‘Erratic’ upkeep at city’s parks

Inspectors of The City’s parks frequently didn’t see workers on the job as too many parks remain poorly maintained, according to a new controller’s report.

“Many parks fluctuate in quality due to erratic maintenance,” the report highlighted. Auditors were unable to get updated staff schedules from Recreation and Park Department officials, according to the report, despite a commitment from the department.

Over the last year, each of The City’s 163 parks, plazas, playgrounds and recreation spaces were inspected three times: twice by the Recreation and Park Department and once by auditors from the City Controller’s Office.

Auditors conducted three different inspections to note whether gardeners and/or custodians were on the premises during stated work times. While the report concedes that some of the parks are so large that it may be difficult to find the staff person, during the three occasions, an inspector saw a gardener no more than 41 percent of the time.

The inspectors also looked for cleanliness, the health of the plant life, graffiti and the functionality ofthe equipment, among numerous other maintenance elements.

Both agencies agreed that overall, the upkeep of San Francisco’s parks earned a “B” grade. Nearly one-third of the parks, however, received a “C” grade, with 13 parks given a “D” and eight parks falling into the “F” category. Many of this year’s low-scoring parks had been inspected every other month since they scored poorly last year as well.

The audit recommended that the department reinforce compliance for park staffing schedules. In a response letter included in the report, Recreation and Park General Manager Yomi Agunbiade said the department is “striving to improve the accuracy of the posted staff schedules” adding that there is systematic, “but confidential” follow-up of any staff absences that do not appear to be legitimate.

District 8, which includes the Castro, Glen Park and Noe Valley, has one of the highest percentages of residents visiting its parks, according to the report. It also had the most disparity in park quality — with some parks meriting an “A” grade, but the district also holding the highest number of parks rated “F.”

District 8’s Buena Vista Park in the Haight-Ashbury area failed, but Corona Heights got an “A.”

“One of the ironies is, as Park and Rec has put a lot of attention in [Mission] Dolores Park, the usage of the park has grown exponentially, which brings up a whole lot of other issues,” District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty said.

District 3 — which includes Chinatown, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill and the northern waterfront — had the highest number of parks that earned an “A” or “B” grade for maintenance.

beslinger@examiner.com

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