Balboa Reservoir update: Revised park plans

By Amy O’Hair, SNA Secretary and past member of the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee

Last month, the Balboa Reservoir Project development team presented revised plans for the central park at an open house at Unity Plaza. The presentation demonstrates that concerns and preferences of Sunnyside residents have been addressed by some of the revisions–items which were previously identified in a survey conducted by Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA) as well as issues raised at the Nov 2020 meeting of the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee (BRCAC).

When initial plans were presented at the November 2020 meeting of the BRCAC, objections were made from several attendees and committee members to the compartmentalized nature of the park space as presented. The community garden had high fences that visually cut up the open space; an orchard was included, which would also need high fencing to prevent theft. It was suggested that the proposed pavilion could accommodate events or small-scale performance programs.

Following that, in Nov-Dec 2020, SNA conducted a survey of local residents about the uses they made of existing parks, as well as things they would like to see included in the Balboa Reservoir Project central park. Half of respondents lived in families with children. Basic activities like walking, sitting, and doing things with children were most important for respondents. Features that respondents said they valued in parks included playgrounds, benches, and picnic tables. Top landscaping desires included trees and open grassy lawns, with native plants, flowers, and shady areas coming next. The full results of that survey can be found here (PDF).

The revised plans presented in October show changes that address some of the issues raised over the last year by Sunnyside residents. The open grassy lawn area has been enlarged by 28%; the community garden fences shown in the presentation are more transparent to the eye, being an open mesh topped with wood. There are numerous places where benches, picnic tables, and other public park ‘furniture’ have been included, providing spaces for families or friends to gather or share meals. The plans show many trees for the open spaces, creating shaded areas. The Pavilion now includes some space around it that could be used to accommodate events.

The Balboa Reservoir Project has been controversial for some local residents; no one can deny that looming traffic and transit issues remain unresolved to date. Nonetheless, the developer team at AvalonBay/BRIDGE working on the open space portion of the project is to be congratulated for their responsiveness to the stated needs of the current local residents who plan to use the planned Reservoir Park. If all goes well, Sunnysiders can look forward to enjoying a unique and lovely new park nearby.

Below are the ten slides for the presentation boards from the Balboa Reservoir Open House on Oct 16, 2021. Give your feedback regarding these park plans by email: . Get updates from the developer by signing up here.

Presentation board from Open House on Balboa Reservoir park design, Oct 16, 2021.
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Nov 1: SNA Quarterly Meeting

You are invited to Sunnyside Neighborhood Association’s November 2021 Quarterly Meeting.

Monday November 1st, 2021, 6:30 – 8:00 PM via Zoom.

On the agenda: News from President Ken Hollenbeck about an opportunity to increase Sunnyside’s urban forest. Members Jim McCormick and Brian Marabello, two local Neighborhood Watch leads, will talk about how they got their blocks organized, and how to do it on your own block. Sara Barz, Slow Hearst lead, will give an update on this new neighborhood feature. Rosaura Valle and Joy Durighello from the Detroit Steps Project team will report the latest exciting news on the Steps. Also, a brief update about the Balboa Reservoir Project from Amy O’Hair. Raffle prizes include hand-made flowers from Andrea O’Leary.

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Balboa Reservoir Open House on Oct 16

The developer team for the Balboa Reservoir Project is hosting an outdoor open house meeting for the community to designs for the Reservoir Park that will be at the center of the housing development.

Developers BRIDGE Housing and AvalonBay Communities are co-hosting this outdoor open house, focused on Balboa Reservoir Park. All interested community members are invited. This meeting is intended as a follow up from the July 24th meeting. Attendees can hear directly from the landscape design team about these changes give feedback.

The presentation boards from the Open House now available (PDF) here.

To get updates from the developer team, sign up here.

Aug 2: SNA Quarterly Meeting

You are invited to Sunnyside Neighborhood Association’s August Quarterly Meeting.

Monday August 2nd, 2021, 6:30 – 8:00 PM via Zoom.

On the agenda: District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar is our guest for the meeting; she’ll share the D7 news and then take your questions. The Detroit Steps Project team will give an update. There will also be updates about the Balboa Reservoir Project, and the newly installed Slow Streets program on Hearst Avenue.

Meeting slides here (PDF 4 MB).

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Balboa Reservoir Project Design Open House on July 24

The design team for the Balboa Reservoir housing development will be presenting details about the design for the project. The event takes place on Saturday July 24, 2021, 10 AM to Noon, at Unity Plaza.

Anyone interested in the project is invited to attend the open house to view the materials and provide feedback.

This event will be focused on Phase 1, including two affordable housing buildings, two market-rate housing buildings, and Reservoir Park. The design team is using the Design Standards and Guidelines that have been approved for the project, and has been adding additional layers of detail to the park, the open spaces, and the buildings. Come hear directly from the design team and provide feedback that can be used to further refine these designs.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, poster boards will be posted to the Balboa Reservoir website and you will be able to email the design team your feedback.

VIEW SLIDES FROM OPEN HOUSE HERE (pdf). Info on how to submit feedback here.

Sign up to receive notices from the developer about the Balboa Reservoir project here (form at bottom of the page).