Dolores Park "Culture Shift" in Full Effect

As has been excitedly reported in many places, including this blog, the northern half of Dolores Park opened back up to the public this past Thursday. And people came out in droves to celebrate. The opening, which took place after more than a year of construction, was preceded by a lengthy campaign from Supervisor Scott Wiener to increase police presence in the park with the apparent goal of reining in the free-wheeling community space that is Dolores Park.

In 2013, Wiener was explicit about his intention to change the park’s culture, telling Dolores Park Works that “everything about this [post-renovation] park is going to be better. But we need to make sure that when we reopen the Park, we have a culture shift, and we need to get people to stop trashing it.”

Well, the park is now open, and if the first week is any indication, Supervisor Wiener got his wish. This shift is evidenced by numerous incidents, but might be best exemplified by the above photo (reported by SFist scribe Caleb Pershan) depicting park rangers escorting Robot Dance Party from the park on Saturday for the crime of amplified sound.

Or perhaps by this park ranger hassling a dude on Thursday for having a beach chair:

Or this park ranger yelling at a woman for setting up the yellow flag pictured at right:

What’s especially frustrating is that none of these “infractions” have anything to do with the much-talked-about goal of reducing litter in the park.

And while maybe this crackdown on chilling should come as no surprise, recent assurances from SF Rec and Park that enforcement would be moderate and thoughtful had given us hope that the wonderful Dolores Park scene might survive the renovation intact. Unfortunately, this past week suggests that if the culture of the park won’t shift naturally in Wiener and Co’s direction, the city is not above applying force to bring about the “culture shift” they have so long desired. 

[Top Photo: Caleb Pershan]

Comments (97)

Not sure why you would still have any “hope” of anything getting better regarding this city any more. The past three years have made it abundantly clear where this city, and this neighborhood, is heading.

Where are your priorities, Ted? Sure, losing working-class families, artists, musicians, and cultural diversity is one thing, but at least we got artisanal donuts, $75 haircuts, and indoor putt-putt out of it. But pigs bumming a bro’s fry, that is a serious problem.

Get a job.

Get a [tech] job.

Get a [blow] job.

how original

Your tax dollars at work.

Keep in mind that Scott Wiener recently added millions of dollars annually to the budget of Rec and Park, not for improvements or accessibility, but for more Rent-A-Cop Park Rangers who have nothing better to do than follow you around and issue citations whenever any innocent activity behavior on your part can be misconstrued as a violation of park laws.

Thanks to control freak Wiener, we are wasting over $5 million per year on petty code enforcements, rather than basic services like adding trash pickup for popular parks.

Scott Wiener, Phil Ginsburg and Phil’s Spokesliar Sarah Ballard (married to fellow PR hack and former Newsom lackey Nathan Ballard) are obviously working overtime to sow hatred among the people of San Francisco by demonizing park goers and attempting to make us blame each other for the shitty services they render for their premium salaries.

Easy solution: organize and lobby for the firing of Phil Ginsburg, the single worst thing to ever happen to San Francisco public open space. And while we’re at it, let’s send control freak Wiener back to whatever rock he crawled out from under.

Yo brah, good luck trying to get hipsters to the ballot box.

When’s that weenie termed out, again?

I’m okay with trying to curb indiscreet drinking and weed-smoking in the park (an unpopular opinion, I know), but how exactly does harassing someone for having a beach chair improve the park for anyone? And what exactly was the Robot Dance Party guy doing wrong besides bringing good cheer to everyone around him?

Furthermore, I love that their stated goal of reducing litter in the park somehow doesn’t include putting a SINGLE trash/recycle/compost bin inside the park (they’re all out on the sidewalks surrounding the park, which is crazy). I mean, maybe I just missed seeing the bins on Saturday (or maybe they haven’t all been set up yet?) but I looked pretty hard. 

Someone should draft a ballot initiative to overrule Weiners views on our park system

Not having garbage cans around is to promote “Leave no trace”…take your trash with you and dispose of it at home or at the trash sites outside. 

Wait, wait, wait,  we didn’t clean up Dolores Park for robot dance parties to be kicked out.  

the Dolores Park vibe is a precious resource that should not be squandered.

If you feel that a dancing robot is integral to the Dolores Park vibe… you’re a fucking idiot.

I’m an idiot then. 

I’m an idiot too. Parks should be for everyone, dancing robots included. 

First they came for the robots…

I’m trying to remember integrals and calculus, and well I don’t, so maybe it is.  But one of the beautiful things about Dolores park, is that it’s a place where many types successful mix.   San Francisco is losing those places,  

If one appoaches lufe aceepting and celebrating peoples differences, a dancing robot dance party is part of the Dolores Park for some people.

entitled hipsters are the best

Odd thing about the robot is that his “amplified sound” was not very loud. You couldn’t hear it past about 20 feet, and many of the other people at the park were playing louder music. And unlike the robot, they hadn’t brought fun.

“Nighttime ne’er-do-wells breached fences and ignored warning signs to cause what San Francisco Recreation & Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg told KTVU amounts to $100,000 in damage.” -SFist

“We have two park patrol officers at any given time watching over 220 parks representing 15 percent of the city’s land mass.” -Weiner

“We need to make sure that when we reopen the Park we have a culture shift, and we need to get people to stop trashing it.” -Weiner

Not really seeing where Weiner is the fun police on this one. That’s pretty benign.

When you cherry-pick the quotes out of the article, yeah, it seems totally innocent. When you put them back in, not so much.

Come on.

I’m not cherry-picking. I can’t find any quotes where he mentions alcohol or amplified sound. It’s all “trash, trash, trash, p.s. fuck you sandbox vandals”. The ‘culture shift’ is about littering, in context.

If you can point me towards somewhere else where he’s Supervisor Killjoy, I’m all ears. This just seems like Parks and Rec being overzealous.

actions are louder than lies, err, words.

Well someone put the officers there. Officers do not grow in parks after all, it’s not their natural habitat.

Maybe if those two officers were patrolling any park other than Dolores, you’d have a point. But they seem to have only been dispatched to Dolores, specifically to ruin everyone’s good time. Did beach chairs and dancing robots cause $100,000 in damage? Did people smoking pot cause $100,000 in damage?

Get outta here, Scott Wiener. Don’t you have a city to ruin before you’re termed out?

When you use a beach chair at the park, the chair legs dig holes in the turf.  Remember, they are BEACH chairs, after all…

Good- get rid of the fucking hipster tech bro scum or make life very uncomfortable for them.

Shit like this is what the tech bros want.

Techies aren’t hipsters, they are yuppies and yeah they want  this park sanitized for their 2.5 kids and clean white pants. They want the Mission to be Marina lite. Looks like they are winning . 

How did anyone not see this coming? Dolo has become such a joke. Trash the park and let the City clean it up? Come on guys. Take responsibility. Now you got park rangers watching you. Regardless of how many trash bins are there - pack your shit out! You brought it, take it home. Simple. Remember Burning Man? Or the alternative for your tech enabled folks is to create an app where you tap the screen once, and a contract worker will come and throw the trash for you. Start-up idea!!! Where’s my funding?

Totally agree with you, but that’s definitely not what the article is about.

Dolo? Really? This is bro talk…sad

You’re policing the bro talk too?  

From what I’ve seen of the littering, these are the people who also do “turnkey” experiences at Burning Man. So no, they do not have any experience with packing it out. Life is just one long series of transactions: “I pay taxes on the money I didn’t manage to hide in the Caymans, and someone picks up after me wherever I go.”

You mean SF’s latest hot startup - Entitlement? Press button, “person” appears, performs task, now back to my “reality”. Child asks: “Are app people the same as us Daddy?”

Dolo? wtf is this its dolores park or dp..

Dolo?  Are you from the Mish?  SMH.

Another blogger with an ax to grind…and completely uninformed.

Scott respond on FB:

Scott Wiener Unfortunately, Uptown Almanac, as is often the case is anything but accurate. Uptown Almanac seems to be obsessed with turning me into the bogeyman to be blamed for anything people find annoying about Dolores Park. You should always take alleged factual statements in this publication with a grain of salt.My “culture shift” comment - which Uptown Almanac has intentionally distorted and taken out of context for several years now - was exclusively about people leaving their garbage in the park, trashing the park, and shitting, pissing, and puking on people’s homes. The park was regularly becoming a garbage dump after busy afternoons and park gardeners spending a full 50% of their time picking up trash. That’s a great use of gardener time, isn’t it? People need to pick up their trash and treat the park with the respect it deserves.At no point have I ever advocated taking the fun out of the park. I formed as many great memories in this park as anyone. I’ve advocated for addressing the littering and similar problems and the park’s very significant vandalism problem. I’ve also been very public that people who are picnicking with a bottle of wine or six pack should be left alone, as should people who are performing and just generally enjoying themselves without bothering anyone else.Park rangers have been trying to address the challenges we have in the park, and some of the newer rangers have, at times, gone too far in enforcing obscure rules to literally. It’s a balance, and the department is working to achieve that balance - giving people plenty of latitude to have fun while ensuring that the park isn’t regularly trashed. I’ve repeatedly spoken with department senior management about the need to strike that balance and not enforce in a way that takes the fun out of the park.Hundreds of residents and users of all backgrounds spent a year and about 50 community meetings planning for the long overdue renovation of this treasure. The park was beyond worn down. It no longer had functioning irrigation and drainage systems. It had a tiny, disgusting restroom building that directly led to people pissing and crapping in inappropriate places. And the playground was decrepit and built in a bowl so that it flooded regularly.We now have a new irrigation/drainage system. When the renovation is complete we will have more than 3 times the restroom capacity we had before, including outdoor urinals (which I pushed for) next to the gay beach. And we have a new playground, tennis courts, basketball court, multi-use court for bike polo and the like, etc. The park looks great, and we should all be proud of finally getting the park physically in shape. Many thousands of people use this park every weekend and create many new memories. That hasn’t changed and won’t change.

Weirdly, I’m not seeing that comment anywhere on Facebook. Maybe because Scott Wiener is too high and mighty to actually respond to citizen concerns.


If they want to have a lengthy career in politics, they should.

He could be down in Dolores Park walking the walk with the Parks and Rec officers on these initial days for an hour or two.

He might get some honest feedback… probably from people who don’t vote.

Say what you will about SW, but being “too high and mighty to actually respond to citizen concerns” is simply not true.  They guy has replied to every email I’ve ever sent to him, whether it was to compliment or criticize something he had done/said.

I emailed Supervisor Wiener yesterday morning at 11:11 AM asking for confirmation that the above quote is in fact his. I have yet to receive a response. 

@Jack_Morse Has Scott Weiner gotten back to you yet?   

Sometimes people are busy, but by now you should have gotten a response.

The Summer of Love fell to the Winter of Wiener with the nudity ban, and his “War on Fun” has only gained steam since. He is the biggest Debbie Downer and has ruined the city.

Scott Weiner is at his best when he responds to attacks and exposes exavtoy how insecure and brittle he really is under that carefully manicured Ivy League façade. 

Good work, Uptown Almanac!

Thank you, Scott Wiener!!! I look forward to voting for you when you run for Mayor.


Precita park for Precitans! stop dumping trash and bbq coals in the park. Stop running the f**king stop signs around the park. It’s bad enough we have to tolerate multiple bouncy castles every weekend, don’t gring that tired couldnt-get-to-Dolores bullshit to bernal.

I lol’d.

As the Founder/Director of Neighbors Developing Divisadero (a fiscally sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts) and a Mayoral candidate who will be on the ballot alongside Ed Lee, Broke-Ass Stuart, Francisco Herrera, and Reid Hoffman, I fully support dancing robots and the arts in our neighborhood parks. We can achieve the desired outcomes of clean and safe parks with creative and community-serving approaches rather than the restrictive, punitive, and quite frankly, “buzzkill” approach on display here.

If a “culture shift” at Dolores Park is of concern to you, put some skin in the game and get involved with an effort to shape current policy through my efforts with the 2015 Mayor’s race. On a related note, Mayor Ed Lee and Scott Wiener are working to hire hundreds more armed police officers in the midst of a decline of city-wide crime .. once again, we can come up with innovative, cost-effective, and community-serving approaches to neighborhood safety and flow that don’t involve armed officers (I call my alternative idea the “Stewards of Peace” Program, which would hire and continuously train city-wide neighbors in neighborhood monitoring, network building, physical and verbal de-escalation, and trauma/mental health support). 

Be a YIMBY: Say Yes-In-My-Back-Yard to inclusive and sustainable development, an economy that truly shares, and local government that supports ALL San Francisco neighbors and neighborhoods.

Reid Hoffman is not running for mayor, it’s Martin Reid you may be thinking of.  But oops, same thing.  Stop using this thread to campaign for yourself!

You’ve got my vote, Amy. Finally, a voice of reason

oh shut up Amy

you’re a loser and your pathetic promotion of your go nowhere campaign is getting annoying

seriously, your qualification for office is starting a fucking non profit? Fuck you and your bullshit.

ed lee will kick your ass.

Maybe we should all just get together and politely ask the park rangers to leave?  After all, it’s our park – not theirs.

What do you think this is, the 60s?  Our generation just simply isn’t capable of that, we have Google buses to get to promptly in the morning for our 90 minute drives.

Seriously what do you think this is? This could be the most deluded statement I’ve ever read.  The park is not “ours.”  Nothing is yours until you OWN it. That’s how property rights work. Grow the fuck up. 

So if the government owns it, who owns the government?

While a comment in in “gtfu” maybe be sufficient to address its worth, lets go further.   

The political tradition on which the United States was formed, was a break from the devine right of kings, that Jason prefers.  And within our system of Federalism, local governments are meant to be closer to the people.   Here’s a quote from Wikipedia.

Consent of the governed

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In political philosophy, the phrase consent of the governed refers to the idea that a government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when consented to by the people or society over which that political power is exercised. This theory of consent is historically contrasted to the divine right of kings and has often been invoked against the legitimacy of colonialism. Article 21 of the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government”.

Dudes, I was there on Saturday, the rangers didn’t go after dancing robot out of the blue. The ejection happened in the wake of an altercation. Basically the robot was dancing with a bunch of little kids when a crazy screaming guy walked up and started very loudly harassing the robot and the kids. That’s when the rangers got involved. For some reason the rangers kicked out the robot and left the crazy guy, who was playing his own amplified music, alone. Your guess is as good as mine.

Scott Weiner is the worst, power hungry dweeb of a supervisor this district has ever had. He clearly wants to be mayor and slavishly kow tows to the Mandarin class in his zeal to demonstrate his willingness to obey. 

Seriously. Stop complaining about “tech”. What does this have to do with people leaving their fucking trash in the park, or kicking out the awesome robot guy?

The fact that he now has to get a permit really is WTF though. For some reason he doesn’t even sound very angry about it.

Stop fighting about the techies (yes I am one). This HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM! It has to do with cracking down on a shared resource that was working pretty well as it was, except for the track issue.

No, it’s always about you techies.  The massive influx of money is bringing, frankly, more responsible people.  The people that dress up in robot costumes, and that used to congregate in the park 5-8 years ago were slackers, see the Austin flick for reference.  We liked things weird, and I would go there daytime on a workday because my job was largely a joke.  Now to live here you have to be seriously pulling it in, its just different

techie this techie that… as you literally bash techies while using the technology they made possible. whats wrong with being in tech? i get to do all the drugs you do but chose to go to school and get a job enjoy instead of sit at starbucks all day in my flannel and post comments on websites about how unfortunate it is that instead of play the game i hate it. fuck off with this tech bro talk. everybody’s got choices some of us chose to be happy.

surely we’re related?? 

Go back to Sunnyvale 

You ‘slackers’ were the ones that actually created the gentrification here and pushed out the hispanic/working class families in the Mission. You killed the culture in San Francisco. And you get real damn defensive if someone with a higher paying job than you comes and does to you exactly what you did to the real San Franciscans. Sorry pilgrim, what comes around goes around.


Dolores Park culture is horrible. If drunk twenty-somethings wrecking the park every weekend is culture, I say good riddance. The kids park there is awesome, unfortunately I can’t take my kids there… they don’t need to compete drunk adults going down the slide. I don’t see how losing a stupid dancing robot affects the culture of the park, or the City.

move to walnut creek

LOL I was JUST ABOUT to write “move to Walnut Creek” too when I saw your comment. 

Sick of people who move here to have a clean, quiet, suburban experience. Yes, there are eccentric people in the city, and pot smokers, and loud bands play in clubs and *grasps pearls* some people might even drink in the park and get on the slide!

The sanitized environment of the central valley with it’s air conditioned strip malls will suit you much better, Jesse. 

PS, I’ve raised two sons in the Mission and spent hundreds of hours at Dolores Park playground with them. I have no complaints about noise, garbage, or drunken ness. 

Statists gonna State, folks. It’s amazing to me that big government liberals are surprised when big government intrudes in their neck of the woods park.

OH right, the ‘big goverment liberals’ that want to dictate who you can and can’t love, who you can and can’t have sex with, what you can and can’t do with your own body, etc etc etc ad nauseaum. THOSE liberals right? Go fuck yourself. 

Yes, the big gov libs do want to dictate who you can or can’t love. Don’t want to express love for gays by politely withholding your labor involved in making a cake? The Gaystapo comes for you. Donate a few dollars to express your non-love for gay marriage? The Gaystapo puts you out of a job.No, the only people here dictating anything are you totalitarians. Not issuing a government license is not “dictating who you can love.” Nobody cares. The only thing they were saying is that we aren’t going to put a government stamp on your paraphilias. That is not an oppression by any stretch of the word, nor does it come close to the kind of oppression you seek to visit upon your enemies.

closet case

Do you ever take a long, hard look in the mirror and wonder why it is exactly that you fear the gays so much?

Scott is a Rudy Giuliani style Democrat. He came out as gay very late in life because he had a very conservative upbringing. He grew up in a small town in Jersey. These are the experiences that inform his world view. He is not the friend of artist, working families or anything that deveates beyond his Noe Valley suburban outlook. More police and rangers (who all live in the burbs) are brought in to foster his small minded conservative outlook. 

If Scott was not gay he would have been a Republican in the soda tax Bloomberg fashion. 

Thanks for clearing this up. Scott Wiener clearly has mental issues and the people of San Francisco are the unfortunate proxies for his self loathing. He’s exactly like the Republicans that attempt to force morality on those around them due to their inability to deal with their personal desires and what they perceive as their own moral failures.

why the fuck so you assume that everyone who is against gay marriage is a closet homosexual?  That is so fucking ignorant I don’t even know what to say.  Some people think differently than you, get used to it.  im sure you consider yourselves intelligent people, so learn to step out of your own shoes and recognize the whole world doesn’t March to your tune.  (For the record, I support gay marriage, but this incessant ignorance is just too much to handle.)

I grew up in New Jersey too. It’s the worst police state ever. You can’t leave your driveway without racist cops breathing down your neck. Weiner should move back there.

You can’t seriously think that the City’s going to put several million dollars into a new show piece park and then just walk away.  When people are paying several thousands a month just to rent a place here, and a million or so to own something, they’re going to expect services and a clean and orderly place to play in.  So, you poor folks who just need a simple patch of grass to sit on and enjoy some sunshine and relax w/ your equally poor friends - you can just move along now…  they’ll take from here. 

Those people paying thousands for an apartment nearby moved into the neighborhood SO THAT they could take advantage of that laid-back, diverse, “poor” culture you just described. I seriously hope you’re being sarcastic, because anyone who moves into the Mission does so with an understanding of what this neighborhood is and has stood for. Want wealthy, “clean” people? Move to Pac Heights. Or Noe. Or the Marina. 

The affluent people moving into the Mission these days see it for its “potential” - not for what it used to be. The same thing is happening in Oakland.

go back to Sunnyvale 

Wiener is a dick

Folks, just because some of you are all excited about moving away from the burbs in the East Coast and Midwest and now live in San Francisco, it doesn’t mean you can do whatever in the hell you want to. Your rights end where mine begin, and it’s my right to have park rangers enforce basic laws that any 12 year old should know. 

Sure, you’re all excited about the super-awesome hipster culture you’ve discovered, and somehow you’ve deluded yourself into thinking that you’re non-chalant, entitled attitude somehow connects you to the free-speech movement of the 60’s, but it doesn’t. You’re just some jerk being a dick in a park, and now you’re being all pissy that you have to actually act like a responsible, mature adult in a public place.  Well boo-fucking-hoo for you. Grow the F up. 

You clearly have no understanding of Dolores Park or San Francisco. Or, you’re a troll.

Either way, fuck off with your condescending attitude. The adults are enjoying themselves in a public park and some of them brought lawn chairs. Your obsession with controlling others and attempting to dictate the limits of their freedom is childish and shameful, which is why you’re afraid to say it to people in person. 

Why’d you say “Grow the F up” when you said “boo-fucking-hoo” in the sentence right before that? 

go back to Sunnyvale yuppie scum

Went to the new side of the park yesterday and saw park rangers talking to people w/ cool attractions as apposed to the groups with trash around them who then just leave all the trash there. Talk about trying to preserve culture. I feel like if they just payed for a couple more recycling/trash can maybe we’d be better off 

Is anyone fighting back against this BS in an organized way? When is Scott Wiener up for election again - I would be very interesting in volunteering to see him kicked to the curb - preferably one very far away. 

I imagine the beach chair and flag prohibitions are to keep the new lawn from becoming gouged til it becomes a mudpit.  I also heard the robot only got kicked out because some aggro dude started going nuts on him.

Be nice if gay people tolerated others as much as they want to be. Weiner, who has pretty much been proven a nazi when it comes to poor people, it appears doesn’t like anyone else who likes to have fun in their own way either.

This SF Examiner article of today is kinda related 

It starts”

San Francisco is beefing up the Recreation and Park Department’s park patrol unit despite concerns raised over impacts on homeless persons, as citations for sleeping and camping have increased sixfold in roughly the past four years.

The park patrol boost is emblematic of an ongoing push in San Francisco to strengthen the arm of the law as The City’s population rises and a more moderate bloc on the Board of Supervisors, parallel with Mayor Ed Lee’s politics, favors investment in law enforcement.

Just this week, the board took a symbolic 6-5 vote, split down ideological lines of moderates and progressives, to increase police officers. In the next two years, The City plans to hire 400 officers to reach the 1994-voter mandate level of 1,971. The vote called for staffing to exceed 2,200 officers through increased investment in police academy classes.

None of this would be a problem if the park users picked up their trash. The sad truth is that many people do not. How often are red beach chairs and flags left in the park? Way too often. I live by the park and walk by it every morning and watch the gardeners spend half of their day picking up trash, including discarded furniture, beach chairs, flags, etc… You brought this crackdown on yourselves. Until park users start picking up their trash, enjoy the new police state you (the park users) have created. Stop whining and pick up your shit and don’t cry like a little baby when you are told to pick your crap. 

Group punishment always works, and is  undeniably sound  public policy.  The universal and unwavering administration of group punishment is a sure sign of mature, wise and judicious governance,  and if you don’t see that, you are a big cry baby.