Lake Merced Task Force Meeting #2

March 9, 2000:

5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

San Francisco State University

Seven Hills Conference Center, Nob Hill Room


Action Notes



Attendees: California State Coastal Conservancy David Hayes

City of Daly City Patrick Sweetland

Committee to Save Lake Merced Jerry Cadagan

CSUS Aquatic and Boat Safety Center Craig Perez

Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club Gary Ehrsam

Friends of Recreation and Park Mike Nicoson

Golden Gate Audubon Society Dan Murphy

Golden Gate Audubon Society Craig Spriggs

Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Assoc. Dick Allen

GGNRA Fort Funston George Durgerian

Greater West Portal Neighborhood Assoc. Tim Colen

Lake Merced Hill Ann Anderson

Lakeshore Acres Improvement Club Flora Zagorites

Neighborhood Parks Council Isabel Wade

Neighborhood Parks Council Adam Brown

Office of Assemblyman Kevin Shelley Suzanne Gautier

Office of the Mayor David Hochschild

Office of Supervisor Mabel Teng Jessica Ring

Olympic Club Bob Maddow

Pacific Rod & Gun Club Kevin Rushton

Public Utilities Commission Michael Carlin

Recreation Center for the Handicapped Ron Hamilton

S.F. Bay Girl Scout Council Erica Chenier

S.F. Bicycle Coalition Richard Lesnik

S.F. Recreation & Park Dept. Thomas Wang

S.F. Recreation & Park Dept. Lisa Wayne

S.F. Recreation & Park Dept. Marvin Yee

SFSU, Environmental Studies Barbara Holzman

SFSU, Geography Dept. Susan Jones

SFSU, Recreation & Leisure Studies Ginny Jaquith

San Francisco Zoo, Youth Programs Laura Louttit

San Francisco Zoo, Conservation & Sciences Eva Sargent

Sierra Club Ruth Gravanis

SPEAK Carolyn Gates

W. Twin Peaks Central Council Bud Wilson

Meeting Hosts: John Plummer, Friends of Lake Merced; Dee Dee Workman, San Francisco Beautiful; Don Zingale, SFSU


The meeting agenda was reviewed and changed to allow for efficient use of time. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) were allotted time to present to the group and field questions. After these formal presentations, all stakeholders were asked to communicate their main concerns and issues regarding Lake Merced.


Presentation on Lake Merced Recreational Uses by Marvin Yee, SFRPD: Lake Merced is a resource for a variety of recreational activities. It is also a significant natural habitat resource for native plant species and wildlife. In 1950, the PUC granted the SFRPD the authority to manage and develop the lands surrounding Lake Merced for recreational use. The water bodies of Lake Merced remain under the jurisdiction of the PUC. Various recreational facilities have since been developed at Lake Merced. To further enhance and improve recreational opportunities, voters passed an $18 million park bond that benefits six facilities, one of which is Lake Merced. In 1990, a recreation master plan was developed to assist the SFRPD in determining the use of the bond funds. In 1995, the SFRPD was in the process of updating this master plan when community members recommended that the master plan be more comprehensive to address issues pertaining to the water and natural areas, in addition to recreational uses. In response, the PUC and SFRPD mailed out public notices to over 700 addresses and conducted a series of 30 public meetings. The result is the 1998 Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP). The CMP identifies a series of objectives, policies and actions to guide improvements at Lake Merced. Site-specific actions were identified and prioritized as capital improvements in the CMP. Several actions and capital improvements have been implemented as a result of these planning processes, including:


- Re-paving and widening of the 5-mile perimeter pathway

- Restoration of eroded south shore of North Lake and improved access

- Security lighting along Harding Road

- Traffic lights at intersection of Middlefield Drive and Lake Merced Blvd. for safe crossing, as requested by Lakeshore Elementary School

- Repair of fencing on the east side of Harding Park

- Regulation signage around the lake

- Development of a tule management program


Future projects include:


- Repair of fishing pier along John Muir Dr. at the south end of South Lake

- Construction of permanent restrooms at Lake Merced Blvd./Brotherhood Way (when the permanent restrooms become operational, mechanisms are in place to maintain them)


These projects were used to leverage against a $550,000 Coastal Conservancy Grant to develop a trail that links project areas and to restore natural habitat. In addition, the grant would fund the design and installation of signage around the lake to link this regional facility with regional trails, including the Coastal Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Currently, maintenance of the lake perimeter is performed by two full-time staff persons, one of whom is funded through the PUC. A SFRPD mobile crew is also assisting with maintenance. This is an improvement from previous years, but still inadequate when compared with past staffing levels. The LMTF should prepare recommendations to address the maintenance of the lake perimeter.


Presentations on Concessionaires by Jaci Fong, SFRPD: SFRPD is looking to expand recreational use at the Pacific Rod & Gun Club site. Comments in the form of an official proposal are requested. In May 2002, the lease with the Boathouse Restaurant expires. Other uses of this building will be considered. PUC and SFSU may submit ideas for programming at this site. The Harding Park Golf Course has received permission from SFRPD for a long-term lease with Arnold Palmer Golf Management. Rates for residents will remain low.


Presentation on Significant Natural Resource Areas by Lisa Wayne, SFRPD: The Significant Natural Resource Areas (SNRA) Program started two and a half years ago. The program includes 1500 acres in SF, and over 3000 volunteers have participated in its community based restoration projects. The program aims to restore biodiversity to the city's extant habitat areas that are home to some of SF's unique species. Volunteer opportunities within the program empower local community groups to help with city stewardship projects. SF has unique soils and climate. Many endemic species have evolved in our Franciscan bioregion, including the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly. Some of our unique species of flora and fauna are rare or endangered. Lake Merced is one of largest and most important habitat areas remaining in the city. Lake Merced was originally connected to the ocean, and in the 1860's an earthquake dropped lake levels and disconnected it. Around the 1880's recreational use started around Lake Merced. A variety of habitat zones survive at Lake Merced including tule, knotweed, dune, and grassland systems. The Lake is a resource for migratory waterfowl. Resident waterbirds include the Great Blue Heron. Major issues and problems include invasive species, erosion, sedimentation, and human use.


Presentation on the PUC by Michael Carlin: Water from Lake Merced was used for SF truck farms. In the 1870's Lake Merced was part of the potable water supply. In the 1890's and 1900's other sources of water developed; Lake Merced water quality was a concern. The Lake's major source of water is from rainflow and the major outflow is evaporation.


Zingale presented on overhead projector a diagram for a proposed structure of the Lake Merced Task Force (LMTF) and its Working Groups. The LMTF aims to:


       -Propose a framework by which the community of stakeholders will participate in the stewardship of the lake

       -Propose stewardship policies, actions and activities (built upon existing initiatives)

       -Propose collaborative resource mechanisms that enhances the delivery of stewardship actions/activities


SFRPD has put out a request for proposals (RFP) to take suggestions for use of Lake Merced and its shore areas. Some concession lease agreements expire in two years.


The PUC was asked to investigate Lake Merced's designation as an emergency water supply.


Maddow suggested that LMTF actions might lead to consultation with the Endangered Species Act. How does lake level relate to species habitat needs?


SFRPD timeline for projects at Lake Merced: 10 years, in four phases. One of the roles of the LMTF is to look at the priorities of project implementation.



Concerns and issues of Lake Merced stakeholders:

Committee to Save Lake Merced: Lake levels, aquifer and water quality


SFRPD: Coastal Conservancy grant, future of capital funding projects, maintenance at the Lake, community educational programs, community involvement


Sierra Club: Preservation and protection of natural resource areas and biodiversity, guided in part by the City's sustainability plan


Coastal Conservancy (sister agency of the Coastal Commission, a regulatory agency): Developing public access areas, trails, and community involvement


San Francisco Beautiful: Restoration, maintenance, and funding


SF Bay Girl Scout Council: Service and recreation


Recreation Center for the Handicapped: Access to programs, services, and recreational opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and head injuries


Golden Gate National Recreation Area: Community involvement, protection of natural resources and prevention of habitat loss


Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association: Lake level, water quality, expanding/maintaining recreational opportunities, regional use, preventing sewage pipe breakage, restoration


W. Twin Peaks Central Council: Neighborhood involvement, political leadership


Friends of Lake Merced: Health of lake and shore environment


SPEAK: Significant natural resource areas


Golden Gate Audubon Society: Restoration, preservation of habitat for wildlife while allowing public access.


SF Bicycle Coalition: Preserve and expand existing perimeter around lake for bike access, etc.


Dolphin Rowing Club: Access from docks, showers for recreationists, clearing away the sunken boats.


City College of San Francisco, Biology Department: Natural history of lake, monitoring wildlife


City of Daly City: Water level, the lake as a water resource, tertiary water project


Olympic Club: Switch golf club water source from groundwater to recycled water


Pacific Rod and Gun Club: Maintaining recreational diversity, construction of an easement, which could give recreationists access to the Club's public restrooms during non-shooting hours


Friends of Recreation and Park: Help find funds, facilitate discussion, and see that money is spent responsibly and effectively


CSUS Aquatic and Boat Safety Center: Assist SFSU in developing lake use programs


Geography and Human Environmental Studies, SFSU: Offer scientific expertise on natural resource management and land use issues, educational outreach issues for students, research efforts and networking for other experts for various work groups


SF Zoo: Involvement in local conservation program, getting middle school students to work with Lake Merced issues, restoration, and using the Zoo as a platform to get visitors interested in the Lake


Lake Shore Acres Improvement Club: Weed control, removal of invasive plants, safety on walking path


Discussion on LMTF structure: Stakeholders work at the periphery, work groups at the next inner circle, steering committee in the center. Work group divisions are based on the Comprehensive Management Plan. Stakeholders were asked to choose a work group from the following four categories:


1.     Nature

2.     Recreation

3.     Water

4.     Resources ($$$)


Work groups were asked to identify key issues to address, and to select a representative to the Steering Committee.


Stakeholders self selected into work groups and established meeting times for their first working group meeting. The spokesperson for each group was asked to contact Aliza with specifics including members names, meeting times/dates/locations, etc.






Minutes submitted by Suzy Jones and Aliza Kohn