Proposal to close Golden Gate Park at night is stalled

A plan to close Golden Gate and McLaren parks at night has stalled with the new mayoral administration even as more late-night violence broke out last weekend.

As one of his final pieces of legislation, Mayor Gavin Newsom in December called for the two parks to be closed between 1 and 5 a.m. daily. The plan was in response to a rash of violence and vandalism in Golden Gate Park, including the fatal stabbing of a transient, the mauling of a park visitor by a dog belonging to a homeless camper, and the destruction of 32 rose bushes and three holes at a golf course.

Most recently, a fight broke out at 4:30 a.m. Saturday between two groups of young people who were drinking at a children’s playground in Golden Gate Park, police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

The melee involved kids and adults between 16 and 21 years old. One person was cut on the arm and chest from some kind of sharp object, but there were no arrests or serious injuries, Dangerfield said.

The fight seemed to reinforce the idea that “nothing good happens at Golden Gate Park in the middle of the night,” Recreation and Park Department Director Phil Ginsburg said.

Currently, visitors can be in the park at any hour, but it is against the law to sleep there. However, that law has not eliminated camping by homeless people, according to police. If the park was officially closed, cops could bring campers or loiterers to jail on trespassing charges.

But the legislation has stalled because there does not appear to be a groundswell of support for it, Ginsburg said. He remained hopeful that The City could revisit the issue.

Mayor Ed Lee would not comment on the plan because he said he was not familiar with the latest movement on the legislation.

Supervisor Carmen Chu, whose District 4 neighbors Golden Gate Park, called the closures a proposal that everyone in The City should support. She said most smaller parks already have hours of operation.

“[Newsom] unfortunately left and he wasn’t able to follow up on that legislation,” Chu said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s not moving forward because of lack of support, but that this was proposed in a time of a lot of transition.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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