Category Archives: Infrastructure-and-Design

History of Quesada Ave. speed humps

By Jeffrey Betcher

A neighbor asked me about how a recently installed speed hump on our Bayview block came to be. Like most resident-led civic improvements, it didn’t happen quickly.  And it didn’t happen because one person, on either the community side or the City side of the equation, tried to make it happen.

Truth is, NASCAR-like traffic on this single residential block has been an issue for residents even before the first record we have of asking the City for speed bumps (or speed humps, as we evolved). I’m going to age another year just by typing this, but that first request was in 2003!

>We caught a break when community-sensitive Nick Carr at SFMTA contacted me about a traffic calming planning process for an area of Bayview that included the Quesada Gardens’ block.  I inserted our request into that traffic calming plan, noting the history of our community’s request, a history that involved lots of others beside myself.

That speed hump slowed traffic for about a third of the block, but checkered flags were still waving on the rest of the block.  At the same time, work to improve life on the block had succeeded enough that there were many more pedestrians walking the sidewalks and crossing the street to enjoy the gardens and art projects. The risk of an accident was still high.

I kept in touch with Nick about it all, and he responded again!  Hydra, Wei Ming, Shane and others did a lot of footwork to get neighbors to vote for the second hump. Hydra contacted Nick to help keep things moving.

Here’s a bit of speed hump history …

2003: The first request for speed bumps is noted in Quesada Gardens’ first set of meeting notes.

2004: Sharon advocates for traffic calming through DPT. We organized a community meeting, and presented a petition to City reps asking for action.

2006: A Quesada Gardens meeting is devoted to the issue of traffic calming after Denise King‘s new car was totaled in a head on collision at the upper end of Quesada, but resulted in our being turned down for speed humps in favor of speed limit signs and the elimination a parking spot that made turns at the top of the hill dangerous.

Work to slow traffic continues on Quesada. More


Innovative traffic-calming at Quesada Gardens

Images by Shane King

John and friend

Shane King lives on the upper side of Quesada Avenue, which has a speed limit of 15 MPH, and he’s tired of seeing and hearing cars whiz by his house.

A speed bump was installed, to little avail. So King, Co-Chair of Quesada Gardens Initiative, brought up the idea of traffic calming cutouts shaped like local children and pets. He thought that putting up cutouts of the people and pets who actually live on the block might make speeders think about who lives here. Maybe they will slow down.

“I thought of this solution for three reasons,” King said “It’s a reminder that speed limit is 15 MPH on the street, it’s a way to show speeders who’s lives they are risking, and it is a way to show all the kids on the street they are honored members of our community.”

kids cutoutsThere are nine kids under ten on the 1700 block of Quesada. The cutouts should be finished and placed by mid-August. They will be placed in the garden in view of drivers.

If you have an idea for our community and would like to get involved, Quesada Gardens Initiative welcomes you to join us at our community building meetings the first Thursday of each month at 6pm. All community members are welcome.


A walk above the Shipyard

Shipyard tile map
Detail from tile art by local artist.

Construction is fast and furious at Hunters Point Shipyard (which marketing folks wish we’d call the “San Francisco Shipyard“). But a nice walk and quiet moments are possible in Constructionville.

The sidewalk rising from behind The Storehouse located just inside the gates forces a decision. To the right is a climb into asphalt and cement where sections of the massive building project emerge in various stages of completion. To the left is public art and a football field-sized patch of green grass at the crest of the hill.

Either way you proceed, you can get to the visitors’ center, a pleasing Southern California-esque structure where salespeople await. Never far away is what may be the development’s major sales point, a grand view of a long-neglected swath of the SF Bay’s waterfront.

Text and images: Jeffrey Betcher

Marketing meets construction.
Marketing meets construction.
Art frames nature.
Art frames nature.
An industrial gazebo with circular metal bench swing.
An industrial gazebo with circular metal bench swing.

More about Bayview’s changing natural and built environment

Resident struggles to be heard about waterfront plan

Open Letter to Phil Ginsburg, General Manager, Recreation & Parks Department:

When I came to you with concerns about the India Basin Waterfront “public-private” partnership and the competition underway to choose a designer for the waterfront parks, your response was “Don’t argue with me. You’re being alarmist.” Because you walked away, you did not see photos of a recent five-car accident caused by a driver speeding through the heart of India Basin.

This life-threatening accident was but the latest in a series of them along Innes Avenue that, for many years, neighbors have been fighting to prevent. We developed specific recommendations to address these dangers, including locating the commuter grade Class I bike path along Hudson Avenue instead of Innes. This is such a clear matter of public safety that one of the rules of your own design competition was to show a Class I bike path running through the park, a rule one of the design teams broke.

I am sure you are excited about the India Basin Waterfront. I know that you have described this project as your legacy. I ask you to remember that your future legacy is my current home, that community members understand the issues first hand, and that we will have to live every day with the consequences of your decisions. We can’t just walk away.

Planning for the parks needs to fit into the neighborhood, not the other way around. Solutions to India Basin’s unique needs have emerged over decades of grassroots planning, and those of us who live here have practical wisdom to share. Please listen and respect grassroots knowledge. Your legacy might benefit as much as our hopes for a livable, safe India Basin.

Kristine Enea; Resident, India Basin

Bridgeview Garden gets new design element

John and Sherry 9-2015 cropped webvAfter a few dozen seasons of food production in Bayview’s Bridgeview Garden, and in the wake of hundreds of visitors curious about grassroots community building, the garden shimmers as much as the showcase project ever did.

Last week, another community generated element appeared when a posting board that gardener and neighbor Sherry Scott (pictured) had been designing and building was installed next to the garden gate. Sherry used corks donated from neighbors as her primary material.

The new board is now in service below the art glass letters that Herb Dang created from scrap glass at Public Glass, a Bayview glassworks nonprofit, and in front of a massive bench by local artist Mark Baugh-Sasaki who constructed it from wood pulled from neighbors garages and the street.

Sense a theme here?

It’s all part of the Quesada Gardens Initiative‘s approach to social change: grassroots, community-emergent, sustainable, neighbor-driven. Joel and Mary McClure have been the project leaders since 2008 after caring for what was a weedy, rocky, trash-strewn empty lot by themselves.

John Kosich (pictured) and Sherry Scott have been gardening and contributing to the project for years. Both John and Sherry are architects and designers by trade, and good neighbors by nature.

Bayview library wins prestigious award

ljx150902LBDnllBayviewThe Bayview Linda Brooks-Burton Branch Library has won the 2015 New Landmark Libraries Award for Organic Design, an acknowledgement of the building as “a stunning example of how a library can honor a community’s history while laying out a path for its continued growth.”

Local observers will understand why the project deserves this honor. On a corridor where every other building will forever remain pegged to one period of construction and the design juggernaut of mixed-use development, Bayview’s new library stands out as unique.

Bayview artist Ron Saunders, who created large-scale interior wall panels that help communicate the neighborhood’s culture and history, is cited in the announcement about the award.  His work and a central courtyard (pictured) are among the design elements “supporting quiet contemplation.”

The library’s architecture and design elements were created by THA Architecture(with Karin Payson architecture + design) after a series of community meetings. Kacey Jurgens, lead architect, said the project was the highlight of her architectural career.

“I couldn’t have been more proud to have your community honored in this way,” Kacey told Footprints.  “I wish Linda could have seen this.”

Some might say Linda knew before we did.

More from an article by Toby Greenwalt

The former home of San Francisco’s shipbuilding industry, the neighborhoods of Bayview–Hunters Point are a population center for the city’s African American community. After extensive consultation with community members, the planning team chose to replace the branch with completely new construction rather than update the anonymous brick slab that was the former building. These community inter­actions revealed a deep-seated desire to engage the neighborhood both inside and outside the structure.

The neighborhood’s cultural heritage is a major design element of the branch. Earth-toned linoleum tiles provide a dash of color to the building’s exterior, laid out in a pattern reminiscent of traditional Kente cloth. The interior courtyard is made with stone pavers marked with West African Adinkra symbols, donated by a local foundation. These exterior features call attention to the branch from the street, encouraging foot traffic from nearby public transit stops.

The interior provides a welcoming environment to all who visit. Movable walls open up programming space to the children’s area, or close it off for community meetings. Distinct spaces for adults, teens, and children allow each age group to feel comfortable, bringing in acceptable levels of activity to each without disrupting the others. Local neighborhood groups and schools make regular visits to the branch for library instruction, including book talks and mentoring.

This same sense of balance pervades the building’s LEED Gold–certified green features, which employ passive elements to lessen the branch’s environmental impact while keeping construction costs down. A green roof and solar cells help regulate temperatures and offset electricity costs. Clerestory windows line the roof, bringing in additional natural light while natural and mechanical ventilation systems provide fresh air and reduce energy use. An LCD screen serves to document the space’s energy use, prompting further discussions about sustainable design.

The literal centerpiece of the branch setting is an interior courtyard. Its spare design features simple solid wood benches surrounding a xeriscaped tree garden and a mural by local artist Ron Saunders, supporting quiet contemplation. The floor-to-ceiling windows bring daylight inside, creating a sense of balance ­between the interior and the exterior.

This quality of organic design is central to the Bayview Linda Brooks-Burton Branch’s success. By rising up to meet the community’s needs in a way that feels genuine to the environment, the space ends up feeling like a second home.

More about the Bayview Library

New video, good overview of massive waterfront development

Click the image to see new video from SF Business Times reporter Cory Weinberg. Source: SFBT

In a new SF Business Times video about waterfront development, reporter Cory Weinberg starts at the Giants’ ballpark and heads south.  The story suits a pro-business perspective, of course, and jumps over some cool stuff from India Basin to Candlestick. But Cory mentions environmental issues a couple times, and the video is a nicely produced overview of the massive changes underway where we live.

Quesada Avenue extension may carve up open space

Jim Ansbro on Bayview Hill 6-16-2015
Local denizen, Jim Ansbro, at the Palou-Phelps Mini Park just below Quesada Hill where a street extension could eliminate a community-serving natural asset. Photo: Footprints

The steep, craggy hill that interrupts Quesada Avenue just west of the Quesada Gardens is the subject of debate.  While most of the hill’s land is public, at some point in history the City drew a “ghost” or “paper” street extending Quesada Avenue through the hill as access for four parcels of private land.

It seems that a private investor took a gamble that the City would build the street and install utilities.  RL&C Investment LLC purchased lots that are currently landlocked behind existing homes on the crest.  The owner wants to build two 3-story houses.

It’s unfortunate, either for the owner or the neighborhood depending on how all this turns out, that the hill is the best source for Bayview’s native plants.  Literacy for Environmental Justice propagates those plants for habitat restoration along the waterfront.

When you stand on the hill and think about its value to the natural environment, and then think about how rapidly the open space we all need to stay healthy and sane is dwindling, it’s disheartening to imagine bulldozers carving it all up.

– Jeffrey Betcher

Old sewage digesters moving – public meeting Thursday!

by Katie Cox on behalf of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Footprints brought you the first peek, in January, at this futuristic rendering of digesters in Bayview Hunters Point.

A Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been released for the biosolids digester facilities project at the Southeast Treatment Plant. The project will move the old digesters at the Southeast Treatment Plant, which are in serious need of replacement, closer to the CalTrain tracks and away from residences. We will also be implementing new technology to eliminate odors, capture 100% of the reusable gas emissions to power the plant, and visually improve the plant.

The purpose of the environmental review is to provide information about potential environmental effects of the proposed project, to identify possible ways to minimize the significant effects, and to describe and analyze possible alternatives to the proposed project in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

That’s where you come in.   The Planning Department will hold a public meeting on Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm in the Alex Pitcher Room at the Southeast Community Facility 1800 Oakdale Avenue. The SFPUC will host an informational open house prior to the meeting at 5:30 p.m. We welcome you to come and learn about the project and have your voice heard. Formal comments will be accepted until July 27th

Submit written comments (Attn: Sarah Jones) by email – Sarah.B.Jones [at] sfgov [dot] org – fax 415.558.6409, or mail: 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400; San Francisco, CA 94103.