Long-awaited San Francisco skate park nears final approval

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerCaltrans and city agencies are set to end a yearslong effort to bring a new park to SoMa.

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerCaltrans and city agencies are set to end a yearslong effort to bring a new park to SoMa.

Construction could begin in May on a skateboarding and dog park in South of Market that has been stuck in bureaucratic limbo for years.

Various city agencies are poised to sign a 20-year contract with Caltrans to rent a vacant lot under the Central Freeway and transform it into an open space for skateboarders and dog walkers. The concept design for the park was first developed in early 2009, but lease disagreements between the state and city agencies delayed the project.

However, a pact has been reached in which The City will pay Caltrans $10,000 a month to lease out the site located just north of Duboce Avenue, between Valencia and Stevenson streets. Construction could be finished by the end of the year, said Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department, which is building the park.

Bryan Hornbeck, president of the San Francisco Skateboarding Association, said the new park is a “once-in-a-generation” project.

“We’ve never had a park with these features in the middle of The City, where everyone … can come and skate,” said Hornbeck, who first advocated for a park at the site eight years ago.

He said the park will have banked ledges, stairs, rails and rolling ramps that skateboarders of all skills can use. Unlike the other four skate parks in The City, the new site will be well-lit and have supervision and rules against BMX riders using the equipment.

Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes the site, called the skate park a great asset for local families while noting the effort needed to make it happen.

“These park projects had been stalled since I came into office and it took many hands, creative negotiation and dedicated residents to get this back on track,” she said.

Neighborhood activist Lynn Valente said the new park will bridge a community that is often divided by the massive barrier of the freeway.

“This is a twofold benefit to the neighborhood,” said Valente, noting that the area has a high population of dog owners. “We need more places for kids and young adults to recreate, and this will help cut down on the crime and grime that is prevalent under the freeway now.”

Under the terms of the lease deal, Caltrans will receive $10,000 a month for 20 years, with rent increasing by 2 percent every year. The Recreation and Park Department — the agency in charge of maintaining the park — will pay $85,000 a year for the site. Public Works will pay $66,000 a year.

Last week, Rec and Park gave preliminary approval to the contract terms. The pact will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors at a land use committee meeting today.


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