Trail Walk #1 – Visitacion Avenue Corridor

Trail corridor above Raymond

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday 11/16/19 for our 1st Trail Walk in the concept design process! This was the first of several opportunities for the McLaren Park community to provide input into trail design in the four priority areas identified in the 2017 Vision Plan.

On the foggy Saturday morning, we gathered near the McLaren Community Garden for an overview of the McLaren Trails Project, stretching, and introductions. The community garden, adjacent PUC rain garden, and the new connection from Leland Ave into the park were recently completed, and the new trail will enhance park connectivity with these new features.

Staff shared that adjacent to the Visitacion Avenue trail, the following RPD projects are also in the works:

  • A new cross walk will be installed across Visitacion, between the Middle School on the east and the fire road on the west, which connects to the southern loop and larger trail network. This project is currently in design and will be constructed as soon as possible, likely summer 2020.
  • A new sidewalk will be installed from Hahn to the middle school, biting into the road and reducing road width. This project is in an early planning phase, and still waiting for funding appropriation. Construction will be at least a few years out.
  • Herz Playground, a Let’sPlaySF! Initiative project is in the planning phase and construction won’t begin before the end of 2021.
  • A new Herz Recreation Center is being planned at the corner of Hahn and Visitacion, in partnership between Rec and Park, Mercy Housing, and Related California. This project is also in the early planning phase, and timelines have not yet been determined.

In addition, there is a private development being built east of the Park in the near future, adding five new houses adjacent to the Park between Leland and Raymond.

We confirmed that a single multi-use trail (5’ wide with Park Tread® surfacing) is planned between Hahn and the Middle School. The idea is that the trail will provide more of a meandering nature experience than the planned sidewalk. While we will be adding native plants, Lisa Wayne, Manager of RPD Natural Resources, noted that plantings will be lower height, especially between the trail and road in order to promote safely and not to create hiding places. Together we walked from south to north, flagging the proposed alignment. As part of the recent volunteer effort that roughed out the trail corridor, granite steps were installed at the corner of Hahn and Visitacion. While we will maintain a pedestrian trail from those steps at the corner, the multi-use trial will have bike-friendly access to the sidewalk a little further north on Hahn.

Visitacion Ave Trail Towards Hahn

A view towards Hahn showing the proposed Visitacion Ave Trail, flagged in white. (Photo by L. Chavez)

Early on the group discussed some of the safety challenges with multi-use trails. Lots of people like to use trails and the project will incorporate design elements and yield signage to promote safety, as has been done at the recently completed Golden Gate Park Oak Woodlands Trails Improvement Project. Folks understood too that education for all user groups is important for ongoing safety and courtesy. It was noted that 5’ feels too narrow for pedestrians, bikes, and horses on trails where horse travel may be considered (this trail is not planned for horse traffic).  A participant asked whether we would consider a more direct trail for bikes in the area of meandering turns. We pointed out that to the McLaren Trails Project will focus resources on the multi-use trail, and that streetscape improvements are planned for Visitacion Ave that will provide a safer direct route for cyclists.

A few other resounding comments were made while discussing the new project at Herz. It was noted that it’s sometimes hard to find parking near Visitacion and Hahn, and there was a strong request to maintain parking in the park at this location to serv Coffman Pool and future improvements. If a bike lane is added as part of future traffic calming measures on Visitacion, multiple participating cyclists mentioned their preferred style of the bike lane being shielded from traffic by a row of parked cars, as is the design on JFK in Golden Gate Park.

South of the community garden, Fran Martin shared with us that Growing Outdoors and Learning (GOAL, Visitacion Valley Greenway’s Community Garden Outdoor Education  Program) has received $25,000 in funding for native habitat restoration, and they have applied for an additional $175,000 in Community Challenge Grant funding to do more extensive native planting and path work in the widest section between Hahn and the community garden. She is holding off on moving forward with any project implementation until notification of the Community Challenge Grant, which is anticipated in early .

Buckeye along Visitacion Ave Trail corridor

An old california buckeye tree along the trail corridor, where additional native plantings are proposed. (Photo by L. Chavez)

Just north of the community garden, at the PUC rainwater garden, we discussed how the trail would remain distinct from the adjacent sidewalk, and that boulders would be positioned between the trail and the curb as part of trail construction. Some minor grading work will have to happen in this area. We will also likely install some wayfinding and/or interpretive signage here.

Trail Pinch Point at PUC rain garden

There is enough space between the existing rain garden edge and curb for trail and protective boulders. (Photo by L. Chavez)

At the end of Raymond, we discussed the options of adding a crossing at the turnaround or having the trail join the sidewalk at that point. All were in favor of adding a crossing, and staff will look into options for this. There was also interest expressed for the existing sidewalk on the north side of Raymond to continue to the trailhead and hope that the developer would add new sidewalk all the way to the trailhead on the south side of the street.

Raymond Turn Around

Raymond turn around, with Visitacion Ave uphill beyond. (Photo by L. Chavez)

The trail between Raymond and the Middle School will have several sweeping turns, in order to stay within our design constraints based on best practices and running slope tolerances of the Park Tread® material. We noted that clarification is needed on the future sidewalk alignment and what will happen at the bus stop and guard rail in order to refine the design. That project’s scope and timeline will inform the multi-use trail alignment, specifically whether we land the trail closer to the street or closer to the bus stop.

Trail corridor above Raymond

A view of the wide trail corridor in the area between the Middle School and Raymond. (Photo by Melinda Stockman Sullivan)

There are some rare native plants in the area, and RPD will do a survey this spring when flowers are blooming. RPD will also do a hazardous tree survey here and in each of the four areas as part of the concept design process.

Thanks again to those who came out!

The next trail walk will be late January, through the Shelly Interior Loop area, between the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater and Upper Reservoir, and near the McLaren Park Playground and Picnic Area, which is currently in construction. We’re working on confirming the date and will distribute details before the end of the year.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments throughout this design process, via email or by calling 415-581-2551.

Enjoy your parks!