Furious flood infiltrates famous Stern Grove


Nick Kaulfers ‘21

A broken valve caused 700,000 gallons of water to pour into Stern Grove.

Claire Ibalio ’22, Staff reporter

700,000 gallons of water from a broken valve from a main pipe engulfed the eucalyptus trees and created a tributary of mud making the stern grove stage into waterfront entertainment. 

Located in the heart of Parkside on Sloat and 19th Avenue,  stretching down to Wawona and 32nd, the beloved Sigmund Stern Grove faces massive erosion problems as walls of mud and capsized trees are left 150 feet below street level from the flooding on August 23. 

Nick Kaulfers ’21

 San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission, along with a team of geotechnical engineers, biologists, archeologists and arborists, have recently received  approval from district’s supervisor Gordon Mar for an estimated $4 million plan to remove the mud and trees from the stage area in Stern Grove as the 2022 summer concert season slowly approaches. From the main valve break, the Stern Grove playground and Francis M. McAteer Tennis Courts have been temporarily closed until further notice; however, the dog park remains open. 

Residents in surrounding neighborhoods such as Parkside and Lakeshore have expressed concern about the city’s handling of the clean up of Stern Grove. 

Nextdoor user Debbie commented, “I think the city is working hard at restoring and building to make it safe. Although, I don’t know how much priority is being put on this restoration project, I do hope they continue without delays.  There are many very impacted by this closure.”

Nick Kaulfers ’21

One person who feels the impact is another Nextdoor user, Judy Goddess, who said, “Before the pandemic, my husband and I – and on occasion, some of our friends – would play pickleball at Stern Grove (the tennis courts converted to pickleball courts five mid-days a week).”

She added,  “Each court has its own vibe, and the players at Stern Grove were very friendly and remarkably accepting of new players. Although the courts were sometimes quite crowded, we really enjoyed playing there.”

Debbie also misses using the park. She said, “I am part of a community of people (50-60 count) that play pickleball on the tennis courts at Stern grove. We play there daily for 3-4 hours per day. The closure of the courts due to flooding behind the courts has impacted our quality of lives.  We are a bit older, and this community does not have many choices of places to play pickleball.”

Debbie also attended concerts there.  “That serves a large community that can’t afford to go to expensive live concerts and enjoy.  It’s been many years that this opportunity has been provided to SF folks,” she said. 

Nick Kaulfers ’21

Now, people are worried the work might not be completed in time for the summer concert series. 

Andrea Pujalor said, “I think that we last went to Stern Grove during the summer of 2020.  We’ve attended the Summer Concerts there for many years. We got there early in order to save a good spot.” 

She concluded, “So, we were sad when we learned about the flood and the damage caused to the grounds of that beautiful place.”