San Jose Avenue: A new vision for the Bernal Cut

Erika Ehmsen who lives in Bernal Glen posted this piece about the Bernal Cut portion of San Jose Avenue on the Nextdoor site. Reposted here (with permission) for your edification.

A number of people on the recent San Jose Avenue thread have expressed a desire to reinvent the area. So here’s a little fodder for our daydreams about what *could* be:…

Some background: In 2013, a College Hill/Bernal Glen neighbor asked renowned landscape and urban design firm SWA Group to visit San Jose Ave. SWA designers and planners walked with neighbors along San Jose Ave., the Bernal Cut Path, the Arlington Path, and our bridges and pedestrian overpass to experience the grim current state of San Jose Ave.—from its freeway-like speeds to its trash-strewn and encampment-prone slopes and sidewalks.

SWA designers asked us to suspend our current reality in order to reimagine and reinvigorate our blighted speedway. We showed SWA the Glen Park Community Plan and asked them to envision an extension of that plan that could incorporate the slopes above San Jose Ave. while reflecting our College Hill Neighborhood Association’s greening and safety goals. And then SWA got to work sketching the plans in that above Google Doc presentation—all pro bono.

Of those 3 plans, perhaps the easiest to enact would be the terraced version of “The Loop” (scroll forward to slide 17 in the Google Doc presentation), which would string together the green spaces in our Bernal and Glen Park neighborhoods like emeralds in a necklace. A plan like The Loop would unite both sides of the Cut that divides Bernal’s College Hill from Glen Park.

Where do these plans stand in the City approval process? Nowhere. What budget are we working with? None.

At least not at the moment. But the Glen Park Community Plan started with neighbors coming together with the Planning Department and other City agencies. We could change the whole look and feel of San Jose Ave. and make it a more neighborly place—where drivers may be more inspired to drive at a neighborly pace.

We could make San Jose Ave. an asset to everyone. Please reach out if you’d like to help neighbors in Bernal and Glen Park try.


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