Vandals blaze a trail of burned parks

Slides melted, trees uprooted, restrooms burnt, walls defaced, trash dumped … the list goes on and on. It’s not a war zone; it’s what authorities say is happening to some of San Francisco’s most beautiful parks.

Recently, arsonists melted a plastic slide at the Parkside Square playground. The slide was destroyed and the ground underneath charred. Next to the playground, someone wheeled a burning trashcan into the bathroom, ruining the interior and frying the electrical system.

The problem has become so unnerving that park officials and police called a special community meeting Monday evening at the Old Trocadero building inside Sigmund Stern Grove to search for a solution.

“We’re going to listen to what the community has to offer because we only have a certain amount of time and resources, and we need their help,” Sgt. Steve Quon of Taraval Station said.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department has spent around $35 million on improvements to Stern Grove, neighboring Parkside Square and South Sunset Playground in recent years, spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said. But the vandalism and illegal dumping is costing the department tens of thousands dollars more, she said.

The slide isn’t likely to be replaced for at least a couple of months, Dennis said. Another slide in nearby South Sunset Playground was also melted; the repairs took several months after exhaustive fundraising.

“We have to keep wasting taxpayer dollars on maintenance and repairs,” Dennis said. “It’s from a lot of petty crimes, and these things all just add up.”

Residents of the area are taking the vandalism especially hard. Local Matt Mitguard said people are loitering in places such as Stern Grove’s parking lot and the Goldman concert area, where graffiti is regularly sighted.

“I’m a big parks user … I’m always out there,” he said. “Unfortunately, only a few are ruining the beauty of these places.”

bbegin@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Pier 39 aquarium staff furloughed during coronavirus — but what about the fish?

Aquarium of the Bay raising funds from public to keep up operations during shutdown

Ride-hail drivers left idling by coronavirus shutdown

Bay Area ride-hail drivers are among those who have been hit hardest… Continue reading

Navigation shelter resident tests positive for coronavirus

Homeless advocates repeatedly warned about an outbreak in congregate settings

CCSF taps first Asian American woman to lead as interim chancellor

City College reached a settlement with former Chancellor Mark Rocha after an abrupt departure

Plummeting Bay Area bridge traffic finally levels off

All told, weekday Bay Area traffic volumes are down by half, which has remained consistent from March 23 through this week.

Most Read