The Helen Diller playground in Dolores Park was vandalized just days after opening in April

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle reported about the vandalism at Dolores Park and other recreation areas.

“It took vandals just one day to mark the new playground with graffiti, and only a few weeks more for instruments in the whimsical music garden there to be damaged, most notably with the removal of six of the 14 metal keys from the popular xylophone,” according to the Chronicle.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes Dolores Park, is upset about it and plans to raise the issue during the Mayor’s monthly question time on Tuesday. Wiener is “baffled” because, apparently, the San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney know who the perpetrators are, yet are reluctant to press charges.

Here is the full question, via the Board of Supervisors Agenda.

Mr. Mayor: Only a few days after the opening of the wonderful new children’s playground at Dolores Park, neighbors awoke one morning to find that it had been covered in graffiti. Since then, etchings, damaged features, and other acts of vandalism have been perpetrated against this beautiful community asset. Similarly, at Duboce Park, only days after its ribbon cutting, it too was covered in graffiti. You and I were both at these opening celebrations as they served as testaments to what can happen when neighbors, businesses, and the City family come together to make our city friendlier and more inviting to children. Sadly, the City has been unable to ensure adequate protection of these valuable assets. It is baffling to me that in many cases, the Police Department and our District Attorney know who the perpetrators are, but yet are reluctant to press charges. This is unacceptable to me. The Department of Public Works spends more than $20M annually on graffiti abatement along our streets, and the Recreation and Parks Department spends millions more. These wasted tax dollars could be used to repave our streets, hire recreation managers, and keep our landscaping beautiful and healthy. Yet, year after year, we divert these funds to repair the work inflicted by vandals. We need to send a strong message that this type of antisocial behavior will not be tolerated in San Francisco. Mr. Mayor, will you help me ensure that the Police Department arrests these perpetrators and that the District Attorney files charges against them? Will you also help ensure that we have adequate law enforcement – SFPD and Park Patrol – along our streets and in our parks? (Supervisor Wiener, District 8 )

We will update this story as we get more information.

Follow Us

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s hard enough to catch these sneaky vandals, so when they are caught, they should be prosecuted. What is the explanation from the DA’s office as to why they are not being charged? Is Gascon simply following in the footsteps of Kamala Harris and letting these “quality of life” criminials off the hook. This is why such crimes are so rampant, is that there is zero enforcement, and consequently, the police no longer bother to pursue these types of crimes.

  2. Nice to know that Sup. Wiener is so concerned about the safety of the City’s playgrounds. I’d like to take him on a tour of the Tenderloin playgrounds next, where there is not only graffiti and equipment damage, but drug use happening in and around the parks. When I did playground report cards for the SF Parks Alliance at 2 TL parks this year, I found drug paraphernalia, broken water pipes, warped flooring, hazardous play structures, and untended planted areas. We routinely report these issues to Rec & Park but they go on the back burner because of the neighborhood. A multi-million dollar playground in the hipster Mission? No one stands for damage there, not even a single dog invading the playspace.

    1. Allyson: perhaps you could contact YOUR supervisor (Jane Kim?) and have her ask the same question as Spvsr. Weiner at the next Mayor’s appearance at BOS about the parks in your area.

    2. Jane Kim is the Supervisior who covers the Tenderloin. Contact her and invite her on a tour.

    3. Talk to Jane Kim about that. She should be representing. At least you don’t have Chris Daly there anymore — his idea was to keep the Tenderloin crappy so it wouldn’t get too gentrified — remember when he was against planting trees there because then the neighborhood would get nicer? That’s the Progressive mentality, and it seems to spill over to the playgrounds.

  3. I’d bet that the same thing is happening with park vandalism as is happening with street garbage dumping, that the relevant city employees are loathe to report the crimes because these crimes make work for them to do and they don’t want to risk losing their jobs for lack of work.

  4. I went to park planning meetings and asked what steps were going to be taken to prevent the inevitable attempts at vandalism in Dolores Playground. I was met with a pretty universal willful ignorance about it; a “let’s just hope it doesn’t happen” or “whaddaya gonna do?” mentality.
    I dunno – closing the park at night? Inward facing motion-triggered lights/cameras? A security guard? Seems like we could have a park patrol at night and it would be cheaper than the cost of dealing with vandalism.

  5. SF is a city of almost a million people. Crime and vandalism are bound to happen with such a high population. Maybe hiring a few security guards at night to patrol the cities most used and popular parks is a good idea. Definetly a lot cheaper then the 20 million we spend a year cleaning up graffitti. Even one security guard at Mission Dolores at night is bound to detere crime and graffitti and could actually help catch and arrest some of these taggers.

  6. I think SFPD has the answer. The latest all-night Dolores Park twist is for the police to sit in their cars and yell at people through their amplified speakers from inside their cars if they see a shadow in the park. Megaphones blasting after midnight so we all can hear (except for the people allowing this, who can afford elsewhere). How much are they paid? For what? Now they are inhibited to get out of their cars and do their jobs? Add that to the continuous bleeped sirens and skidding wheels all night. Bravo. What an accomplishment.

Leave a comment

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