Hay! What's Going On At Buena Vista Park?

Photo: Steven Bracco
By Steven Bracco - Published on November 18, 2014.
While walking through Buena Vista Park over the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed a lot of hay bales and hay spread on the hillsides in the park. 

No, there aren't any hay rides in Buena Vista Park. Instead, as Park Service Area Manager Marianna Bertuccelli tells us, “The hay is part of our regular erosion control practices. We place the hay in areas that are eroding to help stabilize the soil." Bertuccelli told us that the hay will break down and work its way into the soil over the winter, adding water-holding capacity to the sandy soil.
Founded on a sand dune in 1867 as Hill Park and renamed Buena Vista Park in 1894, the park is the third-largest in the San Francisco park system and home to one of the city’s few remaining live oak groves. Recently, there has been a push to allocate more funding to the continued maintenance of the park. The hillside erosion is just one of many issues that the park is dealing with.
As the Chron reported back in June, crumbling foot paths due to erosion and old trees dropping branches (which create a fire and pedestrian hazard) are two issues neighbors have taken up with the city in order to secure more funding for the park. Buena Vista Park requires almost constant maintenance due to the fact that its forested hilltop was essentially being planted directly on top of a sand dune.

And with nearly 140,000 trees in the entire park system, it’s become a difficult task for the Rec and Parks Department to keep up with maintenance on a regular schedule. 

Bertuccelli informed us there is no dedicated funding per se for Buena Vista Park, and that a budget of $100,000 is stretched over 30 different sites. "We have a very small maintenance budget to buy custodial supplies and gardening supplies for all the parks and the service area. It is my role as manager of the service area to allocate resources as needed and as my meager budget allows to all of the various sites within the park service area." 
As we noted in July, Supervisors Breed and Wiener were able to secure $100,000 for tree maintenance in the park, and Wiener tells Hoodline that he's also set aside an additional $20,000 budget item for a wood chipper to clean up dead branches and decrease fire hazards in the park. (Tree maintenance, it seems, is front-of-mind for Wiener of late.)
It remains to be seen how far the additional $100,000 and the wood chipper will go in impacting  the park's tree maintenance program, so be sure to stay on the park's defined pathways to prevent erosion and falling branches, especially as winter winds and (hopefully) rain move in. 

Meanwhile, the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association has announced that a capital planning initiative is getting underway among BVNA members, SF Recreation and Park Department and SF Department of Public Works:

"Early estimates are the park needs being in the tens of millions of dollars of capital work (i.e. paths, walls, forestry, entrance restoration). Improvements in these areas will address the serious erosion problem, decline of the aging forest, improve circulation, and install sustainable landscaping and the irrigation to keep it alive."

Three or four public meetings on the issue will set community priorities and identify key projects, with the first public community meeting slated for sometime in December.

If you'd like to lend a helping hand in park maintenance, the BVNA's next volunteer workday will be on Saturday, December 6th from 9am to noon. Work planned will include planting on the park’s west side.

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