Make ‘Green Connections’ with Walk SF

As measured by rainfall and reservoir levels, recent rains, a result of a higher than normal number of “atmospheric rivers,” have helped end the five-year drought in Northern California. At the same time, these storms — which also go by the name “Pineapple Express” — have taken a severe toll on roads and bridges.

This is one of the reasons why building streets, which make up 25 percent of all the land in San Francisco (more than is dedicated to parks and open space), with more “green” infrastructure is so important to capture, treat and store rainfall.

This surface water is only part of California’s water supply though. The other main source is groundwater, which is stored in deep underground aquifers. Depending on how wet or dry a given rainy season is, groundwater provides between 40 and 60 percent of the state’s water.

Jay Famigletti, a senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains, “Rain and snowfall are like income, and snow and water in our reservoirs and rivers are our checking account, groundwater is more like a retirement account: it’s what the state depends on when income inevitably dries out.”

On Sunday, March 19, you can join Walk San Francisco’s neighborhood organizer, Josie Ahrens and Friends of the Urban Forest’s Education Coordinator, Alex Javier, for a mostly flat, two-mile walk to explore parks, sidewalk gardens, public street art and community spaces along one of the 24 citywide routes that make up the 115-mile “Green Connections” network planned for San Francisco.

Your walk, which will follow the Cedar Waxwing route — named for bird you might spot nesting along Page — will offer both naturalist and urban planning insights. Enjoy in-depth talks on street trees, with interactive discussions around potential streetscape improvements that address both the public use needs of local, neighborhood streets — i.e., places that are safe and welcoming for people to walk and bike — and how streets can effectively support local plant and animal life, as well as mitigate issues like sewage spills and polluted runoff to the Bay.

Walk leaders will highlight what a network of walkable, traffic-calmed streets could offer and invite you to envision ways to transform your neighborhood. By showcasing not only gardens that divert and capture stormwater, but also way-finding signs, and pedestrian and bicycle amenities like painted crosswalks and bicycle lanes, you will learn how turning a street into Green Connection can make your travel along it, not only safer, but also more welcoming and enjoyable.

Pick up tree and plant resources and tips for the best ways to increase access to the local nature in The City and learn how you can “green” your own streets and make them more attractive to local flora and fauna. No matter where you live in San Francisco, there’s a Green Connections route nearby. Bringing the Green Connections plan to life could transform over a hundred miles of your public right-of-way into greener spaces, creating a traffic-calmed places designed to link people in every neighborhood to parks, open space and the waterfront.

If you want to help bring the benefits of nature onto your neighborhood streets, take part in a community-led effort to support the Page Street Green Connections project.

You can urge The City to make improvements that prioritize traffic safety, walkability and sustainability, like installing pedestrian crossing signals with more time for people walking, building raised crosswalks and bulb-outs to make people walking more visible while also reducing crossing distances, and adding sidewalk treatments like bio-swales.

Learn more at, or at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Green Connection Open House on March 15 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at John Muir Elementary School.

Your walk begins at the southeast corner of Divisadero and McAllister. Stops will include Alamo Square, The Wiggle, and current (and future) Living Alleys that intersect Octavia Boulevard.

The walk ends at Hayes and Gough for an optional lunch at Arlequin.

If Your Go: Making Green Connections
When: Sunday, March 19 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Seep City Map, 860 Divisadero St.
Info: Walk space is limited; $10 minimum donation to Walk SF or Friends of the Urban Forest; RSVP required at

Natalie Burdick
Published by
Natalie Burdick

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