Rocks and Waterfall

PPNA’s Stewardship of

Marjorie Saunders Park and the Painted Rock

A Fact Sheet


This fact sheet addresses recent concerns associated with potential pollution associated with the painting of the rock at Marjorie Saunders Park.  For almost 70 years, PPNA has been the voluntary steward of this Park and has recently been in discussions with the city to address the pollution concerns that have been raised. 

Some History

In the 1930s, the rock was placed in a project under the auspice of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  In the early 1940s, as homes were built in the immediate area, the Piedmont Pines Club (now PPNA) was created and formally initiated the development of a park which included, in the 1950s, the addition of walking paths to the public schools down the hill. In the 1960s, residents began painting messages on the park. This tradition has continued to the present day.

In the 1980s, PPNA formally adopted the park under the City’s Adopt-a-Spot program and its stewardship efforts focused on vegetation management and the introduction of new native plants. Importantly, over these years, PPNA has also conducted paint “clean up,” including removing many cans of leftover paint.   

Recent Events

Several months ago, PPNA learned that Cameron Cox, a middle school student, was doing a report on potential pollution associated with painting the rock.  We invited Cameron to a PPNA Board meeting where she presented her findings. The Board was impressed with her report including the thoroughness of the methodology she employed.  We committed to work with Cameron and the City to address causes of pollution.  We also agreed that the signage at the park, which had been put up many years before, should be more restrictive regarding encouraging or allowing painting of the rock based on whatever the City determined those restrictions to be.   

PPNA understood that it was the City’s role to define and enforce specific rock painting restrictions and that, as part of its stewardship, it was PPNA’s role to support educating local residents regarding the need for restrictions, e.g., the connection of the stream in the park to Sausal Creek and ultimately the Bay. PPNA agreed that it would also suggest to its residents alternative ways that the tradition of using the rock for messaging could continue without using paints.     

Where We Are Now

PPNA has had several communications with the city regarding painting on the rock. The city confirmed that painting the rock is not permitted. They reminded us this has always been the city policy regarding the park. 

PPNA also formally committed to include an article from Cameron Cox in a future Newsletter regarding Marj Saunders Park and the rock.