San Francisco park scores show disparity between neighborhoods

| February 20, 2013

Despite improvements in recent years, the maintenance of parks in the historically underserved southeastern San Francisco neighborhoods still lags other areas.

The City Controller’s Office released its annual report on maintenance performance at San Francisco’s 220 public open spaces, and the parks in supervisorial districts 10 and 11 — broadly encompassing the Excelsior district, Visitacion Valley, the Bayview and Hunters Point — were among the lowest-rated.

Click on the photo to see the park scores.

The scores of the parks in the southeastern districts have climbed in recent years, but they have traded off last-place ranking since the park maintenance evaluations began in 2005.

In the 2005-06 fiscal year, the parks in District 11 received a 69.54 percent score, and the ones in District 10 garnered a 79.13 percent ranking. Last fiscal year, those scores increased to 84.4 percent for both districts. In comparison, District 2, which includes the Marina and Pacific Heights, scored the highest, at 93.3 percent.

This year, the scoring gap between the first- and last-place districts was the lowest in the history of the reports, an improvement noticed by District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen.

“While I am pleased that we have made some progress, we still have many improvements that can be made to our parks and open spaces in our southeastern neighborhoods,” Cohen said.

The maintenance scores are based on in-person evaluations by Recreation and Park Department staff and city auditors. Each park is given a score between zero and 100, with rankings based on factors that include litter, proper irrigation methods and tree upkeep.

A park that scores above 85 percent is considered to be in good upkeep. The citywide score for San Francisco’s open spaces was 88.4 percent last fiscal year, a 0.1 percent increase from the year prior.

Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said he was happy that despite major challenges, including a lack of staffing resources and $1 billion in deferred maintenance fees, the department was able to make strides.

He said only 16 parks received grades below 80 percent, noting that the recently approved $195 million parks bond, which includes investment in the southeast neighborhoods, should help reduce score disparity.

Still, there are problems facing the department. Of the 161 parks evaluated, 80 saw their maintenance grades drop from the year prior.

Meredith Thomas, policy director of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group, said it will be difficult to improve the parks’ maintenance rankings unless funding increases.  

“As more people move to this city, it’s going to put more pressure on our parks,” Thomas said. “And to funds these places appropriately, we’re going to need some new financing strategies and strong political will.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Click on the photo to see the park scores.
Click on the photo to see the park scores.
- Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner

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