Gavin Newsom, Mayor
Recreation and Park Commission
December 16, 2010
Commissioner Buell called the Special Meeting of the Recreation and Park Commission to order at 2:03 p.m. on
Thursday, December 16, 2010.
Commissioner Buell announced that Items 9 and 10 on Lafayette Park would be heard as one item.
Commissioner Buell: Two items. First let me say that beginning at the first of the year we are going to move
towards Committee hearings and a general Commission meeting. The idea behind the Committees is to have an
opportunity for the public to weigh in before we have the gun to our head to make decisions. But in order to vet
issues and hear the public and then be able to take the item to the Commission knowing additional information and
having an opportunity to get maximum public input as far as Commission hearings go.
So we’re going to have three Committees. We’re going to have an Operations Committee, a Capital Committee, and
the Zoo Committee. And let me announce the Committee assignments. Being the glutton for punishment that I am I
will sit on all three Committees but I will Chair none of them and that allows me if you get the math for two
Commissioners each to represent each Committee and I’ll be the third member and that will give them only two
meetings a month, it will give me four meetings a month.
For the Operations Committee I would like Commissioners Levitan and Bonilla to assist me and we’ll arrive at a
Chair with some kind of coin toss or perseverance. The Capital Committee then would be Commissioners Lee and
Harrison and the me and Commissioner Lee and Harrison and I have discussed this and Commissioner Lee will
Chair that Committee.
And then the Zoo Committee will be Commissioner Martin, Commissioner Arata and myself and I might say that I
was there last night at the meeting and the veterinarian gave a presentation for about half an hour and I was quite
impressed that you know if you get stuck at San Francisco General and there’s a long line go out to the Zoo, they
take very good care of the animals out there. It’s really terrific to see what they do and it was very educational. So I
want to compliment the Zoo for that aspect of their program.
And now let me just say that it’s been a year since I joined the Commission last January and it’s been quite a year.
Sometimes the meetings have been long, sometimes the issues have been contentious. I think we’ve gotten a lot
done. I think we’ve dealt with some difficult issues and I just want to make this observation at the conclusion of the
year: One, I think that the city is well-served by the Commissioners that have been appointed. They take their job
seriously and I have never been disappointed by the attendance and their interest in the subject matter. I also want to
congratulate the staff. In a time of reduced income and tax benefits I think they’ve operated under extraordinary
circumstances. I’m fully aware that not everyone agrees with staff recommendations and what comes down but I
will tell you that I think the staff is highly professional, highly dedicated and we’re understaffed, underpaid, and I
think they do a wonderful job. So I want to compliment them from the Chair at the end of this year and wish them
all a happy holiday season.
With that let us commence with the agenda.
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
Phil Ginsburg: Thank you Commissioners. A warm and happy and joyous holiday to all of you and to all of
those who continue to join us at our Thursday Commission meetings. Thank you for supporting your parks and
loving your parks and for your advocacy and for your stewardship.
Speaking of holiday, last Thursday Commissioners Harrison and Martin we were very privileged to have them join
us at the 81st Annual Holiday Tree Lighting at McLaren Lodge. I may be a little biased and I haven’t been around
for all 81 years but I think this was our best ever. We had approximately 1000 people join us at the festivities
including our local celebrity ashcon who sang yet once again Don’t Stop Believing in honor of the San Francisco
Giants because if you look at the holiday train this year you’ll see that Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson are actually
the conductors. We also had Giants mascot Lou Seal out there. We had Santa Clause. And we even had Santa
Claude courtesy of the Academy of Sciences, our holiday albino alligator. Staff really did an amazing job on this.
We had some rides out there for the kids for the first time ever. We had a holiday cookie making booth. We had art
and games and it was really quite a joyous event and most importantly when the countdown concluded the tree
actually did light. So it was a fantastic event and we’re already excited about the 82 Annual Tree Lighting next
Winter registration for our winter programming begins this Saturday, December 18th, when the public can begin
signing up for an exciting range of activities including for the first time ever an introduction to mountain biking,
wheelchair basketball, electric radio controlled car racing, and a Fort Miley ropes course family challenge. Just a
little bit of a slice of some of the new exciting courses we’re offering this winter. I think this section is really
beginning to be indicative of the new and exciting programs you’re going to see more of with each subsequent
season. You can register online or in person at 12 recreation sites across the city beginning at 10:00 a.m. on
Saturday. The specific sites were you can register are McLaren Lodge, Moscone Recreation Center, Richmond
Recreation Center, Hamilton Rec, SOMA Eugene Friend Rec Center, Randall Museum, Eureka Valley Rec, Mission
Red, Upper Noe, Palaga and Sunset. You can log onto sfrecpark.org or call 831-6800 for more information. And
again you can register online.
On Monday Supervisors Carmen Chu and Eric Mar sponsored a hearing on park safety. The Board of Supervisors
has always taken seriously the safety of our parks but as we all know and have read a decent amount about some
recent high-profile incidents have created a little bit more of an interest. Monday’s hearing went very well with
participation from both the Recreation and Park and the San Francisco Police Department. One solution that was
discussed was the possibility of instituting more formal operating hours in our parks. As I think you know this
Commission over the last two decades has passed a serious of resolutions that provide operating hours in over 70 of
our parks but under the Park Code they’re enforceable only through a section of the Park Code that says you must
obey all signs. So one possibility that was discussed was a more sort of formal or structured process for providing
operating hours in the park. Mayor Newsom on Tuesday introduced some legislation to that affect which is the
beginning of a discussion and an opportunity for all of us to participate in a public discussion on park safety. We
have been asked and plan to present additional information to Supervisor Chiu as a subsequent hearing. The Board
goes into recess for the remainder of the year so there will be no action on this until we meet with Supervisor Chiu
in the new year and I will work with President Buell and this Commission on a way for this Commission to hear and
consider any possible changes as well. And we’ll certainly keep you up to date as we move forward.
It’s not that often that we get such a distinguished group of VIPs present and here at the Commission meeting but
today we have 24 of San Francisco finest park employees who are here today so that we can properly thank and
recognize this group for their efforts during last month’s Charles Schwab Cup at Harding Park. Can you guys—can
everybody stand up. [applause] Our Harding Park maintenance crew worked incredibly long hours under incredibly
challenging circumstances not to mention the least of which was three-quarters of an inch of rain in the week before
the tournament to prepare the course and maintain it at the highest level and we got as these guys know full well just
absolutely rave reviews from all associated with the tournament and with the golf course. So we will give them one
more round of applause but I’d like to congratulate and commend their able team leaders Steve Castille and Kevin
Teahan, Mike Alexander—Mike can you wave? Where’s Mike, there we go. Noland Edmundson. There’s Noland.
Elias Hisma. Steven Kerns. Dana Kess. Nick Manning. Leon Mills. Tom Mudrock. Robert Mohammed. John
Mullen. Gregory Prince. Kevin Reevie. Bruce Richie. James Roach. Fasil Sadik. Jeff Shimmel. Eric Schleiger.
Jennifer Catelo. Almar Valenzuela. Kenneth Verhoven. Romeo Washington and Kevin Woland. You just did an
absolutely amazing job and we have letters of commendation for you waiting but we wanted to bring you here just
to say a formal thank you for everything you did to make this Department—to represent this Department and the
City and County of San Francisco as a whole. So thank you very much guys. [applause]
All right, speaking of golf and speaking of Harding Park we received some very exciting news today from our
friends at Hooked on Golf, a television and radio show hosted by John Abendroth and Mitch Juricich. Harding will
now be this radio show’s home base, broadcasting live from the course each Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. and
raising the profile of not only Harding but of golf as a whole in San Francisco. So very exciting news.
I want to before proceeding with the PROSAC report—and is Les here? And if Les is not here is Nancy Wuerfel
here? Nancy, would you mind giving the PROSAC report in a second. I do want to end on a sad note. On Tuesday
morning we lost one of our valued coworkers and friends Oscar Himenez. Oscar began his career with Recreation
and Park in 1982 and in his time here he developed lifelong friendships with his coworkers and became a role model
to countless young basketball players he dedicated his life to coaching. In the relatively short time that I had the
privilege of knowing Oscar as a coworker he was friendly, always helpful and seriously committed to making our
parks and programs and our youth the best they could be. I think the strongest and perhaps most poignant
observation I have about Oscar’s love and commitment to the Department is that as his health issues made him
weaker in the few short months before he passed his determination and enthusiasm for his job inversely grew
stronger. This has been a big blow to the Department and a big blow to the literally maybe thousands of kids whose
lives he has touched. There will be a vigil and formal viewing services on Monday, December 20th, 2010, from 4:00
p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and a rosary at 7:00 p.m. That’s at Duggen’s Serra Mortuary on 500 Westlake Avenue in Daly
City. The funeral will be Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 at 10:30 in the morning at Corpus Cristi Church. And there
will be a celebration of Oscar’s life Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 at 1:00 o'clock at the Mission Recreation Center
and I would request Mr. President that we adjourn today in honor of Oscar.
Commissioner Buell: Indeed. And I might add there was a very nice article in the Chronicle this morning
remembering Oscar. He was an extraordinary fellow.
Phil Ginsburg: All right. With that I’d like to bring up Nancy Wuerfel to provide the PROSAC report and that
will conclude the General Manager’s report.
Ms. Wuerfel: I just want to let you know that PROSAC has passed a resolution, I’m sorry I didn’t bring it with
me because I thought that Les would be able to present it to you. But the sub and substance of it is to have a
working group formed with the Capital Division to look at the current Acquisitions Policy for buying new land for
the Department and PROSAC is volunteering five members to this group as well as working with staff and with
community groups and I just wanted to let you know that will be proceeding in January and that we are interested in
making sure that we do the best with our money. Thank you very much.
Commissioner Lee: Not on this but on your public safety. I wanted to again invite you to come to our meeting. I
think it’s important that we work with the neighborhood associations and Captain Correia in Richmond Station has
been meeting every month. There’s some really good ideas there about how the residents can help with the safety
issue in the parks since so many of the residents use the park on a daily basis and we’d love to have you come in
January if you have time to join us for that meeting.
The second point I thought was since we have a Park Ranger force that ostensibly—you know, one of their functions
is to help with park safety issues and I’m wondering if at some time next year if we could calendar perhaps an
agenda item where we could take a look at what the Force does and how that could be better integrated with public
safety in the parks and what is currently being done because I think a lot of us—it’s been a while since we’ve had
review of the operations of the Park Ranger’s Force and what their function is and how—what our protocols are for
it in terms of pulling that Force to improve safety in our parks. So I’d like to ask perhaps in the future we look at
adding that onto our agenda.
Commissioner Buell: We can put it on the calendar and we’ll do it.
Ms. Wuerfel: Good afternoon Commissioners. As a private citizen I wanted to make some comments about my
attendance at the meeting on PROSAC in December on the topic of acquisitions. We help a meeting and we were
discussing the currently approved Commission’s Acquisition Policy that describes the process for evaluating and
prioritizing the proposed properties to be listed on the Department’s roster. The policy states that “the highest ranked
potential acquisition on the Department‘s roster will be presented to the Commission and considered for financial
feasibility.” I want to bring this policy to your attention today because it’s not being followed by staff. First, staff
told PROSAC that a project at 17th and Folsom was going to be acquired by Recreation and Park even though it had
not formally been evaluated by PROSAC and was not on the Acquisition Roster. “This was a done deal,” no matter
what PROSAC said. PROSAC had received public comment at our meeting from surrounding business people
opposing the acquisition which it appears the Department is going to ignore. Second, PROSAC was told “nothing
prevents the community groups from going directly to the Commission with their requests for a land acquisition.”
This statement also circumvents the role PROSAC is to play with vetting proposals as described in the policy. If it
is the Commission’s wish to engage directly with the community groups who advocate for land acquisitions be my
guest. This is not an easy task to evaluate the many proposals and to prioritize new recommendations with
previously vetted and approved ones. I wish to remind the Commission of what the budget analyst said in his 2006
audit of the Department. He urged that the Department formalize an Acquisition Policy to identify properties that “it
wants to acquire in order to achieve its long-term recreation and park policy goals. This would reduce community
and staff concern that the land acquisition process can be driven by property sellers or particular neighborhoods’
desires to preserves their green views.” Please do not discard this policy right now that you have approved just when
we need it the most to prioritize the spending of $8 million of the Open Space Fund available for acquisitions.
Remember too that some properties have been on the roster since the 1990s waiting their chance for Open Space
funding to be available. What will you tell these groups if you renege on the policy now? I know we should be
looking at the policy but I want to remind you that spending any of the Open Space money without looking at it in
context isn’t wise. Thank you. Katherine Howard: Hi, Katherine Howard comment on the General Manager’s
report. I’m wearing two hats right now. One is the for the Park Rangers coalition. We definitely support the Park
Rangers and we hope that in the coming budget year difficult as it is that it is somehow a way we can find more
funding. We really need rangers, they’re out there on their own a lot and they need support. My second had with the
Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance. We did attend the hearing on Monday and we support public safety and
park safety for both our park users and for the parkland. We have a little bit of concern about some of the issues that
were brought up. One in particular had to do with increasing lighting in Golden Gate Park. Night lighting can have
a negative impact on wildlife and also on dark skies. It also when you put in lighting you’re going to have to trench
and you’re going to dig up tree roots. I know it seems like a small thing but these are the things that happen when
you start doing projects like this. We think there should be more of a study if there’s going to be any lighting. We
have a letter from the Sierra Club which asks that this be evaluated very carefully and also in terms of both the
wildlife and the dark skies issues. If you go on the Dark Sky Institute website you will see articles that talk about
the relationship of night lighting and crime and it’s not necessarily correlated that the more lights you have the less
crime. Another thing I’d like to point out that the Police Captain did say that different parts of the park have
different levels of crime and I think that you’ll find that the parts that are more active actually have more crime and
the quieter parts have less crime. So what I’m saying is sometimes there’s a tendency when there’s crime that people
want to do something about it, it’s a serious issue and they want to just jump right in and just take out the bushes,
put in the lights, let’s do this, let’s do that. Let’s look at this very carefully for our prized parkland and make sure
that what we are doing is the most effective thing in terms of crime and also in taking care of Golden Gate Park.
Thank you very much. Richard Fong: Good afternoon Commissioners. My name is Richard Fong. I wanted to
try and address the issue on water recycling and what happened at the PUC at the last meeting. So we were all given
an option of trying to develop alternative sites. We were at the workshop, we had different ways of looking at
alternative sites. My problem with went on is that when there was discussion on a lot of issues I had kind of
questioned what alternative sites other than what would be at the west end of Golden Gate Park be all that feasible.
We would actually have water at the sites? One of them might have been in Sunset Boulevard by the circle, other
interests might be using the aquifer approach and the [unintelligible] where you add water to, take it out somewhere
else and decrease the cost of piping. My myself I was in favor of the way it is. One addition had more or less to do
with how to get the Zoo and our wild animals have them get better water. So I was interested in the cistern that I
initially had brought in that would be of course lower than the water holding tanks at the west end of Golden Gate
Park. A point that I kind of wanted to bring across from previous times talking that there would have been
eliminating a microfiltration of the water and they were going to test reverse osmosis of the water of the water that
would be going into our west end park, the lake area. I don’t think that would be too wise because of the
[unintelligible] ammonias and all the nitrates and nitrites, fertilizer components of synthetic fertilizer. It actually is a
pollutant so do we pollute through the recycling whereas we can eliminate it such from the recycling water program,
that way the wildlife could be do very well and they would not have to deal with pollutants and the contaminants
and of—excuse me for a minute—and the saline issue there weren’t going to discuss it at all at the workshops so I
was hoping that we could get it as a separate issue and that it is very important, an important corollary of it is that if
we do have saline production of alternative sites that were brought it, alternative idea that would have been brought
in we could use at those other sites whereas initially you’re looking at the other sites, do they have water. So that’s
what I want to inform the Commission that I will continue to work on this water issue and that I will be in contact
with Commissioner Lawrence Martin. Richard Ivanhoe: Good afternoon Commissioners, Richard Invanhoe.
I’m President of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council and I want to wish you happy holidays and I’m glad to
see that not all of your meetings last seven plus hours. So I’m here today because the Haight-Asbury Neighborhood
Council wants to take this opportunity to preserve our objections to the Commission’s actions at the December 2,
2010, meeting, regarding agenda Item 12 on both procedural and substantive grounds. Our objections include but
are not limited to the Commission’s failure to provide proper notice and hearing regarding the planned closure of the
recycling center located 780 Frederick Street as required by San Francisco Charter Section 16.112. The agenda as
published mentioned only the approval of a preliminary concept design that would make available new Community
Gardens plots at the site but during the presentation of the agenda item staff from various Departments discussed
mischaracterized and criticized the recycling center. The notice agenda item also failed to disclose that the
Commission would discuss or take any action regarding the closure the recycling center but the Commission’s
discussion of the agenda item focused on the recycling center and barely discussed the conceptual design of the
Community Garden. We further object to any discussions any of the Commissioners may have had among
themselves regarding this agenda item prior to the public hearing. The Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council also
objects to the Commission’s failure to consider a vote on or formally withdraw a proposed amendment to the agenda
item by one of the Commissioners. We understand that it’s unlikely that the Commission will act on our objections.
We remain willing to work with the Commission and the Department regarding the space we lease at 780 Frederick
and on other issues. Thank you. Sean Dowdall: Good afternoon, my name is Sean Dowdall, I am a 23-year
resident of San Francisco and also President of the Board of ODC San Francisco which has an Arts Campus in the
Mission District located there for 30 years and we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary next year. I am here with
representatives from the Mission Neighborhood Health Center as well as the Small Business Community in the
Mission District to inform this Commission about the critical needs of our neighborhood and how a proposed park at
17th and Folsom is unfortunately counter to those needs. We support parks but not at this location nor at this time.
We are also here to request that this Commission not agree to have the park proposal on its agenda for site
acquisition until one, we have had the opportunity to have meaningful dialog and plan development with the
Planning Department, Recreation and Park Department and the Municipal Transportation Agency. Two, the
Recreation and Park Open Space Committee has vetting this project through its prioritization process. And three,
some agreement has been made to accommodate the parking needs of our neighborhood.
Along with ODC, the Mission Neighborhood Health Center and more than 100 small businesses within a one-block
radius of this site depend on parking for our teachers, doctors, nurses, employees, patients, students, parents,
audience members and customers. For ODC we have more than 200 dance classes throughout each week at all
times of day and night and with our neighbor-renovated theater we will have about 25,000 audience members
primarily during evening hours. Our studies show that about one-quarter to one-third of those visiting out arts
campus us public transit, walk or bike. The rest drive and many use that parking lot which is kitty-corner to our
theater. We have 450 students enrolled in our youth-teen classes of which two-thirds are driven by parents. They
are either too young or they have to get to the classes immediately after school so must be driven by their parents.
The parents completely rely on the parking seven days of every week. Thank you for your consideration and we’d
be happy to meet, provide more information and collaborate to determine a solution that will work well for all.
Thank you. Ernestine Weiss: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Ernestine Waters Weiss and first of all I
want to wish everybody happy holidays and the best of the new year and hopefully we will go forward with good
things and be productive. I want to report that the renovation of Ferry Park is proceeding very efficiently in spite of
the last days of rain that we had. But they are doing a great job. There was no other thing that I have on my agenda
except the renaming of Ferry Park. This has to go. This was defeated at the Board for good reason because the
ordinance was a fraudulent ordinance due to the lie therein that Sue Bierman blocked development when you know
she did not because she on the Land Use Committee voted for a 600-car garage which I defeated. This is nothing
more than political pandering. That’s got to go. This government is so corrupt that people are fed up with it, it’s got
to end and it’s up to you to start cleaning house. President Buell, the ball is in your court, you have to clean it up
and end this horrible corruption. You talk about outreach, well the people didn’t get outreach, no way, it was just
shoved down our throats and we worked very hard to create that park and give you a gift that’s fantastic, the best
park in the city as far as I’m concerned on the Waterfront. Everybody wants to come there. Even Don Fischer
before he died wanted to put his museum there. I said no way, read the ordinance, no building. It’s Open Space. So
we’ve got to do this, next thing on your—next meeting I want you to wipe this out once and for all and I talked to all
the people that I represent not just in my district but all over the district who helped me make Ferry Park. It’s not
fair to them so please do your job, get it done, and let me be free of all this once and for all. I would like to relax
and take it easy this next year and not have to—
Commissioner Buell: I think I agree with you Ernestine.
Ernestine Weiss: Not have to come before you with all these terrible things. So relieve me, will you please.
Brenda Storey: Good afternoon Commissioners. My name is Brenda Storey and I’m the Director of Mission
Neighborhood Health Center in the Mission District. We are a nonprofit organization. The Health Center has been
serving the primarily Latino community in the Mission and the low income community since 1967. The site at 240
Shotwell Street is our largest site. I’m here to speak about the parking lot on the 17th and Shotwell because that is a
parking site that we use for our employees and it was actually a surprise for us when we learned that there were
plans to build a park at this site and we were not involved in any of the planning of being able to give input into how
it would impact us. We also run a homeless resource center a block from our main site and see approximately 300
homeless individuals each day to whom we provide multiple social services. Currently, about 40 percent of our
employee utilize the parking lot and we are really concerned that the lack of parking will make it that much hard to
find medical professionals who will be willing to work for us. We already pay the nonprofit wages but we do have
the parking which is something that is really attractive especially for medical providers who work at night, they
work until 9:00 o'clock at night in some of our clinics. So while we generally support the concept of Open Spaces—
I myself that’s where I spend my free time is in parks, we really are hoping that this proposal can be put on hold
until there could be some more conversation and collaboration and look really at a win-win situation because the
services we provide are for the community. We see about 10,000 patients each year at this site. So thank you very
much for your consideration. And here’s some pictures of the parking lot.
Katherine Howard: Good afternoon Commissioners, Katherine Howard here with my Friends of the Music
Concourse hat. We have some question regarding the decision-making for projects and the funding that is used for
them. The Department did a beautiful job renovating the Music Concourse fountain and they’ve expressed interest
in bringing more people into the Concourse. It’s unfortunate that the area next to the bandshell and the parking lot
are such eyesores and do not do justice to the overall historic context or design aesthetic of the Music Concourse and
they also serve poorly as pedestrian spaces. A renovation plan for the Music Concourse bandshell is outlined in the
1998 Golden Gate Park Master Plan. It was also discussed by the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority during the
surface improvements project when the new garage was built. Yet we have been told that there was no funding to
even start implementation of this plan. However, at a recent Commission meeting $250,000 was given for a
Community Garden to replace the HANC recycling center. Our understanding is that the new Community Garden
will be funded with 1992 Golden Gate Park Bond interest. We would appreciate knowing the following—how was
the decision made to put the Community Garden ahead of the Music Concourse for funding? What additional 1992
Golden Gate Park Bond funding is available that could be used for the Music Concourse? And what if funding is
available from other sources such as the Open Space Fund for the Music Concourse? We would appreciate your
consideration on these issues. Thank you.
On motion by Commissioner Levitan and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
RES. NO. 1012-011
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve the minutes from the November 4, 2010 meeting.
SAN FRANCISCO ZOO
Good afternoon Commissioners. Bob Jenkins on behalf of Tanya Peterson who’s our furthering the cause celeb if
you will of the Zoo. You have our report before you. I’d be happy to answer any questions is you have. I’d love to
give you a quick update—unfortunately the weather continues to not cooperate with us as is coming up this
weekend. So we’re still enjoying if I can use that word loosely a 12 percent dip if you will in our attendance. We’re
managing that by managing our expenses. That’s continuing into December and I think it will definitely continue
through this weekend.
We’re in the final stages of coming up with the moving logistics to bring in Tucker our new male hippo. We
anticipate that he will arrive sometime in early January, we’re working out those issues at this time. I do want to
contrary to the reports that were in the press, I believe the Examiner, he’s not going to be put in a white and purple
box and shipped down a conveyor belt by FedEx. FedEx has a very excellent animal transport Department within
them and we’re working very closely with them.
You may have noted that we tried an experiment this year, it was a gift membership. For an additional $5 you could
purchase a family membership to the Zoo and give it to the person of your choice. The $5 covered the small
package that went along with it and explained how to redeem it. I’m pleased to say that we sold over 175 of those as
of today, that more than recouped the cost of doing the program and hopefully brought another 175 new members to
Continuing on a somewhat sad note, in commemoration of the death of Richard Goldman the 21st of December, the
Winter Solstice, we will celebrate the many good things that he did with the Zoo and we will do that by making one
of his favorite aspect at the Zoo fee to all children who come and that’s the Little Puffer. All children will ride for
free on December 21st.
Last but not least we’re winding down into the holidays. Come out see our reindeer, they’re still out there prancing
around. This is the second crew so they won’t disappear on Christmas Eve but do come out and see them before they
leave shortly after the 1st. While you may have had Santa Clause at the lighting ceremony we did have our Zoo
Mobile go down to the Mayor’s open house and celebrate the open house situation and the snow down there and we
had a number of animals in attendance at that and that was a lot of fun as well.
And then last but not least to echo your comments Mr. President if anyone does choose to come to the vet hospital at
the Zoo for treatment I do want to warn you that you will undergo a 30-day quarantine period as part of that process.
Commissioner Buell: Can we send a few people?
Bob Jenkins: They do have to have vet certificates in order to arrive.
Commissioner Buell: That might be the case.
Bob Jenkins: And then on behalf of the Zoo I would like to recognize the very hard work that Commissioner
Bonilla and Commissioner Lee have done over the past year serving on the Joint Zoo Committee. Commission
Martin and Commissioner Harrison could attest at how many times you have an opportunity to excel in serving on
that Committee. We want to thank you for the work that you did, particularly for Mr. Lee for Chairing it and we
look forward to your return Commission Martin and you Commissioner Arata. And with that I conclude my report.
Richard Fong: Good afternoon, Richard Fong again. On the issue of the mute swam I did some—tried to
brainstorm myself on my own, I understand it’s in quarantine at the Zoo but I wanted to get a little more for it and
look at the Palace of Fine Arts and what we can do about using Dead Man’s Island. If we ever had a chance to work
with those swans, the new ones that would be coming in as well as how to safeguard the safety of such animals so I
wanted to see if the Zoo would have some way of doing that wonderful chef they do out there, they have a great chef
for each animal out there. If they have any way of making sure there’s adequate food for when the mute swans
return to the Palace of Fine Arts, I would appreciate it.
GOLDEN GATE PARK AID STATION RENOVATION
Rick Thall with the Planning and Capital Division presented this item to the Commission. The park Aid Station is a
landmark Golden Gate Park structure built in 1902. It originally served as the Department of Public Health
emergency hospital and ambulance station through 91 and then served as a construction office for Golden Gate Park
Bond Projects. The Aid Station now serves as the Headquarters for the Natural Areas Program.
This project is one of our last Prop 40 funded projects. The proposed improvements include seismic upgrades, ADA
access improvement, HVAC and electrical upgrades, some exterior stone renovation and paving, window
replacement and reorganizing the interior spaces to better serve the program needs. The lone alternate bid item was
for additional exterior stone restoration. The project will not alter the exterior architectural features and has received
a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.
Through the Department of Public Works the project received nine bids on December 1st. The four lowest bids in
the Commission write-up were all within the project budget. HRC has since reviewed the project’s subcontracting
and outreach goals and the project has received—we’re reviewed their qualification package and we recommend
award to the low bidder, Trico Construction for Base Bid B which is 120-day construction period and alternate one
for $1,181,781. Thank concludes my presentation.
On motion by Commissioner Martin and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
RES. NO. 1012-012
RESOLVED, That this Commission hereby awards a construction contract for base bid (B) and alternate 1 to Trico
Construction for $1,181,781 for the Golden Gate Park Aid Station Renovation.
WEST SUNSET PLAYGROUND RENOVATION PROJECT
Dan Mauer: Good afternoon Commissioners. Dan Mauer with the Capital Division. The item similar to the last
is another award of contract. This particular project is for the West Sunset Planning Department renovation. Back
in May of this year I came to the Commission to award a conceptual plan that was vetted thoroughly through the
community, the Friends of West Sunset Playground and the two adjacent schools. We have a very aggressive and
exciting project to move forward with here.
Over the last month we put the project out to advertise and we receive seven bids, four of which were underneath the
engineer’s estimate. In your package similar to the last package we identified four potential contractors on this
project. Since the submission of the staff write up we were able to secure additional information from HRC and
contract admin at DPW and it’s staff’s recommendation based on their feedback and approval that we move forward
with an award of contract to Bowman Landscape and Construction for $1,296,745 which encompasses base bid and
four of the eight alternates that were identified in the project. Although we’re only getting four as part of this
contract the dollar amount for the remaining four items is very minimal and I think that we can achieve that within
our overall project budget. So the good thing about this is we’re actually getting the entire project and all alternate
The project is very exciting. It’s going to dovetail well with a library project that’s being implemented at the
moment, the Ortega branch library which is under construction by the same contractor that you just award to for the
Park Aid Station, Trico Construction. We’re looking to do the Playground renovation which is two new Playground
areas, new planting, irrigation, landscape and improvements to the plaza area that bridge the Playground and the
new library project and that will include new concrete paving, play elements, picnic tables, benches, drinking
fountains and some tree work under some mature pine trees that are shadowing that plaza space.
One item that is in the information just submitted to you is a revised recommendation which outlines the
recommendation to award the contract to Bowman Landscape. But we had a low bidder who submitted and asked to
be withdrawn from that low bid position because of a clerical error and under contract administration law because
you guys are the awarding authority you guys actually have to rescind that bid for them formally before we can
allow they to pull their bid back. And so as part of this action item that I’m asking of you today we’re asking that
you grant MH Construction Management relief of its bid under Contract Code 5103. So there’s two action items that
we’re looking for today on this particular project.
So with that I’m happy to answer any questions.
Commissioner Harrison: Point of clarification. So then we would then vote on the MH Huey Construction
Dan Mauer: Correct.
Katie Tang: Good afternoon Commissioners, Katie Tang here on behalf of Supervisor Carmen Chu. I’m really
here today just to provide Supervisor Chu’s support for West Sunset Playground and this project moving forward.
We have been working with community members, with neighbors and with the Friends of West Sunset Playground
pretty much since Supervisory Chu actually took office and so this Playground has been a long time coming. We’re
very happy with the way the design turned out actually. We’ve had several community meetings where we worked
out different issues with designs and we’re very happy and supportive of the way that it’s looking. So today really
we just wanted to urge the Commission to take action to approve and award this construction contract and just make
sure we have this Playground so that it’s not—there aren’t any further delays and we have a great Playground for a
very family and children-oriented district for generations to come. Thank you very much.
Commissioner Buell: Thank you and thank Supervisor Chu for her involvement.
Meredith Thomas: Commissioners, Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks Council. I’ll be brief and
just echo that I support what Katie said and certainly appreciate the work that the Department has put into this
project, the Supervisor’s office and the Friends of West Sunset Playground. The urgency here is trying to deliver a
library and a park within a similar timeframe and so not letting the project get caught up in contracting delays that
could lead to other delays and the project would be ideal. So thanks for your support in advance.
On motion by Commissioner Harrison and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
RES. NO. 1012-013
RESOLVED, That this Commission, the awarding authority for Contract No. 3046V - the West Sunset Playground
Renovation project, grants MH Construction Management Co. relief of its bid as authorized by Public Contract
Code 5103; and awards a construction contract for the West Sunset Playground Renovation Project Contract No.
3046V to Bauman Landscape and Construction at $1,296,745 for base bid and alternates 1 through 4
LAFAYETTE PARK, MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AND CONCEPTUAL PLAN
Mary Hobson from the Capital Division presented these items to the Commission. Lafayette Park is one of the full
renovation projects funded under the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Park bond. The project site is 11.4 acres
and is located in Pacific Heights. The total bond budget for this project is $10.2 million. The funding for the design
and planning for this project was released with our second bond sale and the project was initiated in April of this
The project schedule contemplates construction to commence in the spring of 2012 and the project to reopen to the
public in the summer of 2013. Generally, the scope of this project includes repair and renovation of park
infrastructure including roads, pathways, retaining walls and stairs, site drainage, irrigation and park landscaping. It
includes renovation of the existing program spaces including the children’s play area, the two tennis courts, the
picnic area and the designated off-lease dog play area. There are two existing structures on this site, a small
gardeners office and a restroom building. These two structures were constructed under the Federal Works Program
and are considered eligible for historic status. So the work on those buildings will consist primarily of interior code
upgrades and restoration of the exterior of the building. We will also be upgrading a gardeners maintenance
complex that is located at the summit of the park.
During the planning process the team worked closely with the community. We had three well-attended community
meetings as well as staff attended an event at the park back in September when we spoke one-on-one with the park
users about our plans for the project. We did discover during our planning process that there were goals and ideas
from park supporters that were outside of the renovation of our project and staff is presenting a couple of concepts in
our plan that will not be constructed under this project but we wanted to include it because we thought it was well-
supported by the community. One of them was the establishment of a Community Garden at Lafayette Park and the
other is the establishment of a second off-leash dog play area at Lafayette Park. They will not be part of the
renovation project but we think they’re interesting ideas and we have taken a step to identify potential locations.
Over the course of the next year we’ll be talking to the community doing an outreach process for those two elements
and then returning to this Commission to talk about those items in detail.
Commissioner Buell: So there’s nothing you’re presenting that would preclude those uses at this time?
Mary Hobson: Correct. We wanted to make sure that the ability to have those in the future were preserved once
the renovation is completed.
At this point I wanted to take an opportunity to acknowledge the help that we receive from the Friends of Lafayette
Park, they’re the community group and stakeholder group for the park and they assisted us in the public outreach
process. I’d also like to acknowledge the support of the San Francisco Parks Trust and the Neighborhood Parks
Council who support this project.
That leads me to the other items which is a Memorandum of Understanding with the San Francisco Parks Trust
acting as the fiscal agent for Friends of Lafayette Park Playground this is a Memorandum of Understanding
established to set the framework for a collaboration for design and funding for the Playground element. The bond
had a budget of approximately $1 million set aside for the renovation of the Playground and a select group of
parents in the park are interested in making this a more unique and interesting Playground and they want to work
with us to raise funds and develop a design to make this an even better park Playground. So also before you today
is the Memorandum of Understanding outlining that framework.
The Friends of Lafayette Park Playground have actually taken the first step towards that and have hired Miller and
Company Landscape Architects to design a Playground that will be presented to you today so with that I wanted to
hand off to our project designers, Lizzie Hirsch from the Department of Public Works and Jeffrey Miller from the
Miller Company Landscape Architects who will walk you through the project. At the conclusion of their
presentation I’ll be available to answer any questions that you might have.
Lizzy Hirsch: Good afternoon Commissioners, Lizzy Hirsch with the Department of Public Works. I’m pleased
to present to you the concept process—if I can figure out how to start this. As Mary said this is an 11-acre site and
it’s pretty significant in that it covers a tremendous amount of acreage and it’s also elevated 20 feet sort of the
highest point from its lowest point so it’s a significant hill. The project is really an infrastructure project but we are
trying to preserve the four main program areas that exist on the site. So in your package you’ll see this is an analysis
which is really to look at some of the issues of the site which there’s a lot of drainage problems there, there’s a lot of
erosion, path problems. So all of this project will take that into consideration. And also we also wanted to
acknowledge the views that are very significant on the site. So there are views to Alcatraz and views back to Twin
Peaks that we will—the concept plan addresses.
This diagram here is to show as part of the project we always have to make is ADA accessible and of the three
program areas the children’s—I don’t really have a pointer unfortunately. But to the left is the children’s area. In
blue are the program areas, the active program areas that we have to create accessibility. The children’s area, the
tennis courts, and dog area. The meadow area which is going to be a community gathering area and then at the top
the purple is the summit which is really considered passive recreation so we don’t actually need to provide an
accessible path to that.
Another piece of this is the gardeners consolidated maintenance area. Currently it sits at the top of the summit.
We’ve actually shifted it—you can see a little black dot—to the southern part of it to nestle it into the slope so that
summit area could actually be a whole space.
This is the plan itself and you’ll see overall it retains very much of the existing program areas but we’re really
essentially refining them and conducting them and putting a little better materials and defining the edges like the dog
area will be defined so that the dogs won’t go over the hillside and things like that.
So one of the things I just wanted to show—Mary brought up that two proposed areas that are actually not part of
this project. But up to the left is a proposed dog area behind what’s called the trellis area and then to next to the
tennis courts is the proposed Community Gardens which will allow for good sun for growing.
I’m going to now take you to the actual details because this is such a big site we’ll go through some of the details.
This is the central plaza area which currently houses both the Playground, picnic areas and general amenities. It’s
sort of the most public part. It’s the flattest part of the site so this is where the majority of the expansions are
happening. I’m going to let Jeff talk to you a little bit about how the Playground developed later. But to the north is
the trellis which is a seating area. So the south is the picnic area which we changed the location of that to make it
more related to the views and the noise and everything, to buffer the northern residential area.
And then of course these are associate imagery to kind of give you a sense of the flavor we’re trying to create.
Along the new accessible path we’re going to provide seating areas that lead you up to the designated dog area and
tennis courts. The designated dog area will be framed with low fencing and vegetation. The meadow area is
currently kind of an inward natural meadow bowl and it actually came to our attention through the community they
wanted to make a little bit more of it and I guess it has some history. Bill Graham actually started their mime
company in this space and so we provided really a very naturalistic setting for a small gathering of like 100 people at
max and it’s really only meant for daytime use but it’s really so that in the daytime it’s more usable so you could put
out your blanket, read, or gather a school community or a small community of poetry reading.
The next is the summit. This is really the antidote to the plaza area. It’s supposed to be much more naturalistic and
a lot of people go there to exercise and so we’re trying to encourage that kind of space so it feels that you’re just sort
of at the top of the hill through being able to have a very contemplative place to exercise and meander. And so we
tried to do that and in doing that we’re also moving the consolidate maintenance area out of the main part of the
summit which is to the bottom to the south. My next slide will show you what that looks like. So this was actually
not contemplated as part of the budget but it came through the desire of staff really so we tried to accommodate their
needs and the community also didn’t like the location of the current container. So to keep things very budget-
friendly we’re talking about reducing the current container is 8 by 40 feet, this proposal shows two containers, 8 by
20 feet, so smaller, that can be nestled together. So on the left is what we call the gardeners office where some of
the tools will be maintained and placed. The middle section is the debris pile because this is a central location for a
lot of the debris around the whole neighborhood and district. And to the right where they store the Cushman. So
with that I’m going to let Jeff talk about the children’s Playground.
Jeffrey Miller: Good afternoon, I’m Jeffrey Miller with the Miller Company. Our task was to come up with a
new plan for the Playground that would bring it up to accessible standards and that it would serve a population that
ranged in age. Presently the existing Playground is really a tot-oriented Playground, it’s in a sand area and it doesn’t
meet any of the existing accessibility standards. So our task was to redesign this Playground and you can see in the
slide there the existing conditions of the blue area in the center being where the tot-lot is. The number 7 kind of
green area is an enclosed fenced area. This is rather confusing whether it’s a dog area or a tot area but it is an
enclosed area So altogether those make up about 8000 square feet of space that’s dedicated to the Playground.
There’s a plaza in the area and then you can see in the tan zone to the top there’s a picnic zone.
So our task was to kind of bring these elements together. The Playground plan consists of various age-appropriate
play equipment. There are three major elements of the Playground. The central element is what we call the gorge
which will be a climbing mountain full of natural boulders and it will be a kind of bouldering, climbing, discovering
space. There will be a creek area where kids will pump water themselves into the dry creek. The creek will be
about two inches deep of water but it will be an active place with three areas for different pumping action so we can
see kids pumping water for a long time there. There are swings for tots and separated from swings for older kids.
We have a tot-lot with a small sand area that was requested by people in the community and then there’s an older
kids climbing area that has what we’re considering the world’s longer monkey bar.
This is a blowup so you can see the kind of creek on the right coming down. There are three entrances to the new
Playground. In total it’s about 13,000 square feet of Playground space. It does have places for adults to sit inside
and to observe their kids as well. It will have stroller parking inside the Playground. One of the problems with
existing Playground is people have to leave their strollers outside. There are new trees in the plan. There’s
something like 13 new trees that will be planted around the Playground so there will be a kind of nature-orientation
to the space as well.
This is a section through the park. You can see the gorge on the top section with the slide, the tunnel slide coming
down to the right. There’s a tower element which contains the world’s longest monkey bar and here’s an illustration
of what we thing the park will look like. Looking across the creek to the gorge and you can see on the left of the
gorge is a crawl tunnel that then connects over to a kind of serpents head and we think it’s going to be full of fantasy
We’ve done some budgeting for the park so we’re cognizant of the budget requirements of the park and we think we
can work with the neighborhood group who is behind this park to accomplish this within the budget that we have.
So that concludes my presentation, thank you.
Mary Hobson: That concludes our presentation. We’re available to answer any questions that you might have.
Jenee Gill: Hi there. I’m Jenee Gill, I’m the managing director of the San Francisco Mime Troup. It was
mentioned briefly in the presentation of the renovation of the park. I’m just here on behalf of the troop to support
the proposed plan as it is particularly in regards to the creation of the community gathering space, the meadow area
with the terraced seating areas. The Mime Troup has a really significant historical connection to this. There was a
conflict with Commission and arrests ensued in 1965 and Bill Graham as a result hosted his first concert to raise
money for the Mime Troup’s legal fees at that time.
But now we’re on good terms, right? We’re all friends now. But we have not performed there in a number of years.
That’s for a number of reasons but in my discussions with those that are really familiar with the park and people that
live in the neighborhood it seems that the area as it is now is really underutilized and that in general there’s not a lot
of public gathering space in the immediate neighborhood anyway. To me that really speaks to a need to make the
most of that space and I think in the proposed plan the way that it’s set up now it could be utilized by a number
creative endeavors or just people within the community, nice to have an open, public park space just to gather.
You know, as a Mime Troup we’re very vocal advocates as well as constant practitioners of public creative
expression and community engagement which is an important component of that. We really hope to see that this
space is developed as proposed and with those renovations in place to see creative activity resume and be inspired in
that area. And then if the neighbors are amenable to it we’d love to return to Lafayette Park and have a renewed
presence there. That’s all I wanted to say, thank you.
Commissioner Levitan: Without getting arrested right. [laughter]
Commissioner Buell: Maybe you can perform at the dedication of the revitalized park.
JeneeGill: Yes, that’s the plan.
Hal Rowland: Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. A Mime Troup is a hard act to follow. My name is Hal
Rowland. I own and operate my own audio-visual consulting and installation business. I am a Dolby-trained
technician and I was formerly head of projection and technical director of the Castro Theater for 13 years. I’m here
really at the behest of the Friends of Lafayette Park basically to speak to any concerns regarding sound levels as they
may pertain to the live or amplified performances in what is being labeled as the public gathering space. Last
Monday we undertook an audio test. I set up to two powered JBL speakers on what is the east side of that meadow,
aimed them at the area of this hillside where basically they’re thinking of putting in a terraced seating area. I set as a
benchmark sound level 85 decibels. Now, 85 decibels just to give you a framework for that is basically the level,
the benchmark level, medium level that Dolby Labs sets for calibrating movie theater sound. I used a sound
pressure meter and I had three sources—I used a rock music source, a classical music source—Beethoven’s Pastoral,
appropriately enough—and also a Vangelis electronic film music. Outside the target area of the meadow I used my
sound pressure meter and we had friends and colleagues doing this with us, we basically detected very, very little
sound level. We dropped to 50 decibels or below on all sides of the meadow and this is basically almost you
probably can’t really hear that very well at all. To just give you an idea, 50 decibels is actually below what ambient
street and urban noise would be. So basically we just undertook this and it just appeared that there was very, very
little sound bleed from the meadow itself that would have any major impact upon residents and the neighbors in the
area. So to sum up basically, the topography and the foliage surrounding that meadow provide a natural sound
barrier to the extent that there was no significant measurable audio impact upon surrounding residences. Thank you
for your time. Bill Marlow: Hi, I’m Bill Marlow a resident. I live next to Lafayette Park and I just want to say
something about a couple things that there’s been some discussion on at meetings for the park. But first I’d like to
that the Recreation and Park, they’ve done a great job in terms of outreach and accepting inputs, very open to
accepting input from anybody in the community. I could give you a written copy of that. There were a few issues
that had been open for discussion and I guess the core one for me is tennis courts. There are two existing tennis
courts now, they haven’t been resurfaced or maintained in 20 years so you can’t tell where it’s going to bounce. But
on a sunny weekend those courts are both well-used and you can wait over an hour for getting a court. There has
been some discussion about making one of those courts a multi-use court which I as a tennis player don’t feel is a
good idea. We only have the two courts, once they get resurfaced we can expect there’s going to be a lot more use of
them. People right now I believe probably avoid them. And also within four blocks there was another multi-use
tennis court over in Alta Plaza and they have two tennis courts plus a multi-use. We have only two tennis courts so I
have that. In terms of the meadow it is very underutilized at this point and I know there are concerns on what
happens to the meadow. From my perspective doing the plan that has been proposed by the park doing terraced
seating up there it is a plus functionally as a well as aesthetically. What happens after that is people play music,
people stand around, that’s a different story but I think just as a functional architectural concept I think it works very
well. And the last thing I have is the Playground. I have seen some photos of the concept, have some concerns about
it being maybe a little over the top. The park is a natural area and I guess I’d like and try to see that it’s still
maintained a natural area understanding that we have kids that need a Playground too. So at least minimize
outrageous colors, keep it natural. Art Persyko: Hi, my name is Art Persyko. Thank you Commissioners for
giving me this opportunity. I’m in support of the conceptual plan and all of its elements. As an avid tennis player
I’m looking forward to the surfaced tennis courts with windscreens. As someone who’s seen the grass die in
Lafayette Park on some dry summers I’m really glad the irrigation system is going to get repaired. I’m glad that the
slicks on the sidewalks next to the part at going to get—won’t appear anymore due to the repairs made to the pipes
and irrigation, it’s very dangerous, slicks on the sidewalk. As a dog owner it would be great to have the off-leash
area repaired with fences. We don’t want to lose any more dogs on Sacramento Street. And as a relative of
someone who is disabled I’m glad is will be made accessible, the whole park. But I’m especially excited about the
proposed community gathering space in an underutilized meadow of the park that’s surrounded by trees on three
sides. The historic connection of that meadow to the San Francisco Mime Troup and the career of Bill Graham is
honored by the conceptual play for Lafayette Park. Because the design has the potential to enhance the culture and
civic life of our neighborhood it will remain a largely quiet and peaceful meadow with very occasionally
individuals, couples and on rare occasions groups of three or more us it. The planned terraced grass seating on a
hillside overlooking the meadow will not only beautify the park with new landscaping, that change will also allow
more people to enjoy that rarely frequented part of our park together in ways not possible before in so many
different and very positive ways. In conclusion, the community gathering space will be a benefit to the immediate
and broader community to foster creativity, community connections that are good for the social fabric not only of
the immediate neighborhood that surrounds it but for others nearby. It’s design and operation should ensure that it
fits comfortably within the parameters of the site and the neighbors. Thank you very much. Phillip Durfee: Hi,
my name is Phillip Durfee, I live at 2190 Washington, across the street from the park. We moved here about six
years ago because of the park. We’re very active, I have a very happy little dog, we walk it three times a day, I
volunteer with Friends of Lafayette Park on the workdays and being retired I spend four hours a week working with
the gardener lifting and shoveling and what-have-you. So I spend a lot of time in the park. Because my dog is so
popular I know everybody in the park. Everybody seems to know me. When Phil came to the park and he started
this Prop A—I worked on Prop A too—he talked about refurbishing the park, redoing the park and I think it’s great.
I think it’s a crown jewel of the Recreation and Park Department. Redesigning the park was not part of the original
deal and a lot of us looked around, the new concept, and said wait a minute, whoa, the park now is supposed to be
the crown jewel, it’s perfect. What are we doing here? And as much work as they’ve done on it I think there’s
some serious flaws in this redesign that I would like to bring to your attention. I’m not against change. I think
change is wonderful. There’s positive change, there’s negative change but there’s some things here that I think
should be brought to your attention. Now, does this work on the—this is the only picture I have of the park. This is
Washington Street here, Sacramento, Laguna. 90 percent of the activity of the park takes place right in here, 10
percent is over here. All these pathways lead to one thing, they lead to this plaza which seems to be a forgotten
place but it is where everybody gets—it’s a major gathering area. It’s the Union Square of Lafayette Park,
everybody gets there, everybody greets each other—dog owners, people, people on the way to the Playground,
people on the way to the restroom, the tennis players. It is a major central area of the park. If you look at the new
plan, it’s gone, there is no plaza, it’s gone. Thank you. We now have a 15 foot wide pathway where that was and
this is unfortunate. I think there’s going to be a lot of folks all of a sudden saying wait a minute where are we going
to meet. This time of the year that is the only dry, level place in the park for the dogs and the dog walkers. In the
rain there are 20 or 30 of us out there walking our dogs. That’s the only dry place we’ve got to go and we’re now
going to be on a shorter—oh boy, I’ve got no time at all, have I? Okay, the picnic area. The picnic area now is a
perfect area on the north side here. We’re going to put it right next to this crowded little walkway now. So now the
picnic area people have the same place to go, the same little walkway. Secondly, we removed this crosswalk here so
that people that walk this, the through traffic here, now have to walk through the same little walkway. So we’ve got
a traffic issue here that I don’t believe has been addressed properly by the planners. I was just going to say that I
think there has to be some provision made to enlarge that—put that plaza back in somehow. I think the Playground
would be—not the Playground, the picnic area is perfect where it is, now it’s a perfectly flat area. The new one’s on
a hill, it’s a 20 degree slope to Sacramento Street down off that new picnic area. You don’t put picnic areas on
sloped group. I mean, I don’t. But maybe you do guys do.
Commissioner Buell: Let me ask you a question. I’m giving you extra time because you spend those four hours
working with the gardener so we’re getting our money’s worth. Is it your perception that this gathering place is
primarily generated by dog walkers? I know that’s true in other parks and I’m curious if that’s the draw for all the
Phillip Durfee: That’s who uses the park more. There are about 100 dogs and a 100 people that walk dogs in
the park. But there’s also the people going to the picnic area—I mean, to the Playground area, that’s going to be
more people than there are now.
Commissioner Buell: But the gathering is around people with their dogs?
Phillip Durfee: Well there are senior citizens that come up there, that sit there, it’s a beautiful view from there,
people will eat their lunch there. There’s a lot of folks there and it’s a very pleasant area right now. Kids draw with
their chalk. There’s a lot of folks there and it’s just gone and I think it’s a real change that they have not thought
about this in working through.
Shila Clement: Hi there, I’m Shila Clement. I have lived near Lafayette Park for 35 years. I have enjoyed very
much the benefits of the park with raising two children and having three different dogs use it. I’m a member of the
Friends of Lafayette Park. I was a board member in charge of the landscape. I actually own my own garden design
business and I work happily and long and hard with the volunteers in the neighborhood on the first Saturday of the
month up there. It has been a great way for people in the community to get involved and of course the park will
benefit hugely by our park. I’ve most recently started working with the Jewish Community Center on Mondays with
their teens, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. I just want to say I’m very grateful that we have the bond monies that have been
passed such that we can renovate our park. I’m certainly aware that we have first and foremost infrastructure issues
which need to be dealt with and I’m excited that that’s going to happen. I also think though that with three public
meetings that have been held we’ve had the opportunity for people to express themselves, whatever it may be and
they’ve had that opportunity and we’ve drawn and we’ve actually re-drawn. And so there’s been a lot of thought
that’s gone into this plan. There’s no doubt there will never be a plan that will make everybody happy but I think
you’ll hear from other people in my group that are very supportive of this and I just want to thank you all very
much. Meredith Thomas: Good afternoon Commissioners. Meredith with the Neighborhood Parks Council. I
took want to recognize that this is a really important moment for Lafayette Park, that its inclusion in the bond was
really necessary. The irrigation in that park is in need of repair and the Playground at that site was one of the failing
Playground we identified in our 2006 Playground Report Card and again in 2008 because its leaching arsenic into
the sand. And so I want to congratulate the Friends of Lafayette Park for their strong work in organizing the
community and connecting their neighbors and now engaging on a philanthropic effort to make sure that the
Playground is really world-class and I know that Miller and Company does excellent work. They delivered a
beautiful project for us at the 18th and Utah mini-park, phase I of a project. So I think that the project in general is in
great hands and the Department is shepherding it through nicely and we’re very excited to see Lafayette Park get the
facelift that it needs and the improvement that it needs and the community certainly deserves it, they’re working
Commissioner Buell: We probably ought to acknowledge that the speaker is a former member of this
Commission and we welcome her back with some distinction.
Commissioner Bonilla: I’m so happy to see you Lynn. We had such a good time together when we served.
Lynne Newhouse Segal: Good afternoon Commissioners and the first thing I wanted to say what a pleasure it is
to see such a wonderful group here in terms of your General Manager and the directors and to see our new President
Buell and I wish the best of luck to Commissioner Arata. So thank you and we’re really looking forward to working
on this together and it’s really been fun—it’s an honor to be on your side of the table but it’s also a tremendous
responsibility and an honor and fun to be on this side of the table. So I’ve been serving as President of Friends of
Lafayette Park for about a year and a half now and it’s been a very inclusive community process. I want to thank
the Neighborhood Parks Council and San Francisco Parks Trust for working with us very diligently and also your
staff under the—the Planning Team—under the direction of Mary Hobson has been fabulous and so responsive and
so accessible to the community. Also, the gardener—all the gardeners—but particularly I don’t know her title now,
Mary Ann Bertocelli, has been rain and shine at meetings with us in the evenings, after work, has been terrific. We
don’t necessarily agree with her about how much space she needs for the maintenance for the consolidated
maintenance area but she’s wonderful to work with. I’m speaking on behalf of Friends of Lafayette Park mostly to
tell you that we really support this tremendously and we’re very excited about it. We will continue to work to
support the enhanced portions of this that are not going to be covered under the money that’s allotted and also you
did have questions Commissioner Buell about the plaza area which I call the blacktop area. When I was a
Commissioner I was taught by one of your old planners who’s no longer there that whenever you put pavement in a
park it’s very, very difficult to get rid of it and this is one of the golden opportunities where a very inappropriate area
of blacktop that’s just a big—you could mistake it for a parking lot, and right now it’s inhabited by five or six really
ugly plastic garbage cans that are the first thing that you seen when you drive up Laguna Street, is going to be
replaced and become part of the play area. So we support all of this. We hope that you have creative solutions to
the consolidated maintenance area. We are excited about every aspect of this. Thank you. Steffen Franz: Good
afternoon. Lynne is a tough act to follow but I will do my best. My name is Steffen Franz. I’ve been a resident of
San Francisco for 20 years. I’ve been a neighbor of Lafayette Park for seven of those years. I’m a member of the
Friends of Lafayette Park board. I’m the founding member of Dog Friends of Lafayette Park and I am a sitting
member of PROSAC representing District 2. The reason I come here simply to say I’m not only a neighbor of
Lafayette Park it’s my front yard. I spend approximately 20 hours a week in Lafayette Park. I take my dog two times
a day. It is an amazing environment and so I come to you today really to firstly recount some great memories I’ve
had. We have a group that meets every Friday night, between 30 and 50 people during the April to October months.
We have had such great times there. I couldn’t put that into a paragraph or into three minutes. I would also like to
say that we’re thankful for the residents of San Francisco. I worked diligently to try and pass A and felt that it would
impact specifically Lafayette Park. You know, I can say that I was involved with all three of the community
meetings as well as two meeting prior to those meetings with dog owners and I want to take this opportunity as Lynn
did to really recognize Mary Hobson and Lizzy Hirsch who’ve been very interactive with us in terms of all different
people. I mean, we know you can’t please all the people all the time. Simply put, there are too many people
engaged with Lafayette Park and it is in some ways the crown jewel of the Recreation and Park Department,
beautiful—beautiful location. So I also have to applaud Marianne and the current gardener Steven who have
worked with us and been a part with us from the beginning. So really I just would like to reiterate what Friends of
Lafayette Park’s position is in this, that we are in complete support of the conceptual plan and that there are
obviously infrastructure issues related to the off-leash area, drainage problems that were never addressed and some
basic lighting which wasn’t in the original budget. We would hope that you would consider that as well. For us, it is
obviously a fix and repair but we feel like these added options or enhancements will make Lafayette Park that much
nicer. So thank you very much for your time. I also want to say that Supervisor Alioto-Pier is in full support of the
conceptual plan. Corrina Bonomo: Good afternoon Commissioners. My name is Corrina Bonomo and I’m a Co-
Chair of the Friends of Lafayette Park Playground. We formed about two years ago to get involved after the park
bond was passed. We hired Jeffrey Miller and company to design a unique and natural Playground that would
encompass kids of all ages and I’m really here to urge you—we’ve worked with Mary Hobson and San Francisco
Parks Trust in order to get an MOU between the two groups and I urge you to approve our MOU and I support the
whole concept as well. Henry Bonomo: Hello Commissioners. My name is Henry Bonomo. I live half a block
away from Lafayette Park. We support this plan because we need a park so that older children can play too. Thank
you. Chris Bonomo: Good afternoon Commissioners. My name is Chris Bonomo. I am married to Corrina
Bonomo who’s on the Friends of Lafayette Park and Lafayette Park Playground. I live at 2222 Sacramento Street,
half a block away from the park. We’ve lived there for five years. I’m married to Corrina Bonomo who you just
met. We have three children and a dog and we use the park on a daily basis. I’m here because I fully support the
conceptual plan for the park. This plan which has been developed carefully by the staff and with much public input
will make this park just an amazing park, even better than it already is. I’m especially excited about the Playground
renovation. As I said, we have three children—ages about to be 5, 7, and 9, and two of those kids really don’t have
a place to play right now in the Playground and the new Playground will be much more inclusive in terms of the
ages of the children who are going to be able to play at the park. I’m also in support of adding a multi-use court to
one of the tennis courts. I think that will greatly enhance the usability of those courts and increase the percentage of
the public that can actually use those facilities. Thank you very much. Ann Simon: I’m Ann Simon and we live
about a block from the park and I’m here to very much support the plan in place and we’re excited about the plan.
I’m one of those parents who are here to make it possible for our kids to stay in our community. Right now we’re
either walking several—seven blocks to Alta Plaza. It’s not four blocks, it’s a long hike for little kids. They love
Alta Plaza but I want them to love our park because it’s close, it’s fun, it’s happy and I think the more our
community is involved and the more there are people at the park it will be safer, it will be cleaner, people will care
more about what happens. So please support out park, thanks. Sandy Bernhard: I’m Sandy Bernhard. Guess
where I live? I live in the park. I live at 1925 Gough. I live in the park. I love the park. When I moved in nine
years there were a lot of drug drops, there was a lot of stuff going on in that park. Someone said to me there’s only
one way to clean it up and that’s write to the Head of Recreation and Park and they were so responsive. I too work
on all these Committees, everybody does. I also work on Presidio. I love the park but I do have a couple of
comments that I think are really serious. This is a concept plan and as a concept plan not all of it is going to be done.
A lot of it is going to depend on how much money is raised privately and we would like—and I have written to
Mary and I have written to Phil but I haven’t heard back. I am very anxious that this process be expanded to let us
into the decision-making when choices have to be made both what do we send out for bid and when the bids come
in. Now, I didn’t want to say this, but I am an old policy planner and there’s one thing that’s driving me crazy and
this is a policy for the entire city. I do not think we should add anything in this time of crisis, financial crisis, which
adds to the cost of maintenance. It doesn’t make any difference if people donate their time and we do a wonderful
plan for this Playground unless they endow it because let me tell you I have worked in the park, I painted the last
woodwork that was done and I want to know who is going to take care of this. And I actually asked respectfully that
you take that as a policy for all capital improvements. The second thing I ask for all capital improvements is when
you go ahead and plant guess what, we have a water shortage. We must make sure that our plants are as respectful
of water use and of the time of the gardeners as we can possibly make it. We have had gardeners come, we have
had gardeners go and we got out there the first Saturday of the month and we helped and we love working in the
park but we know that we must have gardeners and they can’t be too busy.
The second thing I wanted to tell you is I think the Playground design is actually too ambitious and if they can’t
fund it all I think we can have a wonderful Playground without a water part and without a huge climbing thing and
who’s going to paint it next time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, I’m getting old. I am very, very concerned about
the amphitheater and I must tell you something very important, my husband and I were home the other afternoon
when that sound test went on. We didn’t know what it was. We both—
Commissioner Buell: Keep going, I want to hear this. I was going to ask if there were residents of that building
that had heard the sound.
Sandy Bernhard: Yes. Here I am.
Commissioner Buell: And what’s your conclusion?
Sandy Bernhard: It was too noisy. We couldn’t imagine what was going on so we went and looked out or
window. We live on the top floor so we look right over the park and we looked and we saw there was a truck out
there making all that noise. We had no idea what was going on until it was explained to us by one of the people who
spoke. So I also want to tell you we know what goes on in that area and it’s terrific. People use it. They set up their
volleyball games, they have picnics, they play music. Someone comes with their own instrument. It’s not
underused. We do not think it’s necessary to honor Billy Graham right now because we want to know who’s going
to clean up after the hundred people come? The police are stretched, they are very, very good about coming when
we have problems but we have to think about that as a maintenance issue. We commend everything that’s gone on
we just want more input in the process, we want a much better system of getting notices out to the neighbors.
People in our building did not know about it so anyway—thanks a lot. Karen Kidwell: Good afternoon
Commissioners, Karen Kidwell from San Francisco Parks Trust. My remarks are separated into two separate parts a
little bit because I wanted to address specifically the MOU. We are a sponsor of the Friends of Lafayette Park and
Neighborhood Parks Council also works with the Friends of Lafayette Park. We provide legal and financial
structure for the community group, this includes the overall effort of the park and the focused effort on the
Playground. We have worked closely with a group of volunteers who have stepped forward to develop a design and
to raise money to enhance the basic Playground that the bond with fund. This MOU is the result of a collaborative
discussion to ensure that the design and the fundraising strategy are flexible. I think you heard the previous speaker
refer to the fact that a lot of money needed to be raised and this design allows us to do this in a way that we can pull
back if for some reason—and I don’t expect this will be possible—but if the fundraising is not as successful as we
hope for. So it’s flexible, it’s going to allow us to work with the Recreation and Park Department and Jeff Miller to
leverage these funds. I wanted to say that Maria DeAngelico from the San Francisco Parks Trust has worked with
the volunteers including Corrina Bonomo and Dee Dee Kramer, Mary Hobson, and Nicole Avril’s staff and Jeff
Miller and I commend them all for their good work and I urge you to approve this MOU. And secondly I’m
delighted to speak out in support of the overall conceptual plan. Lafayette Park is actually my local park so I have a
professional and personal interest in the process. I’ve attended all the meetings to hear my neighbor’s ideas from the
brainstorming phase to the review of the conceptual plan and I think the community’s ideas have been heard and
they’ve been expressed well in the designs. So I’m very enthusiastic in my support of the conceptual design. And
next our staff and trustees look forward to working with Lynn Newhouse Seagull and all the Friends of Lafayette
Park on the fundraising and building the community support needed to make this park everything we envision and
hope for. Thank you. Paul Wermer: Good afternoon Commissioners. My name is Paul Wermer and I’m here
representing the Pacific Heights Residents Association. I submitted a letter yesterday. I hope it made it into your
packets. We heartily endorse this. We think this has been an excellent process, the Friends of Lafayette Park has
been extremely constructive. We value the stuff they are doing in the heart of our district. And so we absolutely
endorse the conceptual plan but we do make two additional recommendations. The first regards the consolidated
maintenance area. We recognize there’s a need for a maintenance area but we do feel it’s inappropriate that the
maintenance area but used as a consolidated waste staging area for the large numbers of parks. Among other things
it takes spaces. 11 acres sounds large, it’s not when you look at all that’s going on there. The other thing is it’s not
necessarily the most fuel-efficient way of dealing with the waste collection and this is a green issue, green both in
terms of dollars and green in terms of environmental concerns. So we urge Recreation and Park to analyze that
process and see if there’s a better and more efficient way of doing it that doesn’t require use of additional space at
Lafayette Park. The second issue relates to the use of parks as staging areas for the NERTS, the Neighborhood
Emergency Response Teams. This has been going on for a number of years that NERTS are using the park. I don’t
know why but it does not seem to have been very good coordination with Recreation and Park—and this is a
citywide issue—to provide staging for the small amount of supplies that are needed. We’re talking about a yellow
trunk and it’s really the size of a foot locker. And it would be really great if Recreation and Park who’s part of this
process could work with the San Francisco Fire Department and the NERT program to figure out how to provide a
little support, a little bit of space, in some of the storage area. With those comments, again, we think the conceptual
plan is excellent. We fully support it and we endorse the work that’s been done. Thank you very much. Ernestine
Weiss: Hi again. I pass by on the Number 1 bus quite often and it makes me sad to see the condition of Lafayette
Park. Lots of times the grass is brown and it just looks neglected. So I heartily endorse the renovation of this park
and I want to tell Lynn good luck with all the rest of the people that are doing this. It is a very good effort because
there’s only one thing that I have to comment on—the idea of the picnic area. Somebody said that it was up on a hill
and that’s not too good. It should be accessible to everybody, handicapped, elderly people, little kids, whatever. The
second thing is the park should be used also for volleyball which I heard somebody say that it already is but I
thought it was in conjunction with the tennis courts that they wanted to multi-use that. And so I say go ahead and do
this, it’s a wonderful effort and it will make the neighborhood so much better. People appreciate when there’s a nice
park, it makes the real estate values go up as my Ferry Park has downtown and it offers a lot of benefits so I heartily
endorse it and say go ahead and do it. Thank you. Katherine Stefanie: Good afternoon President Buell,
Commissioners. Katherine Stefanie on behalf of Supervisor Alioto-Pier and I just wanted to let you know that
Michela is extremely in support of the conceptual plan. As you know, she pushed to make sure that this was
included in the bond. She’s very happy to see how discussions are moving forward. Obviously, there are still some
outstanding issues and I know that probably Supervisor-Elect Mark Farrell will be working with the community on
those issues as well. She is very pleased about the access improvements, the improvements to the Playground and
all the other elements that we see in the conceptual plan. And a big shout-out and thanks to Friends of Lafayette
Park, especially Lynn Newhouse Segal, Art Persyko. We’ve heard so much from the community it’s really through
the efforts of the community that we’re better able to do our job. Also, thanks to Steffen Franz who’s Micheal’s
appointee to PROSAC and a big thanks to our District 2 residents who care so much about our parks. We’re so
lucky in District 2. We’ve seen the renovation of the Presidio Heights Playground because of the Friends of the
Presidio Heights Playground. Now we’re seeing this happen for Lafayette Park and we’re just really fortunate to
have people like the Bonomos who bring their gorgeous little son to the Recreation and Park Commission to tell
what it means to the kids, not only the parents, what the parks mean to all of us. So thank so much.
Commissioner Buell: Please thank Supervisor Alioto-Pier for her support in this whole effort.
Male Speaker: Hello Commissioners, thank you. I’m a neighborhood resident and those I don’t frequent the
park as much as some of my friends do when I do it’s quite necessary. I’m multiply handicapped and I’m on a
disabled retirement and the things my doctor tells me to do are all touched in this conceptual plan for the park. I
need to get exercise and movement and there are three aspects that are very important to me—the children are our
future and just sitting and watching them strengthens my heart. I’m a tree-hugger and whenever that was mentioned
Mary Hobson was good about saying only for the trees that are in danger or in poor health will be affected. That
they’ll make every effort to retain as many of the trees as possible. And the other thing my doctor recommends in
activity is gardening and Lynne Newhouse Segal and Mary Hobson were very open to my suggestion of the
Community Garden. And as a Community Garden here they picked a spot that was unused, close to their proposed
ADA path, and to establish one there we don’t have to evict anybody. And I support other things that they said and
will not repeat it but thank you very much for your time.
Commissioner Levitan: So Mary, can you just explain a little bit of the timeline because specifically to the
concerns that were raised by one of the speakers in terms of this is a conceptual plan, where do we go from here? I
mean, I’ve very mindful and appreciative of the concern that is these processes move forward, things can change,
whether bids come back higher than we’ve budgeted or private funds haven’t quite come in the way we had hoped,
with the public have the opportunity still to weigh in on things if anything needs to change.
Mary Hobson: At this point we have a conceptual level cost estimate which we believe is our design is
achievable within the budget with the exception of the children’s play area which was presented today. That is why
we are partnering the MOU with the conceptual plan that you are approving today and the MOU basically contains
language regarding the process for designing the Playground against benchmarks for fundraising and estimating of
the project as we go along.
If we do find as we get into the process that there is a disconnect between the budget and the concept that’s been
approved and we have to scale back the concept as it protocol with this Commission we do return to you at a
publically noticed hearing like this to talk about the changes to the plan. But I don’t believe honestly that there will
be any changes to the concept plan presented outside of the potential of the children’s play area. We do have square
foot cost estimates for types of projects like this and we have done a lot of projects similar to this in the past five
years so we have an understanding of what it will cost and we’ll implement what we are planning. But if we do
have to do a significant change we will come back to you for review and it will be a public meeting.
Commissioner Harrison: There are two things. One, the green waste. And the other is on this diagram there is
the consolidated maintenance area and also the renovated gardeners office.
Mary Hobson: Correct.
Commissioner Harrison: Is that the way it’s going to be? Are we going to consolidate and move the gardeners
office over to the consolidated maintenance?
Mary Hobson: The original plan was to move the gardeners office over to the consolidated maintenance
facility but we’ve decided against that primarily because they maintenance facility is not along an accessible path of
travel so in the event that we need to have maintenance functions for accessibility we will be reserving the gardeners
building for operations functions. The maintenance facilities that you see at the summit exist. It’s basically an
existing cargo container and green waste piles located at the very summit. We are simply relocating those and
making them—place them in an area that will be less conflict with park users, less visible by park users, and also
will reduce the amount of conflict between trucks delivering waste into the site. The original plan was to move the
office there but we’ve decided against that.
Commissioner Bonilla: Yes. This is very exciting. I remember Lynne when it was first introduced it seems
like it was more than ten years ago and here we are. And I’m glad you’ve hung in there and you’ve really continued
to take the lead on this project. What I wanted to ask was I had a question about the location of the picnic area and
why you choose that area over the other area that exists now?
Mary Hobson: The picnic area currently exists on the northern side of the Playground. During the first two
community meetings concern was raised by the neighbors that lived to the north of the site over primarily what’s
the—you know, the increase in noise and activity that’s going to result when this Playground is renovated. It’s
going to be a great Playground and there’s going to be a lot of children there and that existing picnic area is very
close to the street. So during the discussions we wanted to make a buffer between those residents and the play area
and moving the Playground to the southern side of the play area moves the most active, noisy functions away from
the neighbors. It moves it to the center of the site. You’ll see what we’re calling the trellis—the trellis structure is
an additional feature intended to buffer those neighbors and we we’ve witnessed at the site is the area to the south of
the picnic area where people congregate it is primarily the dog owners that congregate in that area right now. As
you can see we’re proposing a future off-leash dog play area to the north and that trellis area and seating area would
basically become the new gathering space for people who want to congregate, particularly dog owners, and just
socialize at the site. That was the thought process that came into relocating the play area.
Commissioner Bonilla: So do you envision people with walkers or canes and so on would those amenities be
able to walk up there easy enough to enjoy a picnic?
Mary Hobson: The picnic area, the children’s play area, the trellised areas are all level and they’re all served
by an accessible path of travel. The adjacent lawn is sloping. The picnic area will be flat, it will not be sloped. I
don’t know where that perception came from.
Commissioner Bonilla: Great, that’s good to hear. Thank you.
Commissioner Buell: Let me make a statement about it. I’m mindful that this is a conceptual plan. I think there
are some valid issues surrounding the size of the waste station. It may be necessary but I think it should be at least
evaluated in the context of the comments today. A gathering area I think was a valid point at least in consideration
if that’s where everybody’s meeting now they should be comfortable that where they’re going to meet it going to be
equally appropriate and so it ought to be taken into consideration. The Playground looks ambitious. Playground
fundraising projects are great, then incorporate—they bring a lot of neighbors together. I’ve been involved in a few
of them myself and so I think that will settle itself based on the amount of enthusiasm and money. To the
performance area I think that I’d like to recommend that staff hold a special session with the residents of the
building on Gough Street and have some sound tests and notify all the residents. I think they’re the ones most
impacted by what could happen in that location and it would be worth your while and worth our while because I
think it would only benefit what ultimately comes before us for approval. So with that I think you. I’m also sitting
here reflecting on something that I have to mention is I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for Lynn
Newhouse Seagull because it was 12 years ago I think that she showed up with this woman named Isabelle Wade
into my office in San Francisco and I had just retired and they thought they’d take advantage me and they wanted
me to Chair a bond campaign for the Parks and I had no intention of getting involved and by the end of the meeting
they owned me lock, stock and barrel and I Chaired that bond campaign and as a result of that I became a member of
the Golden Gate Park National Park Conservancy, a Board I now proudly Chair. And so I think it was that
involvement that perhaps caught the Mayor’s attention that he might recruit me for this job. So Lynn it’s all your
fault and it’s nice to see you back here.
On motion by Commissioner Bonilla and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
RES. NO. 1012-014
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the San Francisco
Parks Trust, acting as the fiscal agent for the Friends of Lafayette Park Playground, and the Recreation and Park
Department for the Renovation of the Lafayette Park Playground.
On motion by Commissioner Levitan and duly seconded, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
RES. NO. 1012-015
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a conceptual plan for the renovation of Lafayette Park.
GOLDEN GATE PARK LEASE FOR SEQWAY TOUR CONCESSION
Nicole Avril, Director of Partnerships and Resource Development with the Recreation and Park Department
presented this item to the Commission. I’m here to present a lease with Segway Tours. I’d like to state that this is
discussion and possible action to approve a lease with tourcorp.com Inc. doing business as San Francisco Electric
Tour Company for the operation a guided Segway Tour concession in Golden Gate Park.
On March 5th of this year Recreation and Park issued an RFP soliciting an operator for Segway Tour operation in
Golden Gate Park behind the bandshell. And on September 16th the Commission unanimously approved the
selection of San Francisco Electric Tour Company and authorized staff to begin negotiations.
To back up to a few years ago I’d just like to remind folks that we conducted a trial of Segway Tours behind the
bandshell in 2008 and 2009. The trial operator Silicon Segway followed a route that was collaboratively developed
by Department staff, neighborhood residents, pedestrian safety groups and other interested stakeholders. The
program was successful, users seem to enjoy their experience and the concession brought in $13,000 for the
Department. There was no known opposition or complaints from the surrounding community.
The lease with San Francisco Electric Tour Company contains the following provisions: the term of the lease shall
be for five years commencing on February 1st and terminating on January 31st, 2016. It’s for the operation of guided
Segway tours in Golden Gate Park. Our minimum rent is $37,000 per year with the greater of a 5 percent of CPI
increase each year. Our percentage rent is 18 percent of all gross receipts. The minimum hours of operation are 9:00
to 5:00 during the fall and winter and 8:00 to 7:00 during the spring and summer and the Department must approve
all equipment, rates and charges, signage, the tour route and the hours of operation.
I want to discuss the route a little bit. As I noted earlier the route has been developed—well, as I noted with the
pilot program the same way the route has been developed in coordination with Property Management staff, Golden
Gate Park Operations staff, the Park Ranger staff and members of the surrounding community. After the concession
is implemented we will actively monitor the route to determine if any adjustments are necessary. The proposed
route is virtually identical to the route used during the Segway Tour trial in 2008 with the exception of a few
changes made in response to community concerns and the route in 2008 did not receive any complaints and was
approved by Park staff and the Commission at the time.
I also want to note that the route is exciting because it brings people—especially people with mobility challenges—
to areas of Golden Gate Park they might not otherwise be able to reach. When staff went on the tour many of them
commented that the tour brought them to places that even they had not been such as the Redwood Grove and the
Rhododendron Dell. It’s an educational opportunity to let the public, our locals and tourists alike get to know our
precious Golden Gate Park a little bit better.
And I’d also like to note that it’s an opportunity for Segway Tour operators to serve as ambassadors for the park.
No individual will be on a Segway without a tour guide and not only is the tour guide concerned with the safety of
the Segway operator but they’re also concerned with the safety of all park patrons as well as the landscape.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about the Segway tour code of conduct. The tour guide sets the speed and Segways
cannot go in the park above 6 miles per hours. Many of us can walk that fast. The participants must ride in single
file. Everyone from a stroller to a bicycle a pedestrian to a squirrel has a right-of-way over a Segway. They must
wait for everyone to finish crossing a road before entering a crosswalk. They are never to ride off the trail or on the
grass. They are never to startle anyone from behind. They have a little bell so they let folks know they’re coming
and they’re supposed to call out and say which side they’ll be on. And when approaching head-on they’re supposed
to also slow down and stop.
The map of where they’ll be and the improvements that are necessary for this concession opportunity are as follows.
The Segway operations will be behind the bandshell. I’ve noted where the bandshell is. And there will be storage
containers in an area where there are already five existing storage containers for our operations. The placement of
the storage containers, while I noted they’re in a place where there are already storage containers, will be approved
by the General Manager to electrically charge the Segways so they’re very sustainable San Francisco Electric Tour
Company will install electrical concessions in their area and the improvements will all be made subject to our
approval and developed and implemented in coordination with our structural maintenance staff.
The projected financial benefit to the Department is over $600,000 in five years. The project annual revenue per the
financial terms in the proposal—this is their median proposed revenue—range from $97,000 in year one going up to
$144,000 in year five, again to bring in an estimated $600,000 for the Department.
Staff reached out to the following groups and individuals in conjunction with the recommendation of San Francisco
Electric Tour Company. It’s quite extensive, you’ll see on this list. I won’t read them all. Amongst others, the
following individuals have expressed their support—Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, the California Academy of Sciences,
Carol Morata at the Japanese Tea Garden, the Office of Economic and Workforce development, the Convention and
Visitors Bureau, Nicholas Belloni who’s a member of PROSAC and Blazing Saddles. The following individuals
have expressed their opposition and that Kathy Howard, Friends of the Music Concourse, and Ray Holland with
Male Speaker: Good afternoon, it’s good to be in front of you guys again. It’s been an interesting few months since
we’ve last met. I want to first say happy holidays to everybody and I want to thank you guys again for this
opportunity, it’s been a lot of fun getting to know the park much better than I did many months ago and working
with the park staff, the neighborhood, the users of the park. It’s been a collaborative effort especially on working on
our route. I’ve taken man, many people on many tours now and I’ve heard some stories—great stories about the park
and had fabulous input from a lot of different user groups. So I think that’s one of the things that we wanted to get
our route down and make sure that route was an interesting route for the public to go on but also a safe route for us
to operate. The second thing is that I want to reiterate that we are following the similar route that was done six
months ago for that six-month test. We’ve made some changes and I had actually sent a letter to the staff. There’s
14 changes that we’ve made to the route specifically based on comments from park staff, police, users, bike groups,
everybody’s kind of weighed in on this so we definitely have crafted a little more fine-tuned route. The other thing
is that in talking to our constituents who actually use our tours now in Sausalito, also in San Francisco, there’s a
great excitement for this opportunity to be in the park. People really want to come do this activity. They think it’s a
great way to get around and see things. So I know that we’ve got some press and there’s kind of a built up interest
in doing this. Anyway, I can assure you that one of the things that we’ve gotten a couple of letters from the
community recently prior to this meeting and one of them was that we would be blazing down the trails and
knocking everyone into the bushes. I can assure you that our business plan and business model is not to blaze down
the center or trails and knock people into the bushes. We would be closed in about a day. We’ve been operating in
Sausalito on trails, we’ve been operating in Golden Gate National Recreation Area on trails for over six years, we
haven’t knocked anybody in the bushes, we haven’t commandeered trails, we haven’t been unconscious, just blazing
through these facilities. It doesn’t work as a business model, it’s bad business, it’s bad personally to be operating a
business like that. So we want to make sure that you guys know that we’re not going to be running over squirrels or
children or the elderly or anybody else for that matter. And we will be operating at a very low speed. It’s not a
high-speed race activity. Anyway, I want to thank again. The park staff has been great to work with and everybody
has commented and has called us and weighed in. We’re really looking forward to this. Thank you. Steven
Steinberg: Hi, good afternoon. My name is Steven Steinberg, I’m the owner and operator of Segway of Oakland
and I’ve known Brian for about seven years now. He’s one of my very good customers. I do regular service on his
fleet weekly right now because he’s in his off-season but during his high season he sees me a couple of times a week
over there. He runs the largest and the safety Segway tour operation in Northern California. I service just about
everybody and he has to work at Fisherman’s Wharf which is right now pretty much the most crowded area to run a
Segway tour in California. He has to deal with the tour busses, the tourists, the bicycles, people walking their dogs,
joggers and stuff out there. And he’s done a great job this whole time. His reputation is the best in the business and
we’re really happy that he got Golden Gate Park. I also started a pilot program out on Angel Island and I was
working with the Park Rangers and the concessionaires for Angel Island. They were concerned about running an
operation out there because we would have to share the trails with joggers, hikers. There are no pets out there but we
had to share the roads with the tram and park vehicles and we did the pilot program for a year and the Parks
Department saw that in a year we actually generated more revenue with the Segway tour than the trams and the
bicycles rentals combined. So they saw that it was very profitable operation plus we brought an additional 3000
people through reservations to the park in addition to about another 4500 that we serviced that were already out
there. The Parks Department was so happy with it that within a year they bought their own rental fleet and they’re
running operations out there right now. With the rental operation on Angel Island they went into the wintertime
which was the first time Angel Island during the winter was just for the Segway tours because we were still
generating people out there. The Golden Gate Park is the ideal spot. I went out and I was one of the bidders on the
operation. It’s so open and the trails are so big and stuff that I don’t think Segways would interfere with anybody
out there. In fact, the numbers of people taking the Segway tour would be so small compared to everybody else out
there that you’d rarely see the groups. The Segway is no wider than a person and the bike paths right now share
with hikers, joggers, people with baby strollers and stuff. We wouldn’t be any bigger than that and unlike bicycles
and joggers and walkers the Segways would be limited to such a slow speed that everybody would be able to get
around them. Also, the Segway is like the only vehicle out there that can actually balance itself when it’s not moving
unlike a bicycle which would fall over. Jeff Sears: Good afternoon Commissioners. My name is Jeff Sears from
Blazing Saddles and Parkwide Bike Rentals and I have been a neighbor of Brian Huber and Segway Tours since
they opened five years ago down at Fisherman’s Wharf along the waterfront and hope to soon be their neighborhood
with Parkwide Bike Rentals at Golden Gate Park behind the band shell next to their operation. I’ve seen Mr.
Huber’s business grow from his first year to become an incredibly activity along the northern waterfront and
Sausalito. The first thing I’ve really noticed is the quality of his operation and it’s always been first class in all
aspects, especially safety. I have observed several times myself the required training procedures that are conducted
prior to all of his tours departure and they are very extensive. In addition to those reasons what seems to have
causes such popularity of this particular activity is that it’s fun and really informative especially regarding the
history aspects which I didn’t know was going to be such a large part of the tour when I took it myself. I’ve lived in
that general vicinity for the last 30 years and I learned a lot of history which is really important to me about the
waterfront that I never would have known unless I had taken the tour. I know that history is a big part of Golden
Gate Park’s planned operation and you more than most people will be able to appreciate that knowledge being
shared with all the customers on the Segway tours. Regarding concerns about sharing the trails with other vehicles,
pedestrians, and pets—his tours have always been conducted in a very strict manner and always polite. A mention
he made earlier regarding yielding to all forms of transportation or maybe your staff member did that, is really
accurate. I’ve witnessed that myself always that the tour guide always enforces that extensively with every tour that
I’ve every observed and I see them going by three or four times a day where I am. In finishing I really would like to
you consider all of this important asset that will become part of the park if you approve your staff’s recommendation
and I sure hope that you do because I’m confident it will be a real asset to the park that both visitors and locals will
take advantage. Thank you. Chris Duderstadt: My name is Chris Duderstadt, I’m here representing the
California Outdoor Roller Sports Association and the Inner Sunset. I was approached as a member of the Inner
Sunset by Cassandra Costello. We had a discussion. I said we welcome all forms of alternative transportation. This
is a wonderful opportunity but we have deep concerns that they stay upon routes that are appropriate for motorized
vehicles. I was assured by Cassandra that that was the case they I believe it was on Monday or Tuesday the General
Manager of the Outdoor Roller Sports Association met with staff and then again were assured that this would not be
involved going on dedicated pedestrian pathways. Now we find looking at the map they are going places that are
barely narrow enough for a Segway. There’s a dirt path that runs underneath Stow Lake that chronically has to be
changed because of trees falling over. They’re going through there, they’re going up to the top of Stow Lake where
there are inclines similar to the one that killed the owner of Segway. If you’re aware that he died on a Segway. I
have real concerns that you’re opening up the park to Segways throughout the park. We can say that we are just
going to give a lease to this operator but what is to prevent any other operator parking outside of the park and riding
into the park and using now all the Concourse bowl becomes access for Segways. Around Conservatory Valley this
is all now all-access for Segways. If you ride a bicycle into Golden Gate Park you will see a sign that says that you
are only allowed on the road and bike paths of which there are very few. Why is it going to be different for
Segways? Because what we’re doing it changing the park experience for everyone so I wish you would—we want
Segways in the park, we think they are appropriate in the park but we have a real issue when they’re going to be
going in areas that are now quiet and are pedestrian only. So if you could please look at the routing we’d really
appreciate that. Thank you. Ray Holland: Hi, happy holidays. I’m Ray Holland. I’m representing the Planning
Association for Richard PAR. First of all I’d like to clarify what PAR’s recommendation. You did get our letter I
believe and it’s conditional in its support and I’ll tell you what our conditions are. First I have to sort of disclose to
you I was privileged to take a tour on the Segway on that path that you saw up on the screen at the first of the month
and Brian was on it with us. It was a good tour. We have absolutely no problem with the recommendation for the
electric tour company, we think you’ve picked an excellent candidate. They are professional, they are thorough,
they trained people well before you went out and during—and they monitored as it was said the procession of
Segways through the park. Our only concerns are with regard to the route. The routes are totally inappropriate in
our opinion. The Segways have—especially for inexperienced riders—they have to stay in the center of a paved
pathway because the edges are very dangerous, the left-right tilt of a Segway is sort of akin to like a baby stroller or
a wheelchair. If the surface is lower off the pavement there’s a danger of tipping over. I mean, that’s not rocket
science. There is also in the RFQ an explicit prohibition against using Segways on JFK Drive except to cross it
from one side to the other which really has never been explained to us. PAR’s position is one Segways do belong in
the park but not on the pathways or trails. I mean, the trails—you have trails posted with very recent, nice white
signs with the nice cross through it, all of the Redwood Grove north of JFK are off limits to bicycles. Stow Lake is
off limits to bicycles. It’s painted right there on the surface of the asphalt. Your General Manager and I compete for
the southern pathway on JFK almost every morning. He’s jogging, I’m riding a bike or the bike lane and he always
goes to the left and he’s always got those damn things stuck in his ear so you can’t hear. If I come up behind him he
doesn’t hear me.
Phil Ginsburg: He’s run me over three times.
Commissioner Buell: I was going to say, just run him over. That will teach him. [laughter]
Ray Holland: Well, I’ve been tempted. And the same thing is true for pedestrians and I agree that the way
Electric Tour does it they stop 15 feet in advance, stop the whole procession and said—in my demonstration we only
encountered people head-on. We did not overtake anybody from behind and at six miles an hour you can still
overtake a pedestrian. They were very polite, they waited, and that was fine but implicit in that it makes the other
party move to the left or the right if the Segway is already occupying the middle of the trail and if it’s a wheelchair
or a baby stroller or bicycle or a skater. Katherine Howard: Hi again Commissioners. Katherine Howard,
Friends of the Music Concourse and it is my organization not just myself who is very concerned with this plan. I
will repeat again our early and constant objections to location of this commercial enterprise next to the history 1900
band shell. We’re hearing over and over again at public hearings the Department of Recreation and Park supports
and will devote itself to the Golden Gate Park Master Plan. This concept is not in the Master Plan. The Master Plan
shows a landscaped plaza for tables and chairs and one small kiosk for food behind the band shell. There is nothing
about vehicles, there’s nothing about bicycles, there’s nothing about Segways. Over and above this it is just the
wrong place for this. If you think about it you’re going to be looking at the band shell and there’s going to be people
going back and forth. I tried to persuade a couple of my compatriots here to wander back and forth behind me while
I was talking to give you an idea but they had too much dignity to do that. But I want you to think that you’re in the
concourse and you’re watching something and something’s going on, a dedication or whatever, you’re going to have
bikes going back and forth, you’re going to have Segways, you’re probably going to have crashes. I mean, this is a
theater, this is a stage you’re looking at and you’re seeing backstage at the same time. This has to be moved, we
need a plan, it has to be moved out of this area, at least put it in the bus parking lot. And seriously, this drive for
relentless revenue should not be given precedence over the value of our historic resources or the beauty of the Music
Concourse. Thank you. Louis Dillon: McLaren—I don’t know if any of you are aware of who John McLaren
was but he used to drive his horse-drawn buggy in Golden Gate Park specifically the carriage concourse which
Recreation and Park Department wants to call the Music Concourse. Golden Gate Park nominated to the Historical
Registry of Places not the modernized, transportation of the future places. This is a historical area, the heart of the
park and for over 185 years it’s been a horse park but in the last 10 years since our famous Mayor Willie Brown
introduced legislation saying he was going to renew, develop, and modernize our Golden Gate Park stables we have
had no public horse boarding in Golden Gate Park and yet the Recreation and Park Commission continues to plan,
develop, and wreck Golden Gate Park with its mechanized transportation in the Music Concourse. Did you folks
ever ask San Francisco to vote on this? Hey. No. Because you’re a dictatorship Mr. Ginsburg. And I talk to all the
gardeners down there and they all hate your guts because you’re a dictator, dude.
Commissioner Buell: If you could keep your comments—
Male Speaker: And so are you Mr. Buell, you’re a dictation.
Commissioner Buell: Thank you for your comments. The Chair—
Male Speaker: I still have a minute and a half and I’m going to use my minute and a half.
Commissioner Buell: Then why don’t you try and use language that’s respectful of the people.
Male Speaker: I have no respect for you. How can I respect you when 10 years ago you said you were going to
close the stables and you were going to reopen in the quickest, most efficient time possible and you haven’t done
one thing to even enhance any equestrian’s use of Golden Gate Park? That’s a fraud, okay, and we’re coming after
you. If you haven’t seen a litigation team that is going to get together and sue you for your complete biasedness
towards the community in San Francisco that supposedly says that it’s the most diverse community, blah, blah, blah.
Garbage, okay. You’re a dictatorship and you plead to Mr. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic community and you
have totally abused a whole community of people that use that park and now you’re making decisions about what
type of people are going to go on those trails and you’re putting motorized transportation in there. Go to hell. Go to
hell you people.
Commissioner Levitan: Nicole, I have a couple questions. So I have some concerns along the lines of what
some of the other folks have raised here. The first is why do these vehicles have to go on the pathways? Why can’t
they go on the street?
Nicole Avril: One of the wonderful things actually about the Segways going on pathways is it allows people with
disabilities to experience areas of the park they otherwise can’t get to because cars are non-travelling on these
pathways. The route brings us to the very west end of the park which is very hard—the interior of the west end of
the park which is hard to get to unless you have a mechanized mode of transportation for folks who are either elderly
or too young—well, actually you can’t take a Segway unless you’re older than 12, so I shouldn’t say that. But
elderly or disabled. And so that’s one reason. The other reason is because it does allow us to experience parts of the
park that aren’t on the main route. You know, lots of people make it to the DeYoung and lots of people make it to
the Japanese Tea Garden but very few people do make it to the Redwood Forest and this is a wonderful opportunity
to bring people to parts of the park that they don’t visit often.
Commissioner Levitan: So one gentleman’s comments about how it’s become the most popular mode of—I
don’t want to say transportation because I don’t think that’s what the purpose of the vehicle is—but it has become
the most popular thing on Angel Island. So how do we prevent against being victims of our own success? What if
it becomes too popular that it is a problem?
Nicole Avril: We would monitor this very closely. We will modify the route if it does seem to interfere with
non-Segway users ability to recreate in the park on these trails and we actually do say that. I don’t know how many
visitors Angel Island gets but he spoke about 7,500 users of Segways last year. We get 13 million users to Golden
Gate Park, so it is a small percentage of the users in Golden Gate Park.
Commissioner Levitan: As far as we know.
Nicole Avril: As far as we know. But we would monitor people’s experiences on trails and be very, very
receptive to input if people were having issues with our Segway uses on trails.
Commissioner Levitan: Okay, I’m sort of stuck, but okay.
Commissioner Harrison: On that monitoring, we would use the Park Patrol to do that monitoring and sort of be
cautionary about riding on the paths when there’s a lot of pedestrians, an event out there? Say the Bluegrass Festival
when there’s a lot of people, more than normal, where there may not be enough room on the paths between
pedestrians and the Segway that our Park Patrol can sort of monitor this and say well you must change your route or
something, have some alternative routes?
Nicole Avril: Absolutely, that’s what our Park Patrol is there for.
Commissioner Harrison: And then is there tends to be say in the next six months or year or whatever there’s a
Park Patrol monitors that and then if there’s a lot of violations of some sort, complaints and that sort of thing that we
would get some feedback.
Nicole Avril: Certainly, yes.
Commissioner Bonilla: Yes, I just wanted to ask in terms of storing the equipment by the Music Concourse
band shell what other options were explored in terms of where we could store that equipment or where we could
operate? I guess that’s going to be the main staging area, correct, right in the back there.
Nicole Avril: Really tucked behind actually the area in which there will be operations, the kiosk will be. And it
is in an area where there are already five other storage containers. So it’s a dedicated area to storage and operations
versus putting our storage container somewhere else which wasn’t dedicated for operations.
Commissioner Bonilla: So that’s what you would have to end up doing, right? I mean, if you didn’t have it
there where there are already containers then you would have to move it to another—create some space for
Nicole Avril: Yes.
Commissioner Bonilla: So we would be adding more containers, in other works.
Nicole Avril: Correct.
Commissioner Buell: Seeing no other Commissioners comments, I have a few myself. One is that I remain
sensitive to the discussion about a Master Plan for the Concourse area and behind it. I don’t think we’ve achieved
what we want to do there so I want to remind everybody that I think those are valid points that we need to look at. I
am the proud owner of a certificate that I passed riding a San Francisco and if I can do it I’m inclined to think almost
anybody can do it. But I did have the experience of being very well trained and I went on some narrow paths. I was
able to approach people from behind, ring the little bell, acknowledge them and we figured out how to pass safely
and people coming in the other directions. They do only go six miles an hour. Sometime that didn’t get mentioned
and I think it’s true is that everybody is in communication electronically through an earpiece with the leader of the
group and so you get some direction and some guidance as to where you’re going and what’s coming up and
particularly crossing motorized paths.
But, having said all that I think there are some legitimate concerns about these paths and how we interact with the
pedestrians on them. Baby carts, elderly, handicapped, whatever. So I would like to ask that as an information item
only a year from now we get a report back to the Commission from the operator and from the staff about the
experience, any accidents—hopefully none—and practical, any comments from the public that we get that’s based
on real situations would be of interest in that report because I think we ought to try and improve it but I did find it
interesting that you go to parts of the park you wouldn’t go to, you get some very good factual historical
information. It’s really quite a pleasant experience and so I intend to support it.
Nicole Avril: We’ll happily provide you with that report.
Commissioner Bonilla: Yes, there is one question that I wanted to ask. Chris Duderstadt mentioned that he
envisioned that perhaps there would be other Segway operators coming in and then there would be this proliferation
of Segways. Would it be just the ones that we permit that would be allowed there and what sort of controls would
there be to make sure that there wouldn’t be any other Segway operators coming in and utilizing our space there?
Nicole Avril: It’s very much only the ones that we permit. There will be identification issued to these Segway
operators and we will notify park staff to look for that identification as Segway operators are passing. I also imagine
that San Francisco Electric Tour Company will be on the look-out for renegade Segway operators. They will
probably be our best enforcers.
Commissioner Bonilla: I mean, so we will have some enforcement of that?
Nicole Avril: Very much.
Commissioner Bonilla: And we’ll do everything we can limit it just to the ones that we operate?
Nicole Avril: Correct.
On motion by Commissioner Martin and duly seconded, the following resolution was adopted:
RES. NO. 1012-016
RESOLVED, That this Commission does approve a lease with TourCorp.Com, Inc., dba, San Francisco Electric
Tour Company, for the operation of a guided Segway Tour concession in Golden Gate Park.
Ayes: Buell, Harrison, Arata, Bonilla, Martin
RECREATION AND PARK DEPARTMENT BUDGET
Katie Petrucione, Director of Administration and Finance presented this item to the Commisison. The Mayor’s
office issued budget instructions to Departments on December 2nd so a couple weeks ago. And right now they are
projecting a General Fund deficit for fiscal year 11-12 in the amount of almost $380 million. No problem. So of
course that deficit must be closed by the time the Mayor’s office submits their budget to the Board of Supervisors on
So the budget instructions to that end have three parts. The first is that they are asking Departments to submit a base
budget reduction equal to 10 percent of General Fund support which for Recreation and Park is equal to $2.64
million. The second is that they are asking us to submit 2.5 percent of that 10 percent base reduction in the current
fiscal year. So $660,000 of the $2.64 million they’re asking for us to give a plan for that right now. And then the
third piece of the instructions are that they are asking us to submit a contingency proposal on paper when we submit
our budget equal to an additional 10 percent of General Fund support.
As always, we also have to absorb any cost increases that we are looking at for 11-12 as well as any changes to the
revenues and so the total amount that I am projecting that we will have to close in order to submit a balanced budget
to the Mayor’s office on February the 21st is almost $6.8 million.
I want to emphasize it is very, very early in this process and so these numbers will change both for the Department
and for the Mayor’s office. We are making some initial projects about what our cost increases are going to be and
work orders and fringe benefits but those numbers will change and we will certainly know more over the course of
January and February.
The Mayor’s office is of course cautioning that there’s a lot of uncertainty around the budget numbers. There’s a lot
going on with the State budget as we all know. The Governor has reopened conversations with the legislature about
closing a State deficit that will undoubtedly affect the city. The city is experience and the State continues to
experience continued economic weakness and then additionally frankly we’re in the middle of a Mayoral transition
and we don’t know who are new Mayor is going to be. So this year in particular I think there is a number of factors
that remain unknown about the budget.
In addition, if the Mayor’s office sees any significant changes in General Fund revenue then they would come back
and revise the targets that they have given us.
The Department is proposing to meet the $660,000 mid-year budget reduction with salary savings and I intend to
submit that to the Budget Office by the deadline they’ve set us of December 21st. And I think it’s important to note
that the base reduction target they’ve given us of $2.6 million if they accept out salary saving proposal then the
amount that we have to reduce the budget when we submit in February goes from $2.64 million to $1.98 million
which is certainly helpful to us.
As I noted, our submission to the Mayor’s office actually due on February the 22nd and we will of course begin an
extension public outreach process. We will have a number of community meetings. I would expect we’d have no
fewer than we did last year. We had four community meetings. We will have extensive meetings with staff. We
will be back in front of the Commission multiple times before we bring you our final budget proposal for approval at
the second meeting in February.
So as Phil likes to say here we go again. I feel very confident that we will again be really focusing on revenue ideas.
We would very much like to avoid having impacts on our staff. That may be inevitable but we will have all of those
conversations with staff, with the community stakeholders and with you. And so this is today just an informational
item but I’m of course more than happy to answer questions.
Phil Ginsburg: Thank you Commissioners. I just wanted to underscore a few points about the initial budget
instructions and where we are. I think it is fair to say we are in a moderately better position than we were this time
last year. The number is obviously smaller. Unfortunately, that’s also because we have a smaller—shrinking
General Fund subsidy. So in many respects the choices for us get more difficult. Through I think some good—
through Katie’s good work and good discipline by staff management we are able to meet our initial budget target
through salary savings. These are basically savings in our salary line from the prior year that we’re projecting based
on our current staffing patterns and current hiring patterns and frankly some decisions to hold some positions vacant
and do some other things that we are able to meet this initial target without any direct cuts in service, which is good
news and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done to achieve that.
But the challenging news is that salary savings is often a very important ingredient in any Department’s overall
budget plan. We are using ours now and I think that is worth remembering as we go through the conversation.
As we go forward again It think that the choices for us do become a little bit more difficult and it is worth noting
that we remain in many areas of service with extreme shortages, quite frankly. You know, we’ve got some structural
shortages in staffing in our park-side. We went through a very extensive reorganization on the Recreation side and
you know we’re very inclined and feel like it’s very important to us to let that program take root. We are not
focusing on further reductions to our Recreation side if we can avoid it at this point. So we don’t have this figured
out yet and again while the numbers are a little bit better than last year I think it is important to revisit the
conversation of working together with our very passionate park stakeholders on identifying sustainable sources of
revenue for this Department. Increased reliance on a shrinking pot of General Fund sources creates instability and
occasionally tension because of scarcity in some of the difficult choices that we have.
So in the coming year we are going to work to continue to become more and more self-reliant to the greatest extent
we can. We are also going to continue the conversation that we’ve been having with our park partners and we thank
them for their leadership and we think the Parks Trust and the Neighborhood Parks Council and we thank the
Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance and around and around—the Sunnyside Park Neighbors—for their
continued advocacy on behalf of parks and we need to work together to come up with a different solution that
supports our parks and it is one of the reasons we keep being confronted with some very challenging decisions that
we have to make.
Commissioner Levitan: Just a point of clarification. With salary savings that brings us down to 1.7 ish or does
that wipe out the 2.whatever that number was that we’re looking at right now? The 10 percent?
Katie Petrucione: No. It just—it’s 2.64 now and we give $660,000 in salary savings it takes us to $2 million or
Commissioner Levitan: So—and from what you just said Phil I take that to mean it would be extremely
premature for us to start saying—articulating at least publically where we would be looking to fund that $2 million?
Katie Petrucione: It is very—I don’t think we’re in any way prepared to have that conversation.
Phil Ginsburg: And Commissioner I do think there’s a typo in the Commission packet which I think is worth—
oh, okay, we got.
Commissioner Levitan: So best case scenario that number is reduced and our worst case scenario is not the
Katie Petrucione: Frankly I’m very concerned—I’ve tried to be conservative in my estimates for cost increases
but I—you know, I’ve gotten some feedback from the Mayor’s budget office around some of our biggest work
orders but I just feel it’s very, very early to know and I think those numbers are likely to get bigger possibly.
Commissioner Levitan: Okay, but we have sort of a starting point of what to expect?
Katie Petrucione: Absolutely, yes.
Meredith Thomas: Commissioners, Meredith Thomas with the Neighborhood Parks Council. A couple of points.
First of all, I thought it was a really good way to center the conversation last year on the budget to have the
Department develop the budget principals linking the decisions that the Department has to make. We know that
they’re tough ones but to the Mission of the Recreation and Park Department so at least we have a starting point that
we’re all on the same page about. From the perspective of Neighborhood Parks Council a lot of our work is going to
be external to the Department in this coming budget cycle to ensure that whoever steps into the Mayor’s role for the
next year gets elected subsequently. The new Board of Supervisors understand the value of our parks and that this
Department has taken cut after cut after cut and at a certain point it’s a watershed effect where you just can’t keep it
together with band-aids anymore and our parks are our public spaces, they are free, they are used—you know, I’m
preaching to the choir. But my point that we’re going to be really focusing on making sure that our elected officials
are not only educated about our parks and like them but are really committed to making sure that they’re sustained
and not just the parks but the recreation centers too because as people continue to need additional support when
they’re in transition between jobs or they need affordable child care or kids are having P.E. classes and we’re not
teaching music anymore in our schools, guess where those responsibilities fall? To the Recreation and Park
Department. I also think I’m just take this moment to let you know that we did launch that giant park user survey in
conjunction with the Recreation and Park—sorry, with the town hall we convened at the end of October. The good
news is we had more than 1400 people respond to the 47 questions. Not everyone answered every question but what
that means is it’s taking me more time to analyze the data and prepare the report but in the report there are a lot of
sections about revenue generation and people’s preferences, some budget, where they would like to see the budget
be supportive of the Department and if they had to cut where they would cut. So I’m committed to getting this draft
to the Department as soon as possible before the end of the year so that we can also have a park user survey in
January that talks about where park users are hopeful that we can sustain the Department. And then the other thing
that I want to say is that we’re also committed to finding some stable year-over-year revenue for the Department and
working with the Department and other stakeholders to figure out what that means. I don’t know what that means
yet but depending on the handout from the General Fund which keeps getting smaller and smaller is not working,
and so we need to sort of fix this problem for the Department because almost everything else we talk about relates to
scarcity and communication and the ability to work with one another and if you have no staff an you have no money
those things become very difficult.
GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT
Hans Art: Hans Art. I have a small business in the Mission District and this is my 40th year. I have an auto repair
shop and I’m talking about the proposed park at 17th and Folsom and my friend spoke earlier and I sort of represent
the businesses around the park and we urge you to not move forward to acquire this until you get a little input from
my very practical colleagues down there. Our first concern of course is that if you looked at the photos that we
distributed earlier we visualize all those cars moving out onto the street. They would take up about a linear mile and
a half of curb space to park and that’s where our employees have to park for ten hours every day. But there’s some
second issues that I gathered in talking with, you know, the folks down there and they’re issues that you might—a
lot of people get romantic when they think about building a new park and I can certainly relate to it because I’ve
spent the last 62 years in Golden Gate Park and I love it. But there are a hundred businesses within a one-block
radius of this parking lot. It’s like a little enclave and there’s the 400 square foot coffee shop and then there’s
Comcast and there’s everything in between. One of the secondary concerns that we have is that you may—if there
was the opposite of Pacific Heights this neighborhood is it. Outside that first circle are SROs and a lot of people
who come down to get drunk at night or take drugs or prostitution and right now the parking lot at night is brilliantly
lit and patrolled by the University of California Police 24 hours a day. You’ll have a high-maintenance park. You
may find yourself with a brand new park that’s in trouble in its second year of existence. You know, it will have to
be cleaned a lot and one of the other issues is that there aren’t really any kids down there. You know, it’s mostly
businesses, it’s really concentrated. It’s not really a residential neighborhood and once you get a block or two away
you have other parks—17th and Bryant and Hoff Street and a couple blocks down at 21st and Folsom. So it may not
be the best use of your money. Any questions?
Commissioner Buell: No. I’m going to ask the General Manager to make an appointment for me to go down to
that lot with him and take a look around and maybe if we get your name and address we might stop in and see you
when we’re there just to get a sense of it.
Hans Art: We’re businesses and you heard from the Mission—when you do that you should go to the Mission
Neighborhood Clinic because it is quite an operation.
Commissioner Buell: If you give our clerk your information I’m going to assign her the responsibility of
coordinating a little trip out there to see it. Thank you.
The Special Meeting of the Recreation and
Park Commission was adjourned at 4:57 p.m.
In memory of Oscar Jimenez .
Margaret A. McArthur