Patricia De Fonte, captain of the Ney Street Neighborhood Watch
Many San Franciscans travel through the Ney Street neighborhood on the way to the 280 and 101 freeways. But the Ney Street neighborhood isn’t just a gateway to one of San Francisco’s main thoroughfares – it’s also the home of a vibrant community that is dedicated to improving the lives of its residents.
It All Started with a Neighborhood Watch
In 2010, the Ney Street community started working with San Francisco SAFE to initiate the Ney Street Neighborhood Watch (NSNW). After a year of meetings, the group felt cohesive enough to start tackling other problems in the “Neyborhood.” They made a list – dumping, graffiti, greening, better lighting at night, cleaning up the local grocery store, and more.
“We started out as 20 strangers in a room. We soon realized that we were more than that – we had common concerns and goals in addition to safety. We wanted a cleaner and more beautiful community and we felt confident enough in each other to start working toward it,” says Patricia De Fonte, captain of NSNW.
A Full-fledged Greening Effort Begins
Trees line the streets leading up to the entrance to Alemany Boulevard
Supervisor John Avalos had been attending NSNW’s meetings from the beginning and the Neybors brought him their concerns. Seeing the level of commitment in the group, Supervisor Avalos gave them $5,000 for greening and introduced them to Mohammed Nuru of the Department of Public Works. This kicked off a new mission and a new energy in the group.
NSNW members began monthly cleaning crews, going block by block weeding, meeting new neighbors, increasing group membership and educating residents on their rights and obligations. They worked with Friends of the Urban Forest to plant 70 trees within six months with the money from Supervisor Avalos.
The whole community came out to plant – they brought their children, they planted trees for elderly Neybors who could not participate, and they celebrated with potluck meals afterwards.
In just over a year the Ney Street residents had made big changes in their neighborhood – and people were noticing. In 2012, they received the “Outstanding Neighborhood Watch Group” award at the annual NEN Awards.