City Hall

City Hall: Gordon Mar

Garden Access for All

By Supervisor Gordon Mar

Spring may seem subtle in the fog-wrapped Sunset District, but it’s here all the same. 

In the spring, the gardens of nearby Golden Gate Park really come to life. While the petals on the magnolia trees in the Botanical Garden start falling in April, the signature California poppies, irises, and other wildflowers are opening into full bloom. 

There’s no better time to enjoy the enchantment of some of our City’s premier open spaces, and now there’s no barrier to doing it. Last month, I joined Mayor London Breed in sponsoring and passing legislation to make the Gardens of Golden Gate Park free for all San Francisco residents starting April 21.

After so much time stuck inside and sheltering, providing equitable access to these public spaces of calm and natural beauty will enhance the health and well-being of our entire community. And I used this opportunity to build on our previous work expanding access for veterans to park facilities. In addition to San Francisco residents, military veterans from across the country will be able to enjoy the Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers and Botanical Garden free of charge as a small token of appreciation for their service. 

Looking to the south, there’s also critical work underway at Stern Grove, and we recently convened a virtual community meeting to provide information on all the different projects underway. I’m very happy to say that the Stern Grove Festival will be back this summer for its 85th year of fantastic free music in an unparalleled outdoor venue. To ensure that can happen, extensive restoration work is underway to repair the substantial flooding damage that resulted from an air valve failure in a water transmission line last fall. 

This work requires rebuilding an entire hillside, drainage systems and structural retaining walls; removing and reinstalling historic rock walls; restoring the concert and west meadow turfgrass; replacing the furnishings in buildings damaged by mold and water; removing and replacing or replanting 63 large eucalyptus trees undermined by the flooding and restoring the Vale Street parking lot and tennis courts. I’ve introduced legislation to secure $20 million in funding to fully repair the damage, and I’m committed to ensuring Stern Grove is restored to its full glory – efficiently, effectively, and thoroughly – so generations of San Franciscans can continue to enjoy one of the most treasured green spaces in our City. 

Meanwhile, work is underway on the Stern Grove Playground Renovation, which will provide new play equipment and safety surfacing, replace deteriorated paths, create an accessible path and entryway, and provide new amenities, furnishings and landscaping for this important family resource. 

And that’s not all – the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed my legislation making the Trocadero Clubhouse in Stern Grove our City’s newest historic landmark, and the first preservation project by Parkside Heritage. This work to recognize and protect the history of our neighborhood will continue. Last month, I joined Supervisor Myrna Melgar in introducing legislation to next recognize the Mothers Building, a storied building with a rich history both for the arts and women’s history nestled in a corner of the SF Zoo, as a historic landmark. 

Looking beyond our neighborhood, we’ve also been hard at work on important policies to address citywide challenges and needs. In March, I introduced the Crime Prevention Through Community Policing Act. This legislation will require every SFPD District Station to develop an annual community policing plan with input from neighborhood stakeholders, to advance public safety strategies that meet the needs of neighborhoods with increased foot and bike patrols, better language access, and foster proactive problem solving through collaboration between the police and the community. Stronger communities are safer communities, and with a community policing plan for every police district, we can ensure residents are heard, supported, and ultimately kept safer.

Also in March, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed my legislation to create the Housing Development Incentive Program for Homeowners. This innovative program is an expansion of the very successful Affordable Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Pilot Program we created with the Planning Department and community partner Asian Inc. over the past year. It has provided technical assistance to 30 Sunset homeowners interested in building an ADU. The new program created through this legislation will scale up and expand the scope of the pilot program citywide by going beyond ADUs to include duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes, offering expanded technical assistance and financial assistance to homeowners, such as grants and no-interest loans, and exploring streamlined permitting through pre-approved plans.

The Housing Development Incentive Program for Homeowners includes greater financial incentives for homeowners who agree to maintain affordability for moderate-income families. Incentivizing the production of “missing middle” housing is tremendously important because neighborhoods like the Sunset, OMI (Ocean View, Merced Heights and Ingleside) and Bayview-Hunters Point have historically been places where working-class families, immigrants and people of color have been able to buy homes and build economic security and thriving communities. Today, market rate units being created by speculators in these neighborhoods are not affordable to even middle-income families. This new program is a critical strategy to support homeowners to expand their homes to meet the urgent housing needs of seniors, multi-generational families and moderate-income households and essential workers.

Finally, the Board of Supervisors also voted unanimously to place Public Health Emergency Leave on the June ballot. This common-sense policy to protect workers and workplaces expands on previous emergency legislation I wrote and passed. In the year it was in effect, more than 200,000 San Francisco workers gained two additional weeks of paid leave to protect themselves, their coworkers, their families and our City at the height of the pandemic. If passed by voters, Public Health Emergency Leave will become available automatically during any public health emergency to use if you’re sick, need to quarantine, need to take care of a family member, or can’t work because of it. Public Health Emergency Leave will be available upfront without needing to be accrued and will cover all employees of private companies with 100 or more employees worldwide, and City employees. On unhealthy air quality days, outdoor workers with asthma or other conditions sensitive to poor air quality will have Public Health Emergency Leave to protect them. 

The pandemic has shown that we are only as healthy as our neighbors. No person should have to choose between being able to pay their rent or going to work with a contagious and potentially deadly disease. No parent should have to choose between a paycheck or sending their sick child to school. By extending Public Health Emergency Leave for current and future emergencies, we’re acting on the lessons from this pandemic, and we’ll be more prepared for the next one.

Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at 415-554-7460 or marstaff@sfgov.org. 

2 replies »

  1. I would love to see the gardens, but because of my disability I cannot get to the gardens or the Conservatory on the east JFK Drive. And there are many like me who, for the sake of safety, can only go places in a private car. If you vote for permanent closure, you will be guilty of segregation of seniors, the disabled, and low income residents who live far from the park. It will be a park for the able-bodied white elites. Is that what you want?

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  2. First of all, Strybing Arboretum is not a “garden.” Nor is the Conservatory (free until 2004, when Parks Trust was gifted it!).

    What Gordon Mar is NOT telling you is that it is outrageous that, given the billions in the City budget, we are charging for these.

    And for Mar to posture himself of some sort of “progressive” while he stood up loud and tall (as did fauxgressive neoliberal Matt Haney) to fleece anyone who can not prove SF residency (including our guests) to enter is totally outrageous!

    Mar privatized the Tea Garden, which was public property.

    In exchange for future quid pro quos (classy treatment whenever he goes to these, future campaign contributions, support by elites), he has sold it to the elitist-run San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, an organization that has already done immense damage to Strybing Arboretum by destroying gardens, etc.

    Really great neighborhood spaces have been ruined, so elites can use them for their parties and edification.

    A true shame!

    Here are some of the questions Mar should have asked:

    https://commonsprotector.medium.com/questions-san-francisco-supervisors-should-be-asking-the-san-francisco-botanical-garden-society-43720af34e4e

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