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A Digital Journal - San Francisco Public Works

In the Works

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April 2024

Chris Reed, chief nursery specialist with the Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry, helps students add rosemary, mint and other herbs to the planter boxes they built with our carpenters at our Operations Yard open house – a highlight of Public Works Week 2024.


Public Works Week 2024 

Public Works Week, an annual event where our department celebrates and showcases our employees and the work they do throughout the year, didn’t disappoint this year!


Mission Cabins:
Mission Accomplished

This month, San Francisco opened an addition to its homeless shelter program – a small campus in the Mission District with 60 private cabins and onsite support services.


Call of Duty: City Celebrates
Upgraded 911 Center

One of the busiest dispatch centers in the country received a Public Works-led makeover.


24th Street Trees: A Growing Success

This month, the Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry team checked on the health and maintenance of the street trees along the 24th Street corridor in the Mission District.


A Shining Beacon

Neighbors and City officials gathered earlier this month for a low-key ribbon-cutting in Diamond Heights, celebrating a set of new solar-powered crosswalk safety beacons that were installed with the help of Public Works’ skilled trades workers and engineers.



Rainy and windy weather didn’t deter our spirited volunteers and crews from greening and cleaning District 7 neighborhoods during this month’s Love Our City: Neighborhood Beautification Day.

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Public Works Week

Public Works carpenters work with young builders to craft flower boxes.

Public Works Week 2024

Public Works Week, an annual event where our department celebrates and showcases our employees and the work they do throughout the year, didn’t disappoint this year, with packed open houses, project tours, a recognition awards ceremony and more.

Public Works Week 2024 kicked off on April 22 and ran through April 26.

The highlights were the two open houses we held – one at our 49 South Van Ness Ave. offices where our architects, landscape architects and engineers worked with students to build model cities and test how well they’d withstand a major earthquake...


Students first design, then get to work building their model cities, using clay, string, popsicle sticks, felt and a variety of other crafts materials.


This model city comes with buildings, tunnels and even street signs.

The models go on an earthquake-simulating shake table to test their resiliency.

...and the other at our Operations Yard in the Bayview.

There, young people participated in hands-on activities with our carpenters, plumbers, steamfitters, arborists, gardeners, glaziers, metal shop workers, graffiti abatement team, asphalt workers and others to learn about the work we do greening, cleaning and maintaining the City.

Eager students learn how to finish concrete with a trowel to give it a smooth surface.


The pothole-filling activity station at the open house gets lots of action.


The next generation of graffiti busters tests its painting skills.

The young San Franciscans, from grade schoolers to older teens, numbered more than 400 – our most ever during the yearly Public Works Week festivities. 

As a 24/7 operation with a large, diverse portfolio, Public Works touches every neighborhood in San Francisco – from cleaning streets, filling potholes and pruning trees to providing design and construction management services and issuing permits for use of the public right of way. 

During Public Works Week, we host tours to highlight some of our work. This year’s tours included the Minnesota Streetscape Improvements Project, the historic Third Street drawbridge, the new Street Tree Nursery in SoMa, the Golden Gate Park Golf Course Clubhouse and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

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Public Works staff hosts a project tour at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Another anchor of Public Works Week is our annual Employee Recognition Awards event, where we honor outstanding employees and teams, rising stars in the department with less than five years on the job and the employee whose volunteer efforts stand out.


The annual Public Works Employee Recognition Awards ceremony draws a big crowd at the Southeast Community Center.



INDIVIDUAL: Tony Esterbrooks – Building Design and Construction
TEAM: Spirit Committee – Infrastructure Design and Construction

INDIVIDUAL: Cuong Truong  – Office of Finance and Administration
TEAM: Opt-in Program Graffiti Unit – Operations

INDIVIDUAL: Anastastia Haddad – Infrastructure Design and Construction
TEAM: Street Tree Nursery – Operations and Building Design and Construction

Aries Martin – Building Design and Construction
Clinton Choy – Infrastructure Design and Construction
David Liboon – Building Design and Construction

Yvette Cooley – Office of Finance and Administration
Donna Lee – Office of Finance and Administration
Deanna Huey – Building Design and Construction
KouChieh (KC) Lin – Building Design and Construction
Mu Aung – Infrastructure Design and Construction
Alessandro Peruffo – Infrastructure Design and Construction
Christopher Heredia – Operations
Alvaro Matus  – Operations
Brittany Brandon – Operations
Mariebelle Hansen – Director’s Office

Reza Baradaran – Infrastructure Design and Construction


Lena Liu – Director’s Office

Upper Market Corridor Safety Improvements Project – Infrastructure Design and Construction


Nicole Cook – Operations

In addition, we hand out special pins to employees for every five years of service with the City. This year, 329 people received their pins, for a cumulative 3,430 years of experience. Among the group were eight Public Works employees marking their 35th anniversary.


Public Works Director Carla Short gives a 35-year pin to Laura Tanigawa, who heads the Bureau of Construction Management for the Building Design and Construction Division.

“Our work is around the clock, high demand and never ending. It’s impactful and we take great pride in our role delivering services and projects on behalf of the people of San Francisco,” said Public Works Director Carla Short. “Public Works Week gives us time as a department to step back and take stock of all we do.”

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Mission Cabins

Bird’s-eye view of the Mission Cabins compound near Mission and 16th streets. Photo: Scott Bowlin with Sky Drone Media

Mission Cabins: Mission Accomplished

This month, San Francisco opened an addition to its homeless shelter program – a small campus in the Mission District with 60 private cabins and onsite support services.

Known as Mission Cabins, the program provides temporary shelter for people who had been living on the streets, offering a welcome respite before they transition into a more stable housing situation.

Mission Cabins offers unhoused people a safe, temporary living environment and the services they need to move beyond homelessness. Each pre-fabricated cabin provides a private room with a locking door, a comfortable bed, storage space, a desk, a chair, outlets and heating. 


Each cabin provides basic furniture – a bed, storage, desk, chair and shelves.

There are bathrooms, showers, a dining area, washers and dryers and a community space, including welcoming outdoor seating areas, on the grounds. The site also includes an enclosed pet relief station.

The residents are offered meals, case management, health services and activities right there.

Located at 1979 Mission St., with its entrance on Capp Street north of 16th Street, Mission Cabins is under the auspices of the City’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. Five Keys Schools and Programs, a nonprofit that works with traditionally underserved communities to improve their lives, was selected to operate the site and provide social services. The Department of Public Health is on site several days a week to provide health care. 

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Shared outdoor space creates a welcoming environment.

Public Works’ in-house teams provided design, project management and construction management services to get Mission Cabins up and running. The project was developed on a former parking lot slated for a future affordable housing development.

It is the type of thoughtful and collaborative project San Francisco needs to keep moving in the right direction to provide shelter for unhoused residents and to improve neighborhood street conditions.


The Mission Cabins site includes communal bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Public Works has been deeply involved in helping San Francisco address homelessness, a national crisis with no quick solutions. Our designers, project managers, engineers and construction managers have worked on the design and delivery of multiple shelters and outdoor safe sleeping sites. On the Operations side, our street cleaning team has been instrumental in the City’s encampment resolution efforts and our trades workers have helped construct shelter interiors and safe sleeping sites.

The Mission Cabins program is expected to run for at least two years until a new affordable housing development planned for the site breaks ground. Meanwhile, the City is scouting future locations to where the portable cabins can be relocated. 


The Mission Cabins’ Public Works project team checks out the campus.

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911 Center

The 911 Dispatch Center on Turk Street operates 24/7.

Call of Duty:
City Celebrates
Upgraded 911 Center

After one of the busiest dispatch centers in the country received a Public Works-led makeover, City leaders, public safety personnel and government officials gathered this month to mark the slew of improvements bolstering San Francisco’s emergency response capabilities.

Fielding an average of 3,200 calls a day, dispatchers at the facility – located near the corner of Turk and Laguna streets – relay time-sensitive information to San Francisco’s first responders and public safety teams around the clock. But upgrades were in order to provide needed workspace improvements for the dispatch team and room for the center’s expected expansion over the coming years. 

“We know that the people who work in this facility are key to our emergency response and deserve to have a facility that works better for them,” Mayor London Breed said during an April 24 ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And today we are so proud to announce that this facility has been renovated on time and on budget.” 

In partnership with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management – which operates the dispatch center – Public Works provided project and construction management services and construction support from its trades workers. 

The upgraded dispatch center features a variety of improvements, including five additional dispatcher workstations – bringing the number to 55 – with room for growth, a new dispatcher training room to serve the growing number of trainees, an updated break room and an elevated supervisor workspace to provide enhanced oversight. Dispatchers also have a new locker room and improved training consoles. They now enjoy a brighter, cleaner workspace with high ceilings, new equipment and top-of-the-range workstations. 


Dispatchers work in roomier quarters after the renovation.

“Our 911 Dispatch Center is a critical nerve center that never sleeps, acting as the connective tissue between dispatchers, first responders and the communities we serve,” Public Works Director Carla Short told the crowd gathered for the event.

“But because the 911 Dispatch Center is a 24/7 operation, the work was not without its logistical challenges. The project team, construction workers and the 911 dispatchers worked together to make sure the project advanced without hindering the critical functions of the 911 operation.

“Delivering projects like these that benefit all who live, work and visit here is a privilege and showcases our commitment as a City to prioritize resiliency, public safety and our people,” she added. 


Mayor London Breed leads the ribbon-cutting to mark the makeover.

The project was funded via the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond program, also known as ESER. Voters in 2010, 2014 and 2020 passed ESER bonds to pay for seismic improvements and upgrades to City-owned public safety facilities – from revamping aging police stations to building cisterns for the City’s emergency firefighting water network. 

The renovations at the 911 Call Center were paid for with money from ESER 2020. The improvements included upgrades to the technology and underlying IT infrastructure.


Public Works oversaw construction of the 911 center upgrades.

“This really is a pivotal moment for us,” said Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director for the Department of Emergency Management. “This has been a long time in the planning.”


San Francisco’s 911 dispatchers field an average of 3,200 calls a day.

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Mission Verde

Acting Bureau of Urban Forestry Superintendent Nicholas Crawford, right, inspects a young tree.

24th Street Trees:
A Growing Success

Three years ago, the Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry oversaw the removal of 33 mature ficus trees on 24th Street in the Mission District. The trees were prone to failure and deemed too hazardous for the busy corridor. 

In their place, 83 new young street trees went in the ground, among them Brisbane Box, red maples and gingkoes, which are all more suitable for the urban environment. 

Public Works’ nonprofit partner Friends of the Urban Forest helped plant an additional 95 trees along various side streets throughout this stretch of the Mission. As a result, there are more trees growing in the corridor today than there were three years ago.

The volunteer group Mission Verde stepped up to water the trees for the first three years after they were planted. That’s the usual establishment period for trees before they can survive on their own, nourished by rainfall. 

Mission Verde has played an important role in the 24th Street trees – successfully fighting to vastly reduce the number of ficus trees initially slated for removal and forging an agreement with Public Works to water all the new trees every week during the establishment period. 

Friends of the Urban Forest produced a short video showcasing the efforts.

In mid-April, Public Works arborists, inspectors and landscape shop crew members toured the 24th Street corridor from Potrero Avenue to Mission Street to evaluate the condition of the trees.


Public Works staff walks the 24th Street corridor to evaluate the trees.

“This red maple is plenty big enough; it doesn’t need to have the stakes anymore,” Acting Bureau of Urban Forestry Superintendent Nicholas Crawford said during the tour. 

The partnership with Mission Verde has been critical to the success of the Mission neighborhood’s new batch of street trees – not only did the volunteers help the young trees grow, but they also helped save the City money. Watering trees is labor intensive and expensive. The watering provided by Mission Verde freed up approximately $100,000 for Public Works to use to plant more trees to grow the urban forest.


Urban Forestry Inspector Allegra Mautner, left, confers with Nicholas Crawford, who heads the Public Works tree team.

Our work with the 24th Street trees is ongoing. Mature ficus trees throughout the City are prone to complete tree failure, have had limbs fall and pose sidewalk tripping hazards due to the tree roots. Removal of the most hazardous ficus trees along 24th Street addressed these risks and provided a safer environment for all who travel the busy commercial and residential corridor. 

However, our tree inspectors are keeping a close eye on those that remain. Those in deteriorating health may merit removal to minimize public safety risks. Or, we may be able to safely extend the life of the tree through pruning and other routine maintenance.


Arborist Nili Niu checks out a tree branch during the 24th Street inspection.

“If it’s stable, even if it’s not looking spectacular, we can at least hold onto it,” Crawford said, of the remaining ficus trees. “It is exciting to see some of the new trees taking off. We’re making notes about some of the trees that need a little love. We’ll fix those up.” 

But thanks to Mission Verde’s faithful  watering work and the Bureau of Urban Forestry’s diligence, the state of the 24th Street trees is in a good place, Crawford said. “I’m proud of this conclusion.”

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Safety Beacons

People crossing Diamond Heights Boulevard make use of the flashing beacon.

A Shining Beacon

Beneath overcast skies and with Sutro Tower rising in the distance, a small but cheerful group of neighbors and City officials gathered earlier this month for a low-key ribbon-cutting in Diamond Heights, celebrating a set of new solar-powered crosswalk safety beacons that were installed with the help of Public Works’ skilled trades workers and engineers.

The new light fixtures – located at the crosswalk at Duncan Street and Diamond Heights Boulevard, and formally known as “Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons” – can be activated with the push of a button by any pedestrian wanting to safely cross the busy intersection. Once turned on, the flashing lights alert drivers that someone is looking to cross the road.

Instead of cutting the traditional red ribbon, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman – joined by residents who live nearby and advocated for the improvement – removed a small piece of yellow tape from one of the buttons to mark the happy occasion. 


Supervisor Rafael Mandelman removes the ceremonial tape covering the flashing beacon operating button to mark the official launch.

“Thanks everybody who made this happen,” Mandelman told the small crowd, which included Public Works project managers, officials from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and police officers.

Public Works’ Operations teams – including the carpenter, cement and electrician shops – assisted with the pole foundations and put in the anchoring installation, as well as the conduit for future wire connections. 

They expertly managed the tight sidewalk space on both sides during the installation work. And the solid rock formation on the south side proved to be challenging to dig out but the team made it work. Our engineers provided design services.

The SFMTA Signal Shop then installed the signal pole, solar panels, transmitters, flashing beacon assembly, push buttons and signage.

The partnership worked like a charm.


Pressing the button triggers the flashing beacon lights.

“Our team had a very successful collaboration with our sister agency to improve visibility and pedestrian crossing safety at Duncan/Diamond Heights and we look forward to more collaboration and celebrations in the near future!” said Carol Huang, a Streetscape Program project manager with Public Works who helped shepherd the effort.  

This installation marked the first in a series of projects under the WalkFirst Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons initiative. Crews are hoping to start work on a second location at 38th Avenue and Geary Boulevard soon.  

A total of eight locations have been evaluated, some of which will need curb ramp upgrades. Additional locations are under review and more crosswalk safety beacons will be installed throughout the City.  

SFMTA funds the project and picks the locations based on collision history, engineering judgment and community requests. Public Works handles ADA review, engineering design, project management and construction support.

The flashing lights are used to alert drivers to stop while people cross the busy street.

The Diamond Heights project comes on the heels of other pedestrian safety initiatives around town, including the installation of so-called “Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons,” also known as “HAWK” beacons. 

Those beacons – which are found on Sloat Boulevard, for instance – function a little differently. These crossing signals are activated by pedestrians and turn the traffic signal solid red to let motorists know they should stop. The solid red light is followed by a blinking red light, which is treated as a stop sign.

Combined with the new solar-powered crosswalk safety beacons and other initiatives, these efforts aim to make San Francisco’s streets and intersections safer and easier to navigate for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

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Love Our City

Community volunteers and Public Works tree crews plant a young gingko.


Rainy and windy weather didn’t deter our spirited volunteers and crews from greening and cleaning District 7 neighborhoods during this month’s Love Our City: Neighborhood Beautification Day workday.

The team planted trees, mulched and weeded public spaces in Miraloma Park, West Portal, Sunnyside, Merced Heights and Oceanview.

Public Works hosts a Neighborhood Beautification Day event every month, bringing together community volunteers and our in-house arborists, gardeners, street cleaners, graffiti abatement crews and community engagement team to green and clean our neighborhoods.

Next month, on Saturday, May 11, we’ll be in North Beach, Russian Hill and other District 3 neighborhoods. Kickoff is at 9 a.m. at Joe DiMaggio Playground, 635 Lombard St. These are fun and inspiring events. Bring your friends, your family or join us solo. All are welcome!

Learn more about the Neighborhood Beautification Days by visiting

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