Western Addition tennis courts to make way for 911 emergency call center expansion

San Francisco moved a step closer Tuesday to a multi-million dollar expansion of The City’s 911 call center.

The 911 Call Center and Department of Emergency Management offices are located at 1011 Turk St. within the six-acre Western Addition park called the Margaret S. Hayward Playground. The building opened there in 2000.

But city officials say they need to expand onto the park’s two existing tennis courts to meet new operational demands and requirements.

Legislation approved unanimously Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors would allow the DEM to expand the building in return for a payment of $4 million to the Recreation and Park Department.

The funds will cover the cost to reconstruct the two tennis courts, and the funding would have to be spent on recreational services elsewhere in the Western Addition, under an agreement worked out by Supervisor Vallie Brown, who represents the neighborhood.

“It is important that we have enough room to meet the needs of emergency operations services, but we also need to mitigate any impact on the community,” Brown said, adding that the funds can be used for “new or existing park property or recreational services and programming.”

The expansion by DEM is included in The City’s 10-year capital plan but would require additional approvals. Officials are likely to seek funding for the project through a 2020 bond measure to fund a number of projects related to emergency response, as well as through 911 user fees.

The plan describes the $29 million project as a “two-floor below-grade parking structure and 12,000 square feet of office space.” The existing facility is about 22,000 square feet and the expansion would add a total of 15,510 square feet.

The legislation also provides DEM with more area around the existing facility to create a buffer to comply with post-9/11 regulations from Department of Homeland Security.

Mary Ellen Carroll, DEM’s recently named executive director, told a board committee recently that “the reason for the expansion is that our 911 services have slowly but surely been eating all the space within the building.”

Carroll said that the space crunch is due to a 43 percent increase in call volumes since 2011, new space requirements for technology and room needed to train new 911 dispatchers.

Carroll said that “in order to accommodate the 911 expansion we really need to find a new space for the [Emergency Operations Center.]”

“Our current space is a little less than half of what is recommended from the Department of Homeland Security for the minimal amount of space that a city such as ours would need to respond to emergencies,” she said.

DEM would get a net total of nearly 10,000 square feet of additional parkland under the proposal, while Rec and Park receives a section of the parkland no longer needed by DEM. That will help with the department’s plan to renovate Margaret S. Hayward Playground, which was included in the $195 million 2012 San Francisco Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. That renovation project totals $26 million, with $14 million in bond funding.

The department has already posted notices about the work. “See your tax dollars at work! The Margaret S. Hayward Playground Renovation includes the construction of a new playground, community building, new multi-use field, the expansion of the James P. Lang athletic field, and additional site improvements to make the site fully accessible,” the notice reads. “Work is expected to last from late November 2018 through Spring 2020.”

In other action, the board unanimously approved a 155-unit affordable housing development for tenants earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income at 1950 Mission Street, the former site of The City’s first Navigation Center, which shut down last month. Forty of the units will house homeless families.

Joshua Sabatini
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Joshua Sabatini

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