The plaza at Benches Park had not seen major upgrades since neighbors created it from Caltrans property in the 1970s. Benches and its sister park, Fallen Bridge, were created from Caltrans right of ways on either side of the 18 th Street bridge over 101. The California Youth Conservation Corps helped neighbors transform the weedy dirt patch into a much needed neighborhood amenity.
In 2018, the GBD executed the first major renovation of this surprisingly verdant and vital neighborhood gathering spot in over 40 years. The park’s plaza, used for exercise, hanging out and neighborhood gatherings, was doubled in size. The chain link fence surrounding the garden was removed, uniting the plaza and garden. New sidewalk gardens and trees soften the park’s edge. Lighting makes the garden and the approach to the footbridge less gloomy.
The project was executed with the help of Caltrans, Friends of the Urban Forest, park stewards Joe Treinen and Loren Swanson, and many neighborhood volunteers, plus a financial boost from a Community Challenge Grant.
Benches Park has found renewed life as a respite for those making the trek over the hill and a beloved gathering spot for nearby neighbors.
Enlarged the park’s public plaza, creating more space for exercise and gatherings
Improved safety by adding lighting and reducing sight obstructions
Added sidewalk gardens, trees and planters
Removed chain link fencing and opened the garden
Replaced hardscape with permeable paving and created sidewalk gardens for zero net gain in hardscape
Restored the park’s signature benches (to re reinstalled soon)