A skate park originally proposed for the horseshoe pits in Golden Gate Park could be moved because of safety concerns to the Waller Street closure site just in reach of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
Recreation and Park Department officials have turned their attention to Waller Street, which is closed between Stanyan Street and Lincoln Way, after a report from Rec and Park General Manager Yomi Agunbiade to the Recreation and Park Commission on Thursday said the horseshoe pits were not an appropriate site for a skateboard facility.
The reports said the pits’ small size and the surrounding trees and hills provide poor sight lines to monitor activity for an area expected to draw mostly young children. Rec and Park spokeswoman Rose Dennis called the visibility concerns a “big, big reason” that the Waller Street site was favored by the department.
Skateboard advocates, Recreation and Park officials and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi recently toured the Waller Street site, which is part of Golden Gate Park. Mirkarimi said he continues to view the horseshoe pits above the Conservatory of Flowers as the potential park’s primary location.
“I believe it has the capacity to serve a larger skateboard population and that it is more safe and integral to Golden Gate Park as a recreational activity,” Mirkarimi said.
Bryan Hornbeck, who has been skateboarding since 1972 and heads up the San Francisco Skateboarding Association, said he would like a skate park at either site but applauded the Waller site because of its 120,000-square-foot size.
When asked whether having a skate park next to the Haight and its vaunted drug history was atall worrisome, Hornbeck said that, if anything, the skateboarders and their families would likely chase drug users or homeless people out of the facility.
“The skaters and homeless kids that are panhandling are a totally different breed,” Hornbeck said.
Mirkarimi introduced skate-park legislation in January that would consider bringing a facility to Golden Gate Park to steer skaters away from doing their kick-flips and nose-grinds at the newly restored Music Concourse near Stow Lake.
San Francisco has two facilities specifically for skateboarders: the severely rundown Hilltop Park Bowl in the Bayview-Hunters Point area and the Crocker Amazon/McLaren Skateboarding Park.
A park at Potrero del Sol/La Raza Park in the Mission is in development, and there is discussion about a fourth park on Treasure Island.
As evidenced by the boom in popularity of skateboarding events and the X Games, an Olympics-style event for alternative sports, skateboarding is a fast-growing sport that still fights the stereotype that it is a haven for youth drug activity.
Mirkarimi’s legislation will be discussed in committee Thursday, and skateboarding advocates are expected to attend in large numbers.