Dolores Renovation met with Speedbumps

Dolores+Renovation+met+with+Speedbumps

Naomi Outlaw

Photo by Eugene Kim via Creative Commons

 

By Naomi Outlaw

Fall may provide an end to San Francisco’s patient waiting. With the creeping fog also comes the projected end of the Mission Dolores Park renovation, a $20.5 million upgrade approved by voters in the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. Dolores is one of the busiest parks in San Francisco and it engages thousands of visitors with very little more than the promise of a good place to kick back. Sometimes this relaxed attitude leads to waste anarchy.

Along with the renovation is a new digital campaign, dubbed Love Dolores, which aims to reduce trash that litters the park by trying to involve citizens with daily government actions.

When the north side of the park reopened in June, the public and park goers were introduced to new sod and a management that calls for social change on all fronts. San Francisco is putting a firm hand on the wrist of park goers who litter physically and digitally. Some park users feel the pressure unnecessarily.

The  fully remodeled Dolores will come complete with new multi-use courts, designated dog areas, new bathrooms, new pathways and better maintenance, if everything goes to plan. Originally scheduled to be finished the summer of 2015, the three year renovation took a few extra months due to  excessive ground water and the expensive joy ride two vandals took on a hot wired construction vehicle. All said and done, the renovation cost $7.3 million more than expected.

“The goal is for park users to care and respect our parks,” Connie Chan,San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Deputy Director of Public Affairs, said about the campaign that reaches citizens through social media and an updated website.

Despite the signs, posts and pledges tagged #lovedolores on Instagram and Twitter, exposure to new park standards through the Love Dolores campaign is limited. Approximately 69,000 posts on Instagram are tagged #dolorespark, while 550 are tagged #lovedolores.

Non-digitally, slogans like “Don’t be a glasshole, use cans!” are displayed on signs and banners lining the park, hoping to actively stop patrons from producing waste like glass bottles and cigarette butts.

“They are working very hard. But about 90 percent [of Love Dolores] is PR and about 10 percent is enforcement. I don’t think they are talking with each other,” said Robert Brust, a resident of the Mission for 19 years and the co-founder of Dolores Park Works, an organization made up of San Franciscans devoted to keep Dolores clean and neighborly.

Even with the city’s multiple efforts to dial back trash in the park, the renovation has not made trash disposal convenient for park goers.

“The trashcans need to be moved. There are lines for the bathrooms because people want to throw things away in there,” said Carlos Mendoza, a San Francisco native.

Both of the huge bins manned by recology and the 20 slightly smaller cube like bins provided by Recreation and Parks are plopped on 18th and Church Street. They sit at the bottom reaches of the park’s slopes, making trash cans within the park scarce.

In order to crackdown on these litter bugs in a more physical way, Recreation and Parks have assigned weekend park rangers to patrol Dolores. Since June, rangers have issued citations for smoking, amplified sound and glass bottles, a fine that costs $192. While some interactions on the Love Dolores website show park patrons fighting with the rangers, park attendees mentioned gratitude towards the enforcement effort.

“People can no longer just take over the park,” said Durst, referencing people who play mock DJ’s and throw wasteful parties in the park as being deterred by the presence of the Rangers.

While Dolores has long welcomed all walks of life, the remodel brings tension between communities.

“They have to dig a little deeper and spend more time here… it is our biggest green space.“ Durst said. “It’s necessary as the neighborhood gets more and more dense.”