One would think a fight between two groups of drunken teenagers in a Golden Gate Park playground that ended with two people leaving with stab wounds might spur action on a proposal designed to make San Francisco’s most famous public park safer. Despite the recent incident, the Ex is reporting that movement has stalled to implement former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to close the park to visitors between the hours of 1am and 5am due to a lack of sufficient public support.
The legislation came in the wake of a wave of violence and vandalism that swept the park in the last year. In that year, three dozen rose bushes were cut from the park’s rose garden, over 40 trees were brutally severed and someone caused $10,000 in damage to the park’s golf course in two separate attacks.
It’s not just the park’s flora that’s been under assault. Since last summer, a 25-year old was stabbed after a fight near the Conservatory of Flowers, a homeless man was beaten to death outside Kezar Stadium, and a severed arm was discovered by a dog walker near the polo fields.
Unlike most other urban parks around the country, Golden Gate Park never closes–people are allowed to be there all hours of the day or night. Camping in the park is already illegal, but that prohibition does little to deter the homeless people who sleep there nightly.
The stalled closure legislation, which was put together by Newsom, City Attorney Dennis Hererra, former San Francisco DA Kamala Harris, the SFPD and the Recreation and Parks Department, would shut down the park at night and allow the police to jail individuals who repeatedly broke the rules.
The Bayview’s similarly problematic John McLaren Park was also targeted for overnight shutdown. McLaren Park was where an unfortunate visitor accidentally discovered a severed leg.
Newsom was the legislation’s primary cheerleader and, with the former mayor off doing whatever it is the Lt. Governor actually does on a daily basis, the measure doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Interim Mayor Ed Lee, who apparently could remove the “Interim” from his title if the election were held today, doesn’t appear to have anywhere near Newsom’s enthusiasm for pushing the issue.