McLaren Park Collaborative
This friendly and effective park “umbrella group” is dedicated to finding common ground for positive change in San Francisco’s John McLaren Park. At 312.54 acres (126.48 ha), McLaren Park is the third largest park in San Francisco by area, after Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. The park boasts the largest grasslands left in San Francisco and is surrounded by the Excelsior, Crocker-Amazon, Visitacion Valley, Portola and University Mound neighborhoods. Its geography comes into into 3 Supervisory Districts, Districts 9, 10 and 11.
The McLaren Park Collaborative was formed by several forward-thinking community leaders in early 2010 as a forum and support network to help the park’s neighbors and park groups discuss and resolve various issues. With members coming from the surrounding neighborhoods, with separate and shared focus areas, The Collaborative offers a stronger voice from each district to get improvements and funding. “The Collab”, as it is sometimes called, is informally consensus-based and welcomes anyone interested in the park, group-affiliated or not.
The Collaborative’s mission is to fully engage park neighbors, advocates and agencies in the park’s improvement and promotion, and to act as a clearinghouse for park information and activities. The Collaborative meets more or less monthly. For more information visit the Facebook page or Google Group, and explore the rest of this website.
Below are some of the represented groups in the Collaborative.
Help McLaren Park
HMP’s general focus has been improving infrastructure in the park, such as playgrounds, irrigation systems, park entrances, and so on. This energetic group of park neighbors, led by the energetic and devoted husband-wife team Chuck and Trilce Farrugia, has pulled in several sizable grants and donations over the years. HMP’s webpage is here.
HMP has held several fundraisers, such as the popular pancake breakfast at the Sutter Roundhouse, where neighbors all pitch in to cook, serve and eat a tasty breakfast and raise money. The proceeds are largely responsible for the new playground near McLaren’s Peru St. entrance, as well as the refurbished Gambier park entrance. HMP also sponsors work parties with RPD Natural Areas staff at Yosemite Marsh every other month.
Save McLaren Park
SMP is a park stewardship group whose main mission is to understand and protect the wildlife and habitat in the park. Volunteers organize nature walks, work parties, picnics, and other fun and educational activities. For example, SMP and Nerds For Nature hosted a smartphone-enabled bioblitz in the park, where 43 observers of varying skills and knowledge, documented about 250 species throughout McLaren in only 3 hours. SMP also hosting a series of photography walks in the park in cooperation with RecPark’s Harvey Milk Photo Center.
Although SMP’s focus is on the park’s less developed natural areas, SMP also supports general park improvements in various ways, such as developing the “community alternative” for the Mansell Corridor Improvement Project. This “one-sided traffic” design rerouted all auto traffic onto one side of the existing median, with foot traffic on the other roadbed. It was selected by the SFMTA through community process as the preferred option for new pedestrian/bike lanes through the park and provides many improved connections to existing trails and attractions.
SMP is an informal group; there is no formal membership but it has a Coordinating Committee of about a dozen volunteers who meet frequently on-line and in-person. SMP also sends out an email newsletter every few weeks with news and park event info. You can sign up for the newsletter, as well as learn more about SMP by going to the website.
In 2003, five friends and neighbors decided that there needed to be a neighborhood organization that focused on “what was right” with our community and to celebrate the wonderful facilities and recreational and cultural opportunities in our own backyard.
F.A.C.E. (Friends of Crocker-Amazon and the Excelsior) was formed to be a booster club for our community…. (focusing on The Excelsior, Crocker Amazon, the Outer Mission and the greater District 11 area). Informally “governed’ by an eleven-member steering committee, F.A.C.E. is open to all members and, rather than meet multiple times and become too formal, they hold a dinner meeting once a year when they elect their officers. The steering committee meets several times a year to discuss projects and decide on the events to be actively involved in.
F.A.C.E. publishes a (usually) monthly newsletter listing as many of the interesting and fun activities going on and of interest to its readers. You can sign up to be added to their email newsletter by sending an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group pledged not to be a typical “talking heads” group, rather to insist that F.A.C.E. focuses on fun. The club was formed around the idea of promoting fun projects that would bring positive attention to the neighborhood, to celebrate the history, the natural beauty, the cultural diversity and the hidden treasures all around us. Visit the F.A.C.E. website at http://www.facesf.org
Founded in 1942 and incorporated in 1962, EDIA is a non-profit organization working to improve the quality of life in and around our neighborhood and its parks and open spaces. It’s monthly meetings take place the 4th Tuesday at 6:30PM in the Crocker-Amazon Playground Clubhouse. One of their main focuses is ensuring the neighborhood receives its “fair share” of city services, such as public works, infrastructure improvements, parking and safety. You can visit the EDIA website by following the link here or go to http://www.excelsiorsf.org.
SF Urban Riders
SF Urban Riders (SFUR) is an organization dedicated to creating more off-road cycling opportunities in San Francisco. Their goal is to build a city-wide network of trails where people of all ages and abilities can ride bikes for fun and as a way to experience the outdoors in an urban environment.
An active park volunteer and partner in trail building, SF Urban Riders has also brought several community events to McLaren Park, hosting Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day from 2009-2011 and the SF Mountain Bike Festival/McLaren Short Track Challenge in 2013-2014. In addition, the new McLaren Bike Park project was initiated by SFUR in 2011, then continued by the McLaren Bike Park Founders shortly after, opening in late 2017.
SF Urban Riders believes that the following needs must be met to honor the public’s preference for providing ample trails for riding bicycles:
- Provide multiple options for that cater to the variety of user levels and needs, from young beginners to experts.
- Maintain and improve the existing narrow trails that are open to cyclists, including segments of Philosopher’s Way, the University Switchbacks, and other trails south of Mansell.
- Maintain and improve the existing wider trails in the core of the park (inside the Shelley loop) that get high pedestrian and dog usage.
- Create a sustainable connecting trail near the west edge of the Golf Course to connect the new Bike Park and Crocker Amazon Playground with the upper part of the park. This trail should be both open to bikes and optimized for bicycles.
- Provide for park activation by making it easier for events like races. This includes both appropriate trails and ensuring that the non-trails capital projects enable events of all sorts.
- If park usage grows, consider creating additional trails.
for more information, visit their website at https://sfurbanriders.org/
The Vis Valley Greenway Project
Because a large part of McLaren Park is located in Visitacion Valley, members of the Visitacion Valley Greenway Project are actively involved in connecting the park to its Visitacion Valley residents to equally enjoy all the park offers. Access into and through McLaren Park at the many spots where the park intersects with residential streets and backyards, is one of the primary projects of this group. The Greenway’s founders are both artists and naturalists who advocate for park improvements with an emphasis on aesthetically pleasing development.
The Visitacion Valley Greenway Project is an outdoor open space composed of a linear series of six publicly owned parcels (each a block long), cutting a verdant swath through the heart of Visitacion Valley. It was created within a public utility easement to provide:
- Education of local school children, youth and the community about natural sciences, nutrition, and horticulture, environmental issues and advocacy.
- Open space for recreational activities.
- Pedestrian pathways linking the neighborhood.
- Greening, beautification and revitalization of the entire neighborhood.
From the Greenway and depending the starting point, McLaren Park is no more than 6 short blocks away. Visit more of the work this group does to enrich our connection to nature at Vis Valley Greenway
Friends of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater/Friends of the AMP
“The Friends of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater” formed in 2005 as a sub-committee of the Friends of McLaren Park. In January 2010, they shortened their name to “The Friends of the AMP – the Amphitheater at McLaren Park” when they started planning for their annual free concert series Saturday in the Park McLaren (now called “Live From the AMP”). Working with neighbors and park users, their mission is to advocate and work with city government, sponsors and funders to improve the use and condition of the amphitheater. They focus on “All-Things Amphitheater” — infrastructure improvements, permit fees, programming, safety, funding and city and community support for San Francisco’s only outdoor Greek-style amphitheater, encouraging musicians, artists & producers to come and present at the beautiful Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.
SF Parks Alliance
The San Francisco Parks Alliance is the fiscal sponsor for most of our individual member organizations. Their mission is to champion, transform and activate parks and public spaces throughout the city. The McLaren Park Collaborative supports and is supported by San Francisco’s primary citizen/government partnership for parks and open space. To learn more about them visit them at this link: SF Parks Alliance