Measure proposed to close San Francisco parks overnight

There is a community debate over Dolores Park and how its popularity has skyrocketed.
October 7, 2013 8:14:08 PM PDT
San Francisco is one of the few large cities in the country that doesn't have consistent, uniform closing hours for its public parks. And with vandalism on the rise, there was lengthy debate at City Hall Monday about whether a new law could help change that.

San Francisco spends over a million dollars every year dealing with illegal dumping, metal theft and vandalism in the city's parks.

A bench was smashed over the weekend in McLaren Park and a tree was sawed in Dolores Park. San Francisco Recreation and Parks say most of the damage occurs overnight.

Supervisor Scott Weiner believes closing the city parks from midnight to 5 a.m. would help.

"The police or the park patrol can just tell people, 'You know what, you need to step out of the park. It's three in the morning.' It becomes a prevention measure," he said.

The Coalition on Homelessness objects, saying parks offer safety from the streets.

Father Paul Joseph goes to Golden Gate Park twice a week to help those in need.

"I get that we have to keep parks safe and they are for the public; and there are rules," he said. "But from a humanitarian standpoint where will they go?" he asked.

The San Francisco Parks Alliance supports the latest proposal and doesn't believe it targets the homeless as it's already illegal to sleep or camp in city parks.

"If they're bedded down for the night, they're not up and about causing any damage. They're not the issue. It's the people who are up and about doing things that we're concerned about. It's all about protecting our parks," said Matt O'Grady of the San Francisco Parks Alliance.

A woman named Theresa told ABC7 News that she and her dog often stay overnight in Golden Gate Park and would not obey a new law.

"You can't close the parks like that. You know, people do sleep here and live here," she said.

During the debate, several people pointed out that there are already laws on the books against vandalism but Police Chief Greg Suhr believes this new law would be another tool for law enforcement.


Load Comments