What was once a dumping ground and occasional homeless encampment is on its ways to becoming The Portola’s newest park. The new park site is at the dead end at Burrows and San Bruno Avenue. For now, it’s being called The Burrows Pilot Park, a “pilot” as there are four other dead ends in similar shape along the commercial corridor. If this park project is successful, there is a plan to continue to develop the other unused and abused spaces into community space. The Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee (PNSC) has been working with CalTrans and the Department of Public Works (DPW) to reclaim the abused and ignored land. After the PNSC began working toward improving the outdoor and after receiving a small grant, The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development introduced the PNSC to Architecture For Humanity, a volunteer group of architects that along with offering aid to disaster torn areas helps to reclaim urban spaces for community uses.
The park will not reduce parking on and around San Bruno Avenue, it will retain all parking spaces. What it will do is reclaim the ground and hillside that is currently fenced off from usage at the dead end and adds furniture to allow outdoor, café seating at for the local restaurant patrons, shoppers and residents. It will have a public art element and an informational kiosk so that the community can post notices. The land is a CalTrans easement and the process has begun for them to lease the land to DPW and the PNSC to develop and maintain it. Once the permits and paperwork are completed, the park will be able to form. Volunteer labor from contractors, landscape designers, students and residents are expected to make the park a reality in a matter of days.
The dead end is a low area for The Portola and collects runoff from the street and overflow from Highway 101. The park will have a bioswale, a French-drain type feature, that will siphon off the water and clean it on its journey back to the water table through plant material, rocks, soil and sand. An added design element will be a footbridge that will cross the bioswale. There will also be drought-tolerant plants and trees installed as well as new pavement and natural stone seating. In addition to the natural features, surveillance cameras will be added to further discourage dumping and graffiti vandals. Another grant from Reader’s Digest magazine will help pay for the cameras and their installation. Windows and awning for the Subway Shop are planned for the Burrows sidewalk to add to the café appeal.
Currently, every Friday for 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., a weeding and cleaning group gets together to maintain the space, call 311 to have trash removed and tell people about the coming park. Everyone is welcome to attend what is called The Brown Bag Brigade. You do not need to RSVP, just show up with your lunch, a pair of work gloves and a sun hat on appropriate days.
The PNSC is working to attract a coffeehouse as an anchor business to the currently vacant retail space adjacent to the park and behind the Subway shop. The City also recognizes the appeal a coffeehouse will bring to San Bruno Avenue and has a $50,000 grant available for capital improvements to the retail space itself. For more information about the park or The City’s offer for improvements, contact Robert Ramirez at (415) 574-9170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.