Dolores Park's popularity stirs controversy

There is a community debate over Dolores Park and how its popularity has skyrocketed.
September 1, 2010 7:11:34 PM PDT
There is a community debate over Dolores Park and how its popularity has skyrocketed.

Years ago, the 13-acre oasis in the Mission District was a haven for drug dealing and crime, but now it's a premier spot and some believe it's a victim of its own success.

The popular park known for its views of the city and is crowded even in the middle of the week and for some who live nearby, it's become too popular.

There were 25 city sanctioned events last year.

Dolores Park is the place for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, the Dykes on Bikes gay pride party, the Symphony Summer Concert and spur of the moment things like Box Wars -- with competitors in cardboard boxes.

Saandra Nazzall is with a group called SaveCleanGreen. She wants fewer events and more police.

"There is underage drinking, people smoking pot all day, kids doing heroin and I feel everybody goes by my house with open containers. They are urinating in front of my house," she said.

The San Francisco Park and Recreation Department recently posted signs went reminding park goers that drinking and smoking aren't allowed.

But some in the neighborhood don't want a crackdown.

Robert Brust is a member of Dolores Park Works and he thinks critics need to chill.

"You get one or two picnics, it seems to be that's what people expect a park to be. All of a sudden it becomes Woodstock and they get a little nervous, but it's what's happening. It's not the end of the world," he said.

More officers at the Mission District Station have been patrolling Dolores Park following a recent stabbing.

"We've also assigned our off road motorcycle units to the park when they aren't engaged in other activities. So there has been an increased presence in the park that has led to the controversy," Lt. Chris Pedrini from the San Francisco Police Department said.

Regular park users say they want a safe environment but not a war on fun.

"I would hate to see this become the second coming of the prohibition movement," park visitor Craig Hooper said.


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