In between the city’s bustling freeways and the houses and businesses that line them, one can find small, oddly shaped vacant lots. Most of the time, they’re filled with patches of weeds, dumped appliances, and clumps of trash — but not so in the former “garden district” of San Francisco. Thanks to a collaboration between the Community Challenge Grant and the Portola Urban Greening Committee, the neighborhood has slowly reclaimed these plots.
The first to be tackled was in 2014 at the end of Burrows Street, a short block sandwiched between San Bruno Avenue and Highway 101. The Burrows Pocket Park, as it’s now known, sits in front of Four Barrel Coffee and offers Portola residents a tiered, landscaped refuge from the hustle and bustle. With a tiny, arched wooden bridge, a free library, a mural and several places to sit, it is a far cry from the bleak dead end street it used to be. And the neighborhood is already gunning for an expansion. Last week, The Greenhouse Project and the Portola Urban Greening Committee led a community open house to gather ideas on what to do with a second Caltrans lot adjacent to the park, which would offer a welcome extension.
“I sit up there and look out on that fennel patch everyday,” says Lucia Pohlman of The Greenhouse Project, whose office above Four Barrel overlooks the park. “So many people come to the coffee shop, and while there are some places to sit, there’s not a huge community gathering space right on San Bruno Avenue that feels welcoming for everyone — and isn’t a commercial space.”
Caltrans lots, Pohlman believes, could offer a solution. She led last week’s open house, which she said was really a…
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