These San Francisco Parks Aren’t So Accessible, Grand Jury Says

San Francisco is full of truly amazing parks, from sprawling Golden Gate Park to vibrant Dolores Park to Twin Peaks and its breathtaking views of the city.

But a new report from San Francisco’s civil grand jury says that while most of the city’s 220 parks meet high standards, the city isn’t doing enough to tell the public which parks might pose safety concerns for people. , especially those with physical limitations.

“No one wants to trip and fall while walking in a park,” the report says. “But for many, especially for the disabled, the elderly, parents with pushchairs or anyone with a walking aid, finding a park to access can be difficult. The website (of the Department of Recreation and Parks) does not indicate if and how each park is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), nor does it contain information on the surface condition of the park for movement of pedestrians or wheelchairs.

The report identifies what it calls faulty trails in Buena Vista, Lincoln and Brooks parks, where images show rutted and uneven paved paths, and notes that “wheelchair users cannot visit the mini-park at all. Hyde and Vallejo park as there is no ramp available beside the concrete stairs.

The Recreation and Parks Department’s website describes the 0.15-acre mini-park as “a postage-stamp-sized gem nestled in the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood.”

The civil grand jury is a volunteer-run government oversight committee that conducts investigations and makes recommendations based on its findings. In the executive summary of its “Safe and Accessible Parks for All” report, the jury says park visitors don’t have the information they need because the park service doesn’t publicize which parks have accessible trails. and those where the trails are in poor condition. .

The jury offers a number of recommendations, including using the Parks Department’s website to provide information on accessibility, status of trail conditions, and city park audits and ratings. .

The report cites the California State Parks website as an example of how the San Francisco Parks Agency can add an “accessibility communication standard” to its own website. The state park system shows what accessible activities are available at parks, instead of requiring the public to call the park department for this information.

Currently, the Comptroller’s Office is responsible for conducting an annual maintenance and cleaning audit of the San Francisco park, according to the report. Park surveyors complete slips divided into 12 features, including children’s play areas, table areas, restrooms and hardscapes, which refer to asphalt, paved paths and hiking trails .

The report cards go into a database maintained by the comptroller’s office, which calculates park maintenance scores based on quarterly reports. Low ratings mean that the overall condition of a park is poor. The jury recommends that these ratings be shared on the park service website and that the hardscape category be expanded to rate trail condition.

The civil grand jury demanded answers within 60 days from the San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks, the Recreation and Parks Commission and the Comptroller’s Office.

In closing, the jury says that parks are “invaluable resources” for the public.

“Parks allow residents and visitors to connect with natural wonders and open spaces. Parks should be safe and welcoming and bring people together,” the report says. “These changes will improve the park user experience and make the parks more accessible, equitable and enjoyable for everyone.”

Kellie Hwang is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

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