Assemblymember Phil Ting, Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Sen. Scott Wiener Announce Law To Help Create Parks under Freeways

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) – San Francisco’s state lawmakers Assemblymember Phil Ting, Senator Scott Weiner, and San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee stood with parks advocates at City Hall to announce Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of Assembly Bill (AB) 857, legislation to help San Francisco create parks and open spaces on underutilized lands owned by CalTrans under and adjacent to highways 80, 101, and 280.

Assemblymember Ting worked with Mayor Lee’s office in crafting AB 857, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 15, 2017.

“We have so few places for kids and families to go play,” said Assemblymember Ting (D-San Francisco).  “This bill is a creative way to meet state sustainability requirements while bringing parks to communities that desperately need them.  By signing it into law, the Governor is helping us make San Francisco a better place to raise a family.”

“By utilizing the parcels under our freeways, we can help knit our communities together while providing parks and open spaces for our growing communities,” said Mayor Lee. “San Francisco has a history of using these sites to build skate parks, basketball courts and other public amenities, and this legislation will allow us to expand upon those efforts. We are proud to partner with Assemblymember Ting on this innovative measure to help enrich the lives of our families and residents.”

AB 857 allows San Francisco to lease up to ten CalTrans highway right-of-way parcels at 30 percent of the market rate to create parks or open space.  The city lacks the open space needed to meet state requirements imposed by the California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, which was enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks through integrated transportation, land use, housing, and environmental planning.  San Francisco wants to develop green spaces, parks, and recreational facilities on available state rights-of-way below and adjacent to state freeways.

“As we build more badly needed housing for people to live in our city, we also need to create more parks and open space for families and residents to enjoy,” said Senator Wiener (D-San Francisco).  “In our dense urban environment, that means making creative use of space, and that’s exactly what this bill does. I’m proud to support AB 857 and thank Assemblymember Ting for leading this effort.”

San Francisco has identified a range of CalTrans parcels as potential lease sites under AB 857, including:

  • Alemany Maze (Highway 101/I-280 Interchange) adjacent to Bernal Heights, Portola and Bayview
  • Showplace Square (under Highway 101) in the Mission District
  • The Hairball (under Highway 101) near Cesar Chavez Street, adjacent to Bernal Heights, the Mission, and Potrero Hill
  • under I-80 in Central SOMA
  • off-ramps from I-280 to Balboa Park and City College.

“At The Trust for Public Land, we believe everyone should live within a 10-minute walk to a park and as Mayor Lee knows, San Francisco is the first –and so far the only – city in the country to meet that 10-minute walk standard for all its residents,“ said Mary Creasman, California Director of Government Affairs, The Trust for Public Land.  “But as good as the city’s park system is, it can get better, and AB 857 is the kind of visionary solution to help improve our green space. And it is the kind of innovation San Francisco is so well-known for, and that should inform statewide policy around park access and equity. We are incredibly grateful to Assemblymember Ting and Mayor Lee for their leadership on parks and green space, and for creating models like AB 857 that can be replicated across the country.”

Without this bill, San Francisco faces prohibitively expensive lease costs.  The popular SOMA West Skate Park and Dog Play Area was built on CalTrans land under Highway 101 leased for 20 years at the market rate, or $4.8 million.

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Contact: Mark Chekal-Bain (415) 557-2312 (O) / (510) 599-2246 (M)