Golden Gate Park crime goes unreported

The true extent of violence in Golden Gate Park is unclear, police say, in part because many people who sleep illegally in the park aren’t reporting robberies and assaults against them.

The 1,117-acre park has been a hot spot of violence in the last year, including the July 7 dog mauling in the park that kicked off a police enforcement campaign. That same month, a man was stabbed to death in the park. More recently, a transient was beaten to death near Kezar Stadium.

In response, San Francisco supervisors peppered police on Monday with questions about murders, robberies and thefts committed there, as well as how to make the park safer. Police would not say how many cops they have patrolling the area, but there are as many as three park rangers roaming the park 24 hours a day.

So far this year, there have been 213 serious felonies, including two homicides, 15 assaults and 11 robberies, said Police Capt. Richard Corriea.

“What concerns me is the amount of crime that isn’t reported,” Corriea said. “It’s pretty significant and it’s hard to put a number on it, but when I go out at 4 a.m. the homeless folks will have recent injuries or tell a story about someone beating them for food or their backpack.”

Homelessness in Golden Gate Park has declined in recent years as The City has offered services and started early-morning sweeps to roust the illegal campers. Dozens of hardcore homeless have ignored citations, however, and refused to leave the park.

In order to crack down on sleeping in the park, The City has pitched shuttering the park at night. As it stands, it is illegal to camp in Golden Gate Park or sleep in the park between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., but violators are merely issued tickets. Police have issued 746 citations for sleeping in the park this year.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has drafted legislation that would impose park closures at night, allowing police to file charges instead of writing tickets. Newsom is working to push the legislation through the Board of Supervisors before he leaves office in January.

San Francisco is one of the largest cities in the nation that does not close its parks at night. The 11 cities that are larger all have enforceable park curfews, according to Recreation and Park Department officials.

The all-hours access to Golden Gate Park attracts a critical mass of illegal activity, police said. Often, victims are unwilling to report crimes because they themselves are doing something illegal, Corriea said.

Corriea told supervisors on Monday that it is worth exploring park closures at night. He also said The City could add more lighting and park rangers and even cut back shrubbery.

Corriea noted that crime declined at Golden Gate Park between 2009 and 2010 after police launched enforcement programs.

“My sense is that there is a division in the community about whether the park should be closed at night or not,” Corriea said.

Phil Ginsburg, general manager for the Recreation and Parks Department, said one way to make the park safer is to offer more activities and programs there.

“The best thing we can do and the most cost-effective thing we can do is to continue to activate parks and spaces, and the staff is committed to do that with more events and programs and healthy recreation opportunities,” Ginsburg said.

Turbulent times

Crime in Golden Gate Park has become a hot-button issue the year, spurring hearings at City Hall.

  • 213 felonies
  • 2 homicides
  • 160 larcenies and grand thefts
  • 15 assaults
  • 15 vehicle thefts
  • 11 robberies
  • 30 vandalism infractions
  • 148 narcotics arrests

Source: SFPD

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan Francisco

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

Just Posted

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

“Tenet,” the new Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington, is showing at the drive-in in Concord. (Courtesy Warner Bros.)
Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

There are pandemic-era options for movie lovers who want to watch outdoors

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

In this handout image provided by the California Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Scott Peterson poses for a mug shot March 17, 2005 in San Quentin, California. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi sentenced Peterson to death March 16 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. (California Department of Corrections via Getty Images/TNS)
Prosecutors to retry penalty phase of Scott Peterson trial

2003 discovery of Laci Peterson’s body led to sensational high-profile murder trial of husband

Most Read