The “Tower Trail” is a well loved trail in San Francisco. It is challenging, scenic, and an important connection. The land it crosses has many stories. Here are some recent ones.
The Sutro Tower is a radio tower and prominent landmark at the top of a hill near the center of San Francisco, between Mt Sutro and Twin Peaks.
The tower is surrounded by open space. A trail runs around the west and south side of the tower, and has been in existence for many years. It is not a formal trail, yet it is heavily used. It connects the Mt Sutro Open Space Preserve to Twin Peaks. It is a connection in the SFUR “San Miguel Hills Loop”, a potential part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, and even shows up on city plans.
This open space is owned by a variety of land owners: Sutro Tower Inc owns much of it. The SF Public Utilities commission owns the reservoir and adjacent lands to the east. Some areas are owned by the Recreation and Parks department, a part of the Interior Greenbelt most people don’t know about.
Two properties are remnant from the development of the Midtown Terrace neighborhood. They were abandoned by the original developer for many years. Ideally they would have been acquired for open space by the city or others, yet somehow a property developer (known as Midtown Lands) acquired them in 2020.
One property is “Zero Palo Alto”, or city lot 2724/002, near the corner of La Avanzada and Dellbrook. This property is a relatively flat open space of about 0.2 acres. It is being subdivided into two lots, which will each likely have two housing units built on them. The access to the lot is across the Rec & Park Interior Greenbelt land. Rec & Park and the developer have come to a proposed agreement for a 50’ easement for utilities and a driveway. This easement has restrictions to keep the buffer space maintained and planted with appropriate landscaping, and to ensure there is no further encroachment on the trail.
The other property is known as “402 Dellbrook Ave.”, or city lot 2724/004. This is south of the Tower, west of the end of Farview Court. It’s about 3 acres. The developer has proposed a subdivision into 19 lots. Eighteen lots for single family homes with accessory dwelling units. One lot for teacher housing (with 40 units). This would also require extending Farview Court across SFPUC and into the subdivision. It also requires significant regrading of the hillside.
This proposed subdivision of the larger property has a trail closing impact on the eastern end of the Tower Trail: this part of the trail appears to run through portions of the proposed housing.
We believe that this area would be best used as open space but recognize the need for housing. New housing can be built while preserving the existing community multi-use trails, and we urge the City to include that as a requirement for any new development in the area.
This trail has been in use for many years. It is recognized in the 2014 Recreation and Open Space Element of the city’s General Plan. It is shown in the Vision and Proposal for the San Miguel Hills Bioregional Park, published in 2010 by a coalition of San Francisco conservation groups.
Our secondary concern is the open space itself. As shown in the Bioregional Park proposal, this area is part of a large contiguous open space consisting of the Rec & Park, SFPUC, and Tower properties and part of a larger open space consisting of other properties separated only by a street.
How You Can Help
Review the plans and send the Planning Department your feedback.
You can read the SFUR initial feedback here.
Send your feedback to Claudine.Asbagh@sfgov.org; feel free to copy email@example.com and D7 Supervisor Meglar’s staff at firstname.lastname@example.org as well.
Update: As of May 25th, the Planning Department Response is out, see here, or the planning site linked above.
Please share area history and your feedback on our position with us! Email to email@example.com.
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