San Francisco residents unsatisfied with park restrooms 

San Francisco park patrons are perpetually concerned about inoperable or unsanitary restrooms. So it should surprise no one that a recent survey of 1,443 residents is recommending that city parks officials prioritize bathroom maintenance.

A summary of that Neighborhood Parks Council survey, which will be presented to the Recreation and Park Commission today, reveals that more than 40 percent of those people who answered questions about park bathrooms have, well, issues.

“Cleanliness and access to bathrooms is definitely one of the bigger ones,” Neighborhood Parks Council Executive Director Meredith Thomas said.

However, according to a 3-month-old report from the city controller, the Recreation and Park Department continues to make improvements with regard to restroom cleanliness.

The report rated restroom hygiene for the 2009-10 fiscal year at 92.6 percent, which represented a steady increase of 10.2 percent over the 2005-06 fiscal year.

The department is in the midst of spending $11.4 million in park bond money to address some of its ongoing potty issues.

“As a father of two young girls, I certainly understand the relief an open and clean park bathroom affords,” department General Manager Phil Ginsburg wrote in an e-mail. “Independent evaluations of our rest-rooms demonstrate the plunge we have taken to keep our facilities clean. Even though our budget is not exactly flush with cash, we are making loads of progress.”

Meanwhile, the nonprofit parks report highlights several other agency successes. For instance, 80.1 percent of respondents said park officials respond to their concerns, and 63 percent said permit fees were fair.

However, Thomas said she plans to point out another issue today. Only 207 of the people surveyed said they have direct communication with the Rec and Park Commission, and many reported having a hard time knowing exactly what’s going on in their parks.

“We have to use the parks themselves as a communication tool,” she said. “We need to have a bulletin board in every park.”

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Kamala Kelkar

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