Crime in San Francisco's many parks is a Big! problem. And with all the hoodlums running amok and SFPD understaffed, Rec. & Park is looking towards the good citizens of San Francisco to reclaim their rightful public spaces (via food trucks).
From an editorial in today's Chronicle:
Dolores Park, in what should be a bucolic, family-oriented neighborhood, is being attacked by vandals who damage play structures and buildings and deface them with graffiti.
This is not new, of course. The very thing that attracts people to parks - wide-open spaces - also seems to attract unwelcome visitors.
Can this be stopped - ever?
Can it? CAN IT? However will we be saved?!
The Recreation and Park Department hopes to “activate” many parks - to encourage daytime and nighttime activities, such as farmers' markets, sporting events, food-truck days and expanded skateboarding programs like a popular one at Waller and Stanyan streets. The department also plans bike-rental programs to generate activity around parks and to plant trees and ornamental flower beds to inspire residents to take pride in their neighborhoods.
The idea is to encourage law-abiding citizens to use their own parks more - for their own enjoyment and to discourage undesirable elements from taking over space that belongs to everybody.
Apparently they are also calling for a “zero-tolerance” policy towards drugs and, with SFPD slated to hire 2,000 more officers to protect the citizenry from harming their own livers and lungs, increased “aggressive patrolling of the parks.” And while I'm sure this is all fine and dandy, let's just call this what it is: a call for families to use the parks.
While this article is talking about all of San Francisco's parks, the example of Dolores Park is an interesting one. Dolores Park is quite obviously one of the highest trafficked parks in the city and surely 95+% of its users are law-abiding (unless you're boring and recognize the legitimacy of open-container laws, in which case 5% of the park is law-abiding), yet the very vandalism and crime the Chronicle detests persists. Pumping more people into the parks obviously won't clean it up in any meaningful way, unless actions are taken to change the very relaxed atmosphere of the public space—by extension, making it less public.
Can't the city just recognize that people want to drink in public and understand shitheads will be shitheads? This noise is getting old.