May 1999

Type: Municipal Park, SNRA Park, 19 acres.
Entrance Location: One entrance only, at the end of Key St off Jennings St.
Access Notes: Not an easy park to get to or from, mainly because of the complex interaction here of Hwy 101 and local streets. Access from 101 using the Paul St exit to Paul St to 3rd St to Key St. From the park, access 101 north and south from Key Av to Jennings St (north) to Jamestown St to the on ramp. A confusing sign also indicates 101 north straight ahead (due west) at this junction. Disregard that sign and get on the on ramp here or wind up on Bayshore for over a mile.
Facilities: Paved path, Vault toilet along path.
Fee-Hours: No fee. Dawn to dusk.
Dogs: Poor. No good off-leash areas. Poison oak, tall grasses.

Bay View Park (also Bay View Hill) and variously spelled as 'Bayview' and 'Bay View' is an SNRA hill park in the Bayview District close to Candlestick 3COM Park. It is a neglected park which has an extraordinary potential for redevelopment because it is scenically fantastic and gives quite a unique vantage onto the the city and the Bay. In particular, there is a spot in this park which gives a fantastic view over Hwy 101 as it recedes south towards the Brisbane Lagoon. This amazing viewpoint has been selected as one of 15 highlight spots of San Francisco in spite of some negative aspects to this park. It is impossible to predict how nice the panorama is here looking at the hill from afar. From 3COM Park it appears as dynamited shelves of red rock and from everywhere else merely an oddity. It is predominantly open grassland slopes with a moderate concentration of eucalyptus at the very top. A single mopey asphalt road climbs from the end of Key St. off Jennings. This is the only way to access the park. The neighborhood is low income residential, predominantly black, and quiet except for the occasional screeching buick. Here we have the real reason for a lack of park development here. This has always been a poor area. This, plus an utter emptiness to the park, does not engender a feeling of great safety as an outsider visiting alone. I encountered absolutely no one in this park. This point is considered separately from the natural qualities of the place itself.

Bay View Park was established as a park in 1915 and was mostly a gift to the city from W. H. Crocker and the Bay View Improvement Company. Today the park boundary is reduced to 19 acres (the hill open space is larger than this) and rises over 400 feet above the water level of the bay. A brief look at its history suggests it has always been considered a 'blighted' area of little value, both economically and in terms of development as a park. It therefore continues to have a fugitive feeling to this day as it waits patiently to be appreciated on its merits. In short, its qualities make it a goldmine waiting to be discovered. Until then, its fugitive feeling is actually a charged, special thing about the space. It is not a good park for anything recreational. It is simply nice as a windy, meditative, secluded viewpoint; for a view which has fascinating aspects in every direction. The flora is unspectacular and is one area where a minimum effort could make a big difference. Time has cultivated some large bushes of poison oak but it is easily avoidable. There is one large rocky promontory, sentinel rock, on the south side of a chain-link protected radio relay facility. This rock overlooks the 'turn' of Hwy 101 from 300' above, a turn which occurs at right about the county line. This is a phenomenal view which has that rare quality of being instantly nostalgic, especially as dusk fades into night.

Best Features:  Panoramic jewel with stunning views. Uncrowded. No fee or problem parking.

Worst Features: The Bayview District is adjacent to Hunter's Point, not the best neighborhood, although this spot does not seem particularly bad. Still, a completely empty park in this area makes me nervous. The location of this park also makes it difficult to get to and from. Getting to the hilltop requires a short but grueling climb. Large hunkered down stands of poison oak are easy to avoid but common. Must share the greatest spot with a radio tower. High winds likely.