Skate park rollout fetches bumpy reception in San Francisco

Big draw: The temporary skate park on Waller Street

Every day around 3 p.m., a closed-off portion of Waller Street in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood becomes a symphony of wheels rolling on pavement and clanging on benches.

The half-block area on the southeastern side of Golden Gate Park was recently outfitted with temporary ramps and obstacles to create a skate park. Opponents say noise and graffiti are prevalent, but supporters say skaters would have no place to go without it.

“It’s the chicken-and-the-egg thing,” said San Francisco Skateboarding Association President Bryan Hornebeck. “You gave us no place to skate, but we’ve got to skate somewhere, and you’re pissed off if it’s in your front yard.”

Because there is no other location to legally skate in The City, Hornebeck and the association have worked with the Recreation and Park Department to determine several new locations to create skate parks. Though critics have said the facilities create the potential for danger, the one built already is bursting at the seams.

“Some people won’t go there because it’s so crowded some days,” Hornebeck said.

A resolution was passed in 2008 — and supported by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whose district includes the Haight-Ashbury — that called for a skate park to be built in Golden Gate Park.

A lack of funding and excessive government oversight slowed the process, according to Alex Randolph, deputy director of community and government affairs. Benches were installed last month, and each Friday temporary ramps are brought in.

Karen Crommie, a member of the Cole Valley Improvement Association, said though a permanent skate park is a “done deal,” she doesn’t see it as the best use of space.

“Where Haight meets Stanyan, the location of the skate park, is a place where a lot of druggies hang out,” Crommie said. “It seems so inadvisable to bring young people into the area.”

Concerns also include noise, graffiti and the conflict of use since the same area hosts a farmers market Wednesday nights and Off-The-Grid food truck events Thursday nights, Crommie said.

The skate park will be available in its temporary form through March. After that, Rec and Park will determine the next course of action to make something permanent, Randolph said.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Boarding zones

Proposed new skate park locations:

– South of Market

– Sunset district

– Mission Bay

Source: San Francisco Skateboarding Association

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