The Francis Scott Key Annex in the Outer Sunset will house a skatepark, garden and barbecue area in it's currently vacant lot. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

Playland to include contested skatepark

Skateboarding and other public uses like a garden and barbecue area are officially coming to a one-acre underutilized chunk of asphalt in the Outer Sunset, despite continued opposition from some neighbors.

The San Francisco Unified School District, which owns the Francis Scott Key Annex site at 1360 43rd Ave., issued a one-year permit on Nov. 19 to temporarily transform the annex’s concrete lot into Playland at 43rd Avenue, named in a nod to San Francisco’s beloved Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park that was torn down in 1972.

That decision followed six community meetings in the past year and a half, spearheaded by Supervisor Katy Tang, in which residents favored refurbishing the basketball court and adding an adult fitness area, an artists’ courtyard, a community garden and other features.
But other neighbors are worried that skateboarding elements planned for the site, and the potential for live music, will create too much noise in the area, said Sanjiv Singh, who lives about 20 yards from the annex.

Singh also argues there was a “lack of transparency in the process,” because residents were initially told a permit must be approved by the district’s Board of Education, but the permit was ultimately issued by the district without a vote from the board.

“This seems at odds with what would be normal procedure for establishment of public use spaces that impact the rights and enjoyment of residents, including tenants and homeowners in any area,” Singh said.

Tang, however, noted that participation from neighbors at each of the six community meetings showed a consensus in finding a use for the underutilized to the site.

“The level of participation really speaks to how many neighbors feel that the underutilized space needed to be transformed into something that would be used by all — even if on a temporary basis,” Tang wrote in an email to the San Francisco Examiner. “While we understand there are some disagreements over certain elements of the design, the overall space will become a positive improvement for the community.”

Tang’s office and the Pavement to Parks team working to revitalize the site will evaluate the Playland effort after a two-month trial period, and address potential modifications. Playland is set to be installed early next year.

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