Supervisor Campos Announces Support for Permanent Alex Nieto Memorial on Bernal Hill

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On Tuesday Supervisor David Campos announced his support for an effort to install a permanent, City-funded memorial to Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill. However, Bernal Heights neighborhood groups say they have not been informed about the proposal.

Alex Nieto was a 28 year-old Bernal neighbor who died in an officer-involved shooting in March 2014. The San Francisco District Attorney’s investigation of the incident determined Nieto had a history of clinical psychosis and behavioral problems, alleging that he pointed a pistol-shaped taser at police officers who approached him after receiving reports of an armed man acting erratically on Bernal Hill. During a subsequent wrongful death suit initated by the Nieto family, a jury ruled that the SFPD officers involved in the incident had not used excessive force.  Friends of Alex Nieto maintain his death was a byproduct of gentrification.

Alex’s parents,  Cortland Avenue residents Elvira and Refugio Nieto, appeared before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to request that the City establish a memorial to Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill. An event announcement posted on Facebook described the effort:

A resolution to establish a permanent memorial in honor of Alex Nieto, unlawfully killed by the San Francisco Police Department.

Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos will be sponsoring this noble resolution.

Press conference at the front steps of San Francisco City Hall at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Board of Supervisors meeting to follow immediately. Bring your friends and family and arrive early for the lowrider caravan of justice and the danzante blessing.

WHY AN ALEX NIETO MEMORIAL?

In order to honor Alex Nieto, a permanent memorial will be established at Bernal Hill Park, the place where he was unlawfully killed by the SFPD.

Through no fault of his own, Alex Nieto, a 28 year old full-time student and security guard who had never been arrested in his life, was shot at fifty nine times and killed by SFPD officers. Even though there were many witnesses that claimed Alex had done nothing wrong and was just peacefully eating his burrito, the San Francisco District Attorney did not pursue criminal charges against officers. Then in a sham of a civil trial, the killers were released of liability by a mostly white jury that was comprised of no Latinos or African-Americans.

After Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Campos confirmed his intention to establish a City-sponsored memorial to Alex Nieto:

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Bernalwood is unaware of any public meetings that have been or will be held in Bernal Heights to consider the idea of a permanent memorial on Bernal Hill. Bernalwood also reached out to leaders of several Bernal Heights neighborhood groups, and none were familiar with the proposal. One Bernal Heights community organizer said, “No, we weren’t consulted about this, but this is the kind of thing we normally expect to be notified about.”

According to the Justice For Alex’s group’s summary of Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting:

About a dozen supporters supported the Nietos by asking the Supervisors to recognize that harm had been done to the Nieto Family and the Latino community; that altars carried cultural significance to the Latino community; that the request for a permanent and protected altar and memorial was a most basic act of restoration; that Alex’s death was tied to gentrification policies of the City that allow newcomers to arrive in droves to the Mission without understanding the cultural differences and their privileges in the communities of color they come to displace and inhabit.

Justice For Alex says Supervisor Campos committed to support an ordinance that would mandate the installation of a permanent memorial to Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill. The group says the ordinance will be introduced by D11 Supervisor John Avalos at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting, within the next two weeks.

See all of Bernalwood’s previous coverage of Alex Nieto.

PHOTO: Top, ad hoc Alex Nieto memorial on Bernal Hill, September 14, 2016, by Telstar Logistics

Neighbors Rejoice as Safety Streetlight (Finally) Installed at Coleridge Mini-Park

It took a lot of emails, a ton of phone calls, a bunch of meetings, and a lot of nagging, but a group of very persistent Bernal Heights Neighbors  finally managed to get a streetlight installed next to the lovely Coleridge Mini-Park. Their hope has been that a streetlight would help deter the nighttime carousing and petty crime that’s been a persistent problem for the park’s neighbors — and so far that seems to be working out as planned.

Neighbor Valerie writes:

A quick update on the status of the Coleridge Mini Park.

We had tried for years to get improved lighting in the park to help deter the drug dealers/users, parties and occasional overnight guests that hung out there. We, and our neighbors, were literally calling the cops to come out and check on things at least several times per week.

However, last spring, our efforts finally paid off. With a lot of assistance from Josh Arce [D9 Supervisor candidate] and Carolyn Goossen [Supervisor David Campos’s legislative aide], the right people at the City were finally corralled and a new light was installed in June.

Since that time, I don’t think there have been any issues that have required police intervention — we’d actually be curious to know if it’s possible to run a report on the number of time the SFPD had to come out to check on things in the park over the same time period over the past two years. I’d be shocked if it hasn’t dropped dramatically.

As you can see, the park is now well-lit and the Parks Dept comes out at least once a week to maintain it (Seriously – a huge shoutout to Rec and Park – they really do a great job keeping it clean!)

The new light really has made a big difference our the quality of life here on Coleridge St.

Nice work, persistent neighbors!

PHOTO: Neighbor Valerie

Ingleside SFPD Officers Issued New Body Cameras

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Yesterday, officers from the San Francisco Police Department’s Ingleside Station — the precinct that covers Bernal Heights — were issued wearable body-cameras for the first time.  The hope is that body cameras will help improve police accountability by providing additional information about what happens during interactions between SFPD officers and members of the public.

Vivian Ho from the San Francisco Chronicle was at Ingleside Station as the body cameras were distributed. She reports:

On Thursday, instructors from Taser International, the company that produces the Axon cameras, passed out the small, black squares that will be clipped on the chests of officers, sergeants and lieutenants. The officers eyed them warily.

Officer Kyle Wren, one of about 60 officers and sergeants who volunteered to receive the device early and assist in training, said initial hesitation is normal.

“My first week having it, you’re just aware you’re being recorded all the time,” he said. “I’ve already been used to being recorded on cell phones, but it’s on the whole time and you’re just a little bit self-conscious at first. I would say after a week on patrol, using it all the time, I got very used to it.”

Officers must double-tap the device to activate it, but like a DVR it’s always recording, so it can catch the 30 seconds before the officer turns it on, only without audio.

The camera policy, passed by the Police Commission in June, set rules for when officers must activate their devices — essentially for all public interactions except for strip searches and those involving sexual assault and child-abuse victims and confidential informants.

“The wave of the future is already here,” said Ingleside Station Capt. Joseph McFadden. “Most of the video we get is from private citizens’ cameras, but now you have the officers with body cameras on and that’s going to be able to tell the real story about exactly what went on and what the officers’ point of view was.”

IMAGE: Axon body camera photo illustration by Bernalwood

Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules

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Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency Board will consider some proposed updates to the “red carpet” lanes installed recently on Mission Street to provide more rapid Muni bus service. The red carpets have been very popular among transit riders, but some Mission Street merchants have expressed concern that the revised traffic flows have been bad for business.

Here’s what the SFMTA has in mind:

We recognize [the red carpet] was a big change for the Mission, and it’s our priority to make it work for everyone. Already we’ve made several changes to enhance the project and make traffic flow more smoothly. We will be recommending a few more changes to improve traffic circulation, which will be heard at the next SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. The SFMTA commits to continuing to monitor Mission Street to ensure the project goals are achieved.

Mission Street Changes at SFMTA Board
August 16, 2016
Mission item will be heard at 3:00 PM
City Hall Room 400
If you are unable to attend, submit comments to MTABoard@sfmta.com.

The following changes will be recommended for legislation by the SFMTA Board of Directors:

  • Removing two of the required right turns on Mission at 26th and 22nd. This will allow vehicles to travel four blocks on Mission before encountering a required right turn, making it easier to access businesses and find parking along the street. We expect this change to improve traffic circulation without increasing through traffic or delaying bus riders.
  • Relocating the outbound Cortland stop to the nearside of the intersection. Moving the bus stop nearside will improve boarding ease for Muni riders.
  • Exempting taxis from the left turn restriction at 21st Street. This exemption, in the middle of the Mission corridor, will provide more options for taxis to reach their destinations.

The recommended changes are the result of a series of community engagement activities to discuss how the new street design is being perceived by neighborhood residents, bus riders, motorists and others using Mission Street. Staff worked closely with community members, Muni riders, neighborhood organizations and other non-profit organizations, as well as David Campos, District 9 Supervisor. Outreach activities included several small group discussions, a community hearing (summary of comments heard is available here), merchant walks and an intercept survey of 1,400 people on Mission Street.

That SFMTA survey is interesting, because it underscores the extent to which the data about how shoppers get to Mission Street diverges from what merchants believe about their customers. In an article that looked at this question, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner wrote:

The recent SFMTA survey of people in the Mission — conducted June 28, June 29 and July 9 — found that 69 percent of 1,400 respondents went to the Mission by public transit.

Those surveyed arrived to eat, drink, visit friends and work. But the largest group surveyed — about 350 people — was there to shop.

Specifically, the SFMTA said 76 percent of surveyed shoppers “usually” take transit, and 10 percent drive.

Merchants, however, disagree that most shoppers take transit.

Michael Gardner, the 42-year president of Siegel’s Clothing Superstore & Tuxedos on Mission Street, felt the survey was all wrong.

“This just doesn’t make sense to me. It just can’t be right,” he said.

For Bernal Heights residents,  the mandatory right turn on Mission Street northbound at Cesar Chavez has been a particular point of concern. The SFMTA’s FAQ explains why the mandatory turn at Cesar Chavez will remain in place:

Why aren’t you removing the required right turn at Cesar Chavez?

We heard many requests to remove the required right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, which some feel acts as a barrier to two neighborhoods. This was a difficult decision. Doing so would make traffic and transit performance worse on northbound Mission Street than before the project was implemented because one lane of traffic was removed [to create the restricted access lane for Muni buses].

The required turn at Cesar Chavez diverts drivers who drive through Mission toward downtown. Instead, we will address community concerns by removing two of the required right turns at 26th and 22nd to improve access to destinations along Mission without congesting the street with traffic looking for a fast way downtown.

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

Ballot Proposition Would Shift Street Tree Maintenance Back to City

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Bernalwood has previously shared stories about Bernal neighbors who have struggled to pay big bills levied by the City to cover the cost of street tree maintenance. Now, after some unpleasant wrangling on the Board of Supervisors, a proposition sponsored by D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener to get the City to once again assume responsibility for street tree maintenance is on track to appear on the November ballot.

Joshua Sabatini from The Examiner reports:

The agreement was announced Tuesday amid a turnout of about 300 people organized by the Friends of the Urban Forest, a nonprofit group that supports growing San Francisco’s tree canopy. San Francisco has approximately 105,000 street trees on sidewalks and medians.

For years, The City has controversially shifted the care of trees to property owners, after failing to fund tree care in its annual budget. But voters this November will have a chance to approve a charter amendment to require The City to take back oversight of all street trees, the liability that comes with them and any sidewalk damage the trees might cause.

The measure was introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener, but a compromise was reached to shore up support from other supervisors, including Supervisor John Avalos, who had previously introduced a competing proposal.

“This is a grassroots movement that has been brewing for a long time of people in this city that understand that trees matter,” Wiener said. He called The City’s decision of “dumping responsibility” of street trees on property owners a “terrible and unfair system.”

The Examiner adds that a final vote to put the tree measure on the November ballot should happen in the Board of Supervisors today.

PHOTO: Expensive tree on public land, assigned to Neighbor Laura in 2015, by Neighbor Laura

Citing Pipleline Fears, Neighbors Seek to Delay New Homes on Folsom

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

Rendering of proposed homes, view southwest from public garden below Bernal Heights Blvd.

Rendering of proposed homes, view southwest from public garden below Bernal Heights Blvd.

A group of Bernal neighbors are still concerned that if two homes are built on a Folsom Street lot, the site could explode in a gigantic fireball. As a result, the neighbors will appear before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 19 in hopes of delaying the project to conduct an environmental analysis. The Bernal Heights Neighborhood center has been providing organizational assistance to the nervous neighbors.

The neighbors hope the Board of Supervisors will intervene to delay construction of two proposed homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom, on an undeveloped lot near the intersection of Folsom and Chapman, just below Bernal Heights Boulevard.

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The project, which will require the construction of a new stub roadway extending Folsom Street to the north, has already secured approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission.

“We’re not against development. This is not a development issue,” says Neighbor Herb Felsenfeld, who lives near the proposed homesites and has been spearheading the effort to collect signatures for a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “it’s a public safety issue and a traffic issue.”

Bernalwood obtained an undated  draft of the letter to the Board of Supervisors that Neighbor Herb has circulated:

Dear Board Members,

Request for Environment Review – Our safety and even our lives are at stake.

Construction on two lots at 3516 and 3526 Folsom Street have been given categorical exemption from environmental review, however this particular plot of land, encompassing 6 lots and a street right of way, poses significant, potentially life-threatening, safety and problems.

These include:

  • Construction by a private developer over a 26” PG&E gas pipeline without industry recommended safety protocol in place and made public, resulting in the potential loss of life and property. All safety guidelines and oversight must be transparent and shared with residents. The San Bruno tragedy is fresh in our minds.
  •  Difficult-to-manage traffic conditions at the corner of Folsom and Chapman Streets. The projects have no on-street parking, and on-street parking will be eliminated from 2 more houses. (And, there is the potential for 4 additional new homes) Delivery trucks, construction vehicles, and visitors will be forced to park at the base of the street, blocking access to many homes.
  •  The project’s lack of planning for garbage, recycling, and compost pickup will impace both public health and safety.
  • The project site’s proposed steep street presents a significant threat to drivers and residents, and a liability issue for homeowners and the City.
  •  The structures would create a north-facing solid wall blocking significant public vistas from Bernal Heights Boulevard along the open-space park.

There are specific NTSB and Pipeline Information and Protection Act protocols that should be followed for all land use near pipelines, and we expect assurances from you that these will be met.

This is your opportunity to keep your promise to the keep the citizens of San Francisco safe by requiring that a complete environmental review is undertaken and all appropriate safety measures are in place before any construction is approved for this undeveloped section of Folsom Street and the adjacent properties. We also request that the safety measures and oversight is transparent to the impacted neighbors.

In May 2014, when the fear of a Folsom Fireball first emerged among neighbors in the theoretical “blast zone” of the surrounding homesites, Bernalwood contacted PG&E to learn more about Pipeline 109, the existing gas line buried below Folsom Street. We also asked about the safety procedures used when construction occurs at a pipeline site. Bernalwood’s 2014 questions, and PG&E’s responses, are again provided here in their entirety:

1. When was the section of pipeline under the the proposed home site installed? When was it last upgraded?

The line was installed in 1981. PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safe operation of this line.

2. How often is this section of 109 inspected? What does the inspection entail? When did the last inspection take place? What were the results of that inspection?

This section of L-109 was successfully strength tested (via a hydrostatic pressure test) at the time of installation. PG&E records show no history of leaks for L-109 in this area.

PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system.  PG&E regularly conducts patrols, leak surveys, and cathodic protection (corrosion protection) system inspections for its natural gas pipelines.  Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately.  PG&E also performs integrity assessments of certain gas transmission pipelines in urban and suburban areas.

Patrols:  PG&E patrols its gas transmission pipelines at least quarterly to look for indications of missing pipeline markers, construction activity and other factors that may threaten the pipeline.  L-109 through the [Bernal Heights] neighborhood was last aerially patrolled in May 2014 and no issues were found.

Leak Surveys:  PG&E conducts leak surveys at least annually of its natural gas transmission pipelines.  Leak surveys are generally conducted by a leak surveyor walking above the pipeline with leak detection instruments.  L-109 in San Francisco was last leak surveyed in April 2014 and no leaks were found.

Cathodic Protection System Inspections:  PG&E utilizes an active cathodic protection (CP) system on its gas transmission and steel distribution pipelines to protect them against corrosion.  PG&E inspects its CP systems every two months to ensure they are operating correctly.  The CP systems on L-109 in this area were last inspected in May 2014 and were found to be operating correctly.

Integrity Assessments:  There are three federally-approved methods to complete a transmission pipeline integrity management baseline assessment:  In-Line Inspections (ILI), External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) and Pressure Testing.  An In-Line Inspection involves a tool (commonly known as a “pig”) being inserted into the pipeline to identify any areas of concern such as potential metal loss (corrosion) or geometric abnormalities (dents) in the pipeline.  An ECDA involves an indirect, above-ground electrical survey to detect coating defects and the level of cathodic protection.  Excavations are performed to do a direct examination of the pipe in areas of concern as required by federal regulations.  Pressure testing is a strength test normally conducted using water, which is also referred to as a hydrostatic test.

PG&E performed an ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2009 and no issues were found.  PG&E plans to perform another ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2015.  This section of L-109 also had an ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment) performed in 2012, and no issues were found.

Automated Shut-off Valves: There are two types of automated shut-off valves recognized within the natural gas industry: Remote Controlled Valves (RCV’s), which can be operated remotely from PG&E’s Gas Control Center, and Automatic Shutoff Valves (ASV’s) that will close automatically as a result of rapidly falling pipeline pressures and/or increased flows at the valve location. There is an RCV on L-109 in Daly City that can be used to isolate the section of L-109 that runs through this neighborhood.

3. Is this section of pipeline 109  “the same type that blew up in San Bruno?”

No. Line 109 operates at a much lower pressure and is smaller in diameter, and is of a much more recent vintage.

4. What safety procedures does PG&E put in place when home or street contruction occurs on the site of a major gas pipeline like 109?

Anytime a contractor or resident makes an excavation on franchise or private property, they must call 811 (State Law for Underground Service Alerts [USA]) in advance so we can identify and properly locate our UG facilities.  When our Damage Prevention group gets the USA request and identifies a critical facility like a gas transmission line in the scope of work, they notify the caller that they must contact PG&E for a standby employee.  PG&E must observe a safe excavation around our lines if any digging is within 10’ of it.  We must be present when they dig around this line.  Our standby inspector will instruct and guide the excavating party to avoid damage.  Excavators who violate this Law are subject to fines.

5. Does the steep grade of the Folsom site have any impact on Pipeline 109? Given the grade at the proposed site, are any special provisions or procedures required to ensure the safety of the pipeline during construction?

The grade of the street have no impacts on the operation of the line.  If the cover is not removed or disturbed within 10’ of the line, there are no special precautions needed.

6. Are there any specific technical or safety challenges posed by the proposed home site, and if so, how does PG&E plan to address them?

As long as the structures are built within the property lines similar to the existing [homes on Folsom Street], they will not pose any issues for us patrolling and maintaining that line.  The proposed home sites are not on top of line 109, and are no closer to the line than existing homes in the neighborhood.

Additional Background: In the area outlined in the map [Bernalwood sent PG&E, shown above], PG&E’s natural gas transmission pipeline L-109 runs down Folsom Street and turns east to follow Bernal Heights Blvd.  Line 109 in this area is a 26-inch diameter steel pipeline installed in 1981 and has a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 150 pounds per square inch gage (psig), which is 19.8% of the pipe’s specified minimum yield strength (SMYS).  This provides a considerable margin of safety, since it would take a pressure over 750 psig to cause the steel in the pipe to begin to deform.

When we cited PG&E’s previous Bernalwood comments about the project, Neighbor Herb said, “We want NTSB standards to be followed.” However, Neighbor Herb was unable to point Bernalwood toward the specific NTSB standards he wants PG&E to follow.

To be sure, independent of the pipeline on Folsom Street, recent events have not inspired much confidence in PG&E’s ability to manage its pipelines safely. In the wake of the 2010 San Bruno Pipeline explosion,  documents presented earlier this month in a criminal trial related to the San Bruno blast revealed that, in 2008, PG&E had prioritized profitability over safety management.

But the pipeline is just one of several concerns shared by neighbors near the proposed homesite. “Once the road gets put in, it’s likely more houses will go in,” Neighbor Herb says. “Once the road goes in we can have six pretty big houses there, with six times as many garbage cans, and six times as much construction, and six times the concern about emergency vehicles.”

Parking is also a concern. “Adding three more cars fighting for parking space will make parking even more difficult,” Neighbor Herb said.

3516 Folsom, ground floor plan

3516 Folsom, ground floor plan, showing two-car garage

A review of the plans for both of the proposed homes shows that each will include a two-car garage.

“The issue more with the City than with the developers, given that the City did not require a CEQA [environmental] review and gave the project a waiver,” said Neighbor Marilyn Waterman, another neighbor who has also been active in the effort to gather signatures for a letter to the Board of Supervisors.  Neighbor Marilyn, who divides her time between her home on Gates and a home in Menlo Park, adds,” The City needs to take responsibility for the neighborhood’s public safety  issues.”

Ailed Paningbatan-Swan, director of community engagement for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, confirms that BHNC has gotten involved in the issue. “I’ve been helping to connect [those seeking environmental review] with other neighborhood leaders,” she tells Bernalwood.

“I’m not going to say anything about the parking issues; my concern is the public safety,” Ailed adds. “We are not opposed to having the houses built, we are concerned about the public safety issues around the PG&E pipeline.”

“It’s difficult to get much information from PG&E, but there will be safety process established to protect the gas line,” says Fabian Lannoye, who owns one of the lots at the proposed site. “PG&E is not willing to do any work on this project until it is approved.” Fabian tells Bernalwood he owns one of the proposed homesite lots, and that be plans  to live in the house he hopes one day to construct.

The Bernal Heights Democratic Club and the San Francisco Chapter of the Sierra Club are also said to be planning to submit letters to the Board of  Supervisors about the 3516 and 3526 Folsom project.

D9 Supervisor David Campos is expected to recuse himself from tomorrows Board of Supervisor’s vote on 3516 and 3526 Folsom, because he lives a block away, within 500′ of the proposed homesite.

IMAGES: Renderings via Fabian Lannoye

Your Esmeralda Slide Park Renovation Project Update

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The stairs around the Esmeralda slides were closed for a few weeks recently while works crews laid down new concrete as part of the ongoing Esmeralda Slide Park renovation project. That was a nuisance, but now that work is complete, and the stairs are open again. Hurrah!

So what’s next? Neighbors Joan and Nancy, your volunteer cat-herders and advocates for the Esmeralda Slide Park renovation, wrote to Bernalwood to share this update:

The Esmeralda Stairs between Prospect and Winfield were finally opened up ,just days before 4th of July weekend. This marks the first sign of a restoration of our beloved Stairway after almost 2 difficult months when the only access was to skirt around the chainlink fence at Prospect and Esmeralda, and the caution tape and barricades at Winfield and the Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza.

Some answers to why all this mess is occurring and when will it end:

The Plaza’s concrete was demolished in May to make way for new irrigation pipes installed to provide water for the entire Park and Plaza planter box. This is a big deal, and it took five years for the City to finally take care of this. For those who think this isn’t worth the mess the City has made of the Esmeralda plaza, try lugging a 100′ hose to water each of the plants in the Park. That’s how a couple of us have been watering the Park for the past five years. As for watering the new plants in the Plaza planter box volunteers put in last August, a couple of neighbors have been graciously drawing from their own water and dragging hoses into the box.

It took the City months to get a new water meter from PUC. Turns out, the City can’t get other agencies to move faster than us mere citizens. Meanwhile, WebCor, a private construction company that does lots of work in San Francisco, is doing all the concrete work for free. That’s great, but you know know how free goes: WebCor does the work in between their “real jobs” with the upshot, it takes longer.

After 6 weeks of torn up concrete, the irrigation pipes are now under the newly poured Plaza. Hopefully, in another month, our picnic table and benches will be re-installed. A new retrofitted slide approach platform (with a railing) will be installed, making it possible for people in wheelchairs to pull themselves onto the slide and go down (though they’ll still need assistance exiting the slide).

Speaking of wheelchair access to the Plaza; Once the City starts tearing up old public sidewalks, they need to come into this decade by meeting American Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements. Even though the Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza is at the apex of a steep hill with narrow sidewalks, two new curb cuts leading into our Plaza will make it possible for a people with wheelchairs or strollers to wheel into the Plaza easily.

The mounds of dirt that seem to grow every day at the base of the slide are there because of the trenches being dug for the irrigation pipes coming down the hillside to deliver the water from our new water meter. The trench on the hillside between the staircase and the slide will get covered with lots of fresh dirt in planting boxes, which we hope many gardener wannabes will volunteer to help plant and weed when the time comes. Meanwhile, in the past we never planted along the hillside because our hose didn’t reach for watering, and we didn’t create terracing to hold soil for plants we couldn’t afford. Now, between the City and WebCor, they’re going to make and install the terraces after the City completes the installation of the water pipes. We’re hoping they’ll complete this work in the next couple of months, although the City hasn’t confirmed their timeline.

Lastly, the wretched slide landing pad will be replaced. Concrete will be poured by WebCor to accommodate a brand-new, softer pad that’s wider and curved for those who live dangerously and travel fast down the slide. Once again, the City hasn’t provided a timeline for this, but we’re hoping in the next couple of months.

Thanks to everyone for their patience, and please enjoy the access we once again have to our stairs. Be safe navigating the trenches in the slide landing area, and we’ll have more progress updates soon!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbors Joan and Nancy