Parks need money to solve staffing shortage 

If you think The City’s parks are not up to snuff, recreation officials say you have good reason.

The Recreation and Park Department says that it is short 227 gardeners, 37 custodians and at least 17 park patrol officers, according to the department’s budget request submitted to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Office.

The department is requesting that Newsom allocate about $6.4 million for a number of additional staffers to help erase part of a workforce shortfall that officials say is preventing the department from living up to the expectations of residents. In November 2003, voters adopted Proposition C, which established standards for the conditions of city parks.

"The current shortage of gardeners prevents the department from meeting Prop. C, creates long-deferred park maintenance issues and results in parks that fail to meet public expectations," said a Feb. 21 letter from Katie Petrucione, the Recreation and Park Department’s director of administration and finance, to the mayor’s budget director, Nani Coloretti.

The department is not requesting to close the whole gardener shortfall because of The City’s "financial restraints." Instead, the department is requesting $2.6 million to be able to hire 34 additional gardeners.

The department is also requesting $2.2 million in funding to hire 37 more custodians.

"The custodian shortage results in restrooms that cannot be opened and are not cleaned on a regular basis," the letter said.

The department is also requesting $1.6 million to hire about 18 park patrol officers. The department currently only has six park patrol officers to patrol 3,600 acres of parks and more than 200 facilities.

A lack of patrol officers has resulted in "extensive property damage and quality-of-life infractions throughout the park system," the letter said.

Mayor Newsom will submit a city budget to the Board of Supervisors by June 1.

Click to e-mail the Mayor: Gavin Newsom

jsabatini@examiner.com

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