Visualizing the Proposed Renovation of Bernal Hill

Neighbor Joe Thomas has been attending the meetings hosted by the City Rec and Park Department on plans to renovate the trail network on Bernal Hill, and he’s been visualizing how the changes might look.

San Francisco Rec & Parks has posted notes from the last community meeting about trail restoration on Bernal Hill. Of particular interest is the presentation with a map (on page 41) of their “Concept Plan” for the trails. Several neighbors at the meeting remarked that it was difficult to visualize the lines on the map as actual trails, and one neighbor suggested that the proposed changes be marked in chalk on the hill so that folks could see them in context before the next (and last scheduled) community meeting on April 4.

I’d like to see and walk those chalked-in trails, myself. Until that happens, though, I thought I’d try to drape the flat trail maps onto Google Earth’s terrain model. (KML file, requires Google Earth.)

Fantastic work, Joe!

Rec and Park has also posted notes from their Q&A session (pdf) about the proposal, and they’re worth a look. Overall, the goal of the scheme is to minimize erosion and wear on the hill by consolidating the current network of paths into fewer, higher-density routes.

All that makes sense, though I wonder if we might also lose something along the way: That  blessed sense of solitude that is now so easy to attain, even on days when Bernal Hill is teeming with visitors.

IMAGES: Joe Thomas

8 thoughts on “Visualizing the Proposed Renovation of Bernal Hill

  1. I just dont see bernal hill as a viable place to put planned paths. If they really were concerned about erosion, they would have never cut the road around it leading to a massive landslide shortly after on the north side. Bernal hill is wild. I think that that is what i like about it. It is in the middle of an urban metropolis but very little human futzing. I think if there were levelish, proper paths, it would make it just another park that man thinks they can do better than mother nature. Plus, try telling all those dogs that there are new trails! This is as much their park as it is ours. I am just starting to fealing weary about the politically correctness of our curent city, The shoe garden at Alamo square a great example!

  2. I can’t see trying to limit paths on a natural space. These trails exist because people have found them useful means for countless decades. Erosion happens in the wild, and we should be very careful of what we try to control, lest we turn a wonderful open space into a sterile, manufactured park. As for safety, I’ve yet to hear of any deaths in the 13 years I’ve been here. I’m sure there have been some accidents, but there will always be accidents. People need to be responsible for their own calculated (mis)steps, whether or a busy street or on Bernal Hill.

  3. Seems silly to me that Park and Rec is spending a dime on Bernal Hill when other parks, notably McClaren, need tree-trimming badly. Falling branches can kill. By not addressing that particular problem the city may face lawsuits down the line. Leave the hill alone!

  4. Thanks for the link! Meghan from Rec & Parks sent a follow-up email yesterday:

    “This email is in response to the comments regarding marking the potential trail layout in the field during the conceptual design phase. I want to thank you allyou’re your interest in the Bernal Heights Trail project and your contributions to the discussion.
    At this point in the process it is not feasible for us to mark the potential routes in the field.  Our experience tells us that markings and stakes in the public environment get tampered with or disappear and would not remain useful at this stage of the process.  The conceptual plan phase is intended to discuss the general plan direction  and approach to the trail improvements and not the final trail alignment.  We understand that not everyone is comfortable reading plans and we will try to provide some 3 dimensional representations of the proposed trail alignments to help folks better visualize the concepts.”

    3D representations… There’s an idea. Seriously, though, I think the biggest problem with the Google Earth view is that the steep parts aren’t so steep. It looks as if Bernal Heights Boulevard had never been blasted out of the hill. I don’t know of any better digital elevation models that are freely available, though. There are a few map wizards who frequent this site, aren’t there? Any suggestions?

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