Since 2009, the general manager of the Recreation and Park Department has presided over a large city department responsible for a vast and diverse land mass in The City. He is also an active user of his own system, typically taking morning runs through Golden Gate Park five to six times per week.
When you took over the seemingly tranquil Recreation and Park Department, did you ever imagine it would end up being so high-profile and occasionally contentious?
Well, I had already spent some time watching Amy Pohler in “Parks and Rec,” so I knew what I was in for. … It’s exactly like the sitcom, you actually never know what is going to happen.
What have been the big surprises?
How many incredible programs and events the department provides for all types of San Franciscans and just how beautiful the different pockets of open space are. And how delightfully kooky some of the issues I have to deal with are.
What’s the most delightfully kooky issue?
Is there a uniquely San Franciscan way to abate gophers?
What is the strangest thing you have ever encountered?
A small fire. I stumbled upon a dead body once. Coyotes. I once found somebody’s wallet. I actually once found a young woman who was passed out on the pavement and helped reconnect her to social services and hopefully her family.