San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced a $7.3 million budget proposal to clean up city parks and public spaces.
The package proposes doubling the size of the park patrol, increasing the city’s Recreation and Park Department’s tree maintenance team and restoring the city’s Department of Public Works cleaning crew and landscaping staffing to 2008 levels.
Wiener said he hopes to call attention to what he considers unkempt park and public spaces filled with trash, graffiti and subject to other vandalism because of depleted staffing to maintain and monitor the areas.
The first part of the proposal addresses violations at city parks by doubling the number of patrols monitoring parks.
There are currently a total of 16 park patrolling officers in the city, which averages about less than 3 officers patrolling the city’s 220 park properties at any given time, according to Rec and Park spokeswoman Connie Chan.
Wiener has set aside $2.6 million to increase the number of workers watching for vandalism, dumping, graffiti and other infractions.
He hopes more upfront enforcement will cut back Rec and Park’s cleanup costs estimated at around $1 million each year because of vandalism and other problems.
His budget plan also includes $2 million for tree maintenance in parks. According to Wiener, the Parks Department works on preventative measures on only 750 of its 130,000 trees each year.
He claims the low-level maintenance and slim arborist staffing has led to deteriorated park trees that often collapse and drop branches, becoming a safety issue.
A third component of his budget package includes a $2.7 million allotment to help the Department of Public Works up staffing to focus on cleaning plazas, BART and Muni station areas and increase landscaping on medians, in plazas and other public spaces.
According to Wiener, areas near BART and Muni stations frequently smell of urine, feces and vomit, and a special cleaning crew needs to be hired to quell the stench and mess.
He has called for “pre-recession” level staffing to properly tackle these maintenance goals.
His funding proposal has the support of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, Friends of the Urban Forest and San Francisco Beautiful.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News