Activist’s aim is unlikely landmark

Duboce Park neighbor says antique Muni tunnel is worthy of city’s protection

When Dennis Richards thinks ofhistoric San Francisco landmarks, he said he looks beyond Victorian homes.

Richards, who lives near Duboce Park and is the president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, is one of several residents who would like to see an old Muni tunnel that runs by Duboce Park declared a historic landmark.

“I think honest to goodness when people think of landmarking, they think of pretty Victorian homes,” he said. “I think [landmarks] really need to be considered in context of our history.”

The Muni tunnel, located between Duboce Avenue and Scott Street, was originally built between 1915 and 1928, according to Allen Martinez, who is leading the effort to see whether the tunnel should be designated a historic site by The City’s Landmark Board.

Martinez said the study is still in its early stages, and before the Landmark Board would consider the tunnel historic, it must first establish that residents support the project.

At a recent Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association meeting, residents were enthusiastic about the idea. Some said they would like to see the site returned to its original look with glass surrounding a bunker where passengers used to ride the train.

The bunker, now surrounded by concrete, has long been shut down and some residents complained that it has become a haven for garbage and homeless people to sleep. Richards said Muni has done a good job at keeping the area clean, but some residents are still uncomfortable seeing people hide in the bunker at night. Martinez said designating the site as a landmark would not guarantee any changes to the site, but it might draw attention to it.

“The original photograph was quite handsome,” he said about how the tunnel first looked when it was built. “This wouldn’t guarantee a restoration, but I think it would help.”

The only benefits afforded to a city landmark are tax benefits, and any changes tothe exterior of the building would have to be approved by the Landmark Board, according to the Planning Department.

Matt Snyder, with The City’s Planning Department, said that in order for a site to become a historic landmark, it must first be nominated for consideration and then a study would be conducted that evaluates the significance and integrity of the structure. Then the Landmark Board, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors all must designate the site as historic.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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