Park Report: Standards Raised, Disparities Narrowed

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco’s parks became more consistently well maintained across the city last year, with less disparity between neighborhoods and significant improvements to formerly lower scoring properties, according to a Controller’s Office report released Wednesday afternoon.

Overall, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department met 89 percent of its park maintenance standards in fiscal year 2017-2018, the 2018 Park Maintenance Standards Annual Report found. While the overall score remains the same as the previous year, the report showed dramatic improvements in raising the overall upkeep standards of parks over the past several years. In 2015, the lowest scoring park was 60 percent. In 2018, that score climbed 11 percentage points to 71 percent.

“All of our residents, no matter which neighborhood they live in, deserve clean, safe parks and open spaces” said Mayor London Breed. “While there is always more that can be done, I am glad to see we are making progress to maintain the locations that are most in need so that all of our parks serve our communities.”

Much of last year’s improvements were made in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of residents exhibiting one or more vulnerable population characteristics, as defined by the State of California.  Parks in these neighborhoods, dubbed “equity zones” include Alice Chalmers Playground in the Crocker-Amazon neighborhood, which improved by 14 percentage points; Buchanan Street Mall in the Western Addition, which improved by 11 percentage points; and Turk-Hyde Mini Park in the Tenderloin and Excelsior Playground, both of which improved by 10 points.  Overall, equity zone parks received an average score of 88 percent, the report showed. Over 61 percent of Rec and Parks’ capital dollars are invested in equity zones, which comprise 20 percent of the city’s park acreage.

“The ability to interact with nature in a clean, safe environment is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Our staff has been working hard to ensure all our parks are in good shape across every neighborhood in the city and I’m very pleased to see their labor reflected in the controller’s report. There is always work to be done and room to improve but this shows our commitment to equity is making a difference.”

The score for parks in the Bayview neighborhood increased by four percentage points over last year and some of the city’s most improved properties were in the same neighborhood. Gilman Playground improved by 11.2 percentage points, while Bay View Playground improved by 7.7 percentage points

Lyslynn Lacoste, executive director of BMAGIC, a collaborative devoted to improving the lives of Bayview-Hunters Point children, youth and their families, said the improvements to the parks are apparent to residents.

“The parks in the Bayview are cleaner, safer and more welcoming. We are seeing more park staffers and volunteers and, in turn, more community members who now feel comfortable enjoying their neighborhood parks,” Lacoste said.

Notable improvements in other neighborhoods include the Margaret Osborne DuPont Tennis Courts in the Richmond District, Joe DiMaggio Playground in North Beach, Ina Coolbrith Mini Park in Russian Hill, and Jefferson Square in the Western Addition.

The condition of many of the top ranking and most improved parks has been partly due to an infusion of bond money. In 2008, voters approved a $185 million Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond to improve park restrooms and replace dilapidated playfields. In 2012, voters again passed a $195 million general obligation bond to improve infrastructure in neighborhood parks.

Three of this year’s top-scoring parks were also top-scoring parks last fiscal year: Cabrillo Playground, Fulton Playground, and Fay Park. Two of these, Fulton Playground and Cabrillo Playground, were renovated in 2012 and 2013, respectively, using 2008 bond money. Of the 12 highest-scoring athletic fields, three are in West Sunset Playground, which has six athletic fields and four are in Golden Gate Park, which has 15 athletic fields. The West Sunset Playground received $13.6 million dollars in funding from the 2012 bond.

This is the 13th Park Maintenance Standards Annual Report. Under an amendment passed by voters in 2003, the City Charter requires the Controller’s Office to work with Rec and Parks to establish objective and measurable park maintenance standards and assess them annually. The goal is to reveal how park conditions change from year to year and to uncover the main drivers of change in park conditions to inform Rec and Parks’ operational decisions.


To view the full report, click here.

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