New Public Plaza for San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-Today San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown will join the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Columbia Foundation, the Schiller family, and Assemblymember Kevin Shelley to officially open and dedicate the Hans Schiller Plaza, the first completed project of the Visitacion Valley Greenway. The Plaza’s completion was made possible by a $300,000 grant to TPL from the Columbia Foundation founded by late Madeleine Haas Russell. The gift was made in memory of her good friend Hans J. Schiller. TPL broke ground on the plaza in mid October and completed the project this week.

“We are very grateful to the Columbia Foundation and the Russell family for this very generous gift. This plaza, created as a tribute to Mr. Schiller, is for all Visitacion Valley residents to enjoy,” says Joe Ingenito, urban parks program manager and landscape architect for the Trust for Public Land.

The Visitacion Valley Greenway is a proposed two-acre ribbon of mini-parks that stretches through the heart of Visitacion Valley.

The plaza is named for Hans J. Schiller, a Bay Area architect and environmental activist. Mr. Schiller’ s illustrious career spanned more than 50 years and several countries including Palestine (now Israel), Italy, and the United States. Mr. Schiller settled in the Bay Area in the 1940s and established his own firm, Hans J. Schiller Associates, in Mill Valley. Mr. Schiller’s passion for his work was matched by his commitment to ensuring that people from all walks of life had access to parks and open space. It was his professional achievements and care for people and the environment that lead to his appointment by Governor Jerry Brown as Commissioner of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission in 1978.

The Columbia Foundation grant to TPL is part of a larger effort to create the Visitacion Valley Greenway. During the past several years, TPL has worked with the local community group-the Visitacion Valley Greenway Project, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department (RPD) to help design the greenway and facilitate a lease and purchase agreement between the PUC, the owner of the 12 lots, and the RPD. Prior to TPL’s involvement, the vacant PUC lots were on the market to private developers for upwards of $2 million. After intense negotiations mediated by TPL, the parcels have been leased to RPD for a nominal cost. At the end of a five-year period, which began in 1999, the lots will be transferred over to RPD assuming the greenway has been created and opened for public use as detailed in the agreement.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. TPL has protected more than 1,200,000 acres nationwide including more than 20,000 acres in the San Francisco Bay Area. TPL recently launched its Greenprint for Growth campaign to conserve land as a way to guide growth, protect air and water, and ensure a high quality of life in communities nationwide. The mission of TPL’s Urban Parks Program is to improve and sustain a high quality of life in urban areas in California through the creation and preservation of natural areas, high-quality parks, playgrounds, and other recreational amenities. For more information, please visit our website at