August Update on the Stairs

  • We are planning to use the $20,000 grant we received from Supervisor Hillary Ronen (thank you!) to purchase tiles for the stairs.  A neighbor is currently researching tile options.  We are waiting to hear from DPW about when we will receive the funds, and when they can schedule a site assessment to determine if there is work that needs to be done to repair the stairs before we begin retiling.  
  • Several of us attended a Street Parks Workshop by DPW and the Parks Alliance at which we visited several street parks across the city and picked up lots of helpful advice. We got a lot of feedback about hardy plant options; these suggestions are currently being reviewed by the a Bernal neighbor and partner at the landscape architect firm Arterra, who are donating their services to this project.  
  • The applications for Community Challenge Grants will be available in October, and we will be applying then.  Neighbors are taking the lead on that. We are planning to "go big" with a request for $100,000. 
  • Neighbor is also spearheading a grant application with Lowe's, which could end up providing anywhere from $5,000-$25,000. 

FYI, below is a picture of the Athens-Avalon stairs in the Excelsior, a plot quite similar to ours.  They just completed their new tiling.  This was a completely neglected dry barren plot a couple of years ago.


9/21/2016 Update

Many updates in our effort to improve the Tompkins Street stairs.  

  • First, word from Carolina Morales in Supervisor Campos's office that the new PUC-installed lights are in place.  She writes:  You might have seen this already, but I wanted to make sure you knew that the light installation has been completed! Thank you again for working together and for your patience. We will continue solving every matter, one step at a time. I look forward to meeting with the Putnam Neighborhood Safety group next Tuesday evening and hopefully bringing more updates. Here is the update I received from SFPUC: I wanted to let you know that the lighting upgrade job  on Tompkins Stairs is complete. I have attached pictures of the new street  light LED and pole we installed midway down the stairs and a picture of the LED luminaires we installed on existing street light poles at the top and bottom of the stairs. This additional lighting and upgrade to LED will  provide more security and safety on the stairs.  
  • A number of neighbors met at the stairs with Hillary Ronen, candidate for Supervisor, on September 17th.  She expressed her strong support for helping us pursue the creation of a beautiful and safe green space for neighbors.  We previously met with candidate Josh Arce, who also expressed strong support.  Photos from both events are attached. 
  • I am meeting with staff at the SF Department of Rec and Parks on October 7 to learn more about our options a) creating a community garden and b) petitioning Rec and Parks to take over the property.  Thanks to DPW staff for arranging this.
  • DPW staff have been VERY helpful regarding installing a water meter.  DPW has agreed to cover a $12,000 "backflow" device we need to install, and their staff are assisting me with an application to PUC to have them cover the cost of installing the water meter and paying the water bill for three years!

I think the next step is for neighbors to gather and discuss all our options and see which paths we want to prioritize and pursue, and brainstorm what our "vision" for the stairs is.  I ll be back in touch shortly to suggest a date and time and place!

8/18/2016 Update

We had a successful meeting on Saturday with our neighbors and with Supervisorial candidate Joshua Arce and Carolina Morales from Supervisor Campos's office to discuss our concerns about, hopes for, and past experience with trying to improve the condition of the Tompkins Stairs.  

In addition, the DPW/SF Parks Alliance "Clean and Green Crew" came and cleaned out a lot of trash and trimmed back trees and bushes.     

We have an invitation out to Supervisorial candidate Hillary Ronen (who recently stepped down as Chief of Staff to our current supervisor, David Campos) to take a tour of the stairs as well.

We discussed several options:

  • Getting DPW to turn the property over to SF Rec and Parks and have it turned into a park.
  • Turning the property into community gardens (similar to Ogden Gardens). 
  • Petitioning DPW to "accept" the property and take responsibility for cleaning and maintaining it (it is currently an "unaccepted" or "paper" street, and according to city code they are not legally responsible for keeping it clean).
  • Working with DPW, SF Parks Alliance, candidate Arce, Supervisor Campos, and others to try again to get grants and in-kind donations to improve the stairs; including: 
    • Getting a water meter and irrigation system installed
    • Getting lighting
    • Having a new and more ambitious landscape design developed
    • Getting grants and donations to implement the design
    • FYI, the Athens Avalon Greenspace, in the Excelsior, is a similarly-sized set of stairs that were recently renovated in this manor.  I went by the other day and they look pretty good
      • To that end, we are interested in developing our own "vision" for the stairs/park:  
      • Create different tiers, or levels?
      • Playground?
      • Dog run?
      • Slide?
      • Community gardens?