Community celebration marks new public space, new art, and new YBG stewardship

City officials and agencies, community groups, surrounding businesses, and related nonprofits recently had a lot to celebrate at Yerba Buena Gardens.

After construction of new public spaces, organizational formation, installation of new art, and a transition of YBG stewardship to a new community-based organization, the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy, a public event recognized all of this hard work and accomplishment by many important groups and individuals in the community.

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Community partnership and input was a high priority in the development of the Yerba Buena Gardens to not only keep it vibrant but to weave it into the surrounding neighborhood as well,” said City Administrator, Naomi Kelly. “For seven years the City worked closely with community members to create the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy to ensure its sustainability for years to come at the heart of the City’s cultural, convention, and visitor district.”

New Era Dignitaries + Yerba Buena Gardens Supporters
New Era Dignitaries + Yerba Buena Gardens Supporters

A New Era at YBG

Once a parking lot without a future, Yerba Buena Gardens is now a recognized model for improving urban areas.

The gardens opened in 1993 and more than five million visitors annually now enjoy an urban oasis of cultural organizations, landscaped lawns, extensive public art, dining, cafes and award-winning architecture built above and around Moscone Convention Center.

Going forward, the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy will mark the next era in the garden’s successful management.

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The gardens came about and have flourished because of a tenacious community that cares deeply about nurturing it,” said TODCO CEO, John Elberling, a dedicated advocate for the gardens. “Its success encouraged the development of housing, museums, and public spaces to create a remarkable public space used by seniors, families, and visitors.”

Featured Speakers | YBG New Era Celebration
Some featured speakers included Art Agnos, Lynn Farzaroli, Naomi Kelly, and Tom DeCaigny

Presentations from an honorable roster of speakers were followed by a special performance by children from the South of Market Child Care Center | SOMACC.

Located at Yerba Buena Gardens, the SOMACC children performed in front of the historic 1906 LeRoy King Carousel and the interactive robotic bronze sculpture “Urge” in the newly landscaped, adjacent plaza.

Special SMOACC children presentation | YBG
The New Era at YBG celebration included a special presentation by kids from SOMACC

Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy to manage + operate YBG

In July, the City approved Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy’s 42-year lease to manage and operate the gardens. This change completed the shift in the overall management and ownership to a collaborative partnership between the Conservancy and the City of San Francisco.

Learn how the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy will transition to the next era in successful #YerbaBuenaGardens management | #leadership Click To Tweet

The self-financing structure allows for private donations, grants and other sources of improvements to supplement built-in financing. A board of directors of community members and city appointees governs the Conservancy.

The Yerba Buena Community Benefit District provided financial support and expertise in the creation of the Conservancy.

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The gardens are special because of the involvement by the community and City leaders,” said Yerba Buena Garden’s Conservancy Executive Director, Scott Rowitz. “The Conservancy is committed to sustaining the high-quality character and civic benefit of the gardens, continuing to engage with all of City’s communities, and raising funds to ensure that this special place will continue to thrive as a major civic amenity for all to enjoy.”

New features + amenities everywhere

Several new amenities resulting from the Moscone Expansion project were highlighted at the ceremonies including:

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This is both a vaunted community gathering spot and a gateway location whose care and nurturing contributes massively to the enjoyment of the people who live here and to the economic success of the City,” said SF Travel Sr. Director of Destination Development and Operations, Lynn Farzaroli.

Inspiring new public art additions

Throughout the gardens, the New Era at YBG is reflected in inspiring new art including:

  • | Christine Corday’s Genesis | Massive arcing segments of stainless steel
  • | Brendon Monroe’s Roll | Mural inspired by San Francisco’s coastal climate
  • | Leo Villareal’s PointCloud | Light installation on the Moscone East Bridge with +50,000 color LEDs
  • | And more
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The level and quality of public art in the Gardens is a model to emulate,” said San Francisco Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs, Tom DeCaigny. “It’s an outdoor museum collection for everyone to enjoy that complements Yerba Buena’s renown museums, galleries and performing arts locations.

A long history grounded in inclusivity

1976 | Mayor George Moscone embraced a civic vision to combine the construction of a new convention center for the City’s vital visitor industry with the creation of a “public gardens” for all San Francisco residents
1993-2012 | SFRA oversaw management and operations
2012 SFRA dissolved by the state and authorized local successor agency, the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure | OCII, assumed the SFRA role
2012-2019 | Community in collaboration with the City worked tirelessly to create a new model for the governance, management, and operations—the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy
2019 | New Era begins at YBG

Green relief right in the heart of SF

There’s no better place in San Francisco for a family-friendly, safe, clean day of green fun and activities. It’s where you can embrace your every mood, celebrate diversity, and find green relief.

For visitors looking for the perfect destination to let kids burn off some energy, Yerba Buena Children’s Garden delivers all the smiles and fun your kids are looking for.

Come on over and check it out when you visit San Francisco. We look forward to seeing you soon.

All Photos | Steven Gregory

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