Violence renews petition to close Golden Gate Park at night 

Early-morning bloodshed among transients in Golden Gate Park has San Francisco officials reassessing a possible nighttime closure of the park.

Because of safety concerns, Mayor Ed Lee supports the establishment of specific hours for the park, his spokeswoman Christine Falvey said. In an email, she said the mayor is discussing the matter with supervisors whose districts border the park.

Around 2 a.m. Tuesday, a person walking through Golden Gate Park called police because a man who was likely a transient was bleeding severely from an assault, police said. The victim told police he did not remember how it happened.

Meanwhile, on Friday morning, a homeless man was stabbed in the cheek and his clothes were lit on fire after allegedly not paying $20 for marijuana. And on Thursday night, a 50-year-old homeless man was pistol-whipped by four people who also burned down his tent, according to a police report.

Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg has repeatedly said that “nothing good happens in the park” late at night, a sentiment echoed by Recreation and Park Commission President Mark Buell.

“People using the park during those hours aren’t using it for the right reasons,” Buell said.

Supervisor Carmen Chu, whose district borders the park, has said she supports a nighttime closure, which would require the board to pass legislation to change city code.

Supervisor Eric Mar, whose district also borders the park, said he is concerned about safety too, but wants to explore whether existing laws are already a solution to the violence.

“I am a little worried about closing off the park to the public when people may need to get through the park,” Mar said.

A man pushing a cart full of clothes and other belongings up Stanyan Street near Haight Street supported the closure.

Napa Wainwright said he has lived in The City since 1982, but in the past few years one of his friends living in Golden Gate Park was severely beaten twice and another friend was killed.

“I know better than to go in there,” Wainwright said. “People on drugs will do anything.”

Before former Mayor Gavin Newsom left office, he wanted to draft legislation to close Golden Gate and McLaren parks between 1 and 5 a.m. But Ginsburg has said it has not been a top priority in recent months.

A Police Department spokesman said enforcement of any such ban would occupy the attention of graveyard-shift officers whose priorities are responding to emergencies.
 
“The problem with that is that those parks are huge,” Officer Albie Esparza said. “With the staffing the way it is, our priorities are to report to crimes in progress.”


kkelkar@sfexaminer.com


Aggression

Recent incidents that occurred overnight in Golden Gate Park:

Tuesday before 2 a.m.: A man is found bleeding from an assault at the western end of the park.

Monday morning: Six trees at Doughboy Meadow are found cut down and a picnic table cut in half.

Friday before 1 a.m.: A homeless man is allegedly stabbed in the cheek and his clothes set on fire.

Thursday night: A homeless man says he was pistol-whipped by four others, who also burned his tent.

Sources: Recreation and Park Department, SFPD

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Kamala Kelkar

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