San Francisco

Buena Vista Park entrance gets safety, greenery updates

When San Francisco Recreation and Park workers began jackhammering the entrance stairway to Buena Vista Park on Saturday, April 6, some area residents became alarmed, concerned that major changes to the entrance were underway without prior notice.

Area resident Shay Howell wrote to Hoodline to express concerns about the scope of the work, saying that it was "shady, inhumane and undemocratic." 

Howell escalated the issue to the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) at a meeting last week. HANC, in turn, sent a letter of concern to Rec & Park, saying the stairs at the corner of Haight and Buena Vista Avenue West "may have had historical significance" as part of the city's oldest public park. 

But the stairs, which were recently painted in rainbow colors in an homage to how they've looked periodically in decades past, aren't being drastically overhauled.

The slight alterations are intended as "part of a larger effort at Buena Vista to make the park safer, more accessible and welcoming for residents and visitors," explained Rec & Park spokeswoman Tamara Aparton. The work has included more tree maintenance, upgraded irrigation and tennis courts, and an ongoing "cleaning and greening of park entrances."

While the stairs are "not a historic landmark" by city designation, Aparton said, there are no major alterations or removals planned for them as a whole. The use of a jackhammer was undertaken only briefly, to remove a built-in concrete bench at the top of the steps and to make some minor repairs to the stairs and retaining wall. 

The bench at the top of the stairs (pictured in 2016) was removed last week.

Aparton declined to comment as to why the bench, specifically, was removed, outside of overall "cleaning and greening." But she said it would be replaced with planter boxes full of greenery, and that more plantings would be installed around and in front of the retaining wall to brighten up the area. 

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