SoMa neighborhood parks seek upgrade 

click to enlarge Repair time: Rose Duncan, 3, left, and Jake Snyder play on the rope ladder while at the South Beach Park. But the ladder needs a paint job. - GODOFREDO VASQUEZ/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Godofredo Vasquez/Special to the S.F. Examiner
  • Repair time: Rose Duncan, 3, left, and Jake Snyder play on the rope ladder while at the South Beach Park. But the ladder needs a paint job.

Residents of the booming Rincon Hill neighborhood are backing a parks bond for the November ballot in order to upgrade open space in the area of The City that is attracting families.

Mayor Ed Lee recently introduced the $195 million 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond for the November ballot. But before the bond was officially introduced, residents of Rincon Hill in the South of Market area were displeased that the neighborhood had been left out of the proposal. The SoMa area was also excluded from the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, which renovated 13 neighborhood parks and 11 waterfront properties.

“I believe the was a sense of inequity in the proposed $185 million parks bond that lacked a single SoMa improvement despite the fact that SoMa home values represent 15.2 percent of The City’s total taxable property values,” said Rincon Hill resident Jamie Whitaker, who has been trying to add more parks to the neighborhood since 2010.

Working with Supervisor Jane Kim, whose District 6 includes the neighborhood, the community fought to include South Beach Park’s deteriorating playground to the bond’s list for upgrades. The work paid off, with the amount of the bond being increased and funds proposed for neighborhood park projects.

“The upgrade to the park was needed so I’m really excited about it,” Kim said. “It’s a big success for that community and I know that extra $1 million will make a big difference.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the number of children under the age of 5 in the Rincon Hill neighborhood has increased from 20 in 2000 to 210 in 2010 due to additional housing units.

“Rincon Hill has made a huge shift in population and has more open space needs,” said Sarah Ballard, spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department. “The inclusion of South Park as a main project has been one change among many.”

In addition to requesting upgrades to the existing playground at South Beach Park, members of the community are advocating for new playgrounds at Justin Herman Plaza, Mission Bay’s Mission Creek Park and Sue Bierman Park.

“It’s great that the needs of South Park are finally being acknowledged, but that money should be used to build new parks instead of just fixing the old ones,” said Adhamina Rodriguez, a Rincon Hill resident who has advocated for new parks with Whitaker since 2010.

Whitaker said he hopes to maintain the support by Supervisor Kim to target the $1.6 million influx of Downtown Park Fund dollars to build a playground near the day care centers and the Embarcadero YMCA.

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Carolyn Copeland

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