Noe Valley Voice September 2010

Billy Goat Hill to Be Much Less Scruffy

By Heather World

Billy Goat Hill’s $50,000 facelift starts mid-September, and when it’s all over an estimated four weeks later, park lovers will be able to make the steep ascent from 30th and Laidley streets with relative ease.

After meeting with local residents in July, the Recreation and Park Commission approved a renovation plan drawn up by staff and a landscape architect from the Department of Public Works, said Meghan Tiernan, project manager for trail restoration in the park department.

Neighbors who attended a public gathering at the Upper Noe Recreation Center July 14 were very enthusiastic about what they saw for the 3.5-acre park, Tiernan said. The trail will be realigned to create a more moderate slope and to slow erosion by channeling the water that has washed out the foot of the park, she said. A two-foot retaining wall at the bottom of the hill will also shore up the hillside and prevent the soil from spilling onto the sidewalk below. On certain paths, Rec and Park will put in wooden steps.

“Some of this we’ll determine in the field with the contractor,” Tiernan said. Steps may be needed at the bottom and near the top next to the tree with the rope swing, she said. Taking down the beloved rope swing is not in the contract, Tiernan said, though fans know the swing comes and goes.

People won’t be able to use the park when the trail is being graded, which will take at least two weeks, Tiernan said. Other tasks include native plant restoration and the addition of a split-rail fence near the tree swing to protect visitors from the park’s steep north face. “It’s a little bit of traffic control,” Tiernan said. Signs pointing to trails and describing the habitat will come in the future after the department has approved a design, she said.

The money for the restoration is part of the Measure A Parks Bond passed by San Francisco voters in 2008. The $185 million bond included $5 million to restore trails in the city’s protected natural areas. Billy Goat Hill became part of the Natural Areas Program—an arm of the Recreation and Park Department—in 1995. Natural areas in San Francisco are remnants of the city’s wilder youth, and the program seeks to restore and enhance the areas using community-based stewardship.

The park’s community partner is the Friends of Billy Goat Hill, revived in the spring of 2009 by neighbors Lisa and Muhammad Ghotbi. The pair has organized ongoing trail-work parties since the spring of 2009. For more information, visit or call Rec and Park’s volunteer coordinator Kristin Bowman at 415-831-6325.