playground, Rec and Park will create a maintenance fund and
have a long-term repair and replacement program for this site. That is one of the things that the donor group
is very interested in, because it’s going to be a different type of playground than one we’ve seen before. It’s
going to have some unique elements, so they would like us to develop this plan going forward to make sure
that we maintain it in the integrity in which it deserves. I distributed for you an amendment to the MOU.
This was requested by NPC and the Friends of Dolores Park Playground. It’s regarding the maintenance
fund and maintenance program. It’s substantially the same as what was in your packet. The only changes
are highlighted at the bottom. What the language does is it eliminates the requirement that the maintenance
fund commitment be a 50-50 split, and that the amount of contribution to the maintenance fund will be
dependent upon not only what was already stated Rec and Park’s budgetary constraints, as well as whatever
constraints the Friends of Dolores Park playground have in securing donations going forward.So that
concludes my presentation. I have Meredith Thomas at NPC here with me to answer any questions, and I
believe we have some people from the Friends of Dolores Park who would also like to address the
Commissioner Harrison: Excuse me. This URS, could you explain to me what that is?
Mary Hobson: URS is actually the Neighborhood Parks Council. That is their business name. You can
ask Meredith the roots of that, but it’s actually Neighborhood Parks Council.
Commissioner Lazarus: I have a question. It’s unclear to me on the total cost of all this.
Mary Hobson: The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $3,250,000.
Commissioner Lazarus: But in the summary of the MOU on page two of the staff report, the total value
of the project including all project delivery costs shall not exceed the sum of $1.75 million in city funds and
the gift. So the gift is the additional $1.5 million of cash and in-kind services?
Mary Hobson Uh-huh, plus the Friends of Dolores Park Playground continue to fundraise. So they
intend to gift when we actually get to the point when we recommend the gift. It will be at least $1.5. They
may be able to secure more funds or services or gifts to bring to the gift between now and then. So we
know it’s going to be at least $3.25. It could actually be more.
Commissioner Lazarus: We’re going to build…we and the Parks Council together are going to build a $3
Mary Hobson: Yes. $3.25 million
Commissioner Lazarus: Some of it’s soft costs, I’m sure, but…
Mary Hobson Yes. It’s going to be an extraordinary playground.
Commissioner Lazarus: I’m sorry to see this one piece of paper with a little drawing on that portion of
the park where the playground is being replaced, but what do you get for $3.25 million?
Mary Hobson: You will see. We’ll renovate it. We’re going to bring you a conceptual plan. There’s
going to be another community meeting in May in which the final plan will be presented to the community
once we get final comments back. And we’ll be bringing it to you for review. It’s going to be, think Koret
Playground and even better. It’s very unique. It’s going to be a lot of custom features and beyond the stock
playgrounds that we typically see in our parks, so it’s going to be something really special.
Commissioner Lazarus: I mean, are we…the maintaining of it, and that’s what this extra special fund is
going to be, and then we’re obligating ourselves to put $15,000 a year in?
Mary Hobson No. We’re putting $15,000 in this first coming year. We will each commit $15,000, so
there will be $30,000 in the maintenance budget, which will carry forward every year as long as we don’t
spend it. And we will be developing a maintenance plan which defines exactly which elements of the
playground would be funded out of that pot. And each year, we will meet to discuss which elements need to
have maintenance done. Most of the work that we typically do is routine maintenance. That will continue.
But this fund is specifically created to make sure that, you know, if something breaks or is vandalized, that
there’s funds available to repair it properly. And each year, if more money is needed, we will come before
the Commission during the budgetary process and say, “We believe that the slides will need to be replaced.
We would like to commit this amount of money to the fund.” But it’s at the discretion…the budgetary
process will define how much is ultimately budgeted for.
Commissioner Lazarus: Okay, is there a playground line item in the…
Mary Hobson Yes, there is. I don’t know the exact number, but it was approximately $1.1 million. And
that did not include…
Commissioner Lazarus: Even more than that. We allocated $1.5 million in this.
Mary Hobson: Yeah. But what happened was that this project includes ADA access, site drainage,
retaining walls. A lot of things that would actually have been outside of the playground line item, so we
took a look at it and determined that if we were building this playground, a stock playground like we
envisioned as a standalone project, that is what we believe it will cost at that site.
Commissioner Lazarus: How much money do we have citywide in that bond issue for playgrounds?
Mary Hobson I’ll have to get back to you on that. I don’t have that level of detail.
Commissioner Lazarus: We’re here approving taking $1.5 million for one, lots of other money for one
playground. I just want to make sure – I don’t know what out expectations of the public were in that bond
Jared Blumenfeld: We’re not taking any money from any other bond, so the total amount of the
bond…so this is phase one of a project for Dolores Park, which is a $10.1 million project. So of the $10.1
million that exists for Dolores Park renovation, $1.1 was exclusively for the playground. When you
internalize all the irrigation, ADA and other issues from that $10 million that would have accrued to that
playground ended up at $1.5, so…
Commissioner Lazarus: Did the bond issue have a designated amount for Dolores Park?
Mary Hobson: Yes.
Commissioner Lazarus: Of $10-point-somewhat-odd million?
Mary Hobson: I believe it’s $11.3. It’s, well, the estimated project cost is $13.2, but if you recall, we
ultimately pulled the contingency out into a contingency line item separate. So I think that the actual
appropriation was $11.3
Commissioner Lazarus: That’s what my point was.
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes.
Commissioner Lazarus: You know, we have pots of money in that bond issue to be allocated citywide,
plus specific projects. I wanted to make sure we weren’t shortchanging future playground...by loading….
Mary Hobson: Yes. This would be, $1.5 was specifically in the 2000 bond for Mission Dolores
Playground. And so we will face…
Commissioner Lazarus: 2008 bond.
Mary Hobson: 2008. Sorry. And we will be moving forward with the renovation of the playground in
two phases. The first phase will be the playground. The second phase will be the remainder of the
renovations, including the fields, the clubhouse, the courts.
Commissioner Lee: Just a question. The rationale for removing the 50/50 was what?
Mary Hobson: Well, we don’t want to constrain ourselves on our ability at the time that the decision is
made, because we may find that there are years in which our department has more funds available. And
there might be years when the Friends of Dolores Park have more funds available. This doesn’t commit us
to any given amount of money in any given fiscal year. What it does is that it allows us to work
cooperatively each year to set the amount of money to be contributed by each party based on their ability at
Commissioner Lee: It doesn’t release them ultimately from responsibility, though, right? Like, so, for
some years, they may have…what if fundraising is, you know, you have a dire situation out there and
there’s no funds, then is it the department that picks up 100% of the maintenance at that point?
Mary Hobson: That is a possibility, but you know, this was a condition that was placed by the Helen Diller
Foundation, who also did one other park, that they would like us to work, going forward after the project is
completed to make sure that it’s maintained. You know, the Department can certainly come back and say,
“This year, we can’t afford to contribute to the maintenance fund” for various reasons. But this MOU
basically sets the framework for us to work cooperatively to make sure that this playground is maintained,
you know in the future.
Meredith Thomas: Good afternoon. Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks Council. Thank you
in advance for approving this MOU. I wanted to note a couple of things to President Lazarus’s comments
regarding cost. The existing playground was built on top of the historic pond that was in the park. That
pond was never removed and dealt with when the last playground was built 40 years ago. So there probably
are ways that we can do this more cheaply. We can seal it off and just put a plastic play structure back on
there, but that doesn’t deal with the underlying issue that for the 45 years, the playground has filled up with
water and been unusable every time it rains. So there are aspects of this project that are incredibly
expensive because we didn’t deal with the problems the first time we built the playground. And then, to
Mary’s point that we need to have adequate ADA access, pathway access from Dolores Street to the
playground. Additionally, the way the playground is designed now is that the pathway that leads to it, the
only vehicular access for service personnel, and we’ve been partnering closely with the operations staff on
the design, or the proposed design, which you will have time to comment on later, is to make sure that
we’re taking vehicles out of the path of travel of kids and also trying to keep where people take their dogs
out of the path of the playground so that the playground is better designed to serve children without
excluding park users, but in a design that’s more thoughtful and reflective of the way the park is being used
now. So to the Commission, I want to just say that thus partnership has really been, from the very first
moment, a real collaborative effort between the department, the community, Neighborhood Parks Council.
We here want to leverage bond opportunities. We’re almost doubling the amount of money that this project
will have from the bond. We’ve been working with the operations staff and having meetings on-site in the
park regularly to make sure that what we propose to build is something that can be maintained. The
maintenance fund is designated for unique items that the Department might not be able to pull off the shelf
and replace. And the community has done their homework. They’ve got more than 1300 people on their e-
mail list, and they have monthly events engendering support and excitement about this project. So I am up
here a lot complaining about what’s not working, and this is an example of what’s really working. And this
MOU has been a long time in the making, and I really want to thank Jared for his leadership on pushing
this document to the next place, and thank you to Mary and to the rest of the staff at Rec and Park who’s
made this possible. And thanks to the folks who you’ll hear from in a second for taking the time away from
the rest of their life to volunteer on a project like this. And I also want to acknowledge the Mercer Fund,
who are doing this project in honor of Helen Diller, who’s a long-time Bay Area philanthropist, because
Dolores Park is one of our most unique park treasures, and it deserves something other than a prefab off the
shelf cookie cutter plastic playground. It deserves a play space for kids that is not only safe and wonderful
for them, but is also world-class for that park. So thank you in advance for approving this MOU.
Nancy Gonzalez-Modinsky: Hi. My name is Nancy Gonzalez-Modinsky, and I’m the Chair for Friends of
Dolores Park Playground. I’m also a mother and it was my playground as a child. I’m very excited about
this project. It’s been in the…we’ve been working on it for a very long time, and it seems like it’s really
coming together collaboratively. It’s…driven, as you’ve heard, and so far, it seems to be successful. Since
we’ve been partnering closely with Rec and Park, it is very important for our group that it be a
maintainable park. It’s really important for our group that it be sustainable. The playground that’s there
now has been there for 40 years. We’re hoping that what gets built now lasts 40-plus years, at least. We just
feel that our kids deserve the best possible place to play, and we just feel that our neighborhood and our
park deserves a world-class design and a world-class playground. I brought a few pictures to show you.
One of them – this here is what the playground looks like after it rains for one day. This is what it looks
like after it’s rained for one day and it hasn’t rained for three days. This is one of our social events, the
amount of people that use that playground. And I also wanted to show you what we hope to present at our
May 14th, the third community meeting. It’s what we think is a world-class design, and I think it does take
the space and the surroundings and, I think, the community. We’ve been working hard on this to make sure
that we include everyone. And this is kind of what we’ve come up with, and after our third community
meeting and you approve the MOU, we hope to have something like this to present to you at the next
hearing. Thank you.
On motion by Commissioner Sullivan and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-005
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the
Neighborhood Parks Council, acting as the fiscal agent for the Friends of Dolores Park Playground, and the
Recreation and Park Department for the Renovation of the Mission Dolores Park Playground.
RECREATION AND PARK DEPARTMENT TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES
Jared Blumenfeld:So we talked about this over the last few months. These are a number of items that we
are suggesting be funded and move forward. Most of them fall under the Computer Store contract, which is
a technology-based contract that [unintelligible] in collaboration with about six other departments’ issues
for a variety of technology-related events. So Lisa Seitz, in collaboration with Katie and others and
Danny’s team, Lydia, have been looking at how we can use technology to improve Rec and Park efficiency
and accountability. So I’m going to go through each of these and kind of talk to the highlights. The
presentation that you have before you is actually in a different order than the budget on the Commission
agenda, but I’m going to go through the presentation. So first one, really, is online marketing portal, in
normal speak, is our website. We have one of the top five, and at times, one of the number-one visited
website on the city family’s sfgov list. And yet, our investment in it has been close to zero over the last five
years. It’s a place that more and more people, especially in San Francisco, go to get information on all the
services. My time with our website has not been an enjoyable one. It is not an easy place to navigate. I
think the reason that we have so many people on it is that they’re just getting lost for days. But anyway, we
can make it a place that will improve the efficiency of the department greatly. The number of people that
come in asking questions that can be easily found on the website is astounding, and I sit right by the
doorway. They come in and ask Sally or Ron every single day. So this is a great investment. To me,
$100,000 is really the floor of what we should be investing, but it’s definitely a good start. We can get a lot
of functionality, a lot of things from maps to calendars done that we can’t currently put on there at the
moment. Additionally, just the back-end database, for instance, when we’ve been talking to former
President Martin about outreach. If people can have a good way of putting their zip-code-linked emails so
that we know what people are interested in events, about what kind of activities, it makes our outreach to
community meetings incredibly much easier than doing the door-to-door outreach that we’re doing at the
moment. But that’s the first one. The next ones are all really related to how we do our work. So one of
the things that I noticed is how complicated it is to get into any of our buildings. Now, I think I’ve said this
before, but on my trips to the 242 parks, in a large majority of them, park patrol, who is ultimately the
security, did not have the key to many of the gates and doors. Even our community gardens that are meant
to be open and have community access, you can’t get into. I couldn’t. I jumped the fence, most of them. So
this is a huge issue.
Commissioner Lazarus: Workers’ comp claim waiting to happen.
Jared Blumenfeld: Right. Jeffrey Bramlett was with me trying to stop me. The other issue, really, is one of
transparency and efficiency. We do not know when the doors are being open. A keyless card system
basically can have, you know, up to 100 in some cases, keys for one door. When Commissioner Lazarus
scanned it, it says on the computer, “Commissioner Lazarus opened the door at 9:23.” Following on that
example, there may be parts of the building that he has access to to open the doors, but maybe he doesn’t
have the access to, you know, the computer room. I mean, you can code access. And for some facilities,
which will be a huge benefit, I think it was not well understood at one of our public hearings, but there is
the ability to open the doors at a certain time. Not to close them, but you can open all the bathroom doors,
for instance, in the future, at 8:30 in the morning. You don’t need to send anyone. You can just program it
so that every morning at 8:30, they open. Locking the doors, obviously, we want to make sure there’s not
anyone there, but opening it provides a huge degree of certainty. The other thing is, for instance, if we need
to open the door to a swimming pool. At the moment, we don’t know until the minute, you know, we have
to wait for a phone call. But if we see the door is locked, we can send someone out there or we can do it by
computer, so you can actually open the door if someone is waiting there. And finally, from a volunteer
perspective, you could give volunteers, you know, particular accesses, and you would know when that
volunteer opened or closed a particular door. So this would allow one door at each of our key facilities, so
all our clubhouses, all the swimming pools, and the rec centers and all the gyms. And it would just be that
main door. This first iteration wouldn’t include bathrooms or any other smaller subparts of buildings. It
would just include the first one. Eventually, I think, you know, as the years go by, it’s a solid investment,
obviously, to continue investing in that technology.This is the next issue, is membership card scanning
systems. This actually turns out to be remarkably cheap and easy and God knows why we haven’t done it
before. Obviously, some of this will be in the implementation, especially this one. So this is really just the
technology end of a library card system for Rec and Park, so that every single user of the park system
would scan their card. Any child when they’re going to a latchkey would scan it in. You would be able to
see when they came in, who they were, what systems were being used by whom. One of the things that
currently hamstrings our planning activities is knowing usage data of any of our facilities. We’re always
asked who is using our facilities. The answer at the moment is “We don’t know.” It’s very hard to plan
what we should be doing, where we should be investing in the future, if we don’t know who is using our
facility.So this one, unlike the others, in some cases, this will take a whole program with it to make it
useful. We need to advertise the program. We need to enroll people. We need to make sure that people are
trained to use the scanners. But eventually, this can provide a wealth of data that we currently don’t have
that frankly, most rec systems that are much smaller than ours have, including, really, every single other
one in the nine Bay Area counties. And then the final one is GPS for our department vehicles. This, the
pilot agency in city government was DPW. The reason that this is before you now is that the Public
Utilities Commission, the Health Services Agency, the Port of San Francisco, and the Department of
Building Inspection, as well as the General Services Agency, have all gone out with a joint RFP for the
service. So all those six agencies are asking for an entity to provide that service, and we would attach
ourselves to that so we would be able to get the services of the master GPS provider. It will tell you
everything from an environmental perspective, idling, how long the vehicle’s been idling. It actually does
[all the] smog check with the state of California, so it saves time for bringing the vehicle in and it tells you
all that emissions data. It tells you when a particular vehicle goes outside its zone. So if a vehicle goes to
Daly City, an email can be sent. It will tell you when more than one vehicle, is next to each other. So if you
have 20 Rec and Park vehicles, you know, at one particular place where they shouldn’t be, you will find
that out. And it also gives you, obviously, it can tell you who’s driving a vehicle based on the number at
any given point in time and get huge efficiencies. You know, as I go around the city, you can see there’s a
lot of vehicles all around the city at different times, and you wonder how they’re actually being coordinated
in terms of an efficiency perspective. So we can start developing roots and zones for vehicle plans. The
amount of information you can get is significant. On the GPS, the cost of it that you have in front of you is
for the cost of the unit and two years of maintenance. This, I should note, does have an ongoing
maintenance fee attached with it, which is about $134,000. To get the monthly service fee per vehicle is
$32 per month per vehicle. Obviously, if we can get rid of some of our vehicles, we can bring that number
down. And this is one of our greatest ways of determining those efficiencies. Do we need this many
vehicles? Obviously, per month, it’s not that much, but when you’re talking about the number of vehicles,
340, and this isn’t our entire fleet, it gets more expensive. So the first two years and internalized in here,
and then in three years from now, it would be prorated at that $134,000, and it’s a particularly good fee that
they’ve negotiated through the state of California that the city of San Francisco is adopting. Many other,
we did some research on other jurisdictions from around the state and the United States. This is widely used
now by everything from police and emergency to recreation departments as far away as Sacramento and
Scottsdale. So we think this will provide a great degree of efficiency and accountability over where our
vehicles are and how to use them in the best manner possible. And together, I think this suite of four
technology-based items really furthers and advances our ability to efficiently manage a very large portfolio.
I mean, San Francisco Rec and Park, nearly 20% of the city. We’re larger than many city governments
around the US, with 1,200 people and a large number of vehicles and all these buildings. So the first time
really start to be able to, at a glance, on one computer screen, look at doors opening, where vehicles are,
and via working with the unions, to consult with them to extent that they want to have a meet and confer on
this or any aspect of this. We have told them that we are happy to do that and happy to engage with them in
that discussion, because it may have some change in work rules and impacts on discipline.
Commissioner Lee: Great. I think the key system is long overdue. My question has to do with, currently,
what is your policy on employees and keys? Who has keys to our facilities and what kind of security
mechanism do you have currently to control who has access to whose keys? For instance, if an employee
retires, do they turn in a set of keys? Is that logged in somewhere or, I mean, do you have some kind of
tracking mechanism now for what’s out there?
Jared Blumenfeld: I’m not aware of one. I’m sure one exists. I mean, my take is that keys are widely
copied. The number of keys known to this lock are 1734 and I do have a copy and we literally, just to get
around the lodge, I have five or six keys, you know. Everything has a different key, and so I’m not aware of
any policy, Commissioner Lee that we have in place, but we obviously would need one to deploy this
system, and even just the creation of a policy around keys would be hugely beneficial. So I would, from my
observations, Denny or someone else can correct me, I don’t think we do have a policy on keys at the
Denny Kern: There is a key control policy in theory in that those who, at your worksite where you’re
assigned, you do get a set of keys so that you can open and get in and close. More to the point, so the
issuing of keys is fairly regular. More to the point is that when you no longer work there or say in the case
of a retirement or resignation, does the department get the keys back? Again, there is a requirement that
they do so. It is inconsistently followed. So the beauty of this keyless card system would be the department
would have total control on, because that can be turned on and turned off centrally rather than requiring any
return on the staff part.
Commissioner Lee: And I would think from a security point of view that this is very important, given that
you could have lots of people who aren’t even employees anymore with keys to our facilities where
children use the facilities and so forth.
Denny Kern: Right.
Commissioner Lee: And I assume you are having people, as they retire, leave the department, turn in their
IDs and their badges and so forth. There is a policy to, at least for that, right?
Denny Kern: Yes. As part of your retirement or you’re leaving the department, there’s all of these
things. Uniform parts, you know, for the park patrol, that kind of thing, they have to be turned in.
Commissioner Lee: Thank you.
Commissioner Sullivan: This all sounds great. I’m very supportive of all of it, but assuming that we have
the budget. So we’re spending, by my count, $775,000, and it’s coming from the Open Space Fund
undesignated contingency reserve. So I just wanted to ask, how much is in that fund now, and are there any
limits that we’ve imposed on our spending from that fund, and how does it get replenished every year?
Katie Pertucione: Commissioners, Katie Petrucione. The Commission does indeed have a policy
regarding, that you approved several months ago, regarding expenditures from the Open Space contingency
reserve. There’s currently $4.2 million in the reserve. And every year under the charter amendment that
created the Open Space Fund, we set aside 3% of the budgeted property taxes that are coming into the
Open Space Fund into the contingency reserve. So in the current year, that’s a little over $1 million that we
budgeted for the reserve. So it does replenish itself on an annual basis.
Commissioner Sullivan: Thank you.
Commissioner Harrison: Under the membership card scanning portion of this, I noticed that it says it
would enable the department to charge for programming usage without having to manage cash. Would that
work at good for our resident…
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes. I mean, the goal is to move to a system that is less dependent on cash, and that
would, golf is one of the places we would want to implement this for…
Commissioner Harrison: Thank you.
Commissioner Martin: I just wanted to say that this program is very good. This is something we pushed
for years ago to try to find a process to put…be able to mandate everything and keep an eye on things. So
this is good. And for modern times, this is realization.
Commissioner Bonilla :Yes. During my tenure as Commissioner, which has been many years, one of the
biggest issues that I’ve heard out in the community, or biggest problems, is this whole, the problem with
keys. And who has them and opening playgrounds and opening all the facilities at the time they’re
supposed to be opened. It has been a major problem, so I’m really glad to see that we’re finally grappling
with this. And I’m totally in support of the whole project. The only question I have relating to the upgrades
and technology here is aside from the GPS system maintenance contract, what are we looking at in terms of
maintaining all the other upgrades? You know, what is it going to cost us to keep all these aspects of the
upgrades maintained? The marketing portal, the keyless system and so on, so what are you looking at?
Jared Blumenfeld: The website money, really, is to do redesigns and make it more usable. We have staff
and money that goes to the department of technology that we pay year in and year out that really relates to
some of the maintenance. I mean, I think we need in future budgets, hopefully in better years, to continue to
invest in the web site and to see it as a thing that is not an add-on to our normal course of work, but
something…so you know, my take on the marketing is that we should continue to spend significant
resources to make the Web more current and better. But it doesn’t demand, once you spend that $100,000,
you could, in theory, because we have. We spent it probably ten years ago and haven’t spent any since, so
as much as we could.
Commissioner Bonilla : It will be to continue to spend some extra money on that, yeah.
Jared Blumenfeld: The keyless card system, we have issues with all our locks, and our different trades
deal with them. Obviously, this brings in the component of our MIS department. We have a good MIS
department that would be really helping move this project forward and we’d rely on them. There are going
to be maintenance costs, but they’re not going to be that much greater, and they’re fairly reliable. I’ve had
one at the Department of Environment for the last four years. This is the key that opens all the different
doors, and it’s programmed, and it hasn’t broken once. So I think, you know, the lock and the system of
technology is fairly good. There’s obviously going to be some maintenance, but I don’t think additional to
what we’re paying today. And then the membership card scanning system, really, the most important thing
here is training our staff to use it properly and make sure that it is, and secondly, which isn’t included in
here, money to get the word out. I mean, the library does a whole program on how to get the word out
about library cards. How do we want to partner with the library card will be a question. How do we want to
partner with the San Francisco ID card that has now come out? So there’s different technologies. They all
require scanners and they all require some card. So those are the two elements that…but hopefully, for
instance, this anticipates 50,000 membership cards. The membership cards are very inexpensive, so we
could grow this program. Really, the main requirement is to have those scanners. So the maintenance on
that, I think, will be the minimal.
Commissioner Bonilla: Are you looking at minimal maintenance costs for all the other components?
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes.
Meredith Thomas: Good afternoon, Commissioners. Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks
Council. We fully support this proposal. We’re really pleased to see the department moving ahead in this
fashion. You know, it’s really important that in this economic climate and moving forward, the Rec and
Park Department become a true enterprise department, that it becomes less dependant on the general fund
subsidies that we can squeak out. And we take a different look at how we run this department as a business.
No business would operate on this scale without this kind of information. They would lose money and they
would fail. So in order to be able to respond to future needs for the department in terms of how we spend
our money and how we can account for the way that money is spent, I think this is absolutely the right
direction to go. So I really applaud you. Also, you can’t justify the need for our rec programs and our park
services if you don’t know who’s using them and how often and at what rate. And it’s really, really difficult
to nail down that data without ever counting people who come and go from the rec centers and tracking
their usage. So I think on all accounts, the online resources, the membership cards, the keyless entry and
the GIS for vehicles, this is the right step for the department and a good use of the money. Thanks.
Nancy Wuerfel: Nancy Wuerfel. I also would like to lend my support. But I’d like to bring one point of
clarification on the membership cards. Membership coming to join a class or to join a program is separate
from residency, and in response to Commissioner Harrison’s request for the golf situation, I think it’s
excellent. But we have to then modify how people get cards. If you’re going to have a residency
component, you have to be able to prove that you are a legitimate San Francisco resident. That doesn’t
mean that you, from San Mateo County, I guess, could sign up and do whatever you wanted.
So we don’t want to discourage people to use our programs and pay appropriately. But we also don’t want
to say just because you signed up, that means you’re a San Francisco resident. And I want to make sure that
everybody understands how important this concept is. Do you realize that with your one question,
Commissioner Harrison, you just saved us $150,000? That’s how much money it costs us to pay the
Treasurer’s office to simply look at my PG&E bill. And you say, “Nancy, you live here.” And then we at
Rec and Park pay for the cards that they issue at the tune of $150,000, so this is an extremely important
financial aspect, and I’d like to make sure the department had policies so that we differentiate between
straight membership and residency, and that we make an effort to find a way to accomplish both goals. So
thank you very much for bringing this up.
Jared Blumenfeld: This is a follow-up to that, Nancy. So at the moment, the Rec Connect, we have 20,000
people on Rec Connect. I think on the first day, we had 5,000 people sign up for a summer camp, so it’s
usually successful in terms of the Web. We, at the moment, do differentiate very clearly, and you have to
have, you have to be able to prove, the moment is overly onerous and people have to come in, so we have
to work on a way that people can prove residency online. There’s lots of different ways of doing it so that
we can get a lot more people to sign up. At the moment, you have to go to the lodge, then you go to the
back, then it signs up. It’s not an effective system. But your point is very well taken.
Commissioner Lee: I’d like to ask the General Manager why bathrooms weren’t included for the keycards,
since they’re an important part of what people complain about, access to the bathrooms. And it would seem
to me, I’d like to find out how much it would cost in addition to what he’s already proposed. And if it’s
some amount that we can do within the budget, I’d encourage us to look at, including that in this proposal
and perhaps voting to adopt the entirety. So…
Jared Blumenfeld: So yeah, I mean, I think that is a good point. We’ve wanted to start off with the
primary facilities, but bathrooms are something that Commissioner Bonilla and now Lee have mentioned
we’d like to get to the next phase. We could push that up now. It’s really just a question of money. And we
could probably start with, you know, a significant number if we had an additional $50,000.
Commissioner Lee: I’d like to propose that.
Commissioner Sullivan: Yeah. I’d just like to know if the department really believes that $50,000 is the
right number, whether that was sort of a response to a question that maybe wasn’t anticipated. Are we sure
that that’s the right number for bathrooms?
Commissioner Lazarus: One moment while we get the assurance.
Jared Blumenfeld: I mean, basically, we’re estimating. There’s basically two costs. One is the initial
infrastructure cost of the servers, making sure they’re all connected. And then there’s the cost of each lock.
So the cost of each lock is about $1,000. So this would be…locks that we could get. So…right, which is a
Commissioner Lazarus: I think the other issue is we should make sure that obviously, in the new
bathroom program, so as modular restrooms come in, they come this way. Yeah.
Jared Blumenfeld: And that’s part of it. So we worked with Capital, and now we’re going to work with
the Bathroom Task Force to make sure that every new thing that we do incorporates the same system.
On motion by Commissioner Lee and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
RES. NO. 0904-006
RESOLVED, That this Commission does allocate from the Open Space Fund Undesignated Contingency
Reserve up to: 1) $325,000 to purchase a GPS system and hosting for department vehicles, 2) $350,000 to
purchase and install an electronic keyless entry system at department facilities, 3) $100,000 to develop an
on-line marketing portal for Department facilities and 4) $50,000 to purchase a membership card scanning
Justin Marks: Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Justin Marks. I am 20 years old. I live in
Cole Valley. I am a full-time student. I also run an organization called Leftside, where we just work on
working with the Skateboarding Association advocating skateparks around the city. It’s a large demand,
and I just want to say that I support the idea of a skatepark at Stanyan and Waller. I think it would be a key
element for that neighborhood to revitalize problems, really, at the edge of Golden Gate Park. And it would
be a great place for kids to go and have a safe place to skateboard, because it’s not really allowed to
skateboard in Golden Gate Park. So I think that would be great. And I hope you guys support that. Thank
you. Meredith Thomas: Hello again. Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks Council.
Commissioners, I just wanted to give you an update on our outreach contract for the open space workshops
that we’ve been doing around San Francisco related to the update of the recreational and open space
element of the city’s general plan, and also the action plan for the next five to ten years of open space
planning and the 100-year vision for open space in San Francisco. So we’ve conducted on the order of 25
workshops. The last one is this evening. All of the minutes from those workshops are up on our website,
which is openspacesf, and we’ve partnered closely with the city’s planning department and with Rec and
Park on those workshops. And we hope now to be able to bring around to the public again, in the best way
that we can, the results of that work. And also, digging deeper into the policy issues that the recreational
and open space element will include. So because we got our contract to do this work through this
commission, I wanted to say thank you and also let you know that it’s gone incredibly well. Thank you to
those of you that have been able to attend, and please do check out the website for minutes for the meetings
maybe in your neighborhood or for meetings that were of particular interest to you, because there are some
pretty amazing ideas that came out of this process, and we hear a lot about what the priorities are for people
living in this city, and they’re exciting and they’re doable and there’s an awful lot of consensus. So I
wanted to thank you for that.
Commissioner Lazarus: On that item, I did attend one of the open space workshops in the Richmond
District a few days ago, and it’s a very positive program with a lot of community input in it, and I think
good things are going to come out of it, but I did speak to Isabelle Wade today, because through work, I got
an agenda for a Shape-Up San Francisco physical activity council meeting at 1:30 at 30 Van Ness Avenue.
I assume our department participates in this, because item two is an open space task force objectives and
policies, with pages and pages of proposed policies, which in many cases affects our department. And I
know nothing about this. And don’t know to what extent our partners know about this who are working on
open space issues for us in this…does Denny know something about this?
Jared Blumenfeld: Terry Schwartz is the man for that, apparently.
Commissioner Lazarus: So he knows something about this, we hope.
Jared Blumenfeld: Potentially, yes.
Commissioner Lazarus: Well, you might look at, to see what’s on the calendar for 1:30 tomorrow at 30
Van Ness Avenue.
Jared Blumenfeld: Great.
Commissioner Lazarus: Commissioners? I’ve just quickly, a few things, just more a reiteration than new
items, but I’d like to see some response. It’s come up before on the issue of amending the park code to
allow taxi stands in the music concourse area to serve the museum and the Academy. We’re running out of
time. We’re going to have King Tut in June, and I think part of our transit first program, obviously cabs can
come if called, and can drop off, but there’s no queuing for cabs in the area. There’s going to be night
events there. That’s number one. And related to that is the continued issue, because I saw it a few days ago,
a garage directional signage, both in the park to get into the garage entrance by the Academy and the Fulton
side have no lights. And in the dead of night, you see a green open or a red, perhaps closed, sign on some
black background. And you don’t know what’s opened or what’s closed unless you’re right up on the sign.
And if you’re not familiar because you’re from some other area, you don’t know we have a garage there,
and again, the Academy and the deYoung have numerous evening events and evening hours open to the
public. Little less of a problem with daylight savings time, but a more serious problem during the time of
the year when it’s dark at 5:30 and 6 o’clock. I don’t know if that was a design error or an intentional
decision by somebody that we would not light the garage signs and let people know that we’re operating a
garage in Golden Gate Park. Finally, are we working, and this is either to Margaret or to Jared, I happen to
see that the last annual report was in some stuff I cleaned up. Are we in process for the next annual report
for the Commission as required by the charter? No.
Jared Blumenfeld: Keep going through the dark days we’re in now, but we can work on that.
Commissioner Lazarus: I don’t think the annual report was a huge cost item, but…
Jared Blumenfeld: No, just time.
Commissioner Lazarus: Time.
The Regular meeting of the Recreation and Park
Commission was adjourned at 5:31 p.m.
Margaret A. McArthur
Gavin Newsom, Mayor
Recreation and Park Commission
April 16, 2009
Commissioner Lazarus called the meeting of the Recreation and Park Commission to order on April 16,
2009 at 4:10p.m.
President Lazarus announced that items 9-12 would be heard as one item but voted on separately.
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
Jared Blumenfeld: Last Sunday we had a nice day in Golden Gate Park. Commissioner Bonilla came to
celebrate the first sister park relationship between Golden Gate Park and Municipal Park of Santiago, Chile.
We had the State Department there, we had the park officials from Santiago and they had a really useful
two days afterwards with Gloria Koch-Gonzales, of Golden Gate Park, Denny Kern, and others made that it
happen. So that was a good event. Today, just before this meeting, we released two Mission Blue
butterflies in Twin Peaks back into their native habitat. The Mission Blue butterfly was put on the National
Endangered list as threatened back in 1976. Last year there was only one Mission Blue butterfly found in
San Francisco. So we took them this morning from San Bruno Mountain and released two females that are
now laying eggs on the lupine which are their native habitat. So that's a nice restoration project happening
there. The budget obviously continues to be a big issue. The whole discussion between the City and SEIU
and the other unions on getting a tentative agreement in front of members so that they can vote on it is
something that is in flux and continues to be in dialogue so obviously that has a fairly large impact on the
layoffs that are previously scheduled for May 1. If an agreement is reached with labor the likely result of
that agreement would be to move that date forward so that folks would not be laid off on May 1. I think
staff is quite nervous about what will happen and how the vote will go down and at the moment as I said it's
still a question being decided between the union and the city. That concludes the report.
Ernest Halloran: I'm here to address the Commission on a topic concerning pool schedules and changes
to pool schedules in the southern half of the city that were posted about a month ago that would affect
Martin Luther King Pool and the other pools in the southern half of the city. The proposed changes were to
open the pools only I believe from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. which would cut out the time period when
especially Martin Luther King pool is used by the public and the youth swim team, the Dolphins, would cut
that time out. So when I believe that the Recreation and Park Department is revisiting the issue of the times
that the pools should be open but when it comes before the Commission I'd ask that the Commission please
keep in mind that the pools are used most often by members of the public in the late afternoon and evenings
and split schedules were proposed for the northern half of the city but not the southern half and perhaps the
Department could see it's way to adjusting the schedules so that the pools could remain open when they're
more likely to be used. Mary Sporer: I'm here to talk about the Arboretum fee. I've been walking the
park for 40 years and I think this is a very serious, large change to start charging an admission to an
important and unique public garden. It's just to fast to try to get it into this budget so I'm asking you to
consider removing changing the fee to the Arboretum from this budget to give time for an appropriate and
really necessary public discussion and scrutiny to work out something that will be of the greatest benefit to
the garden and to the people. The budget sounds like oh the budget. Well, there's some very costly and
ambitious projects that are being funded. The nursery, center for sustainable gardening, 13.8 million
dollars. The current path improvement, 3 million dollars. To set up the fee process would cost over a
million dollars. I would say in a time of economic hardship those ambitious projects should be deferred or
scaled down the money reallocated to keep public access free to this garden. It would have a serious
negative impact on the community, not just the neighborhood, the whole city and beyond the city. It is
appropriate as the mission of the Arboretum to be there for the people not just to show plants but also to be
a place of recreation and enjoyment for the people. They could have a membership drive. There are many
affluent people in the city who would respond to such an appeal. There are many like myself who are not
affluent who would respond to such an appeal. They could promote voluntary donations. The current
donation thing, nobody even sees it. You could have a kiosk. Instead of spending money on the fee booth
have an information kiosk promoting voluntary donations and offering membership leaflets. There are
other ways to do it and it's really important for the quality of life in the city to keep free public access to the
Arboretum. Bridget Heron: I'm also speaking on the same subject. I would just like to point out that it
was stressed that charging fees for the Arboretum were necessary to help balance the park budget and that a
million dollars were hoped to be gotten from charging fees in order to help the budget but it's going to cost
over a million dollars to institute charging fees and as she said it's a huge change. I grew up here. I've
gone there my whole life. A lot of people use that all the time and it would not be the same place at all if
we started charging fees. I think we need to take longer to consider this and just go more slowly because I
feel this is being pushed through under the pressure of a budget when this is not exactly what this is about.
Mia Splendor I myself swim about 5 miles a week and I do enjoy when I'm swimming and Garfield
Pool is the only appropriate place I can swim after school because I leave school at 3:00 and the
competitive swim class starts at 3:30 so I have just enough time to get everything I need, eat some fruit,
stretch out, and so short things that I like to do that won't hurt anything while I swim. Now I have
marionettes which is synchronized swimming and I am not very worried about them because they will rent
the pool. But this 3:30 competitive swim class cannot be because it doesn't have the opportunity. So I
want to keep the pools hours because I enjoy swimming when I swim and I want to build up my strength
for swimming. Carol Splendor: I'm here to represent Garfield pool as well. It's a very important place for
our whole community in the Mission. People there need a safe, healthy place to bring their children. The
proposed schedule is looking at 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and although I have to
admit 6:00 a.m. is a really popular lap swim for working adults the children really are in school until 3:00.
They need to have somewhere to go after school. What's happening after 3:00 on the schedule that's going
to be cut that we're going to loose is the children's classes, the swim team, and the recreational swim.
You're hearing from me but you might not be hearing from everyone in the community, this is largely a
Hispanic community, they don't have computers, they don't feel empowered to come before you. So I'm
hoping that I can somehow represent my friends, our community there, we're very close-knit. We love one
another, it's like a family this swim team and I'd love to see if there would be a way to stagger the hours
throughout the week perhaps so that maybe there would be Tuesday, Thursday 6:00 to 2:00, maybe
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, keeping it open maybe 10:00 to 6:00 so that we could have some of the
children's programming. This doesn't really include the weekends. This is hard, I know it's a hard call for
you all but we need to think about our children. The adults that swim, they get a chance to do so because
they learned to swim as children. You know, what are we going to do, cut the children's classes? The
community needs it, there's a community there beyond just lap swim. There's families and so we're here to
ask you to revisit the schedule and I know that you have difficult decisions to make but maybe we can
share the burden. Ernestine Weiss: I'd like to comment on the job of General Manager and I want to
recommend Phil Ginsburg for the job. He is very highly qualified, he will set this Recreation and Park
organization on the right track and you should hire him as soon as possible. Let's go on it. The second
thing is thank you very much and thank you Margaret for being so thoughtful. I want to compliment our
manager Maggie Cleveland at Ferry Park, she's doing a terrific job against all odds these days and we have
a gardener who I finally told to pick up the clippings when they cut the grass, it used to be all over the
sidewalk. So now it's in shipshape appearance and today as I walk by the trees are in bloom, it's just
gorgeous so let's keep up the good work and thank Maggie for her wonderful work, thank you. Nancy
Wuerfel: Nancy Wuerfel. My interest in talking to you today has to do with the analysis that you got
with your monthly financial report, that's the document that I always go to when I get my Recreation and
Park agenda. I'm concerned about what the analysis is for the golf fund and my comments are in regard to
good bookkeeping and analysis. I am neither pro golf or anti-golf or so I've got no dog in that fight, I'm
more interested in a good analysis under the circumstances of good bookkeeping and I'd like to make sure
that it's clear the year after year comparison of the first 9 months is actually in pretty good shape. We are
down compared to last year but not the way it is described. We actually have a loss at Harding Park and
Flemming of $225,000 but that is offset oddly enough by Lincold, Sharpe Park, and Golden Gate Park
being up to the tune of $170,000. So that's a pretty big offset in green fees alone. There's also an increase
in concession fees at Harding Park. The reason I bring thing to your attention is because we need to take a
look as what's going on at the Harding and Flemming activities. Is the downturn because of management
decisions, yes or no? Is the downturn because of our PGA preparation, yes or no. If it is I want to add that
to the tab or how much the PGA is costing us. I'd like to know if we have to examine the budget
assumptions because the statements in here say that there's a reduction of almost $700,000 based on the
budgeted amount but when we look at the year over year amount we're down much less than that, basically
only $65,000. So again we've got some very dramatic numbers on this paper. I want to make sure we have
an understanding of what's going on especially at Harding and Flemming. We shouldn't be down this time
of year. We're supposed to be closing that place down at ratcheting in July, this is too early for these
things to happen so I think we need a much better look and to say why are the other golf courses doing so
well and what are they doing that isn't happening at Kemper or maybe we're just not understanding what's
going on. So I want to make sure that we don't look at the revenue being askew without taking this
opportunity to say this is good heads up, let's look at it more closely, let's not make any grandiose decisions
until we have more data.
Commissioner Lee: Two questions. I'd like first on the pool schedules if Jared can address that and
what we're doing with the hours. And then the second question about what was just brought up about golf I
recall just two weeks ago when we had our last meeting I asked about the numbers for Harding and it
showed that we were up by a few hundred thousands so I'm perplexed why we're showing now it's down or
are we reading this incorrectly.
Katie Petrucione: Katie Petrucione. Commission, let me start with the numbers that are on the detailed
revenue report for gold are incorrect and in particular for Harding and Fleming they are incorrect and I
apologize for that. I did not look at this and really pay attention to it until last week after it had been
submitted and we are estimating that we are going to be down on revenue at Harding for the current fiscal
year but right now the report is at $533,000, I actually think that number is going to be more in the
neighborhood of $250,000 which will be offset by operating savings that Kemper will achieve and so
between Kemper's estimated operating savings and some savings in materials and supplies we will
probably end the year evening at Harding Park. To your question Commissioner, Nancy is actually right
and what we talked about last time was where we are year over year, not where we are year to date. So the
last revenue report actually showed all the golf courses as even, that we had not yet made the adjustment in
the report to account for an estimated actual for the full fiscal year and year to date, year over year we're
actually looking pretty good but when you look at where we are versus budget we are showing a shortfall in
Commissioner Lee: I recall that two weeks when I asked about this you said that the reason that
Harding was in the black, I believe the number was close to half a million dollars, it was several hundred
thousand, was because of the strong catering and beverage. So where--so if that's strong year after year then
how do you account for the loss?
Katie Petrucione: Really where we're seeing a loss is versus budget on our green's fees. On our
concessions we are--the restaurant is doing much better this year than last year especially in terms of net
income. When you look at revenue less expense for the restaurant we're doing significantly better. Every
year the restaurant has been contributing more positive revenue to the Harding bottom line than it has the
year before, and that is the case.
Commissioner Lee: I don't want to get too further into this, maybe we can save this for another meeting
and take a hard look at golf.
Jared Blumenfeld: On the issue of the pool hours we are indeed hearing your voices loud and clear.
There is a balancing task of looking at all the different activities from recreational swim. My kids
unfortunately are not as good swimmers as you are so they just want to jump in the pool and splash and
make noise, not doing laps, and there isn't a lot of time for them. Then we have lap swimmers in the
morning and in the afternoon we have kids in school. If you remember we actually didn't cut any money
out of the swimming budget. We're going to talk about fees for swimming later on but we didn't cut any so
my goal is to at least maintain the status quo and if we have to go back to the original hours we had at
Garfield, we will. Our goal was to make it a little more streamlined and I don't think that's been very
successful. You will see another schedule that should be the final schedule. Because it isn't just you, it's
Balboa, it's Martin Luther King, so we've heard from a great deal of concerned people about the schedule
and we're working to address it right now.
Commissioner Sullivan: Just a follow up on that because I also wanted to ask about the pool. The
specific comment from the public seemed to be that the cutbacks had come solely at the expense of evening
users and I wonder if there's an ability to do a staggered schedule or split schedule so that some days are
late in the evening, so days are early in the morning but everyone gets a chance during the week.
Jared Blumenfeld: We have 9 swimming pools, some are very modern and used a lot, others are older and
used less frequently and the goal was really to be able to have a rational schedule so that as a member of
the public you could look and know that pools would be open let's say 7 days a week, you'd know that they
would be open in the morning at a certain time. At the moment every single pool has a different hour
schedule and so if you're not involved in swimming already it's fairly difficult to know what your jumping
off point is. What we're going to do is have fairly regularized schedule for the weekend so the weekend
hours are exactly but tailor the hours during the week to the three sets of swimmers, morning, afternoon
and evening. Some of the pools won't have an evening swim, they'll just have morning and afternoon. So
we'll get there and it may not please everyone but hopefully it will please about 90% of the people.
On motion by Commissioner Levitan and duly seconded the following resolutions were unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-007
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve the minutes from the Special Budget meeting on
February 13, 2009 and the Special Meeting on February 19, 2009.
RES. NO. 0904-008
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve the following animal transactions for the San Francisco
Zoological Society which were processed under Resolution No. 13572.
DONATION TO: PRICE
Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park 3.0 South African shelduck NIL
1301 Summit Blvd. (Tadorna cana)
West Palm Beach, FL 33405-3035
USDA # 58-C-0007
RainFauna 0.0.3 Waxy monkey frogs NIL
881 Capp St. (Phyllomedusa sauvagii)
San Francisco, CA 94110
USDA N/A 1.0.0 Blue poison dart frog NIL
0.0.3 Golfodulccean poison dart frog NIL
0.0.2 Yellow-banded poison dart frog NIL
2.0 Yellow & blue poison dart frog NIL
SAN FRANCISCO ZOO
Tanya Peterson: Tanya Peterson for the San Francisco Zoo. I have filed my report but in addition there
to April attendance is off to a great start. As of yesterday our actual visitor attendance was at 46,849
visitors versus a budget of 44,000 so a variance of 2419 visitors. During this year's spring break we've had
terrific attendance and it's been wonderful to see the school-age kids back in the Zoo. We're still trailing
however on year to date attendance by 14,000 visitors which reflects primarily a change we made in
restricting the free day policy to San Francisco residents only. As we close the fiscal year the Zoo plans to
give an updated financial summary at the next joint Zoo Commission hearing on the 27th. We are also
finalizing our budget for the next fiscal year which has been dependent on negotiations concerning labor,
workers comp and medical insurance agreements as well as working with various partners to reduce dept
incurred during the 2007 Christmas tragedy. And update on exhibits and events. Due to the generosity of
society board member we are able to refresh and reopen our nocturnal gallery which houses our highly
endangered animals from Madagascar. It includes a family of Eye-eyes which are rare noctural lemurs,
kind of a cross between a lemur and a monkey. I don't know if you've seen any of these but besides Duke
University we're the only institution that's successfully been able to breed Eye-eyes. We'll have a soft
opening of the noctural gallery during the month of May to access visitor and animal management and we
plan on opening it to the public in July during the afternoon hours. This is the year of the Zoo's 80th
anniversary and I keep saying this is an example of the country's first federal stimulus package as we were
a result of the great depression. We will have two celebrations of this milestone noting challenging times.
However, we'll keep all our events moderate and tasteful. Our first is the fundraiser zoofest which will
occur next week which will celebrate the individuals and entities that have supported the Zoo during the
last 80 years and during the weekend of June 27th and 28th we will host a weekend of public events
underwritten by Fischer Price. This weekend is the Zoo's party for the planet event which is a national Zoo
Earthday celebration. We'll be introducing our new branding image, Greeny the Garter Snake which is also
an acknowledgement of our San Francisco Garter snake efforts. This was the creative idea of our pro bono
advertising agency BBBL and will [unintelligible]. Lastly, at the last Recreation and Park hearing where
the Zoo presented a member of the public asked about our Hippo Rhino exhibit. We are looking into
whether the female black rhino can utilize the area. Currently the construction for the hippo with minor
changes will still leave the opportunity in case there is a chance to rescue a baby hippo one day, but again,
that's just for the female black rhino. That concludes my report.
Commissioner Harrison: About your financial situation. Are you doing okay financially, are you
meeting your target?
Tanya Peterson: Looking at this year, yes, we're still planning a break even year. What we're trying to
still deal with is debt that was incurred during the tragedy, insurance reimbursement for legal fees, other
expenditures made to the tiger and other areas of that exhibit that are still on our books.
Commissioner Harrison: I understand from staff that you haven't paid the debt to the Department yet.
Are you going to be able to do that?
Tanya Peterson: We were hoping to utilize some of the bond money that's still outlying that was used in
emergency repair. We're also working with the PUC for some of the utility bills for that year as well as
negotiate on some of the labor bills. We reimburse the city Recreation and Park for city employees.
Commissioner Lazarus: I noticed in looking at our budget and maybe Katie needs to come forward on
this, we pay the Zoo $4,119,000 a year each year under the agreement, it gets adjusted occasionally, and
you pay us back for costs that we incur for city employees that are still working for the Zoo?
Tanya Peterson: And we pay you back for utilities.
Commissioner Lazarus: And that's budgeted at $2,456,000 if my eyesight is right. This time last year
we had $1,034,000 paid to us towards that but so far this year we haven't received any of that back but
we've paid $3,090,000 to the Zoo and owe the Zoo a $1,029,999 between now and June 30th to get to
$4,400--I'm looking at your budget reports, budgeted $4,119,000 actual $3,090,000 encumbered
Katie Petrucione: I think that's actually lagging by a month. We pay the Zoo in increments and the
$4.1 divided into 12 is about $333,000 and we pay them at the beginning of every month.
Commissioner Lazarus: So there's less than that remaining.
Katie Petrucione: So we've made the April payments. There's two payments remaining which is about
$666,000 for May and June.
Commissioner Lazarus: Is there a reason why this cash--I mean, we should be paying the Zoo
approximately $2,000,000 than they pay us. Why do we pay in advance and not get our reimbursements on
the same schedule?
Katie Petrucione: That is a very fair question. I have to stand here and say that it's because that's the
way that it's always been done. They bill us and then we bill them based on our billings lag because they're
based on actuals.
Commissioner Lazarus: So they're reimbursing us based on actuals?
Katie Petrucione: Exactly, yes. Whereas we know already, it's established, what the monthly
management payment is going to be, they submit an invoice and we pay them based on that.
Commissioner Lazarus: This doesn't tell me how much we've invoiced them against the budgeted
estimate of $2,456,000 that was your beginning of the year estimate of what that would amount to.
Katie Petrucione: I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head but we've been
invoicing them monthly based on the actuals for the salary and fringe benefits as well as for the actuals as
we are billed by the PUC for light, heat, power, sewer, and water.
Commissioner Lazarus: Is this going to get balanced out by June 30th so that our Department isn't in a
Katie Petrucione: I'm very concerned that it is not. We had our 9 month meeting with the controller's
office yesterday to talk to them about where we are with the budget year to date and this was an issue that
came up. It may be something that they raise in the 9 month report. As Tanya said there is some
conversation about the PUC about having them assume the liability for the work orders. That will be the
case in the coming fiscal year in 2009-10. We will no longer be a pass-through, the PUC will bill the Zoo
directly and there is some conversation about whether or not the PUC would be willing do the budget
transactions that are necessary in order for them to assume the utility liability in the current year which
would be worth a little over a million dollars. But that still leaves us on the hook for the salary and fringe
Commissioner Sullivan: I just wanted to ask Tanya if you could speak to the reimbursement and what
the reason for the delay. We're 9 months into the fiscal year, what the reason for the delay is and whether
you expect the Zoo to be able to make the payment by the end of the year.
Tanya Peterson: Yes, we had alerted the Mayor's office and CFO that we were at one point having a
cash issue. The was around Christmas time, as we were trying to pay off some of the debts. Could we use
outstanding bond money and renegotiate some of the labor costs as we go forward. So it had been a cash
issue as we go into our fund raising season which is currently right now where the cash comes in. It's a
similar situation we've had with the bank over the years is that we use the bank in this situation Wells Fargo
during the winter months and then paid down the debt during the fundraising and better attendance months.
Commissioner Sullivan: So, as to whether you expect to be able to get there by the end of the year?
Tanya Peterson: Talking to Katie, whether we get there by June or a month's lag, but that is what we're
all trying to work out.
Commissioner Lazarus: Thank you, I appreciate the good work in the tough situation. Commissioner
Commissioner Lee: Question for Katie. How long has this been going on in terms of the billing cycle
how long has this been in practice?
Katie Petrucione: In terms of how we bill them and they bill us?
Commissioner Lee: Yes, how far back does this go?
Katie Petrucione: It's my understanding that this practice or we pay them monthly and then we bill
them based on actuals has been the case from the beginning of the management agreement.
Commissioner Lee: What about the deficit?
Katie Petrucione: So, Tanya's right. The Zoo came to the Department and to the Mayor's office early
this winter I think to let us know that they were having cash flow problems and initially the conversation
was we're having cash flow problems, let's look collectively at what we can do, one of the things being
having the PUC assume responsibility for the workorders. Looking at whether or not we would basically be
able to swap out some money where there's some money left in the original Zoo bond that could potentially
be used to reimburse the zoological society for some expenses that they incurred for capital work. That
would then give them cash to pay the Department for their operating expenses and there's some question--
the City Attorney is working on that issue and what is possible and not under the bond law. And so we've
known--my original conversations with them had really been about we have a cash flow problem and we
need to look at deferring payment and then at some point it turned into we have a cash flow problem and
we're not sure what we're going to be able to do in the current fiscal year. So we are working on some
solutions. They definitely a big chunk of it assumes the solution would really be the PUC agreeing to take
on the liability of the unpaid bills.
Commissioner Lazarus: That's only a solution for the Recreation and Park Department.
Katie Petrucione: Right, it's not a solution for the city. It's still a liability for the city. And so it's in
my mind it's really we are working on it but it's an open question about whether or not we or the city as a
whole are going to be made whole currently for the current fiscal year. We have until August really
through the close the fiscal year to work all of this out. But this is a problem.
Deniz Bolbol: Why am I not surprised that this sort of thing is going on? I mean, I've never heard about
all these behind the scene meetings that have been going on. Neither have you. I mean, I'm looking at your
faces up here and you all are shocked to hear as I am what a mess this is and I just think gee I guess this is
the way it worked, the private, non-profit zoological society can work behind closed doors with city staff to
try to figure out a way to divert bond funds back to the Zoo so they can pay their utility bill. I don't know,
maybe that's all kosher and I'm just naïve and stupid. This doesn't seem right to me but it seems to me the
taxpayers didn't pass a bond to pay the utility bills. And I also have a question about what other
outstanding debt does the zoological society have? They are operating our public Zoo, they're supposed to
be acting with complete transparency as if they are a city agency. I've asked and I've been told--at one
meeting I was told it was none of my business. But I want to know what other outstanding debt is there and
how much--now we have Bob Jenkins is solely, I don't know what his title is this month but for the last few
months his title has been undergoing, but you know we have someone who is making about $200,000 a
year when you look at all his benefits for a government relations person basically. I think that was his title
a few months ago, government relations. So we have all these tight budgets but we have a lot of spending
by the Zoo in other areas that I just don't see the value and clearly the animals aren't even on the horizon
here getting what they need. It's supposed to be about the animals but it rarely is.
Commissioner Lazarus: Denny, before you start I just want to say something on that last item because
this happens to be one of a rare meeting that's televised and people have understood things differently here
than as they heard it home on television. I don't think anybody is suggesting that bond money that's been
approved by the voters get transferred to pay a utility bill. I understood what I heard was bond money still
available for capital projects could be perhaps be reimbursed to the Zoo for capital projects that the Zoo has
already undertaken in the last year and that would be bond money for capital projects freeing up other
monies at the zoological society, not bond money for utilities. I don't want to see some story in the
Examiner tomorrow that the zoological society is proposing bond money to pay utility bills. I didn't hear
that, I'm seeing nods from the audience that they didn't say that and I want to make for the record that that's
PATRICIA’S GREEN IN HAYES VALLEY
Denny Kern, Director of Operations presented this item to the Commission.
The item before you is discussion and possible action to approve a request from the Hayes Valley Art
Coalition to place a temporary art installation entitled Adaptations at Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley from
July 1st to December 31st of this year and request to waive the fees. Commissioners, the proposed artwork
is a 3-piece sculpture composed to tree branches bound by steel bands. There's a picture of it--an artist's
depiction of it in your package and on the screen. It would then be anchored to the existing concrete slab in
Patricia's Green. Also in your package is an engineering report that certifies the stability of the anchoring
method for the proposed artwork design. This is another request from the Hayes Valley Art Coalition.
Previously you've approved installations from them, Coylos of last year and Peace Sign is currently
exhibited in Patricia's Green, they hold the permit that you granted and they'll be there until June 30th. This
would be the art installation they proposed to have follow Peace Sign when it comes out. The fees are as
described in the attached fee worksheet. $500 is the minimum encroachment fee that is mandated by park
code section 12.25. The applicant requests to waive all the fees. Understanding the applicant's financial
challenge the Department has approached the park's trust and they in turn have approached the Hayes
Valley Neighborhood Association and the Hayes Valley Merchant's Association, both of them who have
expressed financial capacity and an interest in funding fees and the Parks Trust further said that if there was
any fee balance remaining they would cover it as well. This has been discussed with the applicant and he
concurs and so the staff recommendation is approval of the temporary encroachment permit for this
installation and disapproval of the fee waiver.
Russell Pritchard: Russell, Pritchard, I'm the co-founder of the Hayes Valley art coalition and we
certainly are happy that you will consider to grant the permit for this installation. We are simply a
grassroots organization that formed about a year and a half ago when we realized that the San Francisco
Arts Commission was not budgeted correctly to ensure that we would always have public art at Patricia's
Green, so we stepped forward. We're just a grassroots organization of neighbors, merchants, other artists.
That's why we requested the waiver of fees, because it's hard for us to come up with the money. I'm also
part of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association and Merchant's Association, because I own a business
in the neighborhood. We do have some limited funding that we can chip in towards the expenses and we've
started out fundraising campaign. We have a donate button on the Hayes Valley Art Coalition website and
our artist Mark Sasaki set up to handle donations to cover the cost of his installation which is coming out of
his pocket, as do all the fees here come out of our pocket. So we can certainly scrape together the fee
money but if you would like to reconsider to waive that, that would be great. Melvina Hill: Melvina Hill,
I'm a Recreation Director. Dennis Kern did say that the Recreation and Park was going to disapprove for
the fee waiver but I just wanted to have my voice heard in regards to that. Because our city is suffering
economic hardship unfortunately I have to say facility rental increase yes, fee waivers, no. In our present
fiscal crisis every dollar of revenue that can be generated is needed. The fees charged to offset the costs of
operating our parks, Playgrounds, and facilities are important and approving the programs and services they
provide. It is clear that reluctantly we must raise existing fees and institute programs and services where
none presently exist. It would be irresponsible to waive fees for the use of public facilities when the
revenue they generate is part of the present budget. Every time you waive fees to a group you take revenue
that would save jobs or program that is now being lost. Losing these jobs and programs would have a
greater negative impact on the community who are already feeling the pinch. Unfortunately, our present
fiscal condition dictates that every dollar that we can generate is needed. Waiving fees will take away
revenue that could save a recreational director's job and our programs. I urge you to vote no on this item,
Commissioner Lazarus: Denny, as I understand it the staff recommendation is to issue the permit but not
waive the fees and everybody is working through the Parks Trust to find the revenue to make sure the
project can go forward and the fees are paid.
Denny Kern: That's correct.
On motion by Commissioner Sullivan and duly seconded the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES.NO. 0904-009
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a request from the Hayes Valley Arts Coalition to place
a temporary art installation "Adaptations" at Patricia's Greene in Hayes Valley from July 1 to December
Denny Kern, Director of Operations presented this item to the Commission. Commissioners, this item is
discussion and possible action to approve a request from the North Beach Chamber of Commerce to
produce the North Beach Festival at Washington Square on June 13, 14 of this year and for approval of
alcohol consumption in Washington Square. Commissioners, I'm sure you're familiar, we've been before
you several time annually for this permit. Following the 2006 North Beach Festival we convened a group
of Recreation and Park, Police Department, members of the community, the festival organizers and came
up with an evaluated mitigation measures to allow alcohol consumption during this event in the square. As
a result of that meeting we came up with refinements to the site plan and mitigation for the 2007 event. We
were evaluated again after the 2007 event and refined them further for the 2008 and we deemed that that
2008 site plan was successful in accommodating all interests both for the event presentation and the
community concerns. Consequently, the site plan for 2009 is the same site plan as was used last year in
2008. You can see your attachment in the package and I've also displayed the site plan here overhead. The
central details are basically two-fold. All alcohol sales are outside of Washington Square on the street
closure of Union Street, as you can see, and then alcoholic beverages purchased from festival vendors can
then be brought in to Washington Square for consumption. Barricades will again surround the entire
perimeter of Washington Square with the entry-exit points as you can see depicted there. Events security
personnel will be at each of the entry-exit points, their purpose is to ensure that only alcohol purchased
from the festival vendors is brought into the park, not bottles of Gray Goose in backpacks or that kind of
thing, so there's no glass introduced, there's no excess alcohol introduced and it's just alcohol consumption.
The Department held a meeting with the event application who have been sponsors and we invited Police
Department and community groups, the Friends of Washington Square did attend. The Police Department
could not attend, the meeting was on April 10 but Police Department did send a statement which I'll read
here from Police Department Central Station, they state that there were no problems in 2008 and the North
Beach Festival complied with all of SFPD's requests. So from that we surmise that the Police Department
is in favor of the site plan. The fees are as on your attached worksheet in your package. What's different
this year is that we are imposing significant turf regeneration fees that have not been imposed in the past so
that after the event mitigate the compaction and the impact on the turf for a better and more sustainable turf
regeneration after the event. You will see a high and a low, a minimum figure and a maximum figure on
the worksheet. The $18,000 figure is what will be applied to the application and that $92,000 figure would
be only if we had to completely returf, meaning bring up all the sod and reinstall sod it at $1.50 per square
foot, that would be the ceiling that would be imposed as a damage assessment following the event. But the
fees that would be imposed just to have the permit would be the $18,418 fee and then following a site
inspection if there were turf replace required over and above the top dressing, reseed, fertilization and
aeration, that would be at $1.50. I hope that's not overly complex but I would be happy to answer you
questions and the staff recommendation on the site plan and permit as presented and the fee worksheet is
Commissioner Lazarus: Denny, is this going to be the Department policy on all permits on locations
where we have sod? And how can we guarantee that if we have to go that far in the renovation or
restoration of the sod that the permitee has that type of asset ready or available at the end of the process?
Denny Kern: It's a fairly involved process we've gone through for this. We’ve brought our turf manager
in who this is his full-time job. He evaluated what it could take to top dress and do the minimum of what
we are requiring here for the core aeration and the turf regeneration and he costed it out and we presented
the itemized cost to the applicant. To your question about are we going to require this for all, it depends on
the size and the impact of the event. So we're going with the impact as we have experience it over time
year to year, on the size of the crowd at the North Beach Festival and the size of the park and what that
impact is. The impact of 200 people event in Sharon Meadow a North Beach Festival event at Washington
Square. So it's going to be on a case basis that we evaluate this but it will be the same methodology
Commissioner Lazarus: Two follow up conditions then. What was the condition of the sod at the end
of the event last year and if this had been in place what would have the cost been to the applicant at the
conclusion of the permit?
Denny Kern: I'd have to base it on last years' labor cost but it would be somewhat similar. The reason we
have gone to this level--
Commissioner Lazarus: Did we have to resod it after last year's event?
Denny Kern: No, but we did do core aeration and we did overseeding and fertilization at Recreation and
Commissioner Lazarus: So we didn't get reimbursed for that?
Denny Kern; Last year we imposed a $2000 turf regeneration fee to North Beach Festival and this year
we're going for full cost recovery.
Commissioner Lazarus: How do we guarantee full cost recovery from a nonprofit entity? It could be
the Jazz Festival or anything else. Are we getting a $92,000 check from them and then pay them back to
the extent that we don't use it all?
Denny Kern: No, the fee that would be exacted to them in an invoice is the $18,000 fee and then we
simply demonstrate to them the liability range here is if there were such damage, and I'm not saying that
there would be, but it would be upwards to a full returfing that would cost the higher fee.
Commissioner Lazarus: I'm curious to hear from the applicant at some point during this public
comment because I don't understand how an entity is going to obligate themselves to that high-end
exposure. Commissioner Sullivan.
Commissioner Sullivan: Denny, I'm glad that we've been doing mitigation the last couple years and we
must be doing something right because the room isn't as full as it's been in prior years but I still am hearing
complaints about the turf after the couple of festivals during the summer and I think part of the problem is
the booths are still in the park on the grass and that obviously damages the grass and also just having
people lined up all day long at the booths in the park damages the grass and I'm wondering why couldn't we
move all the booths out of the park so that people are welcome to come into the park and consume alcohol
if they wish and if we need to police alcohol we do it at the perimeter of the streets that are bounded off for
Denny Kern: Again, I'll say what the Department's position is and then it's also a question that should
also be posed to the applicant. We try to work with the applicant in understanding what their requirements
are for the event and as we understand them the booths in the park are largely for their event's sponsors so
that they have some type of public image, outreach, or presence and so that's what a large number of the
booths are so we try to accommodate the event requirements and then we try to mitigate that through the
placements. We experimented with the booth on the hardscape and the public on the grass or we've
experimented with the booth on the grass and all the feet coming by on the hardscape so right now I believe
we've going with the booth on the grass with the higher impact of the public coming by your booth and all
those constant pairs of feet being actually on the hardscape.
Commissioner Sullivan: But have we ever experimented with all the booths outside the park entirely,
out on the streets with not barricades around the park, have we ever tried that?
Denny Kern: Those are two separate issues. We have tried to work with the applicant in understanding
their requirement that the booths actually be in the park. The barricades are not so much for the booths the
barricades are actually to separate the park with what Police Department calls a beer garden for the alcohol
consumption. It has to be a cordoned off area.
Commissioner Lee: I attended the festival last year and I think the configuration you have is a vast
improvement over the year before in 07, however the one question I had was in the two days that I was
there on one day I went in the morning and the other in the afternoon, I did notice that there was a lot of
smoking that was happening inside the park. Is there any effort to enforce the smoking prohibition you
have in the permit and what that looks like because clearly there were in such a small space as Washington
Square you can easily get parts of the park that are filled with smokers and smoke.
Denny Kern: If you look at page 3 of your package there you can see Item 20 it spells out that smoking
is actually prohibited in the park. What I see missing here and we can certainly add it is that our usual--one
of our conditions of use in our permit language is that we require the applicant then to make periodic public
announcements from the stage in between music acts that smoking in the park is prohibited. Then also we
do have the Park Patrol officers who in the event as well which the applicant pays for and that's one of the
enforcement functions that they attempt to enforce. I say attempt because whether it's 2 or 4 Park Patrol
officers versus 20,000 you can do the math.
Commissioner Martin: I just want to ask a question on the alcohol. You know, we've had that problem
for the last few years and this year alcohol--you said alcohol containers can enter or exist Washington
Denny Kern: Item 6b you're referring to. This is template language. The way it should read is that only
alcohol purchased from authorized festival vendors is allowed to enter the park but they cannot take it out
again because they're not supposed to be wandering the festival with open containers.
Commissioner Lazarus: The beer and wine that they're allowed to purchase in the beer garden out on
the city blocked off street which can be brought into the park during the concerts and consumed there but
not brought in again. You cannot bring any of your own alcoholic beverages into the site.
Steve Badger: Steve Badger, I have been the co-producer of the North Beach Festival for just under 20
years. I was going to come here today and site all the old things that we've been through the last 4 years
about how the festival needs revenue from alcohol parks and it needs the park for sponsorship revenue for
its continued existence. You're aware of the increases in the permit fees and this was something that we
were prepared to address. The issue about the sod replacement--it doesn't make good business sense to
involve yourself to that type of exposure without knowing ahead of time what it may entail. So I think it's
our feeling from the North Beach Festival that we will pass on the park for this year and attempt to redesign
the event in the streets. Joan Wood: Joan Wood, I've been here many times before. I'm really happy to
say that Commissioners Martin, Sullivan, Levintan and Mr. Blumenfeld have all been to our meetings and
are very familiar with the park. I guess Megan you haven't been to our meetings but you used to live there.
You were there too early for me Mr. Blumenfeld but the other gentlemen. This year Friends of Washington
Square which I represent are modifying our requests and I'm ordered to read the following letter. Dear
President Lazarus and Commissioners, the Friends of Washington Square Park adamantly oppose any
large-scale commercial operations in the park known as Washington Square Park. Any such festivals, fairs,
or concerts that impose on this park are seen as intrusive and always contribute to the demise of the
grounds. We urge the Commission to protect this resource as part of it's mission to protect historically
designated parks in this city. Friends of Washington Square do not object to festivals, fairs, or other
commercial ventures in the neighborhood, only those that are out of scale for this park. Sincerely yours,
Gene Miligan the President. I have a couple of other things to say because I think I still have a minute or
two. Booze versus no booze in the park seems to have been the driving argument during past meetings.
You all know it doesn't matter where you buy it or who you buy it from, if you've got it inside you when
you come into the park it's not going to do the park any good. Our park is a neighborhood park, it's just too
small for that many people as you can see. It's less than one square block and it's overrun every year with
thousands of customers for the prime purpose of making money for the Precious Cheese festivals for the
promoters. It's our backyard, it's tied up for two days of the festival and much of Friday and the morning of
Monday to clean up. Somebody that is part of our group that couldn't be here wrote such a strong set of
remarks and he agreed that I could read some of it. We must continue to resist the privatization of public
space. We must protect one of our most lasting public assets that has a rich historical context and has
served the common folk of our neighborhood for many generations. Mr. Kern said that there was some
kind of--that we didn't need sod restoration, well, I live right near there and I did see about 10% of the park
and something was happening there. I thought it was sod restoration. But every year this has been going
on for 15 years. It just won't recover unless you completely replant the park and apparently there isn't
money to do that. I just wish that--and I have one more things, the public was in a newspaper, Ed Moose
said that it's really an issue of scale and about using the park to make money. There's a consensus here that
when outdoor events become so big--you get the idea. Please try to help us. Tony Gantner: Tony
Gantner. I'm not clear on the status of this application at this point given Mr. Badger's comment.
Nonetheless I will proceed with my prepared comments. Mr. Kern has stated that there's a community
consensus and agreement on this matter. There clearly is not. You have before you two pictures of the
North Beach Festival in Washington Square Park. The first shows a sea of people who occupy the park
each day of the weekend, which event already covers several city blocks and over 100 booths outside of the
park. This is why each year the park is decimated. We have pointed this out to you year after year, the
park does not recover. Large areas become unusable. Three years ago you voted 6 to 1 not to grant this
permit. The Mayor then illegally overturned your decision by administrative fiat, committing the continued
submission of our park to monied interests. There is nothing more harmful to the environment than a false
green. In order to restore the human condition the environment must first be restored. We should start
right here in the city, the birthplace of the environmental movement. If you do decide to grant this permit,
and I hope you don't, please review the fee worksheet. The event fee is understated by a factor of 3 to 5
times given the turnover of people venturing into the park over two days from the 7 closed streets. And, as
any actual sod replacement, no money is set aside by permitee to pay for such work which if not used
should be returned within 60 to 90 days, for example. Anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of the park may
require replacement which at $87,000 the total park replacement may exceed $20,000. Staff is knowingly
subsidizing this event as it has for many years and it is not truly acting in an independent fashion. The
second picture is taken just inside St. Peter and Pauls church after Sunday mass. Parishioners are faced
with a jungle of porta potties, beer trucks and debris boxes as they emerge into the light of day. This is not
a matter of whether you believe in a God, it is a matter of respecting the institutions that do. The majority
of this Commission that the Mayor's support has approved defiling the area around one of Catholicism's
greatest landmarks on the West Coast, often referred to as the Italian cathedral of the west. Several years
ago Father Azina pastor of this church pleaded with you to stop this practice, a plea which you ignored. I
hope you would vote to end this desecration. Kathleen Dooley: Kathleen Dooley, President of the
North Beach Merchant's Association. We represent about 70 merchants in North Beach, primarily retailers.
I want to say that we do support the North Beach Festival. However, we feel with the downturn in the
economy we'd really like to emphasize the integration of the fair with our local shops and businesses and
we would actually prefer to see, therefore, it conducted entirely on city streets in our commercial district.
That way it would encourage the festival goers to also visit our local businesses. The park use has been so
contentious for so long and we just think this is probably the simplest solution. Yes, continue the fair, but
leave the park open just as an open space for enjoyment and give our local merchants a chance to have
more people walking through the commercial streets. That's our position on the issue, thank you.
June Osterberg: I am representing myself and Friends of Washington Square of which I am a member. I
have lived across the street for 44 years and have tried to defend the park all those year as well as the
quality of life. The park is the heart of North Beach and should not be violated. The festivals attract people
who cannot act out in their own neighborhoods so they come to Washington Square to act out during the
festivals. I almost dread the summer months now but because of the tradition that's been established with
the festivals it now happens on weekends all through the summer and it would be nice not to have to leave
town when the festivals happen. I'm going to quote from myself when I said North Beach is not a
commodity, it's a community. That's also the case with Washington Square, it's the most important part of
the community. Dawne Berhardt: Well Commissioners, I'm blown out of the water too. It was
interesting information to hear that the promoters are going to move the booths out of--Sullivan was saying,
and that's what I was going to recommend, if the Commission decided one more time to bring this festival
which has grown out of scale for certainly our small Washington Square park again. But now that I hear
that it's a possibility that there won't be the booths I'd like to point out that I'm sure the police are not going
to change their minds about the chain link fence around Washington Square so there's a whole new issue
that's opened up here. You know the problem with the chain link fence, there are only 3 openings and exits
which means the estimated 32,000 people all are funneled on these 3 paths and the restoration time
regardless of whether the promoters pay for it is beyond the summertime when the park is used by the
neighborhood the most. So we are still at a point of great difficulty as long as that chain link fence is here
and I'd like to hear what the recommendations are about it. I would also like to say in correction of Denny
Kern's remarks, indeed the community was called in last week as we were called in at the end of March last
year after putting in writing for years our request to be involved in the initial planning to see if we couldn't
head off some of these problems and work cooperatively with the promoters. We have not been called in
until it's a fait complait and agreed to it or there is no other option. So I'd appreciate correcting the sense
that I think came from Mr. Kern's remarks that the community had somehow gone along with this. The
community as far as Washington Square Friends are concerned has not gone along with this. We have been
opposed as the fair has grown from three friendly blocks on Grant Avenue when I moved into the
neighborhood to 7 streets, 4 closed and food streets, etc. So we urge you to move the festival to promote
another venue as I believe the interim General Manager did when he worked last week with the promoters.
Commissioner Harrison: On the impact fees on the turf it seems to me that full sod replacement is
pretty unlikely, patching maybe at best, but likely that it would cost to aerate and sand and overseed and my
experience working on golf courses for a lot of years thousands of feet trample on the delicate turf of
putting greens and we've aerated them and sanded them to a great success. So I think that the charge, that
amount of money, should not be charged at this point. I mean, maybe a patching, some lesser amount
might be more realistic.
Commissioner Lazarus: Denny, have you had any conversation with the applicant in the last few
moments as to their desire to move forward--or Jared--regarding this permit? How much of this issue that
just arose to everybody's surprise here has to do with the additional $87,000 of possible exposure for
resodding? Is that the issue, Jared or Denny where are we on this?
Denny Kern: My understanding from the applicant is they are redrawing their request for Washington
Square, is that correct? That is correct.
Commissioner Lazarus: All right, well then we're--I just want to make everybody aware that I was
prepared and I think Commissioner Harrison was prepared to look at a different fee structure for the
reimbursement of the Department, something more reasonable than an additional $87,000. This has been a
contentious issue but if you read in the papers recently the Department issues, whether it's MUNI, DPT,
DPW, street closure fees are driving neighborhood festivals out and granted this has a much broader
attracting that merely the North Beach neighborhood but it is part of the fabric of San Francisco. We've
debated it year after year that I've been on the Commission. I just want to make sure that I for one would
not have favored mandated the fee structure such as this which might have resulted in this not going
forward. It may be withdrawn for other reasons but I think a few of us would have made a motion to have
a more reimbursement situation.
Denny Kern: To answer you first question, I concur with Commissioner Harrison that I think aeration,
top dressing, fertilization and the turf regeneration is all that is going to be required. The top figure was
mainly informational to show what if there was complete destruction to the 56,000 square feet of
Washington Square that's what it would cost.
Jared Blumenfeld: And it would be great if the permitee if you could come back to the mic. So we've
met with the permitee in good faith, I've met personally with him 3 times. The first proposal was to give
site options, one was Joe Dimaggio which is completely hardscape where there would be very low fees. I
think the total was fee was the neighborhood of $6000 because there's no turf issues. The second issue is
really to look at what for a normal event, both the Jazz festival that happens at Washington Square and the
North Beach festival, what is the cost that Recreation and Park is paying so that cost really is the $13,000.
We also needed to come up I thought with Michele and Steve and others we came up with a pretty good
system and certainly from the other places that they do festivals this is not out of the ordinary. Namely,
you take a picture of the entire ground beforehand. If hot oil is poured on 10 square feet and it's beyond
repair that is the cost per square foot that you would have to pay for it, and everyone understood that. And
last year to answer your question Mr. President the fee would have been in the hundreds of dollars probably
to repair small patches of grass. But we need to have a mechanism by which to make sure if there's cars,
trucks, that do serious damage during a wet season that we have the ability to recoup those costs. I think
everyone understood that this number would not be in the permit and would really be based on the square
feet of damage done based on agreement, that's the other part that was not reflected in the presentation. We
all said at the beginning take pictures of the general state and we would at the end do a walk-through, we
even talked about the timely. So I understand that there are financial issues related to this event, doing it in
the park at all and maybe Steve you could talk us through exactly what your plans are because we went to
quite a bit of trouble to meet. We also went to the trouble, even though Marcia thinks it's a little late in the
day, to bring in the community at the end of the process which happened last week or this week--April 10th,
so not that long ago these same criteria were put in front of everyone and we didn't get the reaction that we
got today. So maybe Steve you could talk through.
Steve Badger: Let me elaborate a little bit. This is an 11th hour decision and there's a lot of factors here.
Number 1 is the community satisfaction and its expectations of the event. I'm very proud of this festival,
it's something--it's the oldest urban street festival in the Northern Hemisphere. It began on Grant Avenue,
it began on the streets. This event is owned by the Board of Directions of the North Beach Chamber of
Commerce and in the last week there has been concern on their part about the potential fiscal liability of
producing this event in the park. I'm a co-producer but the board is the one who ultimately makes the
decision and what we have done is we have done an analysis of the revenues generated by the use of the
park and the fees that are realized by the use of it and in addition police services, private security. It kind
of balanced and so initially we were prepared to move ahead, let the smoke clear, see where we stood. No
business that I know of would enter into an environment like this that was so speculative about where in the
end our costs would be. This is one of the primary issues. We've already had the fee increases, they're
reasonable, the city needs to recover it's costs, it needs to cover it's staff hours and involvement, totally
equitable but it was I think you referred to it as the elephant in the room that you just can't plan an event--
we already have liabilities for things that are weather determined. We're so close to the margin on these
events. It just does not make good business sense and it's something that the Board of Directors is very
concerned about it.
Jared Blumenfeld: Great. But to the extent that this had come up in our meetings--I mean obviously
Recreation and Park, those on the staff and the Commission level want the parks to be used, want to
continue the tradition of festivals. We want to make sure they're maintained in a responsible way, that we
get the funds back that we need but we're obviously very supportive of having festivals in the park.
Steve Badger: And this is a tradition that San Francisco has.
Jared Blumenfeld: Had we known this before we'd be proposing what I'm going to suggest now which
is that for this year the total fees be capped at $18,418.52 to give you surety in a difficult financial year of
how to move forward and that in the future we work out a mechanism with more time ahead to work out
how under extraordinary circumstance permanent damage can be removed. But I think we're ahead in the
game than we were last year and certainly I think that's a prudent way to go forward. So to the extent that
this is put before this Commission and the permit reflects that, how would that change your view?
Steve Badger: That was our primary concern is that unpredictable set of costs and this does create a
slightly different perspective.
Jared Blumenfeld: So with that perspective you would remain an applicant?
Steve Badger: Uh---
Commissioner Lazarus: You don't have to pick up the permit. I think the suggestion was we would
perhaps if the votes were here, approve the permit with the cap at the $18,418.52 price and if you want to
pick up the permit pick it up. If you decide not to, you don't.
Commissioner Sullivan: I have a question which is the applicant appears to be suggesting that they
would continue to hold the festival, they just wouldn't hold it in the park.
Jared Blumenfeld: That would not be beneficial to the park unless we spend a great deal of time and
effort--because the number of people in the area that would use the park would be the same.
Commissioner Sullivan: That's my question which is what's your view of that from the perspective of
the park and the turf?
Jared Blumenfeld: Ultimately we would have to come to you with a recommendation. That
recommendation would have to restrict the number of people coming into the park because there would be
no way of recapturing the costs which would be the same as if we had the festival. The condition of the
soil at the end of the event would be the same or comparable to the scenario we're painting at the moment.
So we would rather have a situation where we have a interested party that has a long tradition to move this
thing forward than a situation where there's no one in charge.
Commissioner Levitan: Mine is just sort of a point of information. So we've increased our fees from
last year, right, the use fees on the park. Does the increase in our fees cover our costs? Are we recouping--
I mean, this sort of gets to the core principal of this Department in terms of supporting these events I think
and that's a bigger conversation we don't have to have it now, but we've subsidized events of this size and
nature in the past. The increase in fees, is that going to cover our costs?
Denny Kern: Yes, the $18,000 figure here is a cost recovery model.
Commissioner Levitan: So $13,000 of that $18,000 has to do with the sod, with the turf, and the rest if
sound set up, use fee for a couple days, right, the 5 or 6 thousand remaining.
Denny Kern: On the fee worksheet you see event support, those are what our actual costs are in addition
to the $13,000 on the turf regeneration and then all other costs are just impact fees, opportunity costs and
that kind of thing. The sound amplification we have to cover--there are certain fees we have to itinerant
show permit for the amplified sound permit, those are codified.
Commissioner Levitan: It covers our costs?
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes, that was my criteria.
Commissioner Levitan: And that's great. We're not making any money?
Jared Blumenfeld: No.
Commissioner Levitan: So we come out at just a wash?
Jared Blumenfeld: Right, we break even.
Commissioner Levitan: So I guess the good news is in the past we've come out at a negative and this
year we're coming out flat.
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes.
Commissioner Levitan: I guess that's some kind of progress.
On motion by Commissioner Harrison and duly seconded, the following resolution was adopted:
RES. NO. 0904-010
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a request from North Beach Chamber of Commerce to
produce the North Beach Festival at Washington Square on June 13-14, 2009 and for approval of alcohol
consumption in Washington Square but does cap the fee at $18,418.52.
LATCH KEY AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM FEES, AQUATIC PROGRAMS AND FACILITY
RENTAL FEES, SUMMER DAY CAMP FEES AND GYMNASIUM AND MEETING ROOM
Katie Petrucione, Director of Administration and Finance and Terry Schwartz, Superintendent of
Citywide Services presented items 9-12 to the Commission. Good afternoon Commissioners, I'm going to
present the latch key after school fee and then Terry will come up and present the remainder of the fees.
I'm here this afternoon to ask for your approval to take legislation to the Board of Supervisors to increase
the fees that we charge for latch key and after school programs. Our latch key program is actually a very
popular program. In most of the sites offered it's completely full and at some of the sites we actually have a
waiting list. Currently we charge $8.50 a week for latch key and that's for 20 hours of programming per
week or $34 a month. That recovers a little over 10% of our cost in providing this program. I am
proposing today that we increase that fee from $8.50 a week to $18 a week, a $10 increase or $72 per
month. This new, revised fee structure if implemented would recover approximately 25% of our costs in
providing the program. We've looked at comparable programs in other Bay Area cities and currently we
are the least expensive, we have the least fees for this type of programming. If you approve an increase to
$18 then we would be in the bottom third of the fees that are being charged. We had as Terry will also
mention a public meeting on all of our fee proposal last week which was unfortunately not as well attended
as perhaps it might have been, and none of the folks who actually attended that meeting expressed concerns
about this proposed fee increase. I would like to point out that the Department continues to have a
scholarship program which will cover up to half the costs of the fees. We are doing our best right now to
actually get out there and advertise our scholarships as much as possible and we really believe that we need
to get to a point with our programming that we price our programming at a place where folks that can
afford to pay that fee, that's where we put the fee, and then we take care of the rest of the folks with our
scholarship. We do not want the price to be a barrier to participation but we also need to do what we can in
order to generate additional fee revenue for the Department given the massive deficit the city is currently
Commissioner Harrison: How easy is it to apply for the help?
Katie Petrucione: We do request that people come into McLaren Lodge and show us proof of
eligibility and there's many different things they can bring in to show they're eligible.
Commissioner Harrison: Is there a form of some sort that could be handed out with the instructions of
how to go about applying for that?
Katie Petrucione:: Absolutely, yeah. I know that my staff at McLaren Lodge at the front desk are very
good about letting people know there's scholarship help available and when we do enrollment for
programming which happens 4 times a year, both at McLaren Lodge as well as at facilities across the city I
believe that staff are good about letting folks know that if you need financial assistance it is available.
Commissioner Lee: In other languages, so in Spanish and Chinese. Have you made any attempt? Do
you have outreach materials in other languages so that people can access it?
Katie Petrucione: I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you that when people come in and need
interpretation help either over the telephone or at the front desk we have a service that we use that we can
call to have interpreters. I don't know if the scholarship program information has been translated but if it
has not we absolutely can do that.
Commissioner Lee: Could you look into that and get back to me, thank you.
Commissioner Lazarus: Katie, if we're recovering a very little part of the cost of putting this program
on, the General Fund subsidy of the Department is paying the rest?
Katie Petrucione: Correct.
Commissioner Lazarus: Wouldn't this program be eligible for the Department of Children, Youth and
Katie Petrucione: Well, I mean, this gets back to the whole question around the Children's Fund.
Commissioner Lazarus: Why wouldn't we apply for monies from that fund to augment?
Katie Petrucione: Because the language of the charter although the City Attorney has not made a final
opinion of this, but at first glance the language of the charter is pretty clear that is a program is currently
being funded and it was being funded as of either fiscal or calendar year 2000 when the Children's Fund
was reauthorized then you cannot now take Children's Fund and use it to supplant what had previously been
funded with General Funds.
Commissioner Lazarus: A baseline determination.
Katie Petrucione: Yes.
My name is Terry Schwartz, I'm the superintendent of citywide services and I have three items for you.
The first item is the approval of the recommendation to increase aquatic program fees. Aquatics is an
expensive proposition in our city. We spend some 4 million dollars to operate pools and generate about
10% of what that total cost is. And while my recommendations won't recover those costs I think it will
bring us more inline with what we experience across the Peninsula and certainly with other providers of
aquatics in the community. We find that in our research that we're quite a bit lower than others. We also
want to take advantage of some really beautiful facilities that we've recently opened and will soon to open
in the fall with the idea that there's going to be an awful lot of people who are going to have an interest in
reserve facilities for the purposes of providing birthday parties for their families. So what you have before
you are recommendations for admission fees-- And the final one is our facility rental structure and
essentially what we're trying to do is simply this. As you all know we've engaged in class registration and
prior to us getting in the class registration we would have a reservation fee and then we would have an
hourly rate and then we would have a minimum on that hourly rate that one could use a facility and so what
we're trying to do is simplify this. So if I were to show you this overhead you will be able to see how this
is simplified. We've got a new rate of $70 for a two-hour rental of a given facility. It'd simply be $140. It
makes things much simpler. The business at the Permits and Reservations office is significant and we want
to try to streamline that as best as we can because the number of people who drop in, make phone calls,
those types of things is just very large and so what we're trying to do is simplify the use of class so we can
document this stuff very quickly and keep accurate records of what's being used and utilize class to it's
most capable way. And so we would recommend those fees as well.
Robert Boileau: I opposed all of these fare increases not because I think the fee increases themselves are
outrageous, they're probably not very much, they also probably don't amount to very much of the deficit
that you're trying to make up for. The big bulk of that is being made up by the 77 frontline service provides
that are not going to be working for the city anymore. But this I believe puts the Recreation and Park
Department on the wrong path. When you monetize these services, these things that the public comes to,
you're essentially alienating your allies. A lot of people think hey wait a minute, I just paid my property
taxes last week, I paid a big chunk of money in my property taxes, now I'm going to go down to my local
swimming pool and I'm going to get hit for another increase? So it's only $1.25 or $5 or $6, it's not going
to break me but if we need more money there's a way to get more money and that's taxes. But politicians
never want to go get taxes because it's difficult, it brands them as taxes, they're running for other offices
sometimes and they don't like to have that in their resume. But if you nickel and dime the public you're
going to turn them into your opposition rather than your supporters. So I think that you should--I don't see
any other Department that's laying off 77 of their frontline service providers this year but I do see
Recreation and Park. This is one of the fundamental programs that the cities residents look too. Of course,
police and fire for their safety and protection, MUNI for transportation, but the other thing that they really
see every day, they use a lot, are the parks and the recreation programs. You need to somehow not go
down the path of nickel and diming, nickel and diming, and try to solve the problem that is not really the
problem. The problem is if you don't have enough money you've got to go get more taxes and the only way
you're going to force the politicians to go that route is A, have the public on your side which means you've
got to do a little organizing with us, and B, stop exceeding to their request for layoffs and fee increases and
layoff and fee increases. If you keep on this way you're an enabler, you're enabling them just like with
Prop 13, who never wanted to face the problem and so they delayed infrastructure and Tom Harrison and I
went through many years of the consequences of that, you don't want to do that. You want to stand up for
the people of San Francisco, thank you. Steven Currier: Steve Currier with the Outer Mission Merchants
and Residents association and former chair of the Crocker-Amazon advisory group. Madame secretary I
have the original signed copy and I don't know if Jared got a copy? Okay, I forwarded a letter off to you
yesterday regarding our organization. We have been meeting at Crocker-Amazon rec center since 1998, so
we've been meeting there for 11 years, and it was a couple of years ago when Recreation and Park wanted
to close the rec centers on Monday and one Monday I think it was two or three years ago we had to change
our venue for one month and we lobbied and actually Yomi at the time actually agreed to let us have our
meetings on Mondays and provide us with a recreation director. I don't know what the proposal is for
community-based organizations and not-for-profit organizations like we are but as one of my first vice-
presidents sent over and I think Margaret got the email is that our association is a community organization
that serves as a public forum for community concerns and our group is not using the rec center as a
recreation venue. We do actually provide our members the opportunity to volunteer in the park during park
workdays and during the district cleanup. So we're in the park and we're in other parks. Like I said, I don't
know what your proposal is, if you're going to charge CBOs for using the rec center as meeting places but I
would pray that we would probably not be charged any fees. And if there are fees to be charged I hope
they're nominal to us. Nancy Wuerfel: Nancy Wuerfel. I've taken Katie's words to heart that we need to
generate more revenue to offset the massive budget deficit. I'd like to put something out which we haven't
talked about. In the last 4 months when we've been discussing the budget the Golf Fund has not been
addressed. I want to make sure that you understand that when I'm going to be discussing my suggestion it
is in the interest of having the Golf Fund has sufficient money to repay the Open Space Fund of the load.
When the Open Space Fund has money then the Department has free discretionary money to do with it
what it wants, so I'm not addressing golf as golf, I'm addressing golf as a substance of money that needs to
address some of the issues we've heard today. I'm very upset to see that we are coming to the point of
having to deal with the latchkey program and the day camps for money. That's why I can feel with
confidence that I can ask you please to simply raise the rounds $1. It's in the Park Code, 12.20, you can do
this right now, you don't need Board of Supervisors approval, you can do this. You can do even more than
that but I'm not going to ask for more than $1 a round, that would bring in $282,000 according to the
number of rounds you had last year. I want to help the Department. I don't think that the golfers would
stand up and object to $1 when they hear what you're doing to the rest of these people in San Francisco. I
don't think they'd have the nerve to say no. Or if they feel that they have to make a protest over a dollar,
then so be it. But we are dealing with everything that you've heard and you know what's not even here
today, people are angry and people are upset. Please, let's spread the wealth, let's spread the grief, let us
involve the fact that we have golf courses, especially Harding, we've spent a lot of money getting it up to
speed. I would have a lot more suggestions but I don't want to overplay the hand. I simply want $1 a
round, I want to get some more money on the table, then maybe the people at the swimming pool will feel
I'm giving, they're giving, everybody is contributing. The man with the tax situation, good luck on that, I
think that would be a nice way if we could get the taxes to actually be earmarked for Recreation and Park
but that's too complicated for me to deal with today. But I don't think it's asking too much to have every
single revenue production aspect of the Department be tapped to do something. Meredith Thomas:
Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks Council and we would certainly support a proposal to
increase the fees on golf rounds by a dollar to help offset some of the revenue. Costs we're trying to make
up and deal with these expenses. In general we're supportive of increasing fees for programs and services
that the Department is providing so long as people in our communities who are not able to pay those fees
are still given proper access to the services and that the services are equally good in every neighborhood.
However, we do think that there is a difference between somebody coming and signing up for a class and
taking a class where they're getting a direct service like swimming versus the use of a community room or a
recreation center for meetings, particularly since so many of the meeting pertain to park issues. We feel
like there is a problem here where people are being discouraged from using our facilities in our parks for
the good of our parks and we know based on several years of parks getting annual reports that vandalism
and misuse of our parks is the number one problem that we face. It costs the Department a lot of money
that people are doing things in our parks that they shouldn't be doing. So I would encourage the
Department to do everything in its power to keep our park groups meeting in our clubhouses, to keep our
evening meetings and our neighborhood meetings and our resident association meetings happening in our
parks because it keeps the community connected and we end up spending less money fixing up the parks
and dealing with unattractive nuisance behavior by keeping the community programmed in that way. So
we feel very strongly that making it very expensive to have neighborhood meetings or local small events
especially for our park groups is not appropriate. We do generally support, however, making the fees more
scalable with what other counties are doing for recreation services. Kenneth Pratt: Kenneth Pratt. We all
understand that city is facing fiscal crisis and it's unpopular to talk about fee raises but it's the reality that
we have to deal with. My only plea is that we make sure that the fees don't put a great burden on those
people who use it. I'm speaking on 9, 10, and 11. A lot of the people who use the after school and latch
key programs use it as a way of being able to make sure that their children are being cared for in an
environment that's safe and productive while they actually go out to work to make a living for the families.
One of my other concerns is that in raising the fees especially for our facilities like Boxer Stadium, for
Kezar Stadium, for other facilities that are used by leagues and by other sports that there isn't enough open
talk about the raising of the fees. I know personally for one of the women's soccer leagues that this year the
fees were tripled to the place where they can no longer play at Boxer Stadium and instead of $60,000 that
the city could be getting nothing is being made there because they had to move outside of San Francisco
and this is happening not only for this one league but it's several leagues, the Gaelic games have moved out
of San Francisco over to Treasure Island. So there's revenue that was being made that has been run away
and we need every dollar we can get. We're making nothing now and of course the schools are using
Boxer, the schools are using Kezar right now for track, soccer, but there's no revenue customers coming in.
And so I would hope that you would look at not only the fee structures but talking to the people that are
perspective leasers of these facilities so that we can get revenue and not run revenue away from the city.
Lorraine Hanks: Lorraine Hanks, I worked for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. What
I want to say about the fee increases, it's kind of mixed feelings because myself as a recreation director and
a parent of four small children, it would be increasingly impossible for me to pay for all four of my children
to attend a summer camp because it's quite expensive for me. On the other hand it might not be quite as
expensive for someone else who makes a larger amount of money than I would. However, as the
gentleman said before, due to the layoffs that are happening it seems that our Department is now wanting to
raise these fees and they've talked about it a long time, about raising fees for the day camps. YMCA and all
these different places charge almost $250 a week. Recreation and Park is now in the process of leasing our
buildings to the YMCA through RecConnect and it's simply unfair because here it is as I said before
YMCA is a corporation so it's like you're laying off directors, you're bring in the YMCA, the fees are still
going to be increased because families are still going to have to pay the YMCA their $250 and I'm a little
confused here but what I'm trying to say is we are in competition and DCYF with the Children's Fund.
They come into Recreation and Park facilities and they don't pay rent and with the same monies that our tax
dollars pay for they offer some of the programs to the children for free. So if you have a latch key program
over here who's charging a $196 and then you have the YMCA leasing a building from Recreation and Park
for free and they're not charging the kids the families are going to go over here and we're still going to
loose money and the YMCA is in there and they're leasing the building for fee. I just really feel that it's
unfair that we are leasing out 5 sites to Rec Connect. June 30th was supposed to be their last day. Now
comes what is it, July 1st are they going to pay rent, are we sure they're going to pay rent? I'm opposing fee
waivers for nonprofit organization coming into city buildings and leasing these buildings for free. It's not
fair. I know everything I just said is kind of boggled up because like I said I'm kind of weighing it both
ways. I'm a parent who can't afford if you guys raise the fees but then I'm a director who needs you to raise
the fees because I need my job. So I'm sitting here really confused. I just ask that you look into this really
Jared Blumenfeld: I thought you were very clear Lorraine. Just to be clear, we are going to charge
RecConnect rent at the market rate and as we'll explain at the next Commission meeting in the process of
reviewing the partnership with them completely. But at whatever stage they stay with us they'll still have to
Melvina Hill: Melvina Hill. I have a question to Katie and this regards advertisement of the meetings that
are coming up for the public, getting it out the fee increases for them. We have not seen any advertisement
in our neighborhoods and I have people in several neighborhoods and parents have asked me about that. So
I wanted to know where and how did you advertise because you had such a small turnout that you said, so
could you answer that question for me please. If someone could get back to me on that so I could let the
parents know. What I'm saying is that we have not seen any advertisement. I'm going to rephrase it for
you then. We have not seen any advertisement on fees being increased out to the public, therefore the 4
neighborhoods that I know of they have not seen anything. So we need to get that out to the public so that
they'll know that these fees are being raised and what we can do about it too. Regina Alexander: Regina
Alexander. I work at Excelsior Playground. I worked here since 1996 and our job is to meet the needs of
the people in the community. I do agree with increasing the fees but I have mixed feelings on how you
increase the fees for the summer camps and day camps. Terry, you wasn't really quite sure what the $118
means, a week or a month, because last year is was $80 a month for 8 hours a day from 9:00 to 6:00. We
even had parents come in there at 8:30 before I even came to work and it was $160 a month. Now, through
the grapevine because Recreation and Park directors we always get the last word, we never know what's
going on in our Department and I'm sorry we have to hear things through the grapevine. I was told that it's
$96 a week for two months which comes out to $768. We serve a lot of kids from low income areas, $768
most of them don't even pay that much in rent, how are we going to charge them that? Something is fine,
$50 a week, maybe. And we do have the scholarships out of the General Fund that we can use and no, our
brochures, the applications, are not in different languages. Our books that we have are only in English. We
serve a very diverse population and being here for the last 13 years, as far as getting our programs going,
it's word of mouth, never paper. We have to actually talk to our parents who can't speak English and try to
get someone outside from our parks to interpret for us just to enroll them in our program. Our Department
is divided and really mixed up. A lot of these Department heads aren't directors and have never been
directors. And if you don't know how it goes how are you going to know how to serve the people in the
community? Once again, I agree with increasing the fees but let's rethink on how we increase the fees,
Commissioner Sullivan: Before we get to the vote I just had a question for staff which is a couple of
the comments during public comment was about golf and whether golf is doing it's part as we try to
rationalize fees and raise fees where appropriate. I just wanted to get the Department's perspective on that.
I know there have been some fee increases in the past, I don't remember how recent, but if you could.
Katie Petrucione: We have the ability under the park code already to add CPI to golf fees without
going to the Board of Supervisors, so we wouldn’t actually need a fee proposal to do that. We have been
talking a lot about golf fees. I have to say that generally speaking, especially at Harding Park, I'm very
reluctant to bring a fee increase proposal to golf fees right now given the economy. Golf feels like
something that is very much a luxury item for people and I worry about increasing fees to the point where
we actually loose more money than we gain from the fee increase and the last time we raised fees at
Harding that was actually what we felt, we lost more business than we gained as a result of the fee
increases. In looking at Lincoln and Sharpe in particular there may be some room for a fee increase there
and I think actually we could apply CPI and get a dollar or two increase and as Nancy suggests I think that
might be a worthwhile thing to do. It's not going to generate a really significant amount of revenue for the
fun but it certainly is something that we're looking at doing.
On motion by Commissioner Levitan and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-011
RESOLVED, That this Commission does increase fees for Recreation and Park Department
On motion by Commissioner Sullivan and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-012
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve fee increases for aquatic programs and aquatic
facility rentals as recommended by staff on the lap swim and monthly pass as well as the other fees that are
in this item and the proposed fees on lap swim and recreation swim but rather than the proposed $150, the
fees would be $170, $620, $400, and $400 for the annual pass.
On motion by Commissioner Harrison and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-013
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve the fee increases for summer day camp programs.
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes, on Exhibit which relates to the clubhouse and rec centers I suggest that we
draft some exemption for some types of community meeting that are distinct from other users.
Commissioner Sullivan: Can I ask a question? Are we talking about an exemption or no increase?
Right now those groups are paying fees. Are we talking about waiving the fees? No.
Jared Blumenfeld: At the moment there's a relatively from my observation informal arrangement
whereby the groups that have had a traditional time such as Steve's, continue to reserve them. They
continue to be on the books but they're not paying. They haven't traditionally paid and so as we become
more formal I think we need to have a clear exemption because otherwise people say well why does this
group get it for free and I think there are clear policy reasons why we would want them to have it.
On motion by Commissioner Harrison and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-014
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve the rental fees for gymnasium and meeting room
rentals in recreation centers and clubhouses as recommended by staff with the additional exemption for
civic use of neighborhood facilities. All in favor of that motion say aye.
GOLDEN GATE PARK MUSIC FESTIVAL.
Rich Hillis, Director of Partnerships, presented this item to the Commission. We're back to talk about the
Golden Gate Park benefit concert and the permit between the Recreation and Park Department and Another
Planet Entertainment. The permit is before you and we are recommending approval of the permit. We've
been working over the past couple months with not only the promoter but representatives from the various
neighborhood organizations that surround the park including Speak and Parr as well the Golden Gate Park
Preservation Alliance on the draft permit you have before you. It's basically laid out in two sections. The
first is the general terms and general legal and permit language and then the appendix B puts forth the
operating and outreach requirements. In the first part the general terms, again, the concert will be held
Friday, August 28th through Sunday August 30th in 2009 and then future dates will be set each year between
June and August of those years. The term is for 3 years with a 2 year option. The fee structure is a
$950,000 minimum guaranteed fee which increases by $50,000 annually or 10% of the gross ticket
revenue, whichever is greater, and then on top of that there's a dollar per ticket additional rent the permit
lays out too. The city is to be reimbursed for all costs. That's our cost as well as Police and MUNI, etc.
Appendix B gets more specific on how the event is to operate and we basically lay our a serious of plans, a
site plan, a transportation and parking plan, security plan, sound requirements, as well as an outreach plan
that Another Planet is required to provide us for approval anywhere from 60 to 90 days before the concert.
We also lay out in each what we're looking for, what we may require or do require. So for the site plan for
instance we're requiring that they lay out where all stages are, all vendor booths, all toilets, all fences, trash
receptacles, all other structures. In the transportation and parking plan we require them to lay out the
MUNI service that's available, the enhanced MUNI service that they pay for as well as any private shuttles,
and they're working with private shuttle providers to look at alternative ways besides MUNI to get people
to and from the concert. Under sound they would be required to hire an independent sound consultant for
our use that would actually take measurements of what the sound levels are during the concert, make
recommendation to us on how to keep sound to a minimum as well as setting out goals in the future when
we do get the data we're expecting to retrieve from this year's concert. As far as outreach, we're requiring
public meetings to the various neighborhood groups as well as general public meetings in the Sunset and
Richmond. A telephone hotline, that would also be coordinated with 311 and direct mailings to an area 4
blocks beyond the park. Revenues from the event, we presented this before when we were here, are
expected to be anywhere between a million and a million-four based on the concert that they had last year
with the attendance levels they had last year that could be about a million-two. Attendance would be
limited to 60,000 maximum for each event day. So that is my summary.
Katherine Howard: Good afternoon Commissioners, Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance. Once
again our thanks to General Manager Blumenfeld and to Rich Hillis for including us in this process, we
appreciate that very much. We turned in something which I think you got in your packet today where we
recommended a few modifications to the contract language. It's a little vague on some points, as you know
if it's not in writing it doesn't exist. So we're hoping that this could be written in. In our request for an
arborist we have three main points, one is that language says that the [unintelligible] will consult with an
arborist about tree protection, etc. Well, consulting is nice but it's not like what do you think? Thanks very
much, goodbye. That's what we're worried about. There's precedent for having a written report and that's
what we're asking is that the consulting arborist submit a written report of recommendations. The Friends
of the Music Concourse worked on the service improvements project and the Music Concourse very closely
with the Department and the Department hired an independent consulting arborist for that project. He
wrote up a series of recommendations for preservation which become part of the construction documents
and were very helpful for everybody involved. Another benefit is that his report you could use for other
events in the park in these areas so you would get a benefit paid for by APE and we can recommend some
great people who are very independent licensed certified arborists who can give you a really good outline
of things you need to do. The arborist needs the second part, he needs to be available during the concert if
necessary, if Recreation and Park wants him there to walk around and look at things to say is this really a
good idea, should this truck be over there or should this be happening, etc. And then finally, extremely
important, post-concert evaluation. Trees and other shrubs don't always tell you right away or the day after
the concert gee I don't feel too good, I think I'm getting a fever or something like that. It can be a while and
the arborist can recommend a time period after which he would come back and walk the site again and give
an evaluation of what happened. So this would give you things--you don't always see what things people
do but this would give you an idea and also you can use this information for future events. Our other two
suggestions for sound and sound mitigation are--one is for enforcement and we think there needs to be a
little stronger language for enforcement of sound levels. Consulting about it is one thing but somebody
being able to go backstage and saying you have to turn it down or I'm going to pull the plug, is something
else. And the other one is outreach, the language was a little vague on where outreach is, it's got to be the
people at least, as Rich said, with 4 blocks and probably a little further. I think the streets should be listed
and I think you can get ideas from the community about where that should be. Thank you very much again
for including us in the process.
Greg Perloff: I just wanted to thank you all once again for giving us the privilege of putting on this
festival. I think the first year we made a lot of strides in this sort of unique public-private partnership and
raising money for the parks and this year we just want to build on it with various community outreach
programs, improving the information for the neighborhoods and mass transit and all the issues that
occurred. I think that people were generally pleased with the first year but there's always room for
improvement and we've been working really closely with Recreation and Park to try and develop a unique
model that will work for all of us.
Commissioner Lazarus: Thoughts on the amendments suggested by the Preservation Alliance?
Rich Hillis: On the first the arborist under the site plan requirements, I agree we should probably change
the language to be stronger from should to shall consult with a licensed certified arborist. I would probably
recommend that we leave the specifics of what the arborist would do to a later point and add language that
says the Department in consultation with Another Planet will determine the scope of work for the arborist.
On the sound issue it's difficult for us now to determine what those levels are without having that sound
consultant on board. I think there should always be goals because it's difficult with atmospheric conditions
to actually control what the sound would be in the neighborhood. It depends if it's foggy, rainy, etc. --
achieve that with the sound consultant and come up with these goals but I wouldn’t be that strong in the
language and as far as outreach I would take those suggestions, I think that's right. We were a little vague
in the layout of our boundaries so I would agree with that suggestion.
Commissioner Lazarus: Remember those comments when we get to the action part of this. Commissioner
Commissioner Harrison: This seems like a small item but last year there was concern about the way that
the fencing was connected to the stakes was with metal clips and there is a problem there in that some point
later on when our gardeners go through and mow that those metal clips could cause a problem so I hope
that they would be able to use like zip ties or some plastic type of attachment.
Rich Hillis:: And we did put in language here to make sure that the entire fencing including materials
and we called out those clips, are removed. I think there was some issue about--
Commissioner Harrison: All the fencing is to be removed, parts of it, but I'd like to see something less
Commissioner Lee: So Rich the Friday show is starting earlier than last year and that should alleviate--so
you've taken into consideration the Friday rush hour and come up with a plan to address that? Are you
coordinating with MUNI on the bus schedules?
Rich Hillis:: We've already started working with the Mayor's office and MTA on the available of
coaches and what they would recommend to add to the service as well as what we would need for parking
control. But yes, the start date was moved up so it wouldn't conflict with the evening rush hour on Friday
Commissioner Sullivan: As someone who participated in the committee that considered the RFQ I just
wanted to say that one of the things that was really appealing about this promoter was it's attention to
everything local. This is an event that you look at it and you attend it and it's really something that couldn't
be anywhere else and I think a lot of that is the attention that the promoter has paid to that was definitely
something that was appealing and everything from the food to the name of the event sort of is all about San
Francisco and especially western San Francisco so I hope they'll have more of that. So congratulations.
Commissioner Levitan: I just want to echo my colleague Commissioner Sullivan's points to say that
last year I think you guys did a great job and rarely do you get to work with organizations that are so
earnest about wanting to improve upon what they've already done and in the areas of outreach especially. I
really commend Another Planet and I'm very excited about the lineup so I think that's good for us. I think
that's good for us and will undoubtedly make me the most uncool of this Commission, I have to say I'm
very excited about Tom Jones. Let's hope for everybody's sake that it's a successful and peaceful event.
On motion by Commissioner Martin and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-015
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a multi-year permit with Another Planet Entertainment
to produce an annual three day music festival in Golden Gate Park as amended by staff recommendations.
Tony Patch: Tony Patches, a private citizen, nothing to do with Friends of Camp Mather. I watched
Ernestine make a comment today and I would like to make a comment attending most of the Commission
meetings since the interim General Manager has been appointed and I was to applaud him for all the good
things he's done and I would like to see you continue in that position. I don't know Mr. Ginsburg but I
think you're doing a great job so keep up the good work.
CLOSED SESSION PUBLIC COMMENT
Tom Weathered: I'm Tom Weathered and here on behalf on the Lincoln Park Golf Club which is a public
golf club operating out of the Lincoln Park golf course. The lawsuit that has been threatened against the
Recreation and Park Department and Sharpe Park is part of an effort to close Sharpe Park. The group that's
behind this wants to turn Sharpe Park into a nature area and we think that this is a bad mistake. It is against
the purposes for which Sharpe Park was created which was to provide for public recreation. And we would
also like you to consider that the golfers are a complimentary use of the property that supports the existence
of the threatened species, the California red legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake. The area
where they live primarily was not a habitat for these animals before the golf course was there. In fact, the
existence of the golf course and the seawall that protects the golf course are what turned this area into a
habitat that's inhabitable by these species. Prior to the sea wall's construction the Laguna Sagado and the
horse pond were both saltwater. That is not a habitat where the red legged frog can survive. The tadpoles
cannot survive there, the eggs cannot survive there and the frogs won't stay there. If the frogs leave the
snakes don't have any food and they're leaving too, the problem being that there's no place for them to go.
That is why the frog is threatened and the snake is endangered, because there's no habitat for them
anymore, it's all being paved over. The golf course provides a buffer for these animals that protects them
from development and provides them a safe area for them to live in. Furthermore, even with the seawall
there my understanding based on information provided by Recreation and Park employees who work on
that area is that the water in the laguna would gradually become to saline for the frogs if the course was not
irrigation because that provides part of the runoff as well as the winter and currently the water becomes
somewhat brackish in the later summer months before the fall rains start again. So the golf course is
protecting these species, not harming them and they generally stay in the area between the actual golf
course and the seawall which is not maintained by the gardeners so I think that the Recreation and Park
Department is using very good environment practices there. I think I understand that they are constantly in
consultation with appropriate federal state wildlife officials to provide a safe environment for these species
and that if you cave in to the demands of these people and close the golf course that you will harm these
species. Thank you. Sally Stephens: Sally Stephens, San Francisco Dog. I have a comment to consider
during the closed system. Drastic changes at Sharpe Park are not necessary to protect the frog and the
snake. The US fish and wildlife service has refused to designate Sharpe Park as a habitat for the frog
despite being asked to do so by many of the people involved in the threatened lawsuit. In a letter dated
March 11th of this year about the environment effects of the proposed recycled water project at Sharpe Park
the fish and wildlife service says quote it is the services biological position that the Pacifica recycled water
project is not likely to jeopardize continued existence of the frog or the snake. If that project doesn't
threaten them the continuing operation of the golf course does not. No changes are needed or required by
any law. The level of habitat restoration required in the lawsuit will pose actually a very real public health
threat because frog habitat is also mosquito habitat. Sharpe Park is one of only 4 places in San Mateo
where the threat of mosquito breeding is great enough to warrant treatment by helicopter and larvacide.
Right now San Mateo County charges Recreation and Park for those costs, those costs of running the
helicopters and if it's increased in the habitat no doubt the charges will increase as well. And also do not
get the Golden Gate National Recreation area involved in any management decisions at Sharpe Park, in part
because they built frog habitat at Maury Point which is adjacent to Sharpe Park and they have refused to
pay any of the mosquito abatement costs and San Mateo is eating them. So you guys will be stuck with any
costs from an increased habitat there. They're federal and therefore they're not bound by any city, county, or
state requirements. If you allow GGNR to become involved in any capacity at Sharpe Park you will lose
all control of the area. They will not protect recreational access to this open space for the wide variety of
park users that currently enjoy Sharpe Park. There's golfers, Pacifica has proposed a way to add some
soccer fields there, you have archery people, hikers, there's a lot of recreational users of that park. If it is
turned into frog habitat is will be basically only accessible to hikers and people who like to look at plants
generally from behind fences. So this is really kind of an attempt to end-run around you guys, it's an
attempt to usurp your authority over what goes on in our parks and don't give into the bullying of those who
would take Sharpe Park from those who love and use it and turn it into mosquito habitat. And also just the
whole issues of privatization of parks which is often used--this is a kind of privatization, although not you
know from a financial standpoint, but it will turn into an area that now has a lot of recreational uses and
will have basically none. I think that doing what they're doing now they can protect the frogs and snakes so
that's not a problem and my concern is that recreational open space is also becoming an endangered
species, thank you. Nancy Wuerfel: Nancy Wuerfel. I want to remind you that when we passed the EIR
the EIR for the Natural Areas was doubled up to $800,000 because $417,000 was going to earmarked for a
recovery plan for the red legged from at Sharpe Park. This is a plan that's currently under development and
it is going to be developed in conjunction with the entire 435 areas in that area. It was to be done in
conjunction with the current uses of Sharpe Park so Recreation and Park is already giving at the office if
you will towards the aiding and abetting of these animals and I think it's important to recognize what Sally
said that you give up control. If you want to have a discussion of what should we do with 435 acres, that's
a very worthy discussion, whether it be golf or soccer or overnight camps or natural areas or whatever you
want, let's have that discussion, but let us not be backed into something that this body has not considered.
Also I would like to suggest that I want to take all the money issues off the table until I see real, live,
substantial data. I'm sick and tired of everybody saying this is cheaper than that, that costs more than this.
Show me the money, show me the numbers. I've got spreadsheets up my kazoo. I'll be happy to analyze
them for you but I will not take it on faith as I read on the press release this will cost more than that and I
don't like to have these allegations out in the ether. So let's get real about what the policy should be will
set. If there are numbers involved let us have competent accountants to come up with projections and some
analysis. Let us not have somebody waving hands in the air saying make your decisions based on what
these suggestions are from the ether. And remind yourself that I'd like to know what we are getting for our
$417,000, what we're going to use it for, how we're going to integrate that, are we just going to hand that
over to the GGNR? I don't know where we're headed. I think this is a larger topic and we need to talk
about this and we're also dealing with a whole other jurisdictional entity called Pacifica. So I think this is a
big issue and I also agree that we should not be backed into any kind of corner, especially with one that has
so many restrictions at the federal level.
The Commission recessed into closed session at 6:47 p.m.
The Commission reconvened in to open session at 7:16 p.m.
On motion by Commissioner Harrison and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously
adopted: RES. NO. 0904-016
RESOLVED, That this Commission votes not to disclose any discussions held in closed session.
Commissioner Harrison: I would like to put something on a future agenda regarding the resurfacing of
the tennis courts at Camp Mather.
Commissioner Lee: I'd like an update on the Japanese Tea Garden and how that's going and what the
timeline is for the new operator to move in and start service. The second thing I'd like is I'd like an update
Commissioner Lazarus: We'll come back. I have just a couple quick items. I'd like the General
Manager to ask staff to work closely this spring with the Department of Parking and Traffic on congestion
relief measures around Golden Gate Park with the opening of the King Tut exhibit, with the continued
popularity during holidays, weekends, and I'm sure this summer of the Academy of Sciences, the residents
of the Richmond and especially the Sunset and terribly impacted and I think it takes an aggressive program
of our Department with the Department of Parking and Traffic to deal with that so I would ask the General
Manager to have the staff look into that and I'd also like the General Manager to enter into discussions with
the Parks Trust and with Golden Gate National Recreation Area and their Golden Gate Parks Conservancy,
their trust, on the possible joint operation of the Beach Chalet visitor's center. I think we have laid off or
will be laying off our staff there but I think it may be a prime candidate for a joint venture between our park
Department and the National Park Service with our park nonprofit partners to operate that facility which is
of course at the end of Golden Gate Park but across the street from GGNR land. Commissioner Lee
probably now has his item back mind.
Commissioner Lee: So to follow up on the bilingual outreach for the scholarship fund that was
discussed earlier and to see if our Department is providing those materials in Spanish and Chinese and
other languages so that families who speak those languages can access the scholarship and the third thing
was on Harding Park, a discussion about the closure of the park for President's Cup and what the schedule
is for that closure and when it will start because there's obviously a number of other activities that happen at
Harding Park such as the Dragon Boat races and so forth and they've been calling, asking me what the
schedule is and we so far I haven't heard anything. So it would be great to have that on the agenda. In other
languages, so in Spanish and Chinese. Have you made any attempt? Do you have outreach materials in
other languages so that people can access it?
Katie Petrucione: I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you that when people come in and need
interpretation help either over the telephone or at the front desk we have a service that we use that we can
call to have interpreters. I don't know if the scholarship program information has been translated but if it
has not we absolutely can do that.
Commissioner Lee: Could you look into that and get back to me, thank you.
The Regular meeting of the Recreation and Park
Commission was adjourned in memory of Redman
Kernan at 7:22 p.m.
Margaret A. McArthur
Gavin Newsom, Mayor
Recreation and Park Commission
May 7, 2009
Commissioner Lazarus called the meeting of the Recreation and Park Commission to order on May 7,
2009 at 12:58 p.m.
President Lazarus announced that Item 11 had been removed from calendar.
Nancy Wuerfel: Nancy Wuerfel. I would like the Commission to carefully consider the
message that the Department is sending to the public by proposing an analysis of
transferring Sharpe Park to the GGNRA or the State. It tells the public that the
Recreation and Park Department cannot resolve an issue involving endangered species in
our parks with just our city resources. The city must immediately consider giving away
the land on which the species resides. That's like giving away a child in your family
because you're having a hard time caring for it right now. It tells the family to fear our
natural areas because they might attract an endangered species which might in turn cause
that land to be given away. It tells the public that Recreation and Park should not be
entrusted with our city's open space because it lacks the commitment to preserve it within
the city's ownership. It sends a mixed message about the purpose of the revised Open
Space element when Recreation and Park would even consider not owning and managing
400 beautiful acres of land under it's current control. Why has the Commission been
silent? Please consider the message that you, Commissioners, and send the public. That
you do not value our input to your decision-making process or respect your obligation for
transparency. There has been no word from you about the Supervisor's ordinance that
amends the park code. This is your code. I also understand that the contingency fund
will be used for the analysis of Sharp Park. When will this item be agendized for your
approval as the policy requires. Lastly, the General Manager promised the supervisors
that the new study would provide profession analysis for alternative for Sharp Park. I do
not believe the Department or the Controller's office has this level of expertise to provide
a comprehensive and unbiased report. The Controller's Office responded to Supervisor's
Elsbernd’s request for an accounting of the entire Golf Fund by xeroxing the
Department's reports instead of producing their own independent work. This
Commission would be making history by deciding what to do with Sharpe Park. I'd like
for you to consider the legacy that you will be proud of. I've very concerned about this.
Sally Stephens: Sally Stevens, S.F. Dog. The natural programs areas EIR is coming
up for discussion. What we're learned from the experience at Sharpe Park is that when
threatened or endangered species are introduced into any of our city parks we loose local
control of the parks. We become beholden to the Federal Government, we become the
subject of threats and lawsuits. They've done it once, they'll do it again. The Natural
Areas program recently released Mission Blue butterflies at Twin Peaks. How long will
it be before we hear we have to close trails and restrict public access there to protect
public access there or else the city will be sued? I'd like for you to suggest you consider
the banning of the introduction of threatened or endangered species into any natural area
in the city. At the very least consider severe restrictions on where it can be done. Many
of us have been saying that the Natural Areas program takes parkland away from the
people. It restricts access to our neighborhood backyards. It takes land that people use
and turns it into places that people cannot go. The Sharpe Park experience proves that we
were right to be worried. Do not allow the introduction of threatened and endangered
species in natural areas where they're not there already. Do not place our city's parkland
at risk. Eliaz Mooja: I'm here on behalf of a group of people that are very concerned
about the proposal that is being proposed for the Strybing Arboretum. We would like to
express our concern to you and ask you to consider to keep the Arboretum fee. We
would like to stop the privatization of public spaces. We would like to keep San
Francisco's public resources free for all. The proposal to charge entry fees for the
Strybing Arboretum has causes great concern for many San Francisco residents as it
follows a pattern of turning public resources into paid attractions and drawing down on
already limited free public spaces. While this proposal has been brought forth at a time
of shrinking budgets for many city Departments including Recreation and Park. It is in
essence a development plan, a plan that transforms the Arboretum into a revenue
producing facility and tourist attraction. Most importantly it is likely to radically change
visitor patterns at the Arboretum and limit access to many who depend on it daily. To the
open and free nature of the garden will be changed as gates and guards will be posted to
limit admission and collect fees almost certainly discouraging locals who make up the
overwhelming majority of visitors. Since its inception 68 years ago the Arboretum has
been supported and maintained as a free common space. Taxpayer dollars, generous
support, and hard work from many people and volunteers have sustained this wonderful
landmark. Most recently the Recreation and Park Department has modified the proposal
to charge a fee only to non-resident visitors. While certainly Recreation and Parks
management views this as an attractive compromise unfortunately it does not mitigate the
consequences of introducing controls and gates that change the character of the
Arboretum as an open, lively, community areas. The history and heritage of this open to
all garden will be lost forever. Charging any fee at all will set the stage for future fees to
residents as the infrastructure will be in place and the temptation to do so already exists.
We would like to ask for three things--more transparency in the process, we don't know
what's going on. We would like to know what the next step is, when will it occur and
what is the process for you to make a decision on this matter because a great many people
care about it. We would like to get a copy of the business plan for this fee proposal and
understand how it makes sense and see the underlying assumptions. We would like the
stand alone process for this decision, is it going to be part of a budget plan that we'll go
through or will it be debated on its merits alone. And also most importantly we need
more community meetings. Not enough people know about this and they care about it.
Brigid Herron: As Eliaz said we really need more public input on this drastic change. In
our own efforts at public outreach we've encountered enormous public concern about he
proposed changes. In just three days of standing in front of the Arboretum and collecting
signatures we have over 73 pages of signatures of people who are dramatically opposed
to this and I feel like most people don't even know about it until we talk to them. We
want the decision-making process to be transparent, we want to know what is going to
happen and when it's going to happen and how we as the public are going to be kept
informed so that our voices could be heard. Nancy McNally: Nancy McNally. I'm a
native of San Francisco and raised two children. The Arboretum, the aquarium, the
museum, they were all free. I could no longer raise children in San Francisco at this time.
We would like as this committee came here today that there be more time scheduled for
public input about this very important issue. We feel that not enough people in San
Francisco have any idea that this is even under consideration. So in that light we would
like you to provide more opportunity for the community to come to meetings and that
you would be able to hear what the people of San Francisco feel about this. David
Eldred: I'm David Eldred. Thank you for your time and listening. I know you've
been involved already today. I'm also here to voice our concern about the Arboretum
fees and I personally have stood out there up to 7 hours at a time and people just come up
to me and say what's going on, so it's not known. Basically everyone is being crunched.
We just really want to be a part of how we can understand the process and just kind of
know how the money is being spent, we have no clue. We see improvements going on in
the park and they seem to cost millions of dollars and yet at the same time we might be
denied access so we say can we use the funds that are available because that's what it's
going to come down to in the end. There's only going to be so much money and how is it
being used. So we want to find a balance with that. It's a wonderful place, they do a
great job there, it is a unique place, it's a place of solace and sustenance and a real place
of refuge for people in this time and we need it. So aside from the dollars and sense stuff
which I know you guys have to operate with we really would like to be part of the
process and included and that's our disconnect right now. And part of this is knowing. I
don't know how you bring this to the public but most people don't know and I just know
that from standing there and having people come up and saying what's going on. Thank
you very much and I appreciate your consideration and I have great admiration for all
you do and I can't even begin to know the intricacies of this but it's nice to be able to
speak and see you today, thank you.
Commissioner Sullivan: I just wanted to respond to the public comment about the
Arboretum. I know we took action on that a few months ago and I've heard through
unofficial sources that that Department's thinking has been evolving on that and I think
this might be a good time to hear from staff about where the current thinking of the
Jared Blumenfeld: The current thinking is--so, we've had a very--and I think some of
our Commissioners, Lazarus and others, were at the meeting that we had in the Hall of
Flowers. A very large number of people came, a lot of intense community interest in this
issue and the way that we're looking at it at the moment is to start by charging non-
residents and not charging residents and it would be a system analogous to Harding Park
where you get a differentiated fee, in this case there would be one fee which would just
be a fee for non-residents. There's a huge number of people coming through the park to
the California Academy of Sciences and DeYoung, a huge number of tourists that just go
into the park generally and so the revenue projections that we're developing is still pretty
healthy even if you just have it for non-residents. One of the tangential benefits of doing
that would be that we would get more people into our system because you would have to
get a Recreation and Park card which you guys approved in order to show that you were a
resident, so to help us bring people into the Recreation and Park system is a way of
getting that benefit. If you were a San Francisco resident and didn't have any way to
show your Recreation and Park card you would be charged the non-resident fee.
Commissioner Sullivan: So the revenue projects--there will be revenue, then there's
also costs to put this all in place and if we're not going to be charging residents then the
revenue comes down. Are we going to get another chance to look at the balance and
decide whether the revenue through this new system?
Jared Blumenfeld: Yes, Commissioner Sullivan, anything from parking to any of the
measures that we would bring would go to you first and then would go the Board of
Supervisors probably as part of our budget. So yes you will get another opportunity to
hear from us, but that's our current thinking. And when and if that evolves between now
and when we bring it to you we'll update you.
Commissioner Lazarus: And we're confronted with a 25% reduction in general fund
support next fiscal year?
Jared Blumenfeld: I can talk to that now or in my comments but it appears from the
Mayor's budget projections--and yesterday Katie and I were there for the nine-month
report that the controller provided that because of property tax, sales tax, hotel and other
revenues all being significantly down that we actually need to go beyond that, as a city
we need to go beyond that 25% and at the moment Recreation and Park is meeting with
the Mayor's office to work out what that means. We're pretty solid that for us can't mean
any more layoffs. My basic position and staff's position is that we have cut to the bone,
there is no further to go and that other things that could be looked at would be more
parking, for instance in Golden Gate Park, increasing the amount of parking that we have
could increase the revenue I think significantly. We're looking at lots that we have,
[unintelligible] surplus property, we've talked about those before, but putting those back
on the table, so selling some of the vacant lots that we have that are in between buildings
right now and don't have any recreational value. So we're looking at all those solutions
but really are committed to not put anything on the table that requires any other layoffs
because there isn't really any that we could make.
Commissioner Lee: With regards to the Arboretum. When first the ID cards that you
are going to require residents, are they going to be the same cards that are currently used
at Harding? So right now you go to the Treasurer's office and you purchase a card by
showing proof of residency. Is that going to be the same card?
Jared Blumenfeld: The same or similar. We want to make sure there's some
harmonization between all the multiplicity that we now had--the San Francisco ID card--
but it would have to be something that was approved through a city agency like the
Treasurer. If you had one of those there would be a list of things that counted and that
would be one.
Commissioner Lee: I'd like to get a report on that. I'd hate to see us have 3 or 4
different cards and it’s a burden on the public as it just to get them into the Treasurer's
Office and get the golf card that people use. So if you can streamline that and make it as
clear a process as possible.
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
Jared Blumenfeld: When you come into an interim position you kind of remember
the things that you're hit on the head with first. On the first day that I started North
Beach Pool was closed because I think I reported at the time within one day 4 feet of
water was missing. So after $300,000 and finding three leaks all the entire air duct
system had to be replaced because it wasn't galvanized properly and so it had all corroded
to such a point that the Health Department said it was a public nuisance. We updated all
the water controls and air control so that now the water will actually be cleaner and the
air better to breath and more efficient. Today, North Beach Pool is opening.
Commissioner Levitan Jared, who pays for that?
Jared Blumenfeld: The Recreation and Park Department pays for it. I basically made a
decision that we had to go after the contractor so we're going after recovering that money
but in the meantime we either did nothing and left the pool which was a 9 million dollar
asset sit closed, so they're going in parallel tract, we're going after the contractor. The
contractor actually did some of that work for us and so one path is taking legal and other
action to recover the money, but we just needed to make sure it got done. We have new
pool hours, that was a big issue that came up at the last meeting. We basically reverted to
old pool hours with the exception that we're going to have more pools open than ever
before so when Hamilton open we'll basically have all 9 of our pools open at the same
time. The new pools that we have built require more staff which is probably something
that we should look at when we design new projects in the future, looking at the staff
requirement. Hamilton pool has slides and other features which are great, requires more
staff. So we have 41 FTE dedicated to swimming pools and those will be spread thinner,
while we haven't cut any aquatic staff the number of hours across the board will diminish
a little bit. The number of people devoted to them will remain the same. We
implemented the shift bid which caused a little bit of confusion among the public because
they were used to seeing their rec director. The rec directors all moved around the
system. I think that's worked out fairly well and will work out even better as time goes
on. The Board of Supervisors yesterday held a hearing on DCYF money allocations at
which I presented. We were actually asked to present before DCYF themselves at the
DCYF budget, which I think is a testament to everyone on this Commission and the
public. Basically the issue that I presented was that when Prop D in 2000 was passed to
create the children's baseline and Children's Fund there was a lot--it was a relatively good
financial time for the city, Recreation and Park wasn't cutting positions, and so the idea of
supplanting staff really was intended so that we didn't basically take money that voters
approved and backfill into general fund positions but rather we expanded the number of
services offered to children and their families in the city. Now that isn't the case, we've
have to cut permanent civil servants and so I think the point that we tried to make was
that our preference from the staff and Commission was to make sure that CBOs did not
supplant permanent civic service, they could be there to supplement, which is a word that
I used. It's great to have them supplement what we have, we have our baseline, but when
our baseline is cut 78 employees we need to make sure that money comes back to us. So
we'll see how that progresses but I think it was something the budget committee was
interested in learning more about, so we're going to talk to them about that. The days for
our budget have been set in front of the board. The first reading will be the 17th of June
and the 2nd reading will be the 24th of June. One more thing to say, President Lazarus
asked us to come up with ideas of broad policy initiatives that we'd like to see. You'll see
that today we actually have two but the one that we put on the agenda was community
gardens. Next meeting that we have time we will be dealing with disabilities in the parks
and looking at how disabled communities use the park system. But the first one will be
agenda Item 9, community gardens. And per PROSAC, the parks and recreations
advisory committee by their creation is required to give regular updates to you and so
today we have Nancy Wuerfel who sits on PROSAC to present her findings to us.
Nancy Wuerfel: I am reading a report prepared by our chair Jean McKenny. PROSAC's
monthly meeting was held on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009. The meeting was attended by 16
appointees from the various supevisorial districts, members of the RPD staff and
members of the public. In light of the recent developments PROSAC focused much of
the meeting about Sharp Park and the ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors
earlier on Tuesday. Dawn Kamalanathan provided a summary of the ordinance and the
proposed timetable for RPD to comply with it. Although PROSAC members as still
learning about this complex issue and communicating with San Francisco citizens to hear
their thoughts, a number of themes emerged. One, we are concerned about the proposed
transfer of control of city open space to the GGNRA without adequate review of all the
legal, environment, recreational, financial, and liability issues. Two, San Francisco
residents have consistently expressed unhappiness about the lack of open space and
recreational opportunities for all residents. Three, RPD has already devoted a
tremendous amount of resources to the studies at Sharpe Park and intends to fund
additional analysis ordered by the Board of Supervisors. We hope the quality of the
analysis is high enough to be useful. Throughout the process RPD should be sensitive to
the fact that public policy on open space and park will play a major role in how the
property is ultimately handled. PROSAC is planning a site visit to Sharpe Park in the next
few weeks to better understand how the current uses of the park affect endangered
species. We believe it is essential that the Commission hear from the public on this issue
and that we will be providing additional feedback to the Commission in the June meeting.
In addition to discussion Sharp Park PROSAC heard from Karen Monty-Brodeck and
Lisa Wayne on the progress in creating a selection process for trail improvements using
bond funds. PROSAC provided feedback to them on a number of issues including the
need to keep the ADA accessibility in mind when renovating trails and the need to
maximize use of volunteers in trail restoration. Please feel free to contact PROSAC with
any suggestions. RPD Commissioners are always welcome at PROSAC meetings. So as
Vice Chair I'm happy to present that report. Sally Stephens: Sally Stephens, S.F. Dog.
I'm a little surprised Jared that you didn't mention the Sharp Park ordinance because that
was two meetings in the past week about it. Supervisor Mirkarimi’s Sharp Park
ordinance is truly amazingly bad. It's not needed, the frogs and snakes are already being
protected. Golf courses and endangered species can do coexist. There's no need for
radical change. Having one radical change at Sharpe Park through threats and
intimidation and those behind this will come back will come back and demand similar
changes at other city parks, so be prepared. What's truly amazing however is the
Commission's role in all this, or lack thereof. The Sharpe Park ordinance changes the
park code without any public input from you. The Department is supposed to be
synthesizing all the various reports on Sharpe Park they've collected over the years for
the Board of Supervisors yet the Department is not the one writing the new scope of work
for the Tetratech contract, Tetratech itself is writing it. The Department is not tellingt
Tetratech how much to spend on the new analysis, Tetratech is telling the Department
how much it will cost. They're writing their own check. All this is being done without
an input or oversight from you. It's possible that you discussed all of this at the closed
session of the April 16th meeting and that you gave you okay at that time. If so you made
a major policy decision to consider giving up all local control of the San Francisco park
to the federal government in secret. The public was not allowed to see your deliberations
to hear the reasons why you chose to take such radical action. Why so secret? During
the government audit and oversight committee hearing last week the Mayor of Pacifica
and others asked for a task force of stake holders to discuss golf and frogs at Sharpe Park.
Jared said that when you have a lot of different stakeholders discussing an issue you only
get gridlock. Therefore he wants to study the alternative to golf in-house, in secret, then
he'll present the completed analysis to the public. In typical Recreation and Park style the
only chance the public will get to comment on this is two minutes at a public meeting.
Why so secret? What is the Department afraid. If I'm wrong and the Commission did
not discuss this in closed session then you have been complete ignored. The people
pushing this intentionally bypassed you. They do not respect you or your authority over
parks. Major changes and expenses have been made without your input. You the
Commission have been made irrelevant.
On motion by Commissioner Levitan and duly seconded, the following resolutions were
RES. NO. 0907-001
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve the following animal transactions for the San Francisco
Zoological Society which were processed under Resolution No. 13572.
EXCHANGE TO: PRICE
Phoenix Zoo 7.3 Chilean flamingo NIL
455 N. Galvin Parkway (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
Phoenix, AZ 85008
USDA # 86-C-0001
Safari West 1.0 Reticulated giraffe $5000
3115 Porter Creek Road (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
USDA # 93-C-0579
Akron Zoological Park 3.0 Sumatran tiger NIL
500 Edgewood Ave. (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
Akron, OH 44307
USDA # 31-C-0001
Lee Richardson Zoo 0.1 Lion-tailed macaque NIL – change
312 Finnup Drive (Macaca silenus) from loan
Garden City, KS 67846
USDA # 48-C-006
Phoenix Zoo 3.7 Chilean flamingo NIL
455 N. Galvin Parkway (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
Phoenix, AZ 85008
USDA # 86-C-0001
RES. NO. 0907-002
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a resolution to apply for a Land and Water
Conservation Grant and to recommend to the Board of Supervisors to accept and expend a Land and Water
Conservation Grant in the amount of $107,500 for the Buena Vista Park Phase II Project.
RES. NO. 0709-003
RESOLVED, That this Commission does recommend to the Board of Supervisors to accept and expend a
gift-in-place valued at $54,000 from the Visitacion Valley Greenway Project, a community organization,
to enhance the Visitacion Valley Greenway Agricultural Lot.
RES. NO. 0709-004
RESOLVED, That this Commission does: 1) accept the gift of a donor acknowledgement plaque for the
TPL Gift in Place renovation of Visitacion Valley Community Garden of the Visitacion Valley, 2) approve
the placement of the plaque and 3) authorize the general manager to approve the wording on the plaque.
YOUTH PROGRAM FEES
Dana Ketchum, Manager, Permits and Reservations Division presented this item to the
Commission. I'm here to propose the discussion and possible action to recommend to the
Board of Supervisors the adoption of revisions to fees for youth programs for profit youth
programs. Just a little bit of background just to remind everybody. About two years ago
you adopted the approved not for profit program where we looked at different programs
and leagues to see whether they were rendering--whether they met two standards, one,
were they serving 90 % resident and two, were they generating profit to any individual.
For adults if they met the standard they paid $25 an hour and $65 an hour if they don't.
For youth it's no fee. The purpose of this proposal is to clarify what happens when the
youth don't meet the standard. Staff has been basically looking at it as these are for-profit
organizations that are benefiting the adult that is running the program and so they've
charged the adult fee. We would like to clarify that in the code and make it clear that this
is a for-profit youth program fee. Basically these are programs run by usually paid
coaches and we charge the fee and this has been historical practice for a number of years,
so that's the first item. The next piece that was difficult with this is that we have summer
camps and it's very hard sometimes to figure out where the summer camps fall when we
apply this standard. And just so you know when we apply this standard we had 32
entities who are approved under it and 22 were either withdrawn or didn't need it. But
summer camps are sort of tricky, you've got two things going on. A lot of them are run
by school administrators or schools and they provide a really valuable service to our
citizens. We have kids, they need something to do all summer and yet the program
director often was making a substantial salary and it was really too hard, they were very
short-term, very hard for us to administer so we would like to have clarity and we looked
at a number of things. We said $65 an hour for a camp that goes I hours, that's really cost
prohibitive on families and so the approach we went to is basically a dollar an hour a
child. And historically staff has always charged camps for summer camp space and we
just wanted to make is consistent. We have a lot of camps operating in Golden Gate
Park, some of them with 100 kids in them and it's sort of an impact fee of having all these
parents drop off their kids and have them there. And so we've started down this process
of applying these fees and we would like to have clarification that we are doing them
under this section. We did notice that there are some camps that clearly should be
accepted. Originally we looked at any camp that didn't charge any fee and said if you're
free then we're not going to charge you because we have a lot of underserved
neighborhoods where there are programs that go in and offer camps and certainly we're
not charging those programs for these fees for those children. And then as we looked at it
we have a few camps, Cameron House was one of them, that charge a very nominal fee
to kids and so after discussion and public meetings we came up with that if the camp
charges less than $3 an hour we would not charge anything for that camp. We've had two
meetings on it, at both meeting the public was supportive and we are proposing our for-
profit to amend the park code to add a for-profit youth program fee of 25 for summer
camps and summer camps of $25 an hour for up to 25 children except if they are serving
underserved communities and charging a fee of less than $3 per hour and for other
programs that don't meet our standard it's $65 per hour.
On motion by Commissioner Lee and duly seconded, the following resolution was
unanimously adopted: RES. NO. 0709-005
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve For-Profit Youth Program Fees for athletic
Denny Kern, Director of Operations presented this item to the Commission. This item is
discussion and possible to approve a request from World Combat sports challenge to sell
alcohol at their permitted events in Kezar Pavilion on May 30 and July 18 of this year.
World Combat challenge is a group that produces events of mixed martial arts sports,
things such as Thai boxing and other martial arts, and they have previously two events in
Kezar Pavilion last year. They have received permits to do two events this year on the
dates you have but they've not requested they sell alcohol and since Kezar Pavilion and
the whole Kezar complex is park code section 4.10 as facilities and parks where you
cannot have alcohol except as permitted by the Department that then brings the request to
the Commission. Their schedule as you have here Saturday on May 30th, the events if
from 5:00 to 11:00 with alcohol sales ending at 9:30 and then the same schedule for their
Saturday July 18 event. The applicant has met with the Police Department and the police
are in agreement with the proposal, especially with the protocols that they have put in
place as you see there in the memo. The sales will be an established food court, beer
garden area behind the pavilion. They will have protocols in effects, carding or banding
so there cannot be alcohol sold to minors. As stated the event goes to 11:00 but they will
shut off alcohol sales at 9:30 p.m. and they are hiring police officers as well as two Park
Patrol officers plus 15 event security so both park station, San Francisco Police
Department and the Department is satisfied that they've put the proper security measures
in place. They expect up to 3000 people at these events and the fees are included n the
attached fee worksheet and the staff recommendation is approval.
Commissioner Levitan: Denny, I remember one of the first times we talked about--I
don't know if it was the very first time we arranged to do drinking in the pavilion, I can't
remember the exact event. Lacrosse, that's right. I apologize, I don't have the
documentation in front of me that I know that a very active and important in that area,
Friend of Kezar?
Denny Kern: Kezar Advisory committee.
Commissioner Levitan: Right, okay, so had they participated in this?
Denny Kern: They are aware of it. The Kezar Advisory committee charter is the Kezar
Stadium, not the Pavilion. And the Lacrosse situation they were involved because the
lacrosse was in the stadium and their proposed alcohol sales were in the pavilion but it's
associated with the--
Commissioner Levitan: That was the compromise.
Denny Kern This is all within the pavilion itself so it doesn't strictly fit within their
purview but they are knowledgeable of this particular event.
Commissioner Levitan: And they are not opposed?
Denny Kern; We have not heard any opposition.
Commissioner Levitan: Kind of related follow up question Denny, has there been
any history with any other neighborhood groups about alcohol in that facility in
connection with other events, has there been any concern? I don't know what outreach
we did to the neighborhood on this particular matter but maybe they've considered it in
Denny Kern: I don't have any information on that.
Commissioner Levitan: My other question is if--are we getting any additional
revenue? If we're going from no alcohol to alcohol sales I see that we get 5% of the
Commissions is that--in these times of tight dollars is there an opportunity for us to share
in the upside if we're allowing alcohol sales?
Denny Kern: The 5% of the Commission is where we would get our take in that.
Commissioner Levitan: You're satisfied that's as good as we can do?
Denny Kern Yes. These are increased fees and would have been without the alcohol
Commissioner Bonilla: I was on the Commission when we had that event, the
lacrosse event and if I recall we did not experience any kind of difficulties with that, is
Denny Kern: That's correct.
On motion by Commissioner Levitan and duly seconded, the following resolution was
unanimously adopted: RES. NO. 0709-006
RECREATION AND OPEN SPACE ELEMENT
Dawn Kamalanathan, Planning Director presented this item to the Commission. I'd like
to introduce my colleague Sarah Dennis from City Planning. And Sarah Dennis and Sue
Cline who recently had a baby last week have been working with out staff, Karen
Edwards and our other planners, to work on the update of the recreation and open space
element over the past year. We have a draft to distribute that we will be able to come
back and discuss with you in more detail and answer more questions but this is
essentially to share the draft and talk a little bit more about the highlights.
Sarah Dennis: Sarah Dennis with the Planning Department. I'm a senior planner at
the Planning Department and one of my roles there is to manage the general plan. So
what I'm here to talk to you about today is an update to the Recreation and open space
element of our general plan. I believe Susan Cline has spoken to you about this before so
I'm continuing on a conversation that she began. We just handed out to a package which
includes the presentation that I'm going to give you today and the products that we're
introducing today with than presentation. I apologize, we were not aware that there
would be laptops so I'm doing this low-tech on the overhead, but it will be exactly what
you have before you. The city has been working on an open space framework for about
a year and a half. It's been an inter-agency effort between the planning Department the
Recreation and Park Department, the Mayor's office on greening, and we also work
closely with our neighborhood partners at the Neighborhood Parks Council. There's been
a number of facets of the work we've been doing over the last year and a half. It began
with the Mayor's open space task force which began with bi-monthly meetings about a
year and a half ago for a full year where we met with community representatives from
every end of the spectrum, whether they represented open space groups, neighborhood
groups and community members, landscape architects, people who work in the public
sphere, really brainstorm ideas about where we need to go with open space. We also held
a series of city roundtables on open space where we met with all the agencies and you
know there's many, besides the Recreation and Park, the PUC, the unified school district,
and numerous city agencies to get up to speed on what everyone was doing and what
possibilities were out there for the future. We held a number of working committees that
really focused on a number of targeted items. Finance, planning and programming,
policy and implementation, natural areas, and then pedestrian and bicycle access as well.
Then we moved into our community outreach stage which was pretty extensive and was
led by a neighborhood's park council. 21 workshops across the city where we got a
significant amount of response and we also supplemented that with a survey which was
posted on planning website, NPCs website and distributed to people at workshops and
mailed out to our citizens. We received a number of responses to that as well. With all of
that input from all of those aspects of the outreach over the last year and a half we have
been working towards an open space framework which has two primary components the
drafts of which we're releasing to you today. The first is a vision for open space. This is
really intended as a broad overview, a kind of 100 year vision of where we want to go,
want do we want our city to look like over the long term. Not that necessarily that
everything is achievable in the short term or something that we expect to happen within
the next 20 years, but if we are to dream big and think about what we want our city to
look like in terms of open space what is that vision. And the second piece is the
recreation and open space element of the general plan. The city's general plan is kind of
it's bible. It's not just planning, it's documents, all the city's documents, all agencies are
beholden to it, decision makers, the Board of Supervisors, and the Mayor are beholden to
its policies so we wanted to update that as our 20 year framework or what has to happen
within the city over the next 20 years and that's the second piece that we'll be giving you
today. There is a third element to this open space framework which we'll be working on
over the next 6 months and that is an action plan, that's meant to put forward some
specific steps, actions that we can take in the next 5 years or in the next 10 years to start
to achieve the goals of the open space vision and to implement the policies that are
contained in the recreation and open space element.
Probably the first things I'd like to give you an overview of very quickly is the long-term
vision of open space, this 100 year vision, and this is the second component of your
packet. It's a large format 11 X 17 map. Which really illustrates a number of primary
principals and I'll kind of enunciate those for you. The first is making sure that we have a
high-performing open space system. That means that our open spaces are they just don't
exist but they contain as much activity, they serve as many people, they function as
highly as they can. It's kind of making the most of what we have. The second major
component is adding new space to meet the long-terms needs of the city. One of the
areas we really honed in are we're calling high-needs areas, areas that are particularly
dense, have a number of long income children, seniors, people who use open space
significantly and that's really where we're focusing our new open space. We're looking at
improving access and connectivity to open space throughout the city through a series of
green streets that you'll see on the map, trails, connections along the waterfront, so there
really is a network that moves across the city. We're looking at improving biodiversity
within all those spaces, the connections and networks allowing not just people but wild
life, birds, etc, to move through that network of open space. And then we're looking at a
number of destination open space, those are shown as asterisks on the map. There are a
number of signature open spaces that are underway right now, I think you just had a
hearing talking about Sue Bierman park and you're aware that there's efforts at looking at
combing that with all the Embarcadero open space to create kind of a true gathering
space for our city as well as a number of open spaces along the southeastern waterfront
where we have a lot of opportunity. So that's kind of big broad overview of what that
map represents and there's detail attached to the page explained in text. We'll be back to
you over coming months. This is just a preliminary draft, so that's to explain to you
what's in front of you.
The next piece I'd like to talk about briefly is the general plan element and what are the
components of that and so I'll start with our first objective within the open space element
which is really looking at a high-performing open space system. What that's about--
programming, recreational opportunities, not just space outdoors but what can people do
in it and it might be in a building, it might be cultural, etc. Activating the open spaces
that are most utilized. We've honed in on a couple of those through our workshop
efforts--McClaren, Ocean Beach and its connections to the Zoo, and the waterfront is
another opportunity area we can do a lot with. We've highlighted a number of parks that
really need renovation, most of those are most highly used or in high growth areas so
they're seeing significant impacts from more and more people using them and needing
them. And then another component of high-performing open space is really making sure
that people know what they have to access. One thing we've found through our
workshops is that a lot of people don't even know the opportunities that are near them. If
they want to play tennis they don't know where the nearest tennis court is. Same with
swimming, or when those hours are. So how can we promote or connect people to the
resources that we're already offering so they can link into that easily.
The next major objective is about acquiring new open spaces and where we want to focus
our efforts. As we are all aware, funding is an issue which obviously constrains how
much new open space we can provide. Also, just our city's geography, we're 7 square
miles, we're a dense built-out city. So we really need to focus our efforts and look for
new types of opportunities. As I mentioned we're focusing our acquisition efforts in what
we're calling high-needs areas, those are areas that are high density, have a significant
population of seniors, of youth meaning children above the age of 10 and of young
children who might need playgrounds. We're also looking at opportunities along the
shoreline, particularly the southeastern waterfront, the Embarcadero and a number of port
sites offer opportunities there. We're looking to make sure that new open space is
provided wherever new growth is planned. Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Islands,
Candlestick and Hunter's Point where we have major planning efforts underway. And
then where do we have opportunities for open space. We're highlighted on a couple of
key city resources. The first is public land, obviously. That's the first place to look.
Schoolyards and the greening of schoolyards programs that's been underway as a pilot
program is another thing that we're looking to expand and continue. Looking at PUC
properties and where we can expand access and include open space opportunities there.
And then also at our privately owned open space which as commonly called popos. A lot
of work has been done by a lot of entities outside of the city including Neighborhood
Parks Council, Rebar, Spur, are looking at the opportunities that those open spaces
provide, how can we open them up, how can we let more people have access to them,
know about them, and actually use them as true open spaces.
The third objective of this open space element is a new one and something that I think is
very critical to urban areas throughout the country right now, that's actually realizing the
importance of our public realms and the connectivity between open spaces. One of the
biggest resources that the city has in its hand is our public realms of space between
buildings that is owned by the city. A lot of that is dedicated to cars right now and that
presents a lot of opportunity that's untapped. Our Better Streets plan which you may be
familiar with comes up with a number of street typologies from green connectors all the
way to living alleys where people actually move and play within streets. Temporary or
even permanent street closure where people can use our public streets as places to walk,
to play, to grow things. Temporary closures along with Sunday streets is something that
we're very interested in promoting and seeing how we can use even spaces that do have
to be dedicated to cars some of the time towards open spaces for elements of time. And
then another big aspect of connectivity that we're promoting in this open space element is
our recreational trail system. The ridge trail is something that already exists and can be
improved and enhanced. We're looking at the creation of a new cross town trail that links
a number of spaces from the Presidio to the southern end of the city. And we're looking
to connect all the gaps that exist in the Bay Trail. Part of the Bay Trail is there, it's in
good shape, but there are a number of places where we really need to make that
connection seamless so that you can move along the city's waterfront in one fell swoop.
The 4th objective of the open space element focuses on biodiversity. A number of things
that are encompassed within that. I'm just going to try to summarize briefly. Looking at
our natural areas and how we can manage them. They're not all owned by the Recreation
and Park Department, a number of other agencies, even regional agencies own those, are
there coordinated management strategies that we can explore to make sure that we're
having a consistent operations strategy to those. Can we implement principles like water
conservation, energy, food production, using planting such as native plants or drought
tolerant plants, those are the types of policies that the element promotes.
Our 5th objective focuses on engaging the community and this is really an untapped
resource that we heard a lot about through out open space task force and workshops. San
Francisco has a wealth of resources our there in our community members, people who
not only use our parks but want to work in them, want to support them, have in many
instances created their own open spaces, along streets through the DPW street parks
program, etc. So what are the things we can do to tap into that resource and help them in
the work that they're already doing. Community initiated open spaces is something that
we're looking to promote like the community gardens and the street parks that a number
of communities have already done in their neighborhoods. We're looking at what kind of
tools the city can provide them, it might be technical knowledge on how to get through
the city's process or to get materials for parks. It might be lending libraries that offer
tools for working in parks, lawnmowers, planting tools, etc. Providing linkages to
nurseries so we can have plantings and then even funding where possible. The
community challenge grant is a great opportunity and where we can see more things like
that that's something that we would like to enhance.
One last thing I'll mention that's near to me at the planning Department is reducing red
tape barriers. Portland did a city ordinance where they actually tried to remove as much
of the process as possible to allow communities to take over their intersections within
their communities and turn those into public open space. We sometimes in our goals to
be thorough within the city process and make sure all the agencies are online we probably
put in a lot of barriers and looking strategically to see where we can remove those,
remove fees, remove permitting process, just let people go out and do things that are part
of the public good.
Then the last objective that I'll mention is on governance and maintenance. This is an
obvious one. This is how we function. Inter agency coordination is obviously a huge
one. Public-private partnerships is a new strategy that we're looking to explore. Again
I'm going to mention Portland as a model. They recently had a 10 for 10 program where
they tried to link corporate sponsors with a 10 year maintenance plan for a neighborhood
park. Especially as we're strapped for cash long term things like that are opportunities
that we think we should be looking into. Inter-agency partnerships is also something that
we need to explore with the other city agencies and even private partners and non-profits
out there that are working on parks so that we're all working together and not cross-
purposes. And then funding and maintenance mechanisms and there's a number that the
plan calls out. I'm sure you have discussed the city-wide impact fee for open space
before, a Nexus study has been completed and it's something that we would like to
further and put in place so new development contributes towards new open spaces.
Looking at park improvement districts as a way to support the maintenance of that park.
Park improvements where if property owners voters--again, it does rely on a vote of
property voters--they could provide additional assessments to support the maintenance of
a park which they live nearby. Voluntary contributions is an option where people can
just check off a contribution to open space on utility tax bills. And even looking at tax
revenue options. Some cities have adopted additional property or parcel taxes for open
space. I agree it's probably a long-shot here but it's something that we at least need to put
on the table as we look towards our long term vision.
With that I'd like to explain to you where we're going from here. As I mentioned, this is
the preliminary draft. You are the first ones to see it and I apologize we didn't give it to
you in advance but it's fresh off the printer. This will be located on our web site. Our
partner will be linked to it from the Neighborhood Parks Council site as well and
hopefully you can get to it from the Recreation and Park Department website. We'll have
copies available for public view for anyone who is interested and we're looking at the
next 6 months or so to receive public comment on the draft, see what needs to change,
have additional hearings if we need to have more talk about it. Have additional hearing
with you once you've had a chance to read it and see what needs to change and get added
to make this the most robust open space vision we can. So that's where we're headed. We
will be working on the action plan over that same time-frame as well and looking to do
an environment review on the document. I'm available if you have any questions.
Commissioner Lee: I was curious how this map overlays with the natural areas
program? It would be helpful to see an overlay of the natural areas program with the
open space to see what areas are designated as natural areas because I recall the last map
I saw there's quite a bit of overlap particularly in the middle. It would be helpful to have
Sarah Dennis: Sure, I think that would be a great appendix map to include to show
the natural areas and how they related to the rest of the open spaces.
Commissioner Lee: I assume you've incorporated that into your plan because
obviously you're not going to have a trail go through a natural areas program or a bike
Sarah Dennis: We're working on those issues right now. I think within the
[unintelligible] itself you'll see proposals for several I shouldn't say new trail networks
because they exist but they haven't been formalized and I think organized in a way that's
easily accessible to the public, but they are largely I think complimentary to the natural
areas rather than intrusive to them.
Commissioner Sullivan: This is a question for Sue. You mentioned a couple times in
your comments Portland and what they're doing there. I know they have a reputation for
being very progressive and effective with their parks. I wonder if there are a couple of
things that come to mind in terms of things they're doing that we could think about.
Sarah Dennis: Probably the biggest one is they have a model ordinance that really has
streamlined the process for community open space buts also required that anybody who is
doing community initiated open space gets sign off from all the people in the
neighborhood. I think that's a big one towards supporting community doing their own
work. I think they're working corporate sponsorship, while controversial, provides a very
interesting model. They have for example they had a partnership with Nike that repaved
all of their basketball courts across the city, I think there was 82, free of charge in
exchange for a logo on some of the basketball hoops. So it's the kind of thing that in some
places, some people might take issue with it. I think we need to explore and talk about it
but it's certainly improved a lot of spaces there.
Commissioner Bonilla: On the governance and maintenance aspect of this element
you talked a little bit about inter-agency coordination and cooperation and so what I
wanted to ask you are there going to be parallel tracks in terms of a process with other
agency Departments. Are we going to be sharing the same baseline information and be
involved in the same process? How is this going to be done?
Sarah Dennis We've been trying to take the first steps towards that through this city
roundtable so I think probably every agency that deals with open space or has space that
people access in any sort of recreational way has met with us at least 3 or 4 times during
the last year and a half in terms of this process. So they're pretty aware of what's in front
of you in terms of policies. Our next step though which I think you're getting at and I
think is the real critical thing is coming up with action steps that each agency takes. So
the development of our action plan will definitely be a much more robust version of that
city roundtable where we actually come up with tasks for each other for the next 5 to 10
Commissioner Bonilla: So it will be a parallel track with all the other Departments. I
know that was an initial concern a few years ago that not any one Department try to come
up with a definitive vision and statement on doing the open space plan but different
Departments are or the fee Departments dealing with open space issues that they work
Sarah Dennis I will mention a real asset that we've had that hasn't been there in the
past is the Mayor's office in greening which actually puts a little bit of the weight of the
Mayor's office beyond forcing all the agencies to come together which has been a real
Commissioner Bonilla: I think that round table was a good thing.
Commissioner Harrison: In your meetings have you included the Gardener's Union
Local 261 and some of the other unions regarding the maintenance and the volunteer
issues because there are things that they might be concerned about.
Commissioner Bonilla: We're trying to be very sensitive to those and our work with
Dawn has acknowledged that. We have not met specifically with those because at this
point we're just at the policy level where we're tying to promote the concept and we
haven't come up with specific strategies or what volunteer groups could do but I think
you raise a good point and it's something we need to continue to further as we
development the actual action steps that tells what we're trying to do.
Commissioner Harrison: It's best to do it early on so you don't have issues later.
Sarah Dennis One thing I'll mention out the outreach. I'm sorry, I tried to keep my
presentation brief so I omitted this. I did mention that we had the complete series of
workshops and survey which was very capably handled by Neighborhood Parks Council.
Isabel Wade is here also with a summary of that which we're going to be posting on our
web site and I don't know if she had anything add.
Isabel Wade: Neighborhood Parks Council was please to orchestrate the public
meetings around the open space task force the topic of open space but really to help city
planning to get a lot of public feedback and Recreation and Park and thank you those of
you Commissioners who attended some of the meetings. There were 29 in all, 8 focus
groups and 21 community meetings all across the city. Generally it was about an hour
and a half in length just a discussion about open space. And I just wanted to highlight
some of the topics because its very clear that the people's ideas about the use of open
space has changed today as where it was 20 or 30 years ago and I think it's important for
the Commission and Department to know. So one of things that came out in almost
every meeting in every part of the city interestingly was using parkland for food
production, that was a big topic for a lot of people. Of course our scope ended up being
how to have a greener neighborhood because some neighborhoods don't have parks and
Playgrounds as you know and we might have been off of park land talking about food
production schoolyards for example. But people are very interested in that. I think it's
safe to say there's a lot more environmental awareness today and the value of our green
space as an environmental asset. But also people are very savvy about the fact that parks
draw visitors, that they also can have features and aspects that bring people out to get
them to spend money in our city even if it's we the residents. And so thinking more about
them as an economic tool I think it more than where we used to be where it was just fun
and games. Also, the whole aspect of health and the importance of using these spaces
which when you think about it is the free place all of us have to go and exercise. People
are very aware that these spaces are very important and therefor want to make sure they
have them. So that leads into filling the gaps. Sarah mentioned that's an ongoing need,
especially in the eastern neighborhoods and in some neighborhoods without and we're all
aware of the limitations of funding but some fairly radical ideas came out of the
discussions. And again it was looking at models in other cities. In Seattle and I visited
this park neighborhood parks are considered such a priority and they've done such
detailed gap analysis that they go out and they actively purchase property whether it has
structures on it or not that are in gap areas to make parks. The next time you're up there I
suggest you visit Homer Park in Seattle. If you happen to go to Victoria this summer you
can go to Rutledge park and both of these parks were sites of three houses, torn down,
specifically to make a park. So I think we can think about that in terms of achieving
equity in some neighborhoods. We can't wait until we have vacant land because frankly
that's becoming really a scarce commodity and really in the new areas that we're
developing we can't just offer developers and let them off the hook getting balconies and
rooftop gardens. That's not a park. That's not where you're going to play frisbee with the
kid or walk that dog. This is not real. So we have to be more aggressive and thinking of
more radical solutions about acquisition. Sarah mentioned a lot about connectivity,
diversity or uses. One of the exercises we did is we asked people what was their idea of a
successful park in their neighborhood and you can go to our web site and see our list.
Kind of the touching part is frankly just about every park is on it and I really appreciate
that because people really care about their park but there were some distinguishing
features. One of them the sites having diversity of use, that people really appreciated if
there were multiple things that they could do at a park because there's a lot of needs and
so that's I think an important thing to think about when we're designing and I think we do
that generally. People want it to be green and beautiful, there's no doubt about that.
Putting a circle around Jackson Playground that's primarily playfields doesn't cut it as a
neighborhood park. So we have to be aware that neighborhood parks are places that can
be used for different things and they have to be green and attractive. Then accessibility.
The main thing for people success really was could they get to it and it is our city policy
that we try to have a park within a 10 minute walk of everyone. We have a ways to go in
meeting that but I think overall the feedback we were getting was positive. I think what
people felt though is that it was very important in our park system was civic engagement,
public participation at these sites and Sarah mentioned there was a lot of discussion at
every single meeting about the roadblocks that are put up to both volunteering, to
participating and trying to do a small or even large capital improvement. There's a long
ways to go in this area and it was really highlighted as these meetings, the frustration of
people trying to help their city and not being able to do so. Commissioner Sullivan asked
about examples in other cities. We sent around the Commissioner President, Jared and
others the example from Sacramento where their approach to volunteers is very
proactive. You apply, you are certified, and you're allowed to go out once you're
certified and help during the week which we do very little of here and at a park of your
choice or you select from there are an array of park projects to do. But we need to be
doing more of this. We're not going to be getting a lot more staff in maintenance and the
critical aspect of a successful park to getting people to use it is the maintenance has to be
kept and that's an essential thing that we really have to be trying even in this hard
economic time. So if I can answer any questions.
Commissioner Lazarus: I was going to ask both of you out of these meetings and
staff work, just quickly looking at this, it's a lot of big picture but have you gotten down
into not only the generic need of open space, does that also include the finding of what
we need in terms of active versus passive, what we need in terms of rec centers versus
tennis courts, etc. Is that going to be part of that process?
Isabel Wade: In an hour and a half you don't have time to get down to that but actually
we got down to a lot of nitty gritty details about what people felt was needed about open
space in the future. The action plan that we will put forward with the whole coalition of
folks working on this I think will have some very practical ideas some of which I just
mentioned to you as thoughts about new directions, how to secure open space, and how
to deal with maintenance for example, how to deal with funding. Sarah you can elaborate
more on that.
Sarah Dennis: I will emphasize what Isabel says, the notes from the workshop will--
when you try to talk to people about big picture stuff they inevitably focus down on
actually what their needs are in the neighborhood so we did hear a lot about what specific
neighborhood needs are through those workshops. What we tried to do through the
update of the element that you'll see before you is on a high-level kind of look at the
walking distance that people had towards three categories of open space and I believe it's
on page 17 of the open space element. We looked at whether people--the researchers
found that when people are going to play sports or do something active they'll walk about
a half-mile. So we looked at how many parts of the city actually had sports fields or
active uses within about a half-mile of where they live. Things like passive uses,
picnicking, hanging out in a green space, people will walk a little bit longer too especially
if it's a sunny day in San Francisco. So we tried to look at how many neighborhoods
actually had that within a half-mile. Then we looked at Playgrounds which particularly
because of the constraints of small children has a much smaller radius and tried to look at
neighborhoods that actually had walking distance to that. This only gives us a high-level
of where we need to focus our needs and where some of those high-needs areas. And so
the idea with the action plan that Isabel was mentioning in the next step is to look at some
of those targeted neighborhoods, Chinatown is a big one that comes to mind as a high-
need area and work with the community to figure out the exact specifics of the open
space that would best meet their needs like a community garden, tennis court, etc. It's the
kind of thing that the open space element won't do on a detailed level but it provides the
framework for us to go into a community and work with them to make those decisions
through the action plan.
Commissioner Lazarus: Except it does have a lot of examples of trails and other more
detailed findings of where we have need. Does it go into say we have too many golf
courses and not enough soccer fields or we need five more regulation baseball diamonds
and three more Little League diamonds for the amount of growth we expect in those age
populations? That level?
Sarah Dennis: The thing that gets tricky especially when we're talking about sports
fields what we found especially through our outreach is that people are travelling to play
sports because a lot of the sports fields and reserved people are only half the time actually
using the sports fields that's within walking distance to them simply because they might
have the time to walk to it is not when they actually is open for their use. So it's pretty
difficult to do a big assessment like that, like we need 3 more baseball fields just to meet
the growth of the need. So what we're looking at through the action plan is a more
targeted neighborhood talking to people and what's missing.
Commissioner Lazarus: You didn't look at the broader issue of for instance our
numerous club sports, teams, how we accommodate not just the walkup need of a
resident but the needs of all our participants who are signing up for those facilities, for
their Viking soccer league or the attorney's league softball or whatever.
Sarah Dennis: Not on a policy level. Again, the goal of the action plan which is more
the action steps is to look at each of those parks and which ones are over-subscribed and
what they're over-subscribed in to try to figure out how to meet the demand there on the
Isabel Wade: I have one other thought related to what you're saying. I mean, the
Department got a study, a very thorough study and we're having more studies, but the
study in 2004 that Leon Younger did really laid this all out and it basically sits in a
drawer somewhere. I don't know what we have to do but it does seem to me to be the job
of the Commission to then say what is the process to get from A to Z. We have
recommendations from a national expert, he did the studies, he has the data, so how do
we meet the soccer field needs, is anybody looking at that?
Jared Blumenfeld: I don't want to get into now but the city fields foundation has
spent hundreds of hours calculating--[unintelligible]
Isabel Wade: But that's the key, getting these recommendations into implementable
form and whatever the topic is because otherwise it's just ideas.
Commissioner Martin: I'm looking at all this and I'm really concerned. I've been
talking for 8 years and I still don't understand why you guys don't have it on here. When
you're talking open space and parks, Brooks park sitting out there is the highest park in
this city that has open space where you can see the bridge and everything from it and got
a school sitting right there and won't fix it so the kids of the school can go to that park
and see something and have some place to play. I've been talking to this place for 8
years. They fixed the wall but they still haven't fixed the park. Why don't you guys have
it on here? It's the most fixed up place that needs to be in this town.
Sarah Dennis I think that's a great point that we'll down for the action plan. Again,
what we're distributing to you today is a 100 year vision and policy statement, so we don't
do things like mention specific parks or opportunity areas but we will jot that down for
our action plan.
Jared Blumenfeld: The San Mateo/San Francisco county line. We spent a lot of time
linking the west side of the city to the north side to the east side but very little about how
you get from Hunter's Point to Ocean Beach. Most look at a perimeter and we've kind of
just done an N or U depending on which way we're looking at it, that was point one and
you don't need to respond to any of these. Point two is that the bay itself I would say is
open space. We're surrounded on 3 sides by water, there's a lot of recreational activities,
we have a Marina, places like Seattle have done a huge amount to open up a view of what
we think of as open space, so for me the water and activities and another thing that isn't
on here but hopefully will be soon, on the maps. Treasure Island has a lot of open space
[unintelligible] just the water aspect. At the beginning you kind of tally the total number
of acres of open space which I think is 5250 which ends up at .0006 acres per person. Is
there a goal? Is there a number that we want to achieve that we can work towards and
what is that number? And most of the other things that we do like water use we know
gallons per water per day or energy or anything. I just don't know what the national
standards are on open space or could be. And then the final element relates to climate
change, what will climate change to do for our open space. Will it create more of a
burden for water, what does that mean? The final point is that a lot of these are like what
would you--and I guess this does require a follow up--if this is printed, today's it's draft, if
it's finalized by the Board of Supervisors tomorrow how would the world look
differently, what would change as a result of this happening, would this require further
implementation in order to actually change the face of open space.
Sarah Dennis It absolutely does require further implementation. What we have before
you is a vision and set of policies. Policies the way they're implemented to the city mean
that actions that the city is taking have to be consistent with those policies but the policies
themselves don't direct anybody to do anything. So that's why the action plan is such a
critical component of this.
Commissioner Bonilla: Well of course as you said we haven't had a chance to read this
document but I certainly hope that one of the major planning assumptions in this whole
planning process is that we really look what you mentioned earlier and that is how
people, be it youth, adults, whomever, how San Franciscans are able to access our
facilities by walking. I think that is so critical. When I was growing up we did
everything walking. I think to the extent that we can encourage that and make that a
major part of this planning process and not have this reliance on parents driving kids to
their activities after school especially when the parents are not available to do so. The
more that we work on really targeting the accessibility of our venues to kids after school I
think that would be a very beneficial thing for us to do because I really do not feel that
we have done as much as we could in terms of the after school population and so I'm
happy that you're saying that maybe one of the cornerstones may be how you get to a
park or a rec center or whatever by walking. I'm glad about that and think it needs to be
This item was discussion only.
Marvin Yee, with the Capital Division presented this item to the Commission. I'm with
the Recreation and Park Department and one of my functions is as the program manager
for the community gardens program. Just briefly, the community gardens program
started in the early 1990s. In the early years it was managed by an outside entity through
a city contract but in 2005 the Recreation and Park Department took direct management
of those gardens. So the outline for my presentation today includes giving you a brief
program overview, then we'll talk about some of the benefits of the community gardens
program to the gardeners, to the city, to the Department and also to the earth. We'll talk
about the growing demand and what are the possibilities for expansion potential in order
to meet those demands. The first thing I'd like to go over is what is a community garden.
In the current policies that guide the community gardens program a community garden is
a site operated and maintained by community volunteers. What is grown in the
community garden is for non commercial use. In other words, the gardeners are growing
things for their own personal consumption. They could also share in those good but they
cannot be compensated by selling those items. These things are grown through garden
plots. Instructional gardening may be offered at these sites and common expenses are
covered through self imposed garden fees. This type of program is different from other
type of communal gardening in the Department in that this program the community
garden sites are subdivided into allotments which are then assigned to a person or entity
to maintain on a day to day basis.
The community garden program contains 35 community gardens. These gardens are self
managed and maintained by the gardeners themselves who are considered volunteers.
These gardens are located on city property, most of them are on Recreation and Park
property but some are on other city agencies including the PUC and the Department of
Public Works. This program is funded through $150,000 annually in Prop C funds which
was passed in the year 2000. Through the passage of Prop C the funds are available for
the next 30 years, up to 2030, with a minimum budget of $150,000 and in 2006 the
Commission did approve a policy which does guide the management of the gardens. In
this map here it locates all of the gardens in the program, all 35 gardens. The ones shown
in red dots are those on park property, the ones in yellow dots are shown on other city
agency properties and you can see they're kind of clustered in a part of the city where you
would expect to find community gardens, essentially east of twin peaks where there's a
higher density of population, where people don't have already their own private gardens
and also it's in a warmer part of the city. But in the past couple of years I have definitely
notice a request for community gardens throughout the city and not just in the sunnier
warmer parts of the city.
In this program the gardeners are largely responsible for the day to day maintenance.
That includes the gardens plots themselves, that includes the public areas within the
gardens. Again, I mentioned that what they grow is only for personal consumption.
They self imposed gardens dues which is determined by the membership. Not all gardens
charge gardens dues, it depends on what their common expense needs are. The gardeners
are also responsible for maintaining a wait list do if there's no vacancies within the
garden the gardeners are responsible for maintaining a wait list and offering vacant plots
on the list. The community gardens are oftentimes fences and even gated and locked.
Because these gardens are located on public property they are to be publicly accessible.
This doesn't mean that the gardens have to be available at all hours of the day, it means
that the gardeners need to provide a program of public access and that could mean that
they have posted hours for the garden in advance, maybe there are regular hours and
regular days of the month when the garden is open or they can be public events that are
available to anyone to come in as long as that event is posted in advance. And lastly the
gardeners because they are volunteers do have to sign a waiver just like any other
volunteer activity that's done on park land.
The city however is still involved in the gardens although they are self-managed by the
gardeners themselves. What the city provides are deferred maintenance, particularly for
those items that are structural in nature or that are regulated by the building code. The
Department also provides capital improvements and we also renovate gardens and that
would be an opportunity for the Department to increase the capacity, that is adding more
plots into the gardens, and also to provide for wheelchair access. The Department also
supports the gardeners in enforcing the policies and to carry out the program elements of
the Commission approved policies including bulletin boards. That was one of the items
that was mentioned in the policies that we're currently rolling out. And lastly the
Department updates the webpage that is part of the Department's website. Interestingly it
does get the 9th most hits of any page on the site right behind the Commissions web page.
The gardens provide beautification on public land. These are garden like environments in
public spaces. They also provide and add to the variety of the recreational uses available
in our parks. They also promote community in that a lot of the gardeners live within
walking distance of the garden and the gardeners have to manage themselves, promoting
that sense of community. And of course the gardeners are growing things for themselves
and maybe for others, promoting self-sufficiency. It's good for the environment. In
policies the gardeners are required to practice organic based practices, so we're not using
pesticides, herbicides in these gardens. And lastly because the program is set up so that it
is intended to be kind of a self-sustaining program it doesn't take away Departmental
resources, operational resources that could otherwise goes to needs in our park system.
So with all these wonderful benefits it's really not a surprise this there's a growing
demand for community gardens. Early indications of this demand could be found in the
2004 survey that the Department conducted which indicated that 47% of the households
have indicated a need for more community gardens which is the third highest ranked item
in that category. The survey also found that community gardens fell in the top 5 most
important facilities out of 21 facilities options within that category. This is also
confirmed when an inventory was done in June, 2008, where we inventoried and found
that we do have 1038 garden plots available throughout the city and that's only under the
Department's managed gardens. At the same time we did have 110 people on the wait
list. So with this growing demand what are the possibilities for expanding the program to
try to meet this growing demand? One way is to renovate the existing garden. There is
the potential to add more plots as we have done in Arkansas Friendship garden. You can
see in the overhead that we have a before and after photo. In this particular garden we
did increase the number of plots from 9 to 14 so we've added 6 plots. If we did this to all
the existing community gardens then we'd have a potential of increasing the number of
plots by 217 which would potentially take care of half the people on the wait list.
The other possibility of expanding the program is to convert under-utilized parks into
community gardens. This list that I've provided has in no way been vetted by the
Department. This is really an initial list based on my observations. On perhaps on where
a new community gardens could be set up. Of course, in order to do this would require
capital investment. That concludes my presentation.
Nancy Wuerfel: I want to thank the General Manager for bringing this to our
attention. This has got to be one of the top interests in my serving on PROSAC was to be
supportive of community gardens. I love them. I think that this is just the best thing that
can be done for the public. I was impressed with our article which lots of people have
here today in the Examiner that talks about the curiosity of a Garden Grows. It also
identifies what Marvin has said about the needs. I want to make a very clear statement.
Prop C has awarded $150,000 to this in 2000 when that was the baseline that was to be
updated. It's 10 years later, it's only $150,000 for this program. Something is wrong.
The after school program, volunteers, natural areas and urban forestry all go their due just
deserts and upgrades. This is the only program out of Prop C that has never once been
given a thin dime more than that original baseline mandated in the voters approval. So
let's start right now today and understand that they are way behind the scenes. Somebody
is going to have to say gee I'm going to give up extra pencils or crayons because this
program has been totally under-funded. Two, when we talk about the fact that we have
all these people on the waiting list, I think this is a serious issue. We have people that
want to participate in their level in our parks, we want to grow food, flowers, or whatever
they want. I think this is fabulous. Whatever they want. I think this is fabulous. I'd like
to even suggest that we even think of Sharpe Park as a beautiful community gardens only
because it used to be a commercial agricultural setting. So the land is there, the weather
is there, we ought to think about that as one of the proposed uses when they're doing
alternatives. I think we need to look very clearly at the transparency with the selection of
who gets to have a community garden. I'd like as usual to hear more about the money.
I'd like to see an interplay between what's going to cost to have an improvement on the
capital level and what it going to mean if we do get more money at an operational level to
help Marvin and his works and I want to know what's going on with the money that's
contributed for those people that are actually paying for the common expenses. To me
there's a nexus here that's not clear. We've got people paying, we've got the Prop C
paying and now we have some other capital needs. So let's put all of this on the table. I
like numbers, I really think that helps us focus on what we can to achieve the goal of not
being front and center with a lot of red ink on this paper. So let's hear it for community
gardens. I think they're wonderful and they do good things for all of us, thank you.
Martha Arnaud: Martha Arnaud. I was excited to see this on the agenda and took the
day off from work to come and talk to you just to express my support for this program
very much and I'm working with a group that is interested in getting a community garden
on one of those plots that Marvin mentioned. It's the Geneva strip. I live in Mission
Terrace and it's out near the Balboa Park BART station and it's a piece of land owned by
Recreation and Park that's across San Jose from the BART station and just across Geneva
from the Geneva office building and it was a garden for about 25 years. It's been
overgrown for the past 15 and we'd really like to turn it into a community garden now.
So our understanding of the process is first we do our community outreach and at this
point we've got the support of all the local neighborhood associations for this project.
There's a Cuyhuga, Mission Terrace, the Outer Mission, and the Excelsior, and as well
we've got about 80 residents from the neighborhood that have signed their personal
support for our project so once we get the letter assembled we'll be coming to you
hopefully for the approval to go ahead and apply for grants. And then once we get grant
funding secured we come back and apply for inclusion into the community garden
program. So thanks for the opportunity to let me mention out little project and I look
forward to working with you to make this happen.
Jared Blumenfeld: I was out there with Supervisor Aviloson and you can see it's
fenced in and you can actually see the remnants of the community gardens. How much
would it cost to convert that land which at the moment has no use into a productive
Martha Arnaud: I don't actually have a number yet.
Marvin Yee: I've also been out there to the site. It is a sloping site so it's going to need
a bit more development than let's say a site that's on flat ground. The Arkansas
Friendship garden that was recently completed was done at about $35 per square foot but
that site was again a fairly level site. I would imagine that the Geneva Strip site would
need a little bit more than that. Just off the top of my head I would say between $35 and
$50 a square foot.
Linda D’Avirro: Linda D’Avirro, District 11 Council, and I also do want to support
the mini strip and have it move up to a higher level. It actually was planned as part of the
plans for the Balboa area revitalization and we do want to put this land to use so that if
the conversation somehow gets awry someone doesn't build a parking lot on there on a
landing strip or onramp or something. So we'd like it moved up on the list because if you
want to use the Crocker-Amazon LaGrande garden as an example we have a waiting list
and I think you probably know better than I Marvin but it's more than 26 people and
probably more than that as of today. So we really do need community gardens. The one
thing I do want to leave you with that on that subject though is a good community garden
is a well-managed community garden and Marvin has actually stepped up in the case of
the LaGrande community garden at Crocker which is not in very good shape and really
needs renovation for a number of reasons. But one reason that our group got involved
was some time in 2006 the park folks came to us and said they were getting a lot of
complaints about that waiting list and about the condition of the park and just in general
how it's managed. My request would be perhaps to have the park people who are actually
resident NSAs be involved in the community garden and also involve the community
groups that are there as the watch people because we really don't have a way to get
involved with community gardens because it's a stand-alone autonomous organization
that unless you are a community gardens you have nothing to say about it. And
unfortunately Jared didn't get a chance to see it because he was riding all over town that
day but you should have taken a look at it. It's sad because there's about 11 or 15 plots
that are fallow and it's just a bad example of a community garden but because Marvin has
taken up that issue and hopefully we'll see some movement on that I would like to see the
park people themselves involved because the rec manager gets the complaints, the park
gardeners get the complaints and they can do nothing about it because it just sits there as
a little island so I really think the organizational structure should include the park people
and particularly the NSA park managers that are there.
Jared Blumenfeld: Since I'm desperate to get back on my bike since I don't get to get
anywhere, let's set it up for next week, I will come out.
Steve Currier: Steve Currier, Outer Mission merchants and residents association, also
Crocker Amazon. And Jared I'd love to meet with you because everything that Linda
said was absolutely correct. All the rules that Marvin had laid out, none of the rules of
this community garden was followed, none whatsoever, and they even used pesticides
and herbicides on their beds which I think is really nasty. They used to also have running
water which I don't know where it's at now because the spigot was shut off. And one day
I happened to be in the park doing something around a time that I'm normally not there
which was like around 11:00 or 12:00 noon and believe it or not one of the gardeners was
an older Asian lady outside the fence pulling down a Camilla tree because she thought it
was in the way of the sun hitting her plants and I absolutely went ballistic because there
are no rules in that community garden. Commissioner Martin, you mentioned Brookes
Park. They did a fantastic job on their community garden and it is accessible to the
public. This particular community garden in the Crocker is not accessible to the public,
it's locked up and if you want to get in there's no way, you're not going to be allowed in.
The other thing they did at one time and I spoke I think it was Larry McNesby or Denny
Kern is that somebody came out and put pavers on the side of the community gardens and
I have no idea when they did that. Of course the pavers are removed now but I think
Linda is right, there needs to be a little bit ownership within the community and the
community gardeners so there's a conversation, there's something that needs to be done.
If there needs to be structural maintenance or more dirt or whatnot there can be than
conversation or leadership for the community garden where there is not now. But this is
really excited and we do support the Geneva Strip. Like I said it's about ¾ of a block in
length and probably about 200 to 300 feet wide so I think it would be a fantastic
accomplishment to clean up that piece of property on Geneva Avenue.
Commissioner Harrison: A couple of questions. Could this be considered open
space, part of the open space plan?
Marvin Yee: It actually is mentioned n the open space element. It certainly is.
Commissioner Harrison: Is there criteria for these acquisitions of property for these
community gardens, is there some kind of criteria for it?
Marvin Yee: Not that I know of. The only item that I think is similar to that in the
earlier versions of the open space element is that there was a goal of creating 200 more
community gardens. Other than that, but the definition of community gardens in the
element of that plan was very broad. It could have been allotment gardens. It could have
been a communal managed gardens. So it really encompasses all that, to get the
community involved in gardening.
Commissioner Harrison: What I'm getting at here is on the corner of Lombard and
Pierce there was a Standard station there, a Chevron Station, it's been vacant for like 3 or
4 years now, and I think that would, in that neighborhood, would be huge.
Commissioner Lazarus: That's because the city has rejected the development plan
for the site. The planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors--the restaurant site,
the old Cheveron station, that whole thing is on hold for many years now as to what the
city wants and what the developer land owner wants.
Commissioner Harrison: A perfect use, nobody would be hurt and we would have a
park greenway and open space.
Jared Blumenfeld: I just wanted to thank Marvin who does an absolutely fantastic job.
Most people when the San Francisco league of urban gardeners disappeared nobody
really knew what institution would take over. He has done an incredible job. This is
only half his job and he continues to be a planner and a capital division doing large
projects. So the fact that he can do this in half his time is really remarkable. So thank you
This item was discussion only.
Isabel Wade: Happy to be here to give you an update about Park Scan. Some
interesting and I think very helpful developments. I think you're all aware the project is
about 5 years old and we recently made some updates to the website, listening to the
community and also to Recreation and Park about ease of use. I don't know if we can see-
- It gives you an idea, that's the new website which has been I think modified in a way to
make it very easy to figure out what to do and just wanted to tell you what some of the
changes are. First of all, one of the most notable is that we require an email now from
participants and there were a variety of reasons for that be we think it's a good way for
both us to get back to the participants and also for the Department staff to get back to the
participants which they indicated they want. The main thing people want to do is either
send an observation which you can do for any park in the city and some of them not
Recreation and Park parks, they're whatever parks we could get in the system we could
put in, and you can make special reports. In terms of sending an observation you won't
really be able to see this but the blank line is a very easy way for you to figure out what
park, actually before this page there's a Google map, so if you don't even have a clue the
name of the park, wherever you are in the city, you can just hit a bubble on the map and it
will take you to that park. But if you put in a park and here it shows a map of the park
and a big change--and I must say I really pushed this, I have a big park and when I take
the time to go around and make my park scans and I want to file a report I didn't want to
do one report for every observation. So now you see there's a red button, that's my first
report I make up at the Children's Playground and then I do my second one, and you keep
doing reports, and you write down in the bottom in the square what your comments are
about your particular observations. So you can do all of your observations regardless of
feature all at once now when you take the time to go to your park. So that's especially
helpfully in any park but especially the bigger parks. So I wanted to show you how you
actually make an observation search. You probably can't read any of this but one of the
things we did was condense categories and that makes a big difference because it's pretty
easy to see if it's trees or graffiti or whatever you want and when yo go to make a search
of the results you can either search by the park or you can search by the feature. Let's say
you want to have all the graffiti citywide you can have that. If you want all the graffiti
just in your park, Buena Vista, you can get that. And you can drill down and get all this
information in whatever format you want. We also make it by districts even though
Recreation and Park doesn't use those districts but elected officials are very interested in
what's in their district. So if they want to see all the graffiti in district 3 they can get that.
We have behind the scenes in the backend of this the NSA districts and we've looped that
for the Recreation and Park staff but the public doesn't know what the NSA districts are,
they only know the supervisorial ones. So this is a streamlined function and we think it
makes it pretty easy to use Park Scan now.
Along the same lines of evolution the Department told us once 311 came in they didn't
want to be getting source from two streams of data, they just wanted to get the 311 data.
Nancy El Faro in the 311 shop have really been great in working with us and generally
working with the community. They already have a relationship with the Bike Coalition
as well. We work together very closely so now all these Park Scan reports are actually
linked on the backend to 311. 311 sends them in the way that they normally send them to
Recreation and Park and we still send to NSA managers anything that comes through
Park Scan our way and they can respond to those or not. Now why do that? Because
some of the NSA managers are actually people oriented and they want to be in touch
directly with people who have commented on things in the park under their supervision,
so they actually want to know who sent them and be able to respond. So it can work both
ways. We're actually very happy with 311, this just started on May 1st, but what we're
happy about is we have the clout of the Mayor's office behind us in getting these reports
closed out so from the public's perspective it's really, really good. So what is the added
value of Park Scan? Well, the added value is the reporting function and the transparency.
Once it's closed out of 311 that's the end of it, you don't see it anymore. Normally, if
you're just tracking on 311 you only see your observation, you don't see anything else
about other observations for your parks, other observations in the city, so for those of our
park advocacy community they're really active about using the data to improve the park
and their own stewardship group and to lobby and to help the city retain gardeners, they
can go and show look we had all this graffiti last year. If we don't have these painters our
parks are going to be horrible.
I think you all got the Park Scan annual report. That's I think one of the big plusses and
added values of our Park Scan system. I think Jared the General Manager and the
previous General Manager has used our data to make the case at budget hearing time
about what is needed and it's things that in the past weren't so obvious. You know there's
graffiti in the park, you know there's garbage in the park. And you know that sometimes
there's a lot of other capital related projects that you have to be able to make a case for
too. So we think that this report is useful for the Department. We certainly use it. All
the Board of Supervisors we give them a report, we take them on a walk every year, we
notify them on the phone whenever there's something special in their district so we think
it's been very useful in that regard because all of this ultimately is how do we keep up our
There's a few other things I wanted to mention that are linked with this. For us the other
aspect of Park Scan that's important is it's gotten people involved and engaged in their
park. They get sometimes then further involved and join a park group or even make a
park group. This is what it's all about in the long run, we have to have people feeling
ownership of these spaces and ideally participating as volunteers. To make that happen
there's certain features that would improve park maintenance. One of them would be
having an information kiosk in every park. NPC has promoted this for some time. We've
installed a few thanks to the Mayor's challenge fund. We've been able to put 6 of them in
now but it really should be a standard feature of any capital project beyond a certain size
because people want to post the information if they're having a work day in the park or if
they're having pug day in the park. This is how you build communities and this is how
you keep your parks in better shape. There's an adage now in the maintenance work of
good users drive out bad use and that's why we want to get all the users in the parks,
that's what Park Scan is all about. The last but not least thing is that we're about to
launch next Monday Park Scan in Portland, Oregon. So San Francisco is on the ground
floor but we hope to be taking this to a number of other cities in America and we hope
that doing that will pay for a person in San Francisco and some additional outreach
because we'd like to be advertising, I think that would drive more use. We don't have that
kind of a budget right now. I'm happy to answer questions about this program.
Commissioner Lazarus: I have one question. I was under the impression that
obviously you get this information into the Department, a trashcan is overflowing or
there's graffiti on something but I look through the report and I gather an item is closed
when it gets moved over to our work order system.
Isabel Wade: No.
Commissioner Lazarus: I saw a lot of examples in here. District 1, slide is very
corroded at joints, may soon wear all the way through to the slide bed. Status closed.
Long standing problem has been inspected and added to work order system. That may be
5 years before that slide is true.
Isabel Wade: That's true. That's one of the things we've gone back and forth about,
trying to get a different response when things can't be addressed, usually they're capital
projects. From the public's perspective anyway we don't consider it closed until it gets
fixed but Recreation and Park staff are the ones who decide whether something is closed
or not. One of the advantages of 311, and I think Recreation and Park will be changing
it's designations because of that, people can keep calling back and 311 will keep on a
Department if there's no satisfaction from their customers. So we have to have a pending
status and that's what we've been recommending because capital projects are a long-term
effort and you can't close a lot of them until you have the money. But nothing else is
closed theoretically until the work is done.
Commissioner Lazarus: Another one here was a lawn that someone had driven on. It
said closed, thank you. Does that mean the lawn was resodded or on the list to be
resodded some time?
Isabel Wade: Or that the gardener didn't think it was relevant and just blew it off. We
can't control the responses of the staff and the way we hear about it is if the person who
scanned it is mad about that response and says look the big rut is still there, we'll get it
again. But this time we get a phone call and then we'll call up the NSA manager and says
what gives. Which by the way is something else 311 doesn't do.
Commissioner Sullivan: This is probably obvious to a lot of people in the room but
can you just keep me through from the moment I sent an email through Park Scan, what
human being gets it and how does that get conveyed to a person on staff to do something
and how does it come back.
Isabel Wade: That's a great question. So for Park Scan it comes to us electronically
and is electronically transferred now to 311. It used to be just going directly to
Recreation and Park when they told us to send the related observation. So an email now
goes from us to 311. A 311 staff person enters the details of the observation into the 311
system and they generate a case number and we also have a case number and then they
notify the appropriate city agency. That's a speed up of the past because in the past
Recreation and Park had to say oh, it's not us it's DPW or the Art Commission or
whatever. This way 311 knows all these things and so they send them appropriately.
After it goes into the 311 system the 311 person sends Park Scan an email with the case
details. When we get the email from 311 our system automatically processes the email
and updates the status of the observation and we know now it's part of the work order
system. We add the 311 case ID to ours including the expected time that this is supposed
to be fixed and that Recreation and Park has provided to 311. And then the Recreation
and Park NSA managers then get their email notifications from us as well. So they're
either seeing that, want to respond to it, or want to wait until 311 gets there. They can
add their own responses to the 311 system like this is a capital project or this we're taking
care of right away or whatever. The Park Scan users who are emailed as soon as anything
is done either by 311 or if the NSA manager has responded and then when the
observation has been completely addressed it will be closed within the 311 system and
then in turn on a periodic basis are updating the park system. So next year the annual
report will have all the data from 311 and Park Scan that has come through for the entire
year. So you all will have a complete record of all public commentary on parks that will
come in through both avenues.
Commissioner Sullivan: Thank you, that's really helpful.
Unidentified Female speaker: I just have one question that I'd like to put out that isn't
going to be answered today but I'd like to the relationship of Park Scan to the improved
survey from the Controller's office for the parks, things have improved. So I'd like to
suggest that there should be some causal relationship as assessed that if this is positively
influencing work at Recreation and Park and therefore the Controller's office goes out
and does it's audit and they recognize themselves that they see the results of better
performance by Recreation and Park employees can we make a cause and effect so that
we can at least give credit where credit is due and recognize how that influences the work
in the Structural maintenance division, the gardening division, the NSA supervision.
How does this work in terms of a collaborative arrangement to better the parks vis-à-vis
the impartiality of the Controller's office. Thanks.
Linda D’Avirro: I just wanted to first of all thank Commissioner Martin for attending
a meeting and I wanted you to know that we were very fortunate to have our Supervisor
Avalos hold a meeting for the McLaren Park, Crocker-Amazon, Herz and all those, the
second largest park in the city, and thanks to the community's input John convened the
meeting and it was very well-attended, it was packed to the gills with about 70-plus
people and 15 different entities that have interest in that park and all of the things going
on from anything from bike trails to natural areas to trying to put entertainment in the
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. I just want again to thank you and invite you to the future
meetings which John has promised to hold. I'm sure you know this but McLaren Park
resides in three different supervisorial districts, so he chaired it and we had
representatives from both districts 9 and 10. And the result of that Larry just so you
know is that I've gotten a lot of phone calls and emails saying that they very much
appreciated having the attention paid to this part of town and I think it very well
demonstrates that for years we've been underserved and something like this having a
Commissioner come to a meeting was very, very special and welcomed and hopefully
you got something out of it or at least you saw a lot of issues that we have to work with
with the parks, but I did want to thank you.
Commissioner Martin: I enjoyed it.
Commissioner Lazarus: we have no further meetings scheduled in May.
The Special meeting of the Recreation and Park
Commission was adjourned at 3:06 p.m.
Margaret A. McArthur