By ANRICA DEB
Garfield pool at 26th and Harrison streets is the city’s third most popular public spot for swimming, but the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department was planning to cut its hours from 15 hours each weekday down to just six in the middle of the day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
That proposal would have eliminated the chance for nine-to-five working adults to swim, and it’d make after-school swim practice impossible. Meanwhile, other pools like North Beach would have retained more of their hours.
A small but fierce group of swimmers and parents successfully changed the city’s plan. After receiving phone calls, letters and emails, the department decided to cut fewer hours and rearrange them.
“The truth of it is, we’ve lost hours,” said Jane Willson, who swims in the mornings at Garfield. But Willson was still smiling as she said it, since the reduced hours will allow for most users to continue swimming.
Willson, along with many others users, were relieved to find that their pools would be available through the summer.
According to some of the swimmers as well as the parks and recreation department, both David Campos and Bevan Dufty also rallied to save pool hours at Mission Pool on 19th and Linda streets, and Garfield Pool on 26th and Harrison streets.
The city’s nine pools cost about $4 million but pull in only around $400,000 in revenue, according to Lisa Seitz, communications director for the parks and recreation department.
The cuts in pool hours were part of an effort to juggle a 25 percent reduction in funding from the city.
The parks and recreation department needs to cut $11.5 million from its budget, and officials have been struggling to find ways to balance their budget. Other options that have been considered include charging dog walkers for permits and lowering the aquatic programs’ pool temperature.
“We haven’t acted formally on that,” Seitz said about the temperature change. “The other thing we’re looking at is we’ve got a couple grants on using solar power.”
Seventy-six people will be laid off from the department, but none of the aquatic staff will go.
The prices for swimming lessons, pool use and monthly passes will all increase as well, but the city has yet to approve the fee hikes.
New hours for Mission District pools are as follows starting June 13:
Mon.-Fri., 6am-2pm and 3:30-9pm; Sat., 9am-5pm; and Sun., 10am-2pm.
Tues.-Fri., 11am-7pm; Sat., 10am-4pm; and Sun., 10am-2pm