A staircase in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood is getting a makeover and the first step of the community project will kickoff this weekend, a project coordinator said.

On Saturday, the first of three mosaic tiling workshops will be held at Christ Church Lutheran at 1090 Quintara St. from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to work on boards to decorate the 16th Avenue steps in the neighborhood, project co-chair Paul Signorelli said.

Signorelli, who has lived since 2001 just a few houses down from the steps, which run between Lawton and Kirkham streets, teamed up with local artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher to create the Hidden Garden Steps Project.

“It’s a chance to continue building our community,” he said.

The 148-step design includes what Signorelli called the “crowning jewel,” a 26-step colorful salamander, sprawled along the staircase, which weaves up the hillside.

The design includes elements of native California flora and fauna, which includes salamanders, he said.

The project was inspired by the existing mosaic staircase on nearby Moraga Street between 15th and 16th avenues, which was completed in 2005.

“I always admired the project,” Signorelli said.

Although Saturday’s workshop is the first time the project will work preparing the mosaic, planting of drought-tolerant gardens and painting on the steps has already been under way.

A mural was painted on the steps in summer 2011 by neighborhood private high school Woodside International School students that show the future design of the mosaic steps.
Anyone is welcome to help with the project at this Saturday’s workshop. No experience with tiles, art or staircases is necessary to participate, Signorelli assured.

Another workshop will be held in March 2013 and a third sometime between May and July 2013, according to Signorelli.

The mosaic boards are expected to be completed by the end of spring 2013 and installed at the earliest by next summer. However, the steps’ location may require further preparation and the mosaics’ installation may get pushed back to spring or summer 2014, Signorelli said.

“It will brighten the community,” he said.

The Hidden Steps Project has received support from the city’s Department of Public Works Street Parks Program and the San Francisco Parks Alliance.

The volunteer-based project has raised more about $105,000 and other in-kind donations and services from local businesses and groups, including support from the neighborhood advocacy group Inner Sunset Park Neighbors.

For more information about the project and volunteering visit

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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