Park vandalism is top gripe posted to online watchdog

For the second straight year, acts of vandalism ranked as the top-reported concern about San Francisco parks, according to a study by a city nonprofit that compiled complaints from more than 1,500 San Francisco residents in 2007.

ParkScan, an online data program that allows users to report incidents at public parks, showed that 51 percent of the complaints lodged by San Francisco residents dealt with graffiti, damaged property, litter or dumping.

Launched in 2003 by the Neighborhood Parks Council, this year’s ParkScan compiled data from 1,531 reports on 135 city parks. Incident reports ranged from clogged water fountains, to sloppy field conditions and broken playground equipment.

Every time a complaint is entered into the ParkScan system, an e-mail is automatically sent to a Recreation and Park Department official specifically responsible for addressing the problem, according to Meredith Thomas of the Neighborhood Parks Council.

Recreation and Park spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said park patrons abusing public property is a vexing problem, but ParkScan reports have proven to be an effective tool in incident abatement.

“Vandalism continues to be one of the problems for the department because we can’t predict where the fallout will be,” Dennis said. “Through ParkScan, users can direct the department where to go.”

As The City faces a $338 million projected shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, additional funding for more park department workers is likely to be unavailable for the foreseeable future, making community involvement an essential asset in sustaining The City’s parks, Thomas said.

Linda Harte is a frequent contributor to ParkScan,often chronicling incidents at Crocker Amazon Park in the Excelsior district. She said ParkScan reports about graffiti at the park’s playground are treated summarily by Rec and Park workers who are alerted to the problem.

“I think we found that you can complain and sit back and do nothing,” Harte said. “Or you can get involved and have a better quality of life.”

wreisman@examiner.com

Graffiti tops residents’ worries

ParkScan is an online reporting system that lets residents report maintenance conditions in San Francisco’s parks and playgrounds.

Top five reported concerns (of 1,531 total complaints)

Graffiti…..26%

Turf/lawn…..17%

Trash/litter/dumping…..15%

General…..15%

Playgrounds…..11%

Source: Neighborhood Parks Council

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