Proposal will fund hazardous tree care in City parks, protect parks from property damage, graffiti and illegal dumping, and enhance cleaning and landscaping services for sidewalks, plazas, medians and other public spaces
San Francisco, CA - Today, Supervisor Scott Wiener announced that, along with a community coalition, he is pursuing a package of budget enhancements designed to keep public spaces clean, well-maintained, and safe. Joining Supervisor Wiener to support these enhancements are Friends of the Urban Forest, San Francisco Beautiful, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
Over time, the City's budget investment in basic cleaning, greening, and safety services for parks and public spaces has been dramatically reduced. The proposed budget package would begin reversing these cuts. Specifically:
Doubling the size of Park Patrol ($2.6 million) to address rampant vandalism, dumping, graffiti, and other violations in city parks. Currently, Park Patrol is so dramatically under-staffed that, at any given time, only 2 officers are on duty to patrol 220 park properties. As a result, park rules are largely unenforced. Moreover, the Recreation & Park Department pays more than $1 million a year to address vandalism, dumping, and graffiti in parks.
Enhancing the Department of Public Works' ability to clean public spaces and maintain landscaped medians and plazas ($2.7 million) to address the filthy condition of many public spaces by restoring staffing to pre-recession levels and adding special cleaning crews for BART/Muni stations, which frequently stink of urine, feces, and vomit. The allocation would also increase DPW's landscaping capacity to pre-recession levels in order to improve the department's ability to maintain landscaping on medians, in plazas, and in other greened public spaces.
Enhancing Rec & Park's ability to maintain park trees and prevent them from becoming hazardous by collapsing or dropping branches ($2 million). Rec & Park currently has very low arborist staffing and only has the ability to perform routine preventive maintenance on 750 of its 130,000 trees every year. This lack of maintenance capacity has led to significant deterioration of park trees, with frequent tree collapses and dropped branches. The inadequate maintenance of park trees is a significant public safety issue, placing people and property at risk.
"Keeping our parks and public spaces clean, green, and safe is a basic municipal responsibility, yet City Hall hasn't prioritized this need in the city budget," said Supervisor Wiener. "Instead, the city has cut these functions and, despite the best efforts of our city staff, has allowed our parks and public spaces to deteriorate. It's all too common to smell or step in urine, feces, or vomit in our plazas, on our sidewalks, and in our transit stations. Our parks are being trashed due to lack of security. And, we aren't adequately maintaining our park trees and city-owned landscaping. We have a responsibility to keep our parks safe, to maintain our park trees, to clean our public spaces and transit stations, and to maintain our city landscaping. It's time to put our money where our mouth is and invest in keeping our public spaces clean, green, and safe."
Supervisor Wiener's community partners - organizations focused on the physical beauty and quality of life of San Francisco - agreed:
"This is a great opportunity to start addressing safety and security in our parks," said Matt O'Grady, Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. "After years of general fund cuts, the Recreation and Park Department badly needs more funding for these basic services to maintain our world class parks system. The Parks Alliance strongly supports this proposal."
"We are excited to support this proposal to improve the health of trees and green spaces in San Francisco," said Dan Flanagan, Executive Director of Friends of the Urban Forest. "We badly need solutions like this to ensure the vitality and survival of trees in our parks or on our streets. This proposal is a great first step in the broader citywide efforts to grow and sustain a thriving urban forest."
"It's critical to the quality of life in our neighborhoods that we continue to invest in clean, safe, and beautiful public spaces," said Kearstin Krehbiel, Executive Director of San Francisco Beautiful. "We also need to ensure that these landscaping and streetscape improvements are properly maintained so that our most beautiful public spaces thrive. The funding measures proposed by Supervisor Wiener provide our City Departments with the resources needed to keep our city clean and healthy."