The city is poised to buy itself a new park, at the corner of 17th and Folsom.
This week, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission approved the purchase of the property for $2.42 million. The park proposal is expected to go before the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission next month and before the Board of Supervisors by early October, but the Recreation and Park Commission’s approval typically makes it a deal, according to groups involved with the project.
“This is a big deal,” said Oscar Grande of PODER, a Mission nonprofit advocating for the park.
The land, located in a light industrial corridor of the Mission that has become increasingly residential in recent years, had to be rezoned to allow for the park. The purchase, Grande said, is the culmination of a decade of work by community groups.
The city already has funding to acquire the property, construct the park and maintain it for at least three years. The location is currently a parking lot owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and leased to the University of California, San Francisco.
“There’s not too many times, I think, a project comes before us that has this kind of funding behind it,” said Karen Mauney-Brodek, deputy director for park planning at the Recreation and Park Department. All of the funding is from outside the department, she said.
The plan is to use half the property for the park. City officials envision affordable housing on the the other half of the lot, but that is years away, and the parking lot will continue to operate for at least a year.
“We are OK with that,” said Grande. “The park will have implications for the next 10, 20 years.”
The City will pay for the land with money collected from developer fees. It is buying the property from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for $2.42 million, following city rules that require the city agency to receive market value for the property.
A $2.7 million state grant will be used to construct the park. According to Mauney-Brodek, another $120,000, also collected from development fees, will be used to maintain it for at least three years. The fees are paid by developers to offset any negative impacts their projects might have on the neighborhood.
The city will pay about $37 dollars per square foot for the property. In comparison, Zillow values a similar parking structure at 899 Valencia Street at $59 per square foot.
Rec and Park, already notoriously cash-strapped, may wind up incorporating concessions into the park to offset maintenance costs after the initial funding runs out, added Mauney-Brodek.
The Mission currently is served by .36 acres of open space per 1,000 residents, compared to the city’s average of 6.7 acres of open space per 1,000 residents.
The park’s design includes a community garden, a lawn and an arbor with picnic tables.
Nearby business owners and the ODC Theater previously opposed the project because of the loss of parking. But all the public comment at Thursday’s meeting was in support of the project.
“We’re low-income and it’s hard for children to be contained in a small room, four walls but no place to go,” said Mission resident Fanny Valencia. “I know as a mother that it will benefit mothers like me, families like mine.”
Mauney-Brodek said that the city will continue to work with local businesses to develop parking strategies.