Parks report shows top problems persist 

Graffiti and litter are still the No. 1 problem in San Francisco parks, especially in southeast neighborhoods, but the situation is improving, according to a new report.

City parks also suffer from water and irrigation issues, but a compilation of nearly 4,000 observations made last year showed that
23 percent had to do with graffiti and 18 percent with cleanliness, the Neighborhood Parks Council’s annual ParkScan report said.

Water problems were reported 12 percent of the time.

Council Executive Director Meredith Thomas pointed out two significant changes from last year: ParkScan received 1,459 observations in 2008, and Recreation and Park Department responses to them increased by 14 percent; last year, with 4,000 observations, responses increased to 82 percent. People in The City made observations and submitted them with their e-mail addresses to the ParkScan Web site or called 311, where operators relayed the messages to the Web site.

Rec and Park responses did not necessarily fix the problems, but meant someone at least provided an explanation or a project timeline.

“It’s a tool. We can go into the budget to continue to raise awareness about ongoing maintenance problems as we take staff away from our parks,” Thomas said. “We’re going to have costs associated with that ... and what’s wonderful is that Rec and Park has all these photos to see it.”

But like the city controller’s report released in December that rated such aspects as cleanliness and the functionality of structures, the ParkScan report indicated graffiti was the most apparent problem in some southeast parks.

“There’s no question that those places historically have the most challenges and oftentimes get the short end of the stick on services,” new Recreation and Park Commission President Mark Buell said. “But that shouldn’t diminish our resolve to correct it.”

The Recreation and Park Department recently hired a new full-time supervisor for southeast neighborhoods after the position was vacant for about six months. The vacancy didn’t necessarily slow staff response times to maintenance requests, but a full-time liaison between parks and the department could be key to improving the area, Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon said.

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Kamala Kelkar

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