Community Volunteers Take Pride in Gardens Through Improving Public Places

South San Francisco, CA   July 9, 2016 

Community leader Sonny Koya of Paradise Valley, works with neighbor Julio on the PV Community Garden at the corner of Hillside and Sister Cities.



Paradise Valley neighbors honored one of their own with a memorial bench decades ago and now work to keep the area up with the help of the City’s Improving Public Places program


“Kathy’s tomato plants are doing really good” Bill said as he stood on the door step, his hands full of sweet smelling fresh tomatoes. “She gave me some of her first crop to share so here’s some for you. ”  That was the way of Bill, a neighbor on Drake Avenue in the Paradise Valley neighborhood. Bill, a retired postal carrier, still had the desire, and gift, to visit neighbors and share the tidbits of things he learned, from one neighbor to the next.

When Bill suffered a heart attack, he and his wife Laura started daily walks up and down the blocks. They would stop and rest, and check their pulse at their half way point at the corner of Hillside Blvd and Sister Cities Blvd. A few years later Bill left this world, and the neighborhood, leaving a hole in the fabric of the community he helped bridge.

Deciding a combination of a resting and meeting place would be an ideal location to put in a memorial bench the group worked with the Parks & Recreation Department, then under the leadership of Barry Nagel, and received their support and help to realize their goal. After raising funds, the group appreciated the City’s assistance installing the bench and made a commitment to maintain the area. This area would serve in memory of Bill and remind neighbors to keep a look out for each other, as he had done.

Fast forward a decade when Councilmember Karyl Matsumoto worked with staff to create Improving Public Places, a great program offered through the City that encourages residents to ‘adopt’ a public place and work to keep it beautified. With the City’s help many areas in the City have been designed with low maintenance landscaping which volunteers maintain with support from the Parks & Recreation and the Department of Public Works Departments.

“Improving Public Places Committee is a group of people sharing a common vision of beautifying various public places in South San Francisco. These places include City parks and facilities, as well as other highly visible public areas within the City. In order to fulfill our vision we need volunteers like you, whether you can donate your time for one day, for an entire project, or for upkeep of an area after completion of a project.

It’s a way of making new friends and meeting other people like you who take pride in their community and wish to keep it looking great! If you already have too many friends, fantastic (bring them with you)!”

IPP also promotes special community planting events such as Arbor Day and everyone is welcomed to join! For more information contact Marie Patea at 650/829.3837 or visit her at the Corp Yard Office 550 N Canal. Past events and photos can be found CLICK HERE

For maintenance the City is still tasked with the heavier work of pruning trees, advising on design or updating of plants. And as in this larger area off of Sister Cities, they will drop off wood chips for the volunteers to spread out, which reduces weeds and helps keep moisture around the drought tolerant plants.

“This is a great opportunity for neighbors to gather and catch up on what’s been happening in the area while bringing pride to Paradise Valley. We hope those who drive by will notice and enjoy the work we have done.” says Koya.

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