SF: Front Yard Ambassadors Program

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(Excerpt from press release)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Supervisor Katy Tang of District 4 and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) were joined by over 40 volunteers along with the Friends of the Urban Forest, Surfrider Foundation and Sunset neighborhood residents in launching the Front Yard Ambassadors Program to replace 2500 feet of paved residential front yards with drought tolerant gardens. This new grant program provides Sunset residents an opportunity to partner with their neighbors and the City in transforming their front yards into vibrant, ecologically friendly spaces while also helping the City’s aging combined sewer system manage stormwater and promoting water efficient landscaping practices.

Paved front yards replaced with vibrant gardens to manage stormwater (KTSF)

“There are tremendous benefits to breaking up concrete and installing water-wise landscaping in our neighborhoods – from taking pressure off of our combined sewer system to replenishing our aquifer and beautifying our neighborhoods. We hope this program will serve as a model for the rest of the City,” said Supervisor Katy Tang of District 4.

The $85,000 Front Yard Ambassadors Program is funded with $75,000 from the SFPUC and $10,000 from Supervisor Tang’s Office and will be administered by the Friends of the Urban Forest in its first year. Residents interested in participating in the Program will need to have at least five homes on their block collectively apply for the grant. Currrent program eligibility is limited to residences in District 4. Residents chosen for the program will pay a nominal permit fee, depending on how many residents apply with permit fees ranging from $182 – $245.

This Program in District 4 is a response to an ongoing problem throughout the City with  the prevalence of paved-over front yards. In the Sunset, this Program is expected to transform six to ten blocks during its first year with a minimum of 2500 square feet of concrete to be broken up and replaced, offsetting 30,000 gallons of stormwater from the City’s aging combined sewer system.

The launch of the Front Yard Ambassadors Program coincides with important steps the SFPUC is taking to improve stormwater management and enhance neighborhoods throughout the City. The SFPUC recently completed planning for the installation of green infrastructure technologies such as rain gardens and permeable pavement in each of the City’s eight urban watersheds. These projects bring the natural infiltration processes of plants back into paved-over areas to capture stomwater runoff. One of these projects is the Sunset Boulevard Greenway, where rain gardens are planned along the 16-block corridor to divert 17 million gallons of stormwater from entering the system.

“As the SFPUC upgrades our aging combined sewer system, the Front Yard Ambassadors Program provides residents a mechanism to keep stormwater out of our sewers while showcasing water-efficient landscaping practices in their front yards,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr.

Applications for the upcoming planting are being accepted through March 31. Interested residents can find more information here: http://www.sfbos.org/index.aspx?page=15348.

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