Thoughts on the Dolores Park Renovation Meeting: Zzzzzzzzzzz

Totally disappointed in the ‘community meeting’ last night.  I sat there the entire time expecting some bro in a beanie to leap over the crowd, smack Bevan Dufty in the face with a longboard and proceed to take a massive hit from a pipe because he needed to ‘mellow out.’  But no, it was just 40 or so NIMBY and political geezers talking a lot but accomplishing nothing.  “Dunno bout this, dunno about that, but the community is involved.”  Sweet gramps, how can I get involved?  “We dunno yet, email us or something.”  Literally.  That was the conversation.  This is your government at work.

Naturally, the meeting wasn’t just about the renovation.  No, we had to hear about every little complaint about the park in general.

“Oh hipsters,” cackled some white-haired lady when talking about how there are 40ozs and blunts in her designated off-leash area.

“There’s too much noise,” said some guy who insisted on telling us, repeatedly, that he has lived next door to the park for 32 years.

“GRAFFITI!!!” barked everyone over the age of fun.

The police implored the neighbors to watch over the park and call the police if anything suspicious occurs or people stay in the park beyond some arbitrarily defined park closure hour.

My Mission District

The other day, I had the pleasure of watching some chick get stabbed in the face on my street.  Crack, whores, shootings, muggings and other various, you know, real crimes are not a rare occurrence on my side of Mission Street.  Yet, these legacy residents are so wrapped up in their goal of forming a permanent storm cloud over the park that they believe bothering the police about someone spray painting a bathroom or drinking a beer at 10:05pm is a top police priority.  The worst part?  No one was there to tell them they are wrong.

Comments (27)

that sounds like SOP for these kinds of “meetings” - the only people that go are the people who live for these kinds of meetings and all they want to do is complain. but because Parks and Rec has these things (and I’m sure those well paid outside consultants got paid to “organize” this) it gives them the cover to do whatever they want.

same kind of shit happens over here when people bitch about Golden Gate Park and the Science Academy. News flash - if you don’t like traffic don’t buy a house next to a big goddamned park.

“the only people that go are the people who live for these kinds of meetings” you mean people who care about their community?

this sounds like a parks and rec meeting in a nbc sitcom

I was at that meeting and you are horribly misrepresenting it. Are you just sad none of your “angry hipster” friends showed up to party? Why shouldn’t the neighborhood have a say in what happens there? Why would you say that drugs, graffiti and larceny aren’t a problem? You are just a little rebel without a real cause aren’t you?

“neighborhood” unless they are ‘not white.’ Did anyone reach out to the latino community? The 20-somethings (who, as far as hours in the park, make up the majority users)? What I saw was people living along the park, the dog walkers, the historical society, etc. Of course, no one bothered to do any outreach to any non-NIMBY Mission community groups.

And, no, graffiti + “drugs” are not problems when people are dying in the street. Dolores Park is a long way away from the drug bizarre of the 90s. We don’t need to waste police resources on people enjoying a beer or a blunt.

And just how do you know who was and was not reached out to? By the way, your grammar is horrible.

talk to me when you come this side of valencia.

or better yet, don’t.

“The worst part? No one was there to tell them they are wrong.”

you were there.

You are complaining about no one saying anything, why didn’t you stand up and say something?! You were at the meeting and it’s in your neighborhood…
There’s no point in complaining on your blog behind your computer. If you want change, get out and do something about it. Grow a pair mate. Sounds like you want change but won’t stand up to make it happen.

Oh, I stood up, but I cannot talk at people the entire time. That’s the job of Rec and Park.

Get off your ass and do something about it instead of whining, if not enough people there, there will be more meetings, get some folks there yourself.

Kevin you sound like a twat, moaning about old people. Bet mummy and daddy are really proud of their son coming all the way to SF. Once you get over a certain age you’ll move back to the burbs where you came from and talk up how hip it was in SF.
Its so cool in your part of the Mission where all the crack whores hang, it must make you feel real and part of it.
Man you talk so hip you twist in my melons man.

OMG i love you Chris. I am a native San Franciscan, and am in my 20’s, and people like this blogger need to put a sock in it. There is nothing wrong with having community meetings, its your bad your moronic friends didnt show up to defend themselves. Unfortunately for you, the people that own the homes around the park have the most say in this issue, since, as Chris just said, you and your sad little friends will move back to the burbs eventually becuase your blogging job doesnt pay enough to cover rent, and we will be the ones living with the repercussions of you living out your “awesome” youth. Parks are there for EVERYONE to enjoy, and when you screw it up with beer cans and forcing people to walk through clouds of smoke than yes, you are the problem.

You sound like a really boring 20-year-old.

haha, if only you knew me my friend. I may not wear skinny jeans and live in the worst part of the city, but I am definitely more fun than your whiny ass.

I don’t wear skinny jeans either, shit hurts ‘muh nuts’.

Sounds as if Mr. Montgomery actually IS doing something about it. He attended the meeting and since there were few representatives of his demographic there, he is now reaching out to those folks to inform them of the misrepresentation. Informing people via the internet is not whining. Illustrating the dichotomy between public nuisances who irritate residents and actual crimes and emergencies is essential for putting the priorities of the meeting’s attendees into perspective. Asking how to become involved, and not being given an actual response seems to constitute a young man blogging about the hypocrisy of such an event.

Ok, lets be honest here. If any of us had to really live with ourselves, we would be screaming like banshees. About how obnoxious we are. But for now, denial, cocktails and immaturity provides a lovely shield.

But as Sulu always said, the shields are failing, Kirk, at which point we *will* have to live with ourselves. Or something like that. Suicide notwithstanding.

Which will be not unlike living next to Dolores Park, when the dark days of self awareness come.

This is a generational battle, not a racial or intellectual or certainly an ideological one.

So stop pretending, and please continue to enjoy your youth. Because that is why I read your posts. For the pleasure, not the petulance. Its your giz, not your logic, that makes so much sense.

Kevin, thanks for including the link with the detailed notes, I was able to fill in the voices myself!

Everyone trying to say beer and smoke is a problem is completely out of touch with reality and needs to seriously reevaluate their concerns. I hope for them that out our goverment spends so much of its money cleaning this park, that they can’t pay medicare for their parents, and they shrivel up and die. Welp at least the park is clean.

Kevin, unfortunately you lost all credibility as a journalist with me when I saw that your second sentence included the wrong form of “their.” Proofread much?

I’m tickled that you had any respect for me in the first place but, just to be clear, I’m not a journalist, I’m an alcoholic who blogs about spraypaint. Proofreading is boring, so I’ll happily take you on as a volunteer copy editor. Shoot me an email. Thanks for the catch!

I thought you were touting yourself as an “investigative journalist?”

I was at the entire meeting.

As far as I can tell, and by “tell” I mean remember and deduce, this was the first of a series of meetings about the Dolores Park (DP) renovation that will take place over roughly the next few years. Please note, I said “roughly” and did so because renovations are supposed to start in January of 2012. There are roughly two years between now and then, so that would leave roughly two years of meetings.

The renovation of the playground is a separate project and is supposed to begin…??…when? I can’t remember? Anywho, definitely before the renovation of DP as a whole.

In my opinion, the main issues and/or highlights of the meeting were as follows:

1) Closing DP in its entirety versus a little bit at a time;
2) “Taggers” and public safety; and
3) The absence of a clearly articulated agenda for the meeting.

So, number one, do we close the whole park or do it a little bit at a time? “Segmentation” was used to describe doing it a little bit at a time. Bevan took an informal poll of the room. I think literally everyone raised their hand in favor of doing it a little bit at a time. I think literally no one raised their hand in favor of all at once. Again, this appeared to be an informal poll as opposed to an actual, binding vote. Bevan even remarked that in all his years as a Supervisor, he had never seen such a lopsided vote.

Dawn Kamalanathan then posed an interesting question: how do you feel about a complete closure that would allow renovations to be completed in eight months versus segmentation that would take three to four years?

And, number two, taggers, the homeless, “Quality of Life,” and public safety in general.

This, for me, was easily the most interesting conversation to observe and take part in. Two police officers spoke about this issue, one somewhat more than the other. The language they used was very, very disturbing. Specifically, the word “disappear” was used over and over. For instance, the first officer to speak repeatedly expressed his desire that “taggers” and other presumed scum would “disappear” after being arrested and processed. He also asked people who see tagging in action to not approach the taggers because you could get assaulted. So now we have created an image of violent taggers, probably black or brown, who need to be arrested, processed and disappeared. This sentiment was echoed throughout the evening by the almost totally white crowd. By the way, I’m white.

For instance, a woman representing a DP community group (can’t remember name) also spoke about the issue. She started off by saying that her group deals with issues that “we can all agree on.” She went on to mention tagging. To state it simply, I do not agree with you. Also, two candidates for Superviser introduced themselves near the end of the meeting. Each focused on public safety, “Quality of Life” issues or crime, whatever you want to call it.

First of all, why do police officers come to community meetings with weapons? There is no reason to have a gun at a community meeting. This militarized approach to discussions and community safety is very troublesome to me, moreso when rampant insensitivity and ignorance are displayed by the people in possession of those weapons.

Second of all, people and problems do not just “disappear.” The police and others spoke as if an arrest of someone tagging was and is the ONLY appropriate and possible response. They basically said, “Just call us, we’ll arrest them, and its done.” The first candidate used the phrase “Quality of Life” at least once. The second candidate for Superviser, an assistant district attorney (ADA), continued by mentioning that she had personally been involved in the cleanup and presumed disappearance of all the bad people from 16th and Mission. I guess the point was, she’d do the same with all the bad people in DP.

This is thinly coded talk about targeting “poor” folks and especially “poor” folks whose skin is darker than mine. California’s jails and prisons are bursting. We are in the middle of a terrible budget crisis. Bevan, the officers and others repeatedly expressed dismay at having to spend $50K a year on graffiti removal. But how much is spent on processing people through the court system? Given the tens of thousands of dollars that it costs each year to incarcerate only one person, I can’t help but think that arresting taggers costs taxpayers waaaaaay more than $50K. Is this the best way to spend our money? What is the cost to families and kids who are separated when someone is incarcerated? What about re-entry into the community?

As the first officer clearly stated when I asked him about arresting homeless people in DP, they are jailed and released and we just do the whole thing all over again. This is not a solution or even an attempt at a solution. This is a harsh and short-sighted response to deeper issues that our community faces, many of which revolve around issues of income and skin color.

Using the word “disappear” in a law enforcement context in a community with a large Mexican and Central American population is ignorant and insensitive. Both Mexico and the nations of Central America have been and are plagued by disappearances, which are used by law enforcement to murder and get rid of people who are seen, for whatever reason, as nuisances. That the room was almost totally white comes as no surprise. What was the PR firm hired for? Could the same discussion about disappearances and Quality of Life issues take place in a room with more people who are not white?

Also, as a defense attorney, I can assure everyone that the picture described by the officers and the ADA is rarely as tidy as they would like it to be. The problem does not end when someone gets arrested. For any number of reasons, cases linger, are delayed, get dismissed and generally just go in a direction that is not nearly as straightforward as the picture presented.

So why not have a place in DP where people can write/tag/create murals?

And finally, the absence of an agenda. Throughout the meeting, it was difficult to know what we were discussing. Naturally there were a number of topics that people wanted to discuss. Things went all over the place. At different times, different people were talking about different things.

I would suggest creating some kind of agenda for specific topics. This will allow people in the room to be on the same page. For instance, there could literally just be a big piece of paper on the wall that says something like:

6 - 6:10 Introductions
6:10 - 6:30 What is going to be discussed, some kind of list so we have a general sense of what is going to be discussed
6:30 - 7:30 Discussion
7:30 - 8 Wrap things up, the future

Just a suggestion.

Somewhat random thoughts:

I enjoyed attending the meeting. Kevin, I hope you keep attending. That’s politics dude. Doesn’t matter if you are in the White House or the Church on Dolores. Very rewarding in the end, as we will all get to know each other, learn from each other and work towards making our little chunk of urban space enjoyable for the community.

Glad to see Mr. Palacio (can’t remember title, first name) taking part in efforts to get neighborhood people involved in planting, gardening, etc. I think this is crucial and very much want to be involved in a project like this.


Did anyone read this guy’s post?

Yeah, I read it and i agree with him.

So now we have created an image of violent taggers, probably black or brown, who need to be arrested, processed and disappeared.

You say “probably,” but did anyone mention race or color? I think we need to be careful about ascribing a racial bias to any homogeneous group, even if the meeting happened to be mostly white.