Mar 07

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Mural Unveiling This Saturday To Celebrate Portola’s Garden District Designation

A picturesque view of the Garden District taken from McLaren Park last week.

It is official, according to a unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors late last year, Portola is San Francisco’s Garden District! The resolution was put forth by former District 9 Supervisor David Campos after years of advocacy from neighborhood gardeners, the Green House Project folks and the Portola Urban Greening steering committee. When the resolution went before the board last October, over 20 of our neighbors went to City Hall wearing green ribbons in support.  One by one, Portolans spoke in front of the Board of Supervisors, voicing their thoughts on why this designation is historically appropriate and vital for guiding the future growth of the community.  Their collective efforts paid off and on October 25th, 2016 the Portola became San Francisco’s official Garden District. Here is the full resolution:


“WHEREAS, The Portola Urban Greening Steering Committee, in partnership with the Department of Recreation and Parks is working to enhance the garden identity of the neighborhood by restoring the historic greenhouses in the neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, The San Francisco Commission on the Environment adopted Resolution No. 006-15-COE on December 14, 2015 in support of the Portola Green Plan and in recognition of the Portola as San Francisco’s Garden District; now, therefore, be it,

RESOLVED, That the San Francisco Board of Supervisors supports and will assist the Portola in all its gardening and green works, including the Portola Green Plan as an important community-based statement of neighborhood goals and identity, rooted in gardening, urban agriculture, green infrastructure and community greening; and, be it,

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors formally recognizes the Portola as San Francisco’s Garden District and commends the neighborhood’s environmental, residential, and small business leaders for success in advancing a bold vision of community sustainability and resilience.

Portola Gardeners showing their support for the Garden District at City Hall


To celebrate this momentous achievement, Portola Urban Greening’s first physical project will be unveiled at a public ceremony this Saturday (we will explain more about P.U.G. in an upcoming post.)  Adorning the now blank wall of Ruth’s Uniforms, will be a beautiful hand painted sign welcoming visitors and residents to “San Francisco’s Garden District.”  The large 20’x40′ sign is already complete and currently at the artist’s shop awaiting installation. When it is hoisted in place this Saturday, it will help create a colorful gateway into the community.  But the mural is only part one of this transformational project, P.U.G. has been working closely with Caltrans to adopt the land directly below the new sign.  The once overgrown land at San Bruno, Silliman and the US-101 ramps is in the process of being cleared by a team of neighborhood volunteers.  Over the next couple of months they will install a beautiful drought tolerant garden.  The design is reminiscent of the rows of flowers that once grew on large tracts of land throughout the neighborhood.  If you would like to get involved in this project or learn more about P.U.G., please email the Program Manager, Lucia Pohlman: [email protected]

The blank wall will soon be adorned with a hand painted 20’x40′ Garden District sign.

Unveiling Ceremony Details:

The Greenhouse Project and the Portola Urban Greening committee are unveiling a big, beautiful sign to celebrate the Portola’s recognition as the Garden District. Our state and local elected officials will be joining, and this is our opportunity to show just how strong and proud this community is. Live music, historic photos, activities and fun for the whole family. Link for more info here.

This unveiling is a unique opportunity to give thanks for all of the support the Portola has received from the City and its elected officials to date, to celebrate our shared progress, and to advocate for continued and increased investment in the Portola and its Garden District identity. In order to take advantage of this occasion, we need you to stand up as a leader, invite your family, neighbors and friends, and rep your Portola pride.

The Caltrans Easement just north of Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe located at 2469 San Bruno Avenue.

Saturday, March 11th at 1:30pm. The event will officially span one hour.


Preliminary garden plan for the Silliman gateway.

For a little background on why the Portola is San Francisco’s Garden District, below is an excerpt from the Green House project’s website.  We will be writing more stories over the coming months, highlighting Portola’s gardening history, stay tuned…


Mostly hidden in the southern edge of the city, the Portola has a unique history of growing flowers and produce for San Francisco markets. The District’s identity as a “green” neighborhood began nearly a century ago.

Originally, the Portola (we say Por-da-lah) District was populated by the native people of the Ohlone tribe. In the early 1900s however, Jewish, and then Maltese and Italian immigrants began moving to the area and constructing greenhouses and cultivating the sunny suburb of the city. In the 1920s the Portola was home to 19 family-owned nurseries, and the neighborhood grew produce and the great majority of flowers sold in San Francisco. For 70 years, horticultural activity characterized the Portola District, which was once known to many as “San Francisco’s Garden.”

The iconic University Mound Greenhouses were built by the Garibaldi brothers in the Portola District of San Francisco in 1922. The Garibaldi family produced 7 varieties of roses as well as Snapdragons, Maidenhair, Dahlias (the City’s flower), French Marigolds, and Delphiniums for sale in San Francisco and beyond. The eighteen glass and wood greenhouses operated until the early 1990’s and were the last privately owned, actively producing commercial greenhouses in the city. For the past twenty years, they have grown wild with roses (and increasingly with blackberries). They are a symbol of the neighborhood’s rich history and of its future promise.

Today, the neighborhood is a convergence of diverse residents and natural assets located outside of the city center. Predominately a residential neighborhood of single-family homes, activity centers around its commercial spine on San Bruno Avenue. Surrounded by McLaren Park, the University Mound reservoirs, and the Alemany Farmer’s Market, Portola residents transcend cultural and lingual differences through sharing their unique communal spaces. Recently, an outpouring of green efforts is coming from the community, bringing new life into the neighborhood and reconnecting it with its past. From school garden lots, the Goettingen Community Garden, the Portola Garden Tour, new murals, the Burrows Pocket park and outreach from the Portola Neighborhood Association (PNA) and the Portola Urban Greening Committee (PUG), the neighborhood is breathing life into its vibrant urban agricultural heritage.

Historic photo inside one of Portola’s, once many, greenhouses


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/mural-unveiling-saturday-celebrate-portolas-garden-district-designation/

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