Laguna Honda Reservoir: SFPUC note, Exemption Notice

The SFPUC has apparently decided to stop using the area next to the reservoir as a gravel yard, and use it mainly as a Dive Team HQ. We received a note (reproduced below) from the SFPUC regarding the Laguna Honda Reservoir, following the neighborhood meeting on Feb 9th, 2011.

The SFPUC is asking for an exemption from the Planning Commission that would permit them to operate a Dive Team office. This would involve having two structures, one a trailer 20 x 40 and ten feet in height (the office and prep site); and the other, a shed 10 x 20 feet and eight feet high (for storage). Electricity has already been connected.

They have already filed for the exemption, on 18 February 2011. If anyone has comments, this would be the time to send them in. The person to contact appears to be Bill Wycko.   [ETA: No, he’s the SFPUC person. I guess the SF Office of Planning and Research would be the place to send comments. And the County Clerk. Addresses in the notice at the bottom.]


Here’s the note (emphasis added):

The SFPUC and Laguna Honda

February 2011

In June 2010 the SFPUC provided information about the planned use of an area at the Laguna Honda Reservoir, here are some updates from our Feb. 2011 community meeting.

Prior purchase and placement of a trailer at the Laguna Honda site, the SFPUC applied for and was granted:

1. A Categorical Exemption from the Planning Department – the Planning Department determined that the proposed project was exempt from environmental review – Pending Filing of the Notice of Exemption, see below.
2. General Plan Conformity Determination – for the placement of the Dive Headquarters at Lake Honda – “with consideration of removal of structures and improvements and site restoration if the proposed PUC Dive Headquarters Facility is relocated in the future, as described further in this case.”

A Notice of Exemption will be filed with the County Clerk/Recorder, confirming that this project has been granted a Categorical Exemption by the Planning Department. Once filed, anyone objecting to this Exemption will have a period of 35 days to file suit challenging the Planning Department exemption determination under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The Categorical Exemption and General Plan Conformity Determination can be found at the link below:

Community representatives and neighbors expressed deep concern regarding the lack of communication from the SFPUC, in particular because of the filing of the Categorical Exemption request and issuance of the exemption determination by the Planning Department. The community members felt that the SFPUC was not honoring its commitment to communicate throughout the process.

The SFPUC will notify the community and neighborhood stakeholders when the Notice of Exemption is filed at the Office of the County Clerk.

Community members indicated a willingness to pursue any and all options to prevent the SFPUC from using any of the space within the fence along Clarendon Ave. for any maintenance, staging or other operations, including but not limited to activities of the Dive Team.

Several questions were asked about other potential locations throughout the City. Suggestions included use of a portion of the Laguna Honda Hospital Parking Lot, as well as an area adjacent to the Summit Pump Station below Sutro Reservoir.

The valley below the Sutro Reservoir is not suitable because the area will be used for a project to seismically upgrade the reservoir will begin sometime later this calendar year.
There were questions about the P – Public zoning district and the Open Space height and bulk district designation of the reservoir parcel. The Categorical Exemption and General Plan Conformity address this designation and the proposed land use.
The trailer/Dive Team Headquarters would be in operation under the guidelines below:
Although the Categorical Exemption document says normal work hours are 7:00am – 5:00pm, activities at the site would be limited to the hours of 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, although emergencies and operational needs may require off-hour operations. These events are infrequent, usually no more than a few times per year. The Divers are working at dive sites throughout the city. The Dive Team has three passenger trucks, and it is anticipated that only these vehicles would be parking on-site on a regular basis.
The trailer will provide office space for dive team staff and a small workshop to repair and maintain items such as air stations, helmets, dry suits, ROVs , cameras, power and light units, and filling air cylinders.

Additional installation activities at the trailer site will be limited to placement of lattice screens/fences to obscure the structure from view and additional landscaping.

Access to the area via the Clarendon Avenue gate will continue to be limited to members of the San Francisco Beekeepers Association and authorized SFPUC City Distribution Division personnel.

SFPUC is pursuing landscape and property improvements at Lake Honda/Laguna Honda:

  • Plant and maintain vines and other greenery to soften the appearance of fencing as much as possible, including both the fence along Clarendon and the interior fence. Attach green fabric to the interior fence gate because planting near the fence is not feasible. Also, since the fabric would be attached to the interior fence, graffiti tagging should not be a issue.
  • The SFPUC is working to identify plants that will thrive along the interior fence.
  • The bee boxes have all been painted and relocated along the walkway/fire access road adjacent to the reservoir.
  • There was some concern expressed about the possibility of bees swarming away from the reservoir and the risk to people and animals if they are allergic to bee stings. Paul Koski, one of the beekeepers can be reached at if there are questions about the bees.
  • The City Distribution Division Landscape Supervisor is investigating the feasibility of planting more native plants inside the fence lines.
  • The sand and gravel piles and other construction materials will be moved off-site as soon as possible and should be completed in coordination with the Dive Team Headquarters installation.

In addition to the area adjacent to Clarendon Avenue, other landscape and vegetation management projects are underway at Laguna Honda:

  • A draft tree health and hazard report has been received and is currently being reviewed by SFPUC staff. Based on the report findings the SFPUC will draft a plan of action to trim and remove diseased, dying and dead trees within the watershed to reduce the fire hazard, thin the forest for sustainability, and remove invasive plants and possible replanting with native species. The scope of the project has not yet been determined.
  •  Removal of invasive species in the Franciscan Scrub above the reservoir should occur within the next two to three months. The SFPUC has initiated discussion with representatives of Nature in the City, the California Native Plant Society and the Golden Gate Audubon Society regarding the proposed invasive species removal effort.
  • Unauthorized use of the site as a homeless encampment is being regularly monitored and has been significantly reduced.

For more information e-mail Suzanne Gautier, SFPUC Communications at


Here’s a picture of the Exemption filing notice.

(Click on image for a larger version.)

2 thoughts on “Laguna Honda Reservoir: SFPUC note, Exemption Notice”

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