Strybing nursery proposal doesn't fit General Plans
The San Francisco Botanical Garden may need a new nursery - but the plan unveiled on Oct. 27 is not the right one.
Nearly 20 years ago the folks at Strybing Arboretum, now renamed San Francisco Botanical Garden, planned a new nursery. They had lots of reasons for a new, expanded facility: better separation from general public areas, better offices for gardeners, restrooms for the western end of the garden, and an education component.
The plan unveiled on Oct. 27 includes two new greenhouses at 2,800 square feet each and a "headhouse" at 4,230 square feet - just under 10,000 square feet of new buildings. In addition, the plan appears to propose approximately 20,000 square feet of new pavement: a 480-foot-long, 20-foot-wide roadway, a large new turnaround space for firetrucks, and two large patio areas. The growing beds would remain where they are.
The site lies roughly between 16th and 17th Avenues, about 40 feet north of Lincoln Way, but the access road would be from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the north, cutting through the middle of the garden. Garden visitors would have to cross this road to reach the western portion of the garden.
A chain-link fence would surround the entire nursery complex. Fencing off the nursery - never before proposed in the garden's history - would convey a negative message to visitors, who would have to cross the new roadway to get between the garden's eastern and western sections.
Environmentalists have several concerns.
- How could these buildings comply with the Golden Gate Park Master Plan and the Strybing Master Plan?
- Should the garden pave 30,000 square feet of land?
- Will construction impact the garden's endangered red-legged frogs, the only population in San Francisco, that live just downslope to the west?
- Will construction impact the city's last non-introduced bevy of California quail?
- What effects will the new buildings and traffic have on the ambiance of the garden, especially in light of the goals in the Golden Gate Park Master Plan to minimize motor traffic and the impacts of buildings in the park.
The new building complex would push into an area of native coastal scrub. The proposed growing terraces northwest of the complex would apparently involve bulldozing and regrading of what appears to be an underlying sand dune. Signage now labels this area as "Coastal Scrub", and its ceanothus, buckeye, coyote brush, and purple needle grass help attract ground-foraging birds including flickers, quails, and sparrows. This area should be protected and enhanced.
It does make sense to move the nursery away from the coldest spot in the entire park, and we welcome the prospect of enhanced growing facilities for the garden, better for the plants, the gardening staff, and the many volunteers. The project would also add useful bathroom facilities in the western end of the garden. An expanded complex can allow better offices for the gardeners and an education component.
The 1998 Golden Gate Park Master Plan calls for a new nursery along Lincoln, preserving the integrity of the garden space. Why isn't that original plan acceptable?
Contact acting Recreation and Park Department general manager Jared Blumenfeld at:
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94117
jared.blumenfeld -at- sfgov.org
and the Recreation and Park Commission at the same mailing address or at (415)831-2750 or by email to recpark.commission -at- sfgov.org
Ask them to rethink the plans for the Center for Sustainable Gardening and to find a solution with no roadway and with less disturbance of open ground. Insist that before the proposed plan can go forward, an Environmental Impact Report must be prepared, and the Golden Gate Park and Strybing Master Plans must be amended.
The proposed plan can be found here.