In the “participatory budgeting” election in Supervisorial District 7, eight of 48 proposed projects won enough votes to be selected for funding. One of the winners was the proposal to fund a new community bulletin board and a nature play area for kids in Golden Gate Heights Park. Stay tuned for further updates.
Golden Gate Heights Park may be the most beautiful park most people don’t know, even people who have lived in the neighborhood for years. Not to be confused with the more prominent but austere Grandview Park, which is a commanding outpost to the north (and is also called “Turtle Hill”), Golden Gate Heights Park sits unobtrusively on top of the hill at 12th Avenue and Rockridge Drive, largely hidden by surrounding hills and houses. It’s worth finding. When you do, you enter a seven-acre haven of soaring Monterey pines, gladed meadows, graceful paths, and venerable stone steps. (Click on images to enlarge.)
On a clear day the park affords a commanding view of the ocean to the west and glimpses of Mt. Tam, the Marin headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Angel Island to the north. In the fog, you could be excused for thinking that heaven might look like this. Except. . . .
The park is many years old, and it shows. The playground structure is contaminated by arsenic. The tennis courts are cracked and ragged, with poor drainage. The upper playing field becomes a swamp in the rain. Broken pavement and potholes have made the paved paths hazardous.
The good news: friends of the park have begun to polish this hidden gem. They have comprehensively surveyed the neighborhood, obtaining completed questionnaires from 250 families. They have produced a master plan for upgrading the park, including an architectural rendering of the plan. They have held an ongoing series of community meetings, raised $6,000 in private donations (including $1,000 from SHARP) for park renovation, held cleanup work parties, and begun to obtain funding from the city. In 2014, Supervisor Yee was one of three supervisors who used a “Participatory Budgeting” program to allow citizens to vote on their budget priorities. Of 30 proposals in three districts, an upgrade for Golden Gate Heights Park got the most votes—more than 500. That success led to a $23,000 allocation for the park, to which Supervisor Yee added $100,000 with discretionary funds.
The plan for the park divides it into six main areas: the main park entry (green), the inner circle (darker mustard), the park corner (purple), the lower park entry (pink), the forest (darker gray green), and the natural area (lighter gray green).
The friends of the park failed to obtain Community Opportunity Funds (“COF”) in 2014 but they are applying again in 2015. The proposal focuses mostly on the main park entry area. It would improve the grading, drainage, and irrigation of the upper field; add plantings, furniture, and signs; and renovate the path with a hardscape surface of a type yet to be determined. The proposal also calls for understory planting and erosion control in the forest, the largest single section of the park.
If you would like to help with the park’s restoration, contact the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association, which also accepts financial contributions on behalf of the park improvement project.