The Dolores Park community meeting Wednesday evening was, maybe appropriately, much like a group therapy session. Organizer Gideon Kramer of SafeCleanGreen was so enthusiastic in arguing for a civil discussion that it wasn’t a minute after Mission Mission’s Kevin Montgomery arrived that Kramer cornered him to vent about that blog’s coverage of the debate over the park’s future.

A few dozen others arrived, most from the blocks directly around the park but a few from further afield in the Mission and beyond. And everyone did admit there was a problem, at least with trash. Other problems cited included the bathrooms, hipsters, Mexicans, irrigation, wind, people who don’t own property next to the park, Critical Mass, politicians and, despite all these apparent defects, too many people.

And that, friends, is the essential irony. For a park that is “dying,” it is quite popular! Internationally so. Leaving the younger crowd counter-intuitively arguing to maintain the status quo, and even the older crowd admitting that it’s a better place than it was at some arbitrary point in the past when it was ruled by gangs and drug users, as opposed to now.

But there was a clear generation gap, with the introduction period amounting to one-upsmanship as to who lived closer and longer. The implication being that somehow factoring proximity and longevity mathematically lent one’s point of view more weight. Which it does not. Especially when it is matched with complaints about people and their sense of entitlement.

What Dolores Park clearly needs is more money from the city, which it is getting. After all, North Beach’s Washington Square Park probably gets as much use per square foot and is plenty lush, especially after new sod was laid last year.

What it probably does not need are new restrictions on permits, which it is also getting. Since, again, it’s sort of counter-productive to complain about un-permitted events while arguing that permits should be more difficult to obtain.

My idea? Like the city’s program that lets people pay for parking tickets with labor for volunteer organizations, peg clean up efforts to the permitting process — time spent equals discounts on fees and priority reservations. If there is anything that should actually command priveleged use of public space, working to maintain that space would be it.

And in that regard, the meeting was, eventually a success, as everyone’s invited to get back together and help pick up litter on Sunday at 2pm. Just think how superior you’ll feel if you come help!

Jackson West just moved to to the neighborhood, so probably isn’t qualified to have an opinion.

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  • cedichou

    Biggest problems with dolores park, as I see them: crappy, unenclosed kids playground (more of a safety hazard, actually; the leaky drain under the toddler swing set is a nice touch), and dog poop (despite the ubiquitous bag dispensers). I live six blocks away, but on the other side of liberty hill. Does that weight against my opinion?

  • cedichou

    Biggest problems with dolores park, as I see them: crappy, unenclosed kids playground (more of a safety hazard, actually; the leaky drain under the toddler swing set is a nice touch), and dog poop (despite the ubiquitous bag dispensers). I live six blocks away, but on the other side of liberty hill. Does that weight against my opinion?

  • dw.bg

    I was at this meeting on Wednesday night, and for the most part I agree with your assessment. The generation gap you mentioned was apparent, and at times it began to feel more like an airing of grievances than a progressive discussion.

    My main reason for attending was my proximity to the park (I live on the corner of 18th and Church) and the fact that I tend to be at the park on almost a daily basis. That being said, I don’t think my location gives any more credence to my opinions about the park, but I was very curious to see what the perspective of others was.

    At the end of it all, I’m not really sure what all hopes to be accomplished. I’m pretty sure my views fell into the minority grouping at the meeting. Music and noise from gatherings at the park doesn’t disturb me at all, it’s one of the reasons I was so stoked to be able to live across the street from the park. Also I’ve learned how to close a window.

    What bothered me most about this meeting, though, was the underlying tendency to want to point the finger at certain “constituencies”, and the feeling that the park was being “overused” that many expressed. Singling out “hipsters” and “Mexicans” by some I found particularly disgraceful. Even the organizer, Gideon, told a story of a time he apparently asked “four Hispanic men” if they were going to clean up their beer cans. If the point of his story was that locals should be at the forefront of raising awareness in others to clean up after themselves, I really don’t see how the fact that the men were Hispanic had any relevance at all.

    And that’s what worries me the most. I think peoples preconceived notions of what a park should be used for and about the diverse array of people who have come to love using the park are likely blurring their judgement in some respects. So far all there is to show for their efforts is some fresh manure on the ground and an annoyingly obtuse police presence.

    However, I hope what does come out of all this is a raised awareness in people who use the park to be mindful of the neighbors who live around it, and to clean up after themselves.

    Hopefully the actions of an inconsiderate few don’t ruin the beauty and enjoyment of the majority who use the park. And that applies to those on both sides of the debate.

  • dw.bg

    I was at this meeting on Wednesday night, and for the most part I agree with your assessment. The generation gap you mentioned was apparent, and at times it began to feel more like an airing of grievances than a progressive discussion.

    My main reason for attending was my proximity to the park (I live on the corner of 18th and Church) and the fact that I tend to be at the park on almost a daily basis. That being said, I don’t think my location gives any more credence to my opinions about the park, but I was very curious to see what the perspective of others was.

    At the end of it all, I’m not really sure what all hopes to be accomplished. I’m pretty sure my views fell into the minority grouping at the meeting. Music and noise from gatherings at the park doesn’t disturb me at all, it’s one of the reasons I was so stoked to be able to live across the street from the park. Also I’ve learned how to close a window.

    What bothered me most about this meeting, though, was the underlying tendency to want to point the finger at certain “constituencies”, and the feeling that the park was being “overused” that many expressed. Singling out “hipsters” and “Mexicans” by some I found particularly disgraceful. Even the organizer, Gideon, told a story of a time he apparently asked “four Hispanic men” if they were going to clean up their beer cans. If the point of his story was that locals should be at the forefront of raising awareness in others to clean up after themselves, I really don’t see how the fact that the men were Hispanic had any relevance at all.

    And that’s what worries me the most. I think peoples preconceived notions of what a park should be used for and about the diverse array of people who have come to love using the park are likely blurring their judgement in some respects. So far all there is to show for their efforts is some fresh manure on the ground and an annoyingly obtuse police presence.

    However, I hope what does come out of all this is a raised awareness in people who use the park to be mindful of the neighbors who live around it, and to clean up after themselves.

    Hopefully the actions of an inconsiderate few don’t ruin the beauty and enjoyment of the majority who use the park. And that applies to those on both sides of the debate.

  • jacksprat

    I’ve had the same experience as the author with both G. Kramer & his cohort, Peter Lewis. Together they are president & vice president of the phony neighborhood group that claims to represent those of us who live in the area. Unfortunately, this neighborhood organization that “speaks” for us with our elected officials is not open to all neighbors nor do they hold “public” meetings. Some good can come out of the Dolores Park debate if it stirs someone into starting a true neighborhood organization that is open to the residents. In the meantime, this phony group should be stripped of any legitimate title to “neighborhood association”.

  • jacksprat

    I’ve had the same experience as the author with both G. Kramer & his cohort, Peter Lewis. Together they are president & vice president of the phony neighborhood group that claims to represent those of us who live in the area. Unfortunately, this neighborhood organization that “speaks” for us with our elected officials is not open to all neighbors nor do they hold “public” meetings. Some good can come out of the Dolores Park debate if it stirs someone into starting a true neighborhood organization that is open to the residents. In the meantime, this phony group should be stripped of any legitimate title to “neighborhood association”.

  • Doctor Popular

    I don’t see anybody saying that the park is “dying”. Littered? Yeah. Torn up. Ditto. But this is the only time I’ve seen it described as dying.

  • Doctor Popular

    I don’t see anybody saying that the park is “dying”. Littered? Yeah. Torn up. Ditto. But this is the only time I’ve seen it described as dying.