Graffiti showdown set at ‘Toxic Tire Beach’

A small park in southeastern San Francisco has become the site of a turf war between graffiti artists who consider the space their blank canvas and community members who plan to stage a coup with paintbrushes and trash bags this weekend.

More than 100 volunteers are expected to join city officials at Warm Water Cove on Saturday to clean and paint the park and rally for neighborhood leaders to become stewards of the desolate space where 24th Street hits the Bay.

Graffiti artists and members of the underground community who have been throwing unannounced concerts and parties there without proper permits are also expected to show up in force.

Warm Water Cove — also known as Toxic Tire Beach — is two acres of dry, yellow grass with one concrete bench, ailing trees and heaps of debris. Every inch — from the trees to the sidewalks and the bench— is covered in graffiti, as if the park has been used as a training ground for taggers and graffiti artists for decades.

In some ways, it has. The Port of San Francisco, which owns the park, has only one gardener who takes care of six parks and cannot keep up with the graffiti and other vandalism at Warm Water Cove. Graffiti artists and musicians took the lack of cleanup as a sign that The City was turning a blind eye and claimed the park as their own.

“This is one of the few areas in The City where there is free public art that still goes on in an unregulated and unrestricted way,” said singer and guitar player Josh Babcock, whose band, the Society of Rockets, has played an annual show at the park since 2002 — without a permit.

But with the new Third Street light rail operating a few blocks from the park and more residential developments popping up nearby, the park is an area demanding more attention, said Mohammed Nuru, deputy director of The City’s Department of Public Works, which is one of the agencies sponsoring Saturday’s cleanup.

“The community is trying very hard to make the park as usable as it can,” he said.

Corinne Woods, who walks her dog at the park and works part time for the San Francisco Neighborhood Parks Council, said people are nervous to visit Warm Water Cove because graffiti artists have dominated it for years.

“It just doesn’t seem fair that a small group of people can intimidate the rest of the community,” Woods said. “I love art in the parks, but it has to go through the appropriate process.”

Area merchants have also become fed up with the vandalism, Nuru said, adding that the graffiti has begun to spill out onto neighboring businesses, which are required by law to remove the graffiti within 30 days.

Graffiti artists say a one-day cleanup will only make the situation worse.

One graffiti artist who did not want to give his name said there would likely be a backlash of tagging — considered lower-quality art than graffiti — at the park after the Saturday pickup.

arocha@examiner.com


Voice your opinion at examiNation SF: How do you feel about graffiti in public parks?


Bay Area NewsLocal

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

Recology executives have acknowledged overcharging city ratepayers. (Mira Laing/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)
Recology to repay customers $95M in overcharged garbage fees, city attorney says

San Francisco’s waste management company, Recology, has agreed to repay its customers… Continue reading

A construction worker watches a load for a crane operator at the site of the future Chinatown Muni station for the Central Subway on Tuesday, March 3, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Major construction on Central Subway to end by March 31

SFMTA board approves renegotiated contract with new deadline, more contractor payments

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Settlement clears path for all youth, high school sports to resume in California

John Maffei The San Diego Union-Tribune All youth and high school sports… Continue reading

State to reserve 40 percent of COVID-19 vaccines for hard-hit areas

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation State officials said Thursday that… Continue reading

Neighbors and environmental advocates have found the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park noisy and inappropriate for its natural setting. <ins>(</ins>
Golden Gate Park wheel wins extension, but for how long?

Supervisors move to limit contract under City Charter provision requiring two-thirds approval

Most Read