En Español

If you haven’t noticed, your neighborhood park probably looks much better than it did two years ago. And, with notable exceptions, the Mission District has some of the nicer parks in the city.

At least, these are the findings of the 2010 San Francisco Playground Report Card, which was released Thursday at the Neighborhood Park Council‘s annual Play Day event. The average city playground scored a B, up from the average C+ scored in 2008.

“Every two years we work with the Rec and Park Department to grade our playgrounds as a measure of understanding what’s safe for our kids, what needs work and what just needs some pretty dire investment in terms of complete renovation,” said Meredith Thomas, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council.

District 9 — which includes the Mission, Bernal Heights and Portola — and District 1 — which covers the Richmond District — both had the highest average in 2010 with a grade of 86 percent. But considering that Mission playgrounds are at the head of the class, one big name sits at the bottom: Dolores Park.

In fact, after comparing the previous report cards from 2006 and 2008, Dolores Park has consistently gotten worse: B (2006), D (2008) and F (2010).

Juri Commons, located at San Jose Avenue and 25th Street, has similarly scored lower each year. It has dropped from a B in 2006 to a C in 2008, and it now has a D — which is considered failing.

On the other hand, every other park in the Mission District has either improved or stayed consistent. Most notably, Garfield Square scored an A each year, while Kid Power Park, Parque Niños Unidos, and Mission Playground scored an A or B each year.

The honors for most improved go to Franklin Square and Potrero Hill Playground, both scoring an F in 2006 and an A in 2010.

Beginning in 2006, the San Francisco Playground Report Card has been compiled every two years from a public survey conducted by the Neighborhood Parks Council and the Recreation and Park Department. The results are used to target and improve playgrounds scoring a C or lower.

“A C-grade is not too bad — I would still take my kids there,” said Sunya Ojure, the Neighborhood Parks Council Program Assistant who coordinated the 2010 survey. “There are a lot of factors, but the playground still functions. With a D- or an F-grade, there is chance for a serious injury.”

The survey consists of several questions grouped into eight main categories:

  1. Signage (Are signs such as “No Smoking” or “No Dogs” posted and free of graffiti?)
  2. Fencing & Gates (Are fences and gates functional and free of holes?)
  3. Ground Surface (Is sand loose or is rubber surfacing free of holes or mold and moss?)
  4. Cleanliness (Is play area free of litter, debris, et cetera?)
  5. Equipment (Are swings in good condition or are play structures free of peeling or chipped paint?)
  6. Amenities (Are there amenities such as lighting, slides, water fountains, et cetera?)
  7. Surface Material (What kind of surfacing is used around equipment: sand, rubber tiles or poured-in rubber?)
  8. Additional Information (Is anything missing from equipment or does the playground layout allow for easy supervision?)

Follow Us

Kimberly is currently a journalism major and business minor at San Francisco State University. Come May 2010, she will be moving on to bigger and better things, i.e. living and breathing journalism, not just studying it. But for now you can usually find her at City Hall every Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meetings. Having lived her entire life in San Francisco, she itches to travel far and wide, most likely to be convinced that every other city and town pales in comparison.

Join the Conversation


  1. In Republican America, every public space and event must be organized for children.

    This is San Francisco. How about acknowledging some parks for adults?

    votes. Sign in to vote
  2. Actually, only one criteria is about that: Signage. The rest are about the basic upkeep of the park.

    votes. Sign in to vote
  3. Adults need ‘playgrounds’ too! Dolores Park is the only park I have been to in the mission and it is a great place for adults to hang out and have a picnic… perhaps it is not the best place for kids… but they can go to all the other places!

    votes. Sign in to vote
  4. Many of the criteria seem to be about controlling and limiting what people can do at the park. Aren’t parks supposed to be about emphasizing letting it all hang out? An oasis of wildness and chaos within the strictures and rules of the surrounding cement civilization?

    Who goes to Dolores park and thinks about signage or whether fences are free of holes?

    These criteria are fundamentally flawed because they emphasize city control of the parks rather than the park-goers enjoyment of the parks.

    votes. Sign in to vote
Leave a comment
Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *