Press Releases and News
In November of 2016 we welcomed E.ON Solar Company to join us for a full day of volunteer and restoration projects. 

Their 40+ team arrived early by private shuttle and met with our McKinley Square Park Team to review the projects and tour the park. 

The many projects included beautification, clean-up and planting of new natives courtesy of San Francisco Recreation and Parks.  After the team finished up the box lunches, they took to the western hillside off San Bruno Ave. and pulled back weeds, foxtails and cleared the natural pathways. 

Thank you for support to our neighborhood park!  (More pictures coming soon!)

2015 Volunteers Arrive!  Thank you to our corporate teams for your annual "Team Building Days".  McKinley Square and Neighbors are grateful for your continued support of our neighborhood park and open spaces.

Old Navy Employees Volunteer Wealth of Experience and Passion to McKinley Square Park!  

Friday, May 31, 2014

San Francisco, CA - Approximately 20 employees of San Francisco's Old Navy rolled up their sleeves and came out to support McKinley Square.  Old Navy takes a hands-on approach when it comes to volunteerism and supporting community stewardship.  

Captain Joel Thomas, Park Manager from San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department welcomed the volunteers with out stretched hands filled with rakes, shovels and gloves.

The volunteers worked together in teams on project sites that included the entrance stairs located at 20th and Vermont, the landscaped areas adjacent the 20th Street block areas and of course, the western hillside and paths which are always in need of some extra attention.  

100+ Volunteers Celebrate Earth Day benefiting McKinley Square Park Foundation!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

San Francisco, CA - The 2013 Earth Day Celebrations were kicked off again this year in partnership with local companies volunteering to support their local parks. 

This year we partnered with PG&E who came out bright an early, pulled weeds and did an amazing job supporting their local parks. The PG&E Team focused their efforts targeting the Western Hillside areas under the direction of SF Recreation and Parks Captain, Joel Thomas. 

Following in the path of PG&E came our good friends from the LinkedIn Corporation who celebrated their 10 Year Birthday by giving back to their local parks.  The LinkedIn Corporation focused their attention to projects located along the 20th Street areas improving landscaping and distributing fresh mulch and bark.  They also had a team down along the Western Hillside complimenting the hard work contributed by PG&E.

250+ Volunteers Raise Funds for McKinley Square Park Foundation!

-Saturday, June 21, 2012

San Francisco, CA- The 2012 US OPEN Tournament was held earlier this year at the historical Olympic Club.  Friends of McKinley Square Park Foundation, family and neighbors all joined forces arriving with over 250+ volunteers to support much needed funding for the Potrero Hill park.  All proceeds benefit the master design, operating and long-term funding needs of the organization since getting started back in 2009 by local neighbor Joyce B.

More Than 300 Volunteers To Clean Up One of Oldest Parks in San Francisco

-Friday, May 6, 2011

San Francisco, CA—The Department of Public Works (DPW), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans),the Recreation and Park Department (RPD), and the McKinley Square Park Foundation (MSPF) are partnering to support a Community Clean Team volunteer day of service to benefit McKinley Square and the surrounding open space on Monday, May 9th starting at 8:00-12:30pm.

Volunteers will beautify open areas, gardens, and the park by removing litter and debris from the sidewalk and streets as well as much needed weeding. The work will also include a sand replenishment project at the children’s play areas located at McKinley Square—one of the oldest parks in San Francisco. More than 300 volunteers from SuccessFactors, a software firm, will be supporting this effort as a part of their Day of Service.

DPW is responsible for the care and maintenance of San Francisco’s streets and much of its infrastructure. The department cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and maintains City street trees; designs, constructs and maintains city-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; constructs curb ramps; removes graffiti from public property; and partners with the diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco to provide stellar cleaning and greening services. More information is available at

New Volunteers at McKinley Square

Left to Right: The Arc of San Francisco volunteers, Arc instructors including Heather Haberlin, Phil Ginsberg, GM, Recreation and Parks (center), David Lamb, McKinley Square Gardener; Joyce Book, Executive Director, MSPF and Eric Hill, Acting Supervisor, McKinley Square (right).

By Lester Zeidman

September 17, 2010

It wasn’t like moving mountains but the labor involved encompassed more than just garden tools. While there were rakes and shovels, the work was more than just toil and drudgery. In the end it was a great day in the sun and a chance make some noise and interact with friends, both new and old.

Many neighbors and friends have labored on the steep slopes surrounding McKinley Square Park in an on-going effort to improve the park. But the weeds continue to grow and the city’s gardener’s job never quite gets done. Trying to coordinate the people who want to help and helping the gardeners whose job it is to make McKinley Square a better park can deflate even the most dedicated volunteers.

By using a website called, Joyce Book, Executive Director of the McKinley Square Park Foundation, put out a call for volunteers. If it were just that easy, this story would be over but there are more layers and nothing is easy anymore.

To actually work in McKinley Square requires a series of permissions and a number of interested parties. Joyce started with Steve Cismowski who heads the Neighborhood Service Area of the Recreation & Park Department (RPD). He liked the idea of more volunteers but did not have the staff to organize the volunteers. The next step was Eric Hill, acting supervisor for McKinley Square. He identified areas where work was needed. Then came Kristen Bowman, the volunteer coordinator for RPD, and she signed on to help get the project off the ground.

Soon there were responses from VolunteerMatch, the most intriguing being The Arc of San Francisco. The Arc’s mission is to serve people with developmental disabilities by promoting self-determination, dignity, and quality of life. “We are always looking for more opportunities to introduce our clients to new skills, provide exposure to new opportunities and to learn and have different experiences out in the community.  Volunteering at McKinley Square Park really matches that goal,” said Heather Haberlin, The Arc’s Resource Developer.

Joyce was immediately attracted to this group. “I have a godson, Roland, with Down syndrome and he loves to garden. He just loves it. If I let him, he would garden for days and nights.  Add some music and a slice of pizza here and there—and Roland would live in the garden if I let him.”

The match was made!  E-mails back and forth – time schedules were discussed, more e-mails. The Arc proposed 20+ volunteers with 1 instructor per 5 clients and RPD agreed to give it a try. Steve Cismowski planned an entire project for them which would happen in the lower western paths (near 20th St. and San Bruno Ave.) where the off-leash dog areas are located.

It was like an army had descended onto the park. The rakes were scrapping the ground, debris was being moved, hands were getting dirty and sweat appeared on the brows. It was also the hottest day of the year. And Joyce Book added a two more lines to her professional resumé: Snack Mom and Bathroom Attendant. Certain creature comforts could not be overlooked and no one wanted the volunteers to be uncomfortable.

But in the course of one afternoon, more had happened than just some weeds getting destroyed. There was joy in work that is usually drudgery. The shovels didn’t just dig into the ground, they explored the earth. Their hands got dirty and their hearts were excited. Those who were normally quiet began to talk and those not shy were now talking louder and laughing. It was the joy of hard work along with the joy of doing something different and doing it with your friends.

"It is such a pleasure to work with such a hard working group. Our staff was thrilled by the quality and quantity of work accomplished. The Arc is a really fun group and we look forward to the ongoing partnership at McKinley Square,” said Eric Hill.

Part of the plan was that the volunteers would be regular and ongoing. “I was worried that the heat would lower their enthusiasm,” said Joyce; that they would not want to return the next week. But when the vans returned the following week, all the volunteers returned as well.

“They are actually more efficient and easier to work with,” said David Lamb, the lone city gardener on week two. Groups formed almost wordlessly to collect and move large bags of debris to a collection point at the top of Vermont Street. The weather was cooler and the sunshine warmed everyone.

While the hard work was getting done outdoors, Phil Ginsburg, General Manager for RPD acknowledged the behind the scenes work of neighbors:  "Facilitating a volunteer park project requires the efforts of many. We owe a huge thank you to the McKinley Square Park Foundation and The Arc volunteers who tackled the projects on the west slope of the park and helped remove three to four truckloads of weeds on a weekly basis."

Harry Keenan was almost giddy as he greeted everyone in the park. He was not the most efficient but he was certainly enjoying himself as well as talking with his co-workers. David surveyed the large pile of debris and weeds, knowing more work got done than he could’ve done alone. He just blended in with his new friends as they loaded the debris into his truck. Next week, all will return for another bout with the weedy hills of McKinley Square Park.

For more information:

Elton Pon
Communications Office
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department
City & County of San Francisco
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA  94117
(415) 831-2782 or call 3-1-1


Meredith Manning

Marketing and Community Relations Manager

The Arc of San Francisco

(415) 255-7200 x152


Joyce A. Book

Executive Director

McKinley Square Park Foundation


McKinley Square -Always the Best Weather!

"This tiny gem of a park is almost always swathed in sunshine"
according to SFGate and is famous for San Francisco's best weather. Perched atop Potrero Hill, it offers dizzying views of Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson and even the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking north, you can gaze down at bustling downtown.  A beautiful park cresting Potrero Hill, which means you can alternately play in the playground there or just stand and take in the surrounding cityscape.

A patch of green grass just outside the playground is nice for families to picnic, kick around a ball or playing tag.

Clinging to the rugged downward slope the off-leash dog area, fenced off from Highway 101 and accessible at San Bruno Ave. at 20th Street.

A well-used children's playground, a grassy picnic area and a
lovingly tended community garden lush with flowers and vegetables complete the picture.

The Community Challenge Grant Program (CCG)

March 1, 2013

It's that time again.  Friends of McKinley Square Park will be competing alongside many other park groups for much needed funded.  Stay tuned for more details...

August 15, 2010

CCG is a community-based fund that provides resources to local residents, businesses, non-profits and other community groups to make physical improvements to their neighborhoods.

The CCG focuses on projects that directly engage residents and businesses in creating green spaces, gathering places, public art, and other neighborhood amenities by featuring and applying ecologically friendly amenities and practices.

The program is an important tool for enabling communities to take the lead in conducting small scale improvements in their own communities, and is a critical component of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Livable City Initiative.

In July 2010, the McKinley Square Park Foundation (MSPF) sponsored a public safety and beautification project led by the
Vermont Street Neighborhood Association (VSNA). 

The VSNA grant proposes to benefit McKinley Square and the areas surrounding our park with an urban project that introduces native gardens, a new community gathering spaces and a children's play area.  

The project site is located on DPW unimproved land located at the base of Vermont Street at 21st.

VSNA and their members did an excellent job in the areas of community outreach, distributing area flyers, 20+ letters of support from individual neighbors and exceeded the minimum 25% financial requirement in order to participate at this level of funding. 

*CCG award notification received 9/27/10.   Congratulations everyone! 

Read more here...

The Week That Was: October 19-25, 2009

Posted by Phil Ginsberg, General Manager for San Francisco Recreation and Parks

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I headed out to McKinley Square at night for a Meet and Greet with the neighbors of the park, including members of the McKinley Square Park Foundation. Folks from the San Francisco Parks Trust were also on hand. I took a tour of the park and discussed with the neighbors some of their issues and concerns related to the park.

At the forefront of their concerns are the public health and safety issues that are present at the lower end of the park and plans for a new park design to better utilize open space to meet the needs of the neighborhoods diverse community.


Community leads charge for improvements to park

By: Will Reisman
Examiner Staff Writer
August 30, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Unwilling to wait for The City to foot the bill, one community in San Francisco is taking it upon itself to improve a treasured but underutilized local park.

Potrero Hill residents want to raise $500,000 over the next two years to improve McKinley Square, a six-acre park on 20th Street that serves a community with an ever-growing number of families.

The park already features an enclosed play structure for children, patches of green lawn for dog-walking and natural shrubbery.

But The City has never heavily invested in the neighborhood resource, according to Joyce Book, who founded the McKinley Square Park Foundation in May.

About 80 percent of the park’s terrain has a steep downward slope, limiting accessibility for seniors, children, and people with disabilities, Book said. 

At a community meeting hosted by the McKinley Square Park Foundation on Aug. 19, residents suggested terracing the slope to add walking paths and flat green spaces for volleyball or bocce ball surfaces.

Other suggestions for McKinley Square include working with local schools to establish education programs at the park, Book said.

 “We want to preserve this park for the next 100 generations,” she said. “This is about ensuring our future.”

The organization has already raised $25,000, and Book said the group’s members hope to have $250,000 goal reached by the end of the year. Eventually, the foundation would like to raise $5 million in funding for the park, Book said.

The City isn’t at odds with that goal — as long as the foundation finds the means to pay for improvements at the park, officials will work together with the community to make sure its goals for McKinley Square are met, said Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department.

“The community has been pretty unique in its willingness to fundraise,” Seitz-Gruwell said. “If they can provide capital, we’ll work within our means to support them.”

Along with the $25,000 garnered from a range of private donations, the foundation has also secured $2,000 in city grants for park improvements. With that money, the foundation was able to buy and set up a toolshed in the park, replete with rakes, gloves and other equipment. It also used the money to help eradicate foxtail, a type of weed that can be potentially fatal to dogs, according to Book.

“More and more families are electing to stay in this neighborhood, which is a reverse trend for much of San Francisco,” Book said. “We want to make sure they stay here and take advantage of our open spaces.”

The "Crooked Truth" Behind City's Real Crooked Street

By NBC's Jean Ellie
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The crookedest street in San Francisco is a bit of a secret. It's Vermont Street in Potrero Hill.  A winding road topped off with picturesque McKinley Square Park.

But there is another secret. Something one neighbor has named the crooked truth.

Videos on YouTube and pictures on Facebook reveal an ongoing problem with homeless encampments, trash and graffiti in the steep wooded hillside along Hwy. 101.

"We've had homeless issues, gangs kids coming to drink, drugs," resident Henry Wimmer said adding that neighbors have been trying to get help to clean up their neighborhood for years.

The problem: jurisdiction.

The McKinley Square Park Foundation has brought together a daunting list of agencies.

The land on the west side of the fence is Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol and on the east side, it's San Francisco Rec and Park, public works and the San Francisco Police Department.

Graffiti is now being painted, police are on patrol and Caltrans says it has spent $187,000 in the last six month regularly clearing the property along the freeway.

But the job is far from over. As soon as agencies clear an area, residents say the encampments come back.

But neighborhoods are not giving up. They are working to redesign the park. Residents hope lighting and thinner greenery will help them take the park back.