Businesses, Volunteers Green Up 20th Street

Volunteers at work on 20th Streetin 2012. Photos by Yousur Alhlou.

The Mission District’s 20th Street Corridor just got a green facelift.

Thanks to city grant funding, the street is now home to a “biophilic streetscape,” a sidewalk installation that is as environmentally friendly as it is visually pleasing.

The installation on 20th Street between Florida and Alabama streets has two parts: a garden landscape with native and climate-adapted non-native plants, and a section with “permeable pavers,” or gaped concrete paving that allows water to penetrate into the soil.

The permeable landscape is intended to reduce sewer loads during storms and filter untreated water before it enters the water systems, according to Jane Martin, founder of Permeable Landscape as Neighborhood Treasure (Plant*SF), one of the project co-sponsors.

Plant*SF has sponsored sidewalk installations and sustainable landscapes across the city, from the Marina to Bayview to the Mission. The nonprofit also provides demonstrations and support to city residents who want to initiate their own sidewalk landscape projects.

“It’s beautification and sustainability … [that] is not only providing food, forage and habitat for insects, butterflies and pollinators, but also that is a critical component of reducing the water loads on our combined sewer system,” Martin said.

The entire process, permit to production, took a year and a half. More than 60 volunteers participated in the two-day gardening and beautification process this weekend.

“This is a large, ambitious project,” Martin said. “We’ve replaced the entire sidewalk.”

The installation on 20th Street is not the first of its kind in the district. Mission residents can also enjoy a sustainable landscape on Shotwell Street between 17th and 18th streets.

Ashbury Heights resident Paul Day frequently dines at Mission restaurant and project co-sponsor Flour + Water, and came out on a sunny Sunday to support the sidewalk beautification process nearby.

“I thought it was a good combination of two things that I love about this city — the food scene and the activism,” Day said.

Mission resident Linda Braz, who lives a few blocks from the site, lent a hand to meet new people and clean up her neighborhood.

“I’m not particularly a gardener, but I thought it would be fun participating in a community project,” Braz said. “It’s nice to see something beside garbage and used condoms.”

The project is funded largely by the Urban Watershed Stewardship Grant, provided by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and a Community Challenge Grant.

Project collaborators include Southern Exposure Gallery, Shift Design Studio, and Humphry Slocombe Parlour Bakery. The ne timeas restaurant group (including flour + water, central kitchen, salumeria and trick dog) was also a prominent contributor.

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