Locals flunk parks in new online report 

The City’s playgrounds are getting failing grades from local residents, largely due to vandalism and unsafe conditions, according to a report released Feb. 12.

ParksScan, a partnership between the Neighborhood Parks Council and the Recreation and Park Department, premiered online in 2005 as a way for residents and city officials to report and upload pictures of their observations. The data can be viewed by facility, district or citywide.

According to the report, 1,621 complaints about 153 different city parks were submitted in 2006 — and 60 percent of them were attributed to vandalism such as graffiti, broken glass, trashed bathrooms and broken sprinklers.

"Vandalism is one of the biggest priorities for the department on a day-to-day basis, it is definitely eating up funds in the millions of dollars magnitude. It’s psychologically troubling for the staff and people who use the parks," said Rose Marie Dennis, spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department.

ParkScan.org Technical Services & Outreach Coordinator Alfredo Pedroza said most residents reported unsafe conditions at neighborhood playgrounds to be their top priority. A "D" or "F" grade — based on national standards of playground safety — was handed out to 30 playgrounds in The City for their lack of cleanliness and maintenance. Of those 30, five have been closed or slated for renovations.

The Mission district’s Franklin Square playground was one of The City’s worst according to the 2006 data — it had 60 complaints that included illegal camping, prostitution, gang activity and drug use. West Sunset playground, another troubled park, had complaints of illegal parking, driving and late-night drinking.

The report’s most improved park was 24th Street Mini Park. Pedroza described the park as a "rags-to-riches" story in which community members rallied using ParkScan data and help from local politicians to turn it into an "oasis."

"This is a great tool for communication. Often the department doesn’t know what’s going on out there," said resident Maria De La Mora, who has used the system to report litter and dumping at Garfield Square’s athletic field.

The department’s nine Neighborhood Service Area managers receive and respond to complaints, 79 percent of which were closed in 2006.

Dennis said the department’s 2006-2007 fiscal year operating budget is $90 million. The department’s latest budget presentation suggested hiring up to five new custodians and as many as 10 full-time rangers to address maintenance and enforce park codes.

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