Mayor tackles violence in SF parks

Beefed-up rules to crack down on crime in city parks are coming down the pipeline as Gavin Newsom works to tackle the issue in his waning days as mayor.

Golden Gate Park in particular has been a hot spot for crime, with transients being involved in many violent incidents in the last year.

The mayor on Sunday said he has drafted his own legislation that will address park crime by closing down — at the very least — San Francisco’s largest park. He will introduce the legislation as soon as Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Newsom remained tight-lipped about the details, but said he is considering which parks should be included in the new ordinance.

“Is it Coit Tower, McLaren and Golden Gate Park, or is it just McLaren and Golden Gate Park?” Newsom said. “There are a whole bunch of park hours that are on the books already and we want to make sure they are consistent.”

Newsom has been working with police during the last year to address increasing crime at city parks, especially Golden Gate Park — a hotbed for homeless camps. Specifically, he has pushed for stringent enforcement of park hours between 1 and 5 a.m.

Currently, visitors can be in the park at any hour, but it is against the law to sleep there, police said. Yet that law has done little to reduce camping, according to police.

Those who are busted camping in the park are cited. Some longtime campers have been cited dozens of times, but continue to live in the park, city officials said.

If the park was officially closed at night, police officers could bring campers or loiterers to jail on trespassing charges, police have said.

In August, a 53-year-old transient was found beaten to death 100 feet away from the Park Police Station at Kezar Stadium. Police identified the man, who had been found up against a fence at 7:30 a.m. in an area that was popular with illegal campers, as Michael Ponder.

More recently, a Golden Gate Park visitor was mauled by a camper’s dog, and 32 rose bushes and three holes at a golf course were vandalized and destroyed.

Other safety issues in Golden Gate Park have spurred a hearing today at a Board of Supervisors committee.

Supervisors Eric Mar and Carmen Chu called for more lighting and safety patrols throughout Golden Gate Park. The hearing is to focus on what measures the Recreation and Park Department has taken to improve safety there.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

Not a walk in the park

Crime has been a large issue casting a shadow over Golden Gate Park.

Nov. 16: A man survives two stab wounds from an unknown assailant at Alvord Lake near Haight and Stanyan streets at 6:11 p.m.

Nov. 14: A decomposing body and severed arm are found on the south side of the Polo Field, at Middle and Martin Luther King Jr. drives.

October: City officials say they are drafting legislation to close Golden Gate Park overnight, allowing campers to be charged with trespassing.

Aug. 28: A 53-year-old homeless man is found beaten to death at Kezar Stadium.

July 4: Adam Noyes is allegedly stabbed to death by 65-year-old Richard Ray. Ray has been charged with murder in connection with the attack.

July 1: An unleashed pit bull attacks three people near Transverse and John F. Kennedy drives.

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