Juri Commons

Established: 1974
Location: between Guerrero and San Jose, 25 & 26th Streets
Bus: #27 Valencia
Contact: Laura Glatstein, 415-517-0045

Juri CommonsJuri Commons was originally a stretch of railroad track of the SF & SJ Railroad. From 1864-1906, the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad was one of California’s first inter-city rail links. A $2.50 ticket for a trip between the two cities brought passengers through the Mission District. When San Francisco magnates Mark Hopkins, Huntington Hartford, Charles Crocker and Leland Stanford bought out the SF & SJ, it marked the beginning of the Southern Pacific Railroad. After the 1906 earthquake, new tracks were built along the Bayshore replacing the Mission route and its tracks were pulled up and hauled away.

Fast forward to the 1970’s when the Mission Planning Council, the Mission Housing Development Corporation (MHDC) and the Open Space Committee were working together to identify possible sites for neighborhood parks. “It was a long gestation period,” says Toby Levine, unofficial neighborhood historian who lives across the street from Juri Commons. The MHDC in its 1974 report noted, “a park would serve that section of the Mission which has no park at all.” Securing funding for open space acquisition was a challenge, however, even with the support of Cesar Chavez who led a march to promote the open space ballot measure with the banner “SI on C.” Despite the nifty slogan, it failed. Two years later its replacement, Proposition J, passed and the old train yard became a park.

Juri Commons, 120’ long and 25’ wide, opened early in 1986 as a pleasant green mini park containing a few benches and a compact children’s playground. Renovations in the 1990’s saw the installation of the irrigation system, replacement of playground sand with resilient poured-in-place surfacing, and a bulletin board. Today a visitor finds flowering trees hanging over a redwood fence, bright flowers, fresh green grass and a stunning mural: Tirso Gonzales’s vibrantly colored, sardonic view of dot com boom and bust in the Mission – it marks an era embedded in the city’s history.

Juri Commoners, 50 strong, have become ardent stewards of their park. Monthly work days, following a specific detailed Workday Checklist, have transformed the park. A ‘Walk in The Park’ program requires 30 Commoners to commit one day a month to perform cleanup/safety patrol work. NPC’s ParkScan.org website is used to report damage and/or vandalism.

The Commoners hope for some park design changes in the future. “As stewards of the park, neighbors volunteer in the maintenance programs and get acquainted, working together in the only yard most of us in the neighborhood will ever know,” says Laura Glatstein, a Core Commoner, adding, “we’re looking forward in new directions.”

To move their vision ahead, NPC helped the neighbors secure design assistance from University of San Francisco and U.C. Berkeley. The student drawings were prodisplayed at the ‘ART in the Park’ fall festival at the Commons. Its “ Live Art” block party in October served as a park piñata –spilling out live musicians playing, children drawing on the pavement with chalk, and sculptors carving pumpkins. The Juri Commons train is moving full speed ahead.

–Jeanne Alexander

© December 2006 Neighborhood Parks Council