Mayor Unveils New Community Street Park Atop Bernal




Alex Murillo (415) 437-7009
Tuesday, June 21, 2011            


Community-driven Project Partners Residents with San Francisco Parks Trust and Public Works to Create New Public Garden with Sweeping City View

San Francisco, Ca – Mayor Ed Lee announced the completion this morning of a brand new community-driven Street Park project on Bernal Heights, which is the culmination of a two-year public space greening effort that partnered the Department of Public Works (DPW), San Francisco Parks Trust (SFPT), and community leaders and neighborhood beautification advocates. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the newly created, vibrant Vista Pointe Street Park and invited residents and visitors to utilize the transformed public space with its unique, sweeping views of the city skyline.

“The Community Challenge Grant Program exemplifies what is possible when the City cultivates meaningful partnerships to build a stronger community, and I congratulate the Bernal Heights community for building the Vista Pointe Street Park,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “I commend the stewards for their commitment and resourcefulness to create a more livable neighborhood and City.”

This latest public space development is at the corner of Bradford and Bernal Heights Boulevard, where the Friends of Bernal Gardens made several transformations to the space. Improvements include weeding and landscaping of the 5,000 square feet of land, grading the soil into plantable terraces, installation of several retaining walls, the addition of new soil and several species of native plants, the creation an ADA accessible stone ramp and pathway that all leads to a granite bench made of recycled materials that offers breath-taking views of the city’s skyline.

The project is one of many like it as a part of the City’s Street Parks Program. Established in 2004, the program is a partnership between DPW, SFPT, community groups, and residents to manage open public spaces in different neighborhoods around the city. Through the program, San Francisco residents have adopted 120 unaccepted streets, medians and city-owned public rights-of-way to create beautiful, publicly accessible spaces and community gardens.

Street Parks volunteers design the projects and seek grant funding for planting materials, water, or for building supplies.  The Community Challenge Grant has been applied for and received by many Street Parks Projects, including Vista Pointe Street Park. Street parks stewards can also attend workshops facilitated by the DPW and SFPT to learn about greening the space.

“The Street Parks program educates volunteers on gardening and green practices through workshops and demonstrations. The more we partner with residents and share resources, the more we can accomplish,” said Mohammed Nuru, Deputy Director for the Department of Public Works.  “Without help from the City’s Community Challenge Grant program and neighbors who volunteer to maintain the site, the City would simply not have the resources to complete or sustain a project like this”.  

DPW allows community volunteers to borrow tools for gardening, provides resources such as grant application information, permits, street closure information, horticulture advice, workshops on community gardening, woodchips and support with planning, preparing, and planting the land.  The San Francisco Parks Trust provides outreach, permit assistance, neighborhood group management and volunteer coordination, fundraising, education, insurance, and in-kind donations.

The Community Challenge Grant program is instrumental in empowering residents and projects like the Vista Pointe Street Park, and in many other locations around the City it enables communities to take the lead in conducting small-scale improvements in their own communities.  “Once we received support from the city’s Community Challenge Grant program, other donors decided to contribute,” said Julian Wyler, project lead and community volunteer.   Wyler, who has been volunteering for the Street Parks program since 2005 says “I’m proud about the progress me and other community members have made.  We’ve been able to enrich and beautify our neighborhood and the city in general”.

“In a dense city like San Francisco, the Street Parks effort is crucial, enabling the greening and activation of under-used or completely un-used parcels of land. In some neighborhoods, a Street Park created on a side walk, stairway, or odd parcel may be the closest garden or park in the community”, said Karen Kidwell, Executive Director of the San Francisco Parks Trust.
DPW is partnering with the American Community Gardening Association to bring more awareness, education, and resources for community-driven projects such as the Vista Pointe Street Park by taking lead on a national community gardening conference that will take place in San Francisco in August 2012.

DPW is responsible for the care and maintenance of San Francisco’s streets and much of its infrastructure. The department cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and maintains City street trees; designs, constructs and maintains city-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; constructs curb ramps; removes graffiti from public property; and partners with the diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco to provide stellar cleaning and greening services.