San Francisco

Bernal Heights Neighbors Face-Off Over Controversial Fence on Public Land

When a couple of homeowners along a San Francisco park replaced an old chain-link fence with a new wooden one they didn’t dream the city would object. But it did, and now the homeowners have until Friday night to take it down because the old fence sits on city property.

City officials are objecting because the land they fenced in, in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, doesn’t belong to them.

One of the homeowners, Mark Sabatino, bought this place 22 years ago.

“We went to the city when we bought the house and asked them if we could purchase the land, and they said no, we’re not allowed to sell it but ‘you can use it as long as you take care of it.’”

So Sabatino replaced steps, built retaining walls, removed dead trees, and replaced the old chain link fence.

“It’s giving us some privacy and security – it looks better than it used to,” he said.

But not to Bud Ryerson who lives a couple of blocks away.

“They went onto property that didn’t belong to them tore down a fence that didn’t belong to them and then built this thing,” he said.

Ryerson and his wife took their complaints to the city park’s department which has decided the fence has to go by the end of this week.

“The rec and park department will come in and remove it ourselves and bill them for the cost of that,” said Sarah Madland from the city’s Recreation and Parks Department.

A lot of people using the park have followed the fight on NextDoor and other social media sites.

“I think they should build the fence right along his property line, even though the property line is the exterior wall of his house, that’s the appropriate place for it,” Ryerson said.

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