Crackdown on midnight mayhem

A recent rash of violence and vandalism in Golden Gate Park has city officials considering shutting down parks overnight and allowing cops to jail chronic trespassers.

Generally, city parks are closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, visitors can be in Golden Gate Park at any hour, it’s just against the law to sleep there, police said.

That law has done little to keep homeless people from living in San Francisco’s most popular park, and recent violence involving transients has the Police Department’s top brass pushing to shut down the park at a certain hour and stiffen penalties so troublemakers will stay out.

“Most parks across the country are closed at a certain time,” SFPD Assistant Chief Jeff Godown told The San Francisco Examiner while discussing the crime wave in the park Wednesday. “I personally wouldn’t go into a park at 11 or 12 at night.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom has been meeting with police in recent weeks to discuss ways to address alarming criminal activity in Golden Gate Park.

On Saturday, for example, a 53-year-old homeless man was found beaten to death at Kezar Stadium near the Park Police Station in the early morning. In July, unleashed dogs owned by park transients attacked two people, sending them to a hospital.

Also, there’s been a rash of vandalism during night hours, police said.

Efforts over the years to draw riffraff out of the park have been unsuccessful. Longtime campers spurn city outreach efforts and ignore the numerous citations cops hand out on a daily basis, officials said.

“The citations go to traffic court … and they are summarily dismissed in traffic court,” Capt. Teresa Barrett said Wednesday. “This has been a broken system for many years.”

Newsom has said he met a camper that received 52 citations and continued to live in the park. But if the park officially closed at night, cops could bring campers to jail on trespassing charges, Godown said.

“If there are no ramifications, people are going to continue to violate the process,” he said.

But “the cop isn’t going to walk in there and immediately yank somebody out of the park who is walking their dog at 11 p.m.,” Godown said.

Police want a more uniform enforcement system in place for parks citywide, he said.

At this point, the idea to stiffen park hours and enforcement at Golden Gate Park and others is in the discussion phase, Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

It’s one of several ideas to deal with criminal activity during night hours, he said, but it’s one that must be considered for The City.

“Like your mother said, ‘Not much good happens at 3 a.m.,’” Winnicker said.

Breaking the law

Infractions can be issued to park visitors for the following reasons:

-Camping

-Sleeping

-Consumption of alcohol

-Public nuisance

Source: District Attorney’s Office

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalparksviolence

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

New legislation would make sure supportive housing tenants don’t pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Supportive housing tenants could get more help paying the rent

Supportive housing tenants struggling to pay rent could soon see their payments… Continue reading

Organizers of the San Francisco International Arts Festival had planned to use parts of Fort Mason including the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery to host performances by about a dozen Bay Area arts groups. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Arts festival sues city over permit denial

Organizer says outdoor performances should be treated like demonstrations, religious gatherings

An oversight body for San Francisco’s mental health programs may be restructured after questions were raised about its management and lack of effectiveness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Behavioral health oversight body looks for new start — and staff — after mismanagement

Members of an oversight body for San Francisco’s behavioral health programs said… Continue reading

The City requires the recycling or reuse of debris material removed from a construction project site. <ins>(Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
Permits proposed for haulers of construction debris to achieve zero-waste

San Francisco plans to tighten regulations on the disposal of construction and… Continue reading

Most Read