Daly City fights to save community garden

Daly City residents create a petition to save local garden from residential construction


Izzy Herrera

Daly City residents create a sign to save the local garden

Jefferson Unified High School District has a plan to tear down the Daly City garden in order to renovate Serramonte Del Rey.

The proposed project would include a 14-story apartment building, a recreational trail, public parks, open spaces, and more. This location falls on the property where the Daly City garden resides.

Resident Debra Santiago built a strong connection with the Daly City garden as it connects her to her family roots, sharing many memories with her mother and now her son. She was part of the Washoe Tribe that used the garden regularly. After hearing the news of the plan to demolish the garden, it broke Santiago’s heart.

Knowing something needed to be done, she created a petition on Change.org spreading awareness about the garden and the personal connection she and others of the community have with it.

In Santiago’s petition, she makes multiple claims that the JUHSD has no plan to offer an alternative site for the garden which keeps the garden intact while also benefiting the community. However, the JUHSD’s Director of Communication and Staff Housing Austin Worden says otherwise.

“We agree that a community garden has a place and purpose on this site (Serramonte Del Rey), which is why our current plans will provide a garden that will be accessible, centralized, and sustainable,” Worden said. “This project is meant to benefit the entire community. Because our high school district is the lowest funded in San Mateo County, our main priority will be to ensure that our local Daly City students obtain the resources they need to succeed. We also know that our city is in desperate need of affordable housing, open space, a true community garden, pedestrian safety improvements, parks, and retail opportunities. This project will provide all of this.”

Santiago mentions in her petition that the best location for the garden is its current location because the coastal ridgeline that resides above the garden protects the plants such as native plants and fruit orchids from coastal wind and fog.

“Yes, it is (the garden) below the 600 feet above sea level ridgeline,” said Shirin Leclere, a Geology professor at Skyline College. “It would be protecting the garden space from the cold Pacific winds and to some extent some fog.”

As of Oct. 10, 3,318 people have signed the petition that the garden should reside in its original spot. One of the supporters identifying as Instagram account @4dalycity helps Santiago spread awareness about the planned demolition of the garden.

“Since the community garden is owned by the school district it is kind of their right to change it, the way they see it will benefit people,” said Lisbeth Menjivar, a Daly City resident. “But the district had the community garden open to the public, so it only makes it right and fair to build something for the community residents as some of them have such a personal connection with it, and make it as it was before the construction”.

The outcome of the garden nor its replacement has yet been released. The petition for the garden is still up online via Change.org