Failing SF Playgrounds Map And Prioritization

With $15.5 million in dedicated funds having been approved by voters as part of San Francisco’s $195 million Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond back in 2012, and over 50 failing City playgrounds having initially been identified by the City’s Failing Playgrounds Task Force, the first six failing City playgrounds which have been selected to be rebuilt are:

  1. Washington Square Playground
  2. Sgt. John Macaulay Park
  3. Panhandle Playground
  4. John McLaren Park Picnic Area and Playground
  5. Merced Heights Playground
  6. Alice Chalmers Playground

If any of the funds remain following the first round of rebuilding, additional renovation projects for a few of the Task Force’s second tier of failing playgrounds, as mapped above, will follow.

Playgrounds have long been a favourite of parents to get their kids playing outdoors. Many do this in conjunction with viewing fun and educational videos on sites like YouTube.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Sierrajeff

    whoa, nelly. It’s only been 2 years since the funds were set aside by voters, are they sure they want to get started so quickly, and on 6 whole playgrounds? Why, at this rate they’ll blow through the 50 playgrounds in just 16 years – what’s the rush?

    • Posted by been there

      The task force was a big part of this delay and helpded to ensure the money was spent in (hopefully) the right areas. The SFRPD had priorities, but other non-profit groups felt the citizens should have direct participation in the process, hence a joint RPD /Citizen / non-ptofit task force was formed to help guide the money to be spent in the right places. Otherwise the risk was a politician saying “see how effective I am, I fixed 50 playgounds (haphazardly) in two years ” rather than, “See how effective the 12 fixes have been”. 50 playgrounds are not on the failing list. It’s more like 12-15. There is a range of criteria that the task force considered, including broken play structures, structures built with pressure treated wood ( apparently harmful) , and excessively rough ground surfaces , to grade playgrounds from A-F. F grades get first crack. Check the task force link in the article and hunt around if you’d like more info.

  2. Posted by Heather kilday

    This is wonderful news for the tenderloin community that has elevated the issues at Sgt. John Macaulay Park to Parks & Rec. The tenderloin toddlers who deal with such adverse conditions within the neighborhood and within the park deserve a better playground. As a tenderloin parent who frequents Macaulay, with 311 on my speed dial, I am about to break out the Champagne! The Macaulay park community will have their Christmas celebration on Wednesday from 4-6pm and it will be a really sweet celebration!

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Barring introduction of locked gates (with keys held by local residents), not sure how a park re-do will result in any long-term improvement…

      • Posted by TJ

        For what it’s worth I’ve always found that the city’s vagrant/homeless/urban camper types have generally been respectful of playgrounds. I used to spend a lot of time going to Kidpower Park behind the 16th St. BART station as well as Koshland park and on the very few occasions when there was someone sleeping when we got there they would pack up and leave as soon as they saw play time had started. And for as many needles, excrement, condoms and other stuff I’d see around the neighborhood I never saw any of it in the park (I’m sure it happens, but just never saw it in a park that’s in an extremely iffy location).

      • Posted by Downtown parent

        At Macaulay, homeless people only enter the park to get a drink of water because the drinking fountain is located within the park. One of the improvements the parent’s recommended was to move the fountain outside this park.

      • Posted by been there

        There are plenty of studies supporting better parks ultimately lead to lower crime, healthier people, etc.

  3. Posted by Alai

    I wonder about the budgets for these. The local playground, of modest size, required $3 million for a full replacement?! That seems a bit nuts.

  4. Posted by squigglebird

    how does a playground get defined as “failing”? Too many needles on the ground?

    • Posted by been there

      There is a range of criteria that the task force considered, including broken play structures, structures built with pressure treated wood ( apparently harmful) , and excessively rough ground surfaces , to grade playgrounds from A-F. F grades get first crack. Check the task force link in the article and hunt around if you’d like more info.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        “..structures built with pressure treated wood ( apparently harmful)…”

        You should avoid skin contact with PT wood because most of the chemicals used are toxic. In a playground there’s the additional hazard of tykes gnawing on the stuff.

        In general it is best to assume that anything placed in a 2 year old’s environment may end up in their mouth.

        • Posted by Beatrice Plotter

          I have a lot of non-pressure treated virgin wood used in my renovation. I welcome tykes to gnaw on my quality wood. I have seen older children attempt to lick a light switch (a first for me.) Parents – mind your children, please. If your face is buried in your iphone while your child is left to his/her own devices, perhaps it is time to consider a nanny.

  5. Posted by Beatrice Plotter

    For $3 Million, I could build several large luxury homes for all the neighborhood kids to play in regardless of weather conditions. And keep unsavory elements out.

    The Tendorloin families and kids deserve to live in a neighborhood free of crime, drug dealing, and prostitution.

  6. Posted by SFHelmut

    If you have never built a playground, you have no idea how much they cost. Here is a hint, a lot more than you could possibly imagine. This is good news, it takes time to spend money properly, and San Francisco has a good history upgrading its playgrounds.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Much of the cost is probably driven by safety matters. Analysis, testing, and the inevitable liability insurance premiums. Because if little Timmy dives head first off of the top of the climbing structure while dad has his head buried in his smartphone, it is obviously the equipment maker’s fault.

  7. Posted by Al

    Analysis and testing is handled by the play equipment manufacturers. The site prep, grading, drainage, retaining walls, safety surfacing in an urban environment does cost. Throw in lighting, benches, water fountains, trash, recycling containers, signage, city required art pieces and it adds up.

    • Posted by BobN

      What you need to reach these prices is to throw in industry lobbyists writing “safety” legislation.

      • Posted by tahoejoe

        Generally “industry lobbyists” would be fighting against regulations for their industry. On the other hand, safety groups or health organizations and their lobbyist might be advocating for safer playground equipment. However, I do not think the cost of equipment is the major cost of these projects. (See name link.)

    • Posted by been there

      well put

  8. Posted by Beatrice Plotter

    Apparently 25 LED recessed lighting costs about $50 a piece, excluding the labor required to install them. I thought it only costs 50 cents each. Now I have no money left for a stripper pole.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      If they’re the vandal hardened weather proof stainless sealed units then $50 each sounds about right.

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