Skater teens, in the Mission. By Keli Dailey

Want proof that San Francisco is a skate town?

The new park underneath the Central Freeway, between Valencia and Otis streets near Zeitgeist bar, has been teeming with skaters since opening July 1.

“It’s hella packed,” as a young Mission skater, and therefore expert skate critic, told us yesterday afternoon. Once an empty Caltrans lot and now a smoothed over expanse with a concrete-and-aluminum skin, the new park is, “So much better than most skate parks,” said the 19-year-old skate critic, called “Migo.”

“They shoulda called it ‘Mission Skate Park,’ though.”

Called SoMa West Skate Park, and the second official skate park in the Mission, this street sports venue has been in the works since 2009. Some $2.25 million went into its creation – skate legend Tony Hawk chipped in. The city agreed to lease the land from Caltrans for 20 years.

Migo the Critic wore a cap from Dirty Pigeon (a Mission skate shop). He was with four skater teens on 21st Street, about a mile from SoMa West. They were waiting for the early crowds to thin before returning to the new park.

One skater said they had jumped the fence and “sessioned” while the park was under construction. They all had shredded during normal hours, too. And they praised SoMa West’s design, by Newline Skateparks, Inc. The park’s features cater to both skater camps – those who like vert skating and those who like street skating. (One is more about ramps, the other is about tricks, like you’d do in public spaces.)

“I’d give it (an) 8.5,” said Mateo Garcia, 17, another authority and friend of Migo’s.

The new skatepark. By Kyle Destiche

There’s something already adding to the new park’s cool-factor, Mateo said: There’ve been sightings of skate icons there — Rumors place thrashers officially sponsored by skate companies at SoMa, like Frank Gerwer, backed by Anti-Hero.

(And if you’re a pet owner in the area, you might think it’s cool SoMa has a $1 million, adjacent dog park.)

There are a handful of skate parks in San Francisco. The first was built in Hunters Point in the 1970s — the design reflects that. Called “The Dish,” it’s shaped like a big, shallow serving bowl.

John McLaren Park, in the Excelsior District, got the city’s second skate park. Crocker-Amazon is just off Geneva Avenue, beside the new soccer fields. There’s Balboa, a Mission Terrace skate park made of wood.

In the Mission, at 25th and Utah streets, is Potrero del Sol/La Raza skate park, the biggest in San Francisco. It’s Migo the Critic’s favorite. On a 10-point scale, he gave it a “10.5.”

When asked whether San Francisco is a skate mecca or not, talk turned to its street skateboarding. The group approves of  “smashing down” Mission Street, or “smashing up and down” 24th Street – a flat road amenable to wheels.

“San Francisco is known for skating,” Migo said. “Because of the hills and stuff.”

Mateo added: “This is most definitely a skate town. And now a skate neighborhood!”

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  1. I live in the Mission and know for a fact that most of the kids are not locals. Just like Mission Local, its from someplace else. Posing. Placing the noise of a skatepark under that section of freeway in that densely residential mixed use area was utterly irresponsible. Over and over again we see city agencies using really poor judgement on our streets and in our parks with poorly thought out and often downright dangerous projects. Look at where that freeway touches down on Market. What a disaster. Or the empty, ugly red traffic lanes popping up all over town. And this. The skatepark over by Bayshore Blvd is great because it is in a large space with a lot of noise already and plenty of room for the skate noise to disperse. Adding another just a short ride away from it was foolish and a waste of money.

  2. I was originally a big fan of the skatepark. It gave kids something to do, and was an improvement over a parking lot filled with vagrants.

    But last night, a group of 6 skaters were drinking and smoking pot on my neighbors stoop around midnight. After he nicely asked them to leave twice, they assaulted hitting him in the face with skateboard.

    It became a huge fight with lots of neighbors coming down to get the kids off the homeowner. Luckily, the cops showed up and arrested most of the skaters.

    Elgin Park is a quiet street filled with young kids under 10. This sort of violence is unwelcome and doesn’t belong here.

    I realize that the vast majority of skaters are not like this, but the few violent ones are ruining thing for everyone. If this continues, don’t be surprised if people start agitating to get rid of the skate park.

    1. we had a similar incident a few nights ago on stevenson st involving skateboarders. we never had this kind of violence on our street, even with the homeless. personally, if i had to choose, i choose the homeless. at least i can have empathy for them. making space for young white men to terrorize minorities, disabled and the elderly in a working class neighborhood such as this is inexcuseable.

    2. Hi there
      I’ve been involed with many skateparks over the years here in the uk and I have never heard or seen such things that you have suggested other than the noise but like the guys before you said you live by a free way there’s going to be noise
      Don’t get me wrong though I understand where your coming from with what your saying about disrespect of your property as that is out of order by anyone’s standards but you can’t punish everyone for the actions of a few
      Maybe the local authority there needs to set up a meeting with the residents , skateboarders and police and then maybe you can all work together to solve this problem cause if you out right try and remove the skatepark you will only upset those who worked so hard to put it there and are the 99.9 percent that are law abiding citizens
      I hope this problem is resolved in a peaceful manner
      If you wish to contact me you can find me on twitter @laceyskate1988

  3. HA!!! guess all you folks above are new to the once fill junkie hood or stopped partying long ago cause youre old now. would you rather face an ellis act and have to move or wait you nought in the neighborhood thinking that it was going to be “up and coming” ha! dont worry it’ll get there…
    Hey by the way you live in a CITY!!! I know you’re used to the sound of the freeway
    Your better start worrying about your lungs instead of the noise your haven’t become adjusted to yet

  4. this skatepark is a blight to this neighborhood. the skateboarders are loud, disrespectful–often peeing on our houses, and loud at all hours of the day and night. within the first three buildings on this street we have a due-any-day pregnant woman, a person living with chronic illness, an elderly woman, and a handful of children. NO ONE can sleep. no one on this street, at least not in the buildings nearest the constant noise and blight is enjoying this park. in fact, this park gets rated in negative points from us. we hate it. we hate the trash, the public urination, the uptick in graffiti, the noise. we hate it all. if you are a public skateboarding icon (or local blog) and you condone this, i rate you in negative points as well. we really wanted to like it but the entitled, disrespectful attitudes of the skateboarders has ruined it for us.

  5. It’s unfortunate that this story hasn’t spoken to those of us who live next door to the skate park. I had welcomed this project for the local kids/skaters until I experienced the direct impact of the skating noise and how much disregard the skaters have for closing hours. They don’t seem to understand the impact the loud skateboarding under the freeway is having on those who live on Stevenson Street when they continue to trespass after hours, hop the fence, and skate at all hours of the night and early in morning when the skate park is supposed to be closed. I was happy that a skate park was going in for the local skateboarders until they started trespassing and skating at all hours, doing skateboard tricks in front of our homes, skating fast down our narrow sidewalks almost knocking some of us over when we try to walk, and then skate constantly down the cobblestone, as well as now peeing in front of our buildings because SFDPW didn’t put in a bathroom, smoke pot and roll joints in the skate park, throw their trash all over the skate park and all over Stevenson street. This is still a residential street and they should understand the negative impact their actions are having on those of us who are cool with them skating during skate park open hours, but losing sleep when their trespassing at night and echoing all night under the freeway. We need to work & sleep to pay the property taxes, which helps pay for such a luxury for these kids & skaters, and they need to understand that this is a shared street, not just for their hobby. We need to work together. But for most of the neighbors on Stevenson Street we’re suffering. Videos on YouTube here: and here: illustrate how loud it is for the rest of us when they trespass after hours and skate constantly down Stevenson Street. Skate away, just please do it during the skate parks 9AM-9PM open hours so we can sleep and live in some peace.

    1. Thanks for your comments. We did more of a review from the skaters’ perspective this time. But your feedback has informed us, and we’ll follow up with how the park-adjacent residents feel about SoMa West. How might we contact you? We’re at missionlocalATgmailDOTcom

  6. The skate park has been hell for this neighborhood even before it opened! Skaters have trespassed even during construction! They have no regard for neighbors, skate up and down sidewalks-I even saw one skater boy almost knocked over a pregnant woman- pee on residential buildings and skate through the dog park that clearly says no skating allowed. This neighborhood asset has turned into a living nightmare! All we have ever asked is for a little consideration and get zero cooperation.

    1. I’m really surprised to hear all the negative comments. I’ve worked in this neighborhood for 10 years and think this is a fantastic addition! Before the skate park there was literally no pleasant public space in the entire neighborhood. No place to go eat lunch, no place for dog owners to take their dogs, etc. Now there is a dog park and a skate park and they are both really nice. It sounds like the two biggest complaints in these comments are the noise and the lack of a bathroom. Well, the noise is complimented by the highway traffic and the Zeitgeist partiers. You live under a freeway, did you expect it to be quiet? As for the bathroom, I agree that they should have installed one for the kids, but that is not the reason you have poop on your doorstep. That would be the chronically homeless that live on Gough, Otis, Mission, Valencia and McCoppin. The poop will be there whether the park is or not. It’s too bad so many people are focusing on the negative.
      My favorite comment is the guy walking with the video. He literally goes to the park right when it closes and complaints people are still here. And rather than ask them politely to please stop making so much noise, he passive aggressively videotapes them . Way to go neighbor!

      1. with all due respect, working is not the same thing as living. you are a visitor from 9-5, you don’t have any idea what happens here before or after that. if you did, you would know that a very dedicated group of residents worked thier asses off cleaning this street up.

        zeitgeist is actually a fantastic neighbor, considering that they are a bar who hosts live music from time to time. in the years that i have lived here we have called to report a noise disturbance just once for zeigeist. in the 2 weeks since the skatepark has been opened (and even before since they constantly hop the fence) we have called at least once a DAY.

        yes, we do live under a freeway and its noisy. i will take the freeway noise over the sound of skateboard wheels and boards echoing from the skatepark ANY DAY. just because we live under the freeway doesn’t give anyone the right to make our lives hell. and that is precisely what LIVING here is like now.

        in terms of the homeless, if you LIVED here then you would know that this same group of dedicated residents has worked extremely hard and made tremendous progress cleaning up the street. we don’t have a problem with encampments and homeless and we haven’t in many months, to a year in fact. if you LIVED here you would know that.

        also, the commenter didn’t say we had a problem with poop. we have a problem with skateboarders constantly pissing all over our buildings. the street reeks of urine. even at the height of the problem with the homeless i never walked down my street and held my nose. not like this.

        neighbors are washing thier buildings and doorways with bleach every day to get rid of the smell but it still lingers because the skateboarders keep peeing.

        you say its a shame that we focus on the negative…what exactly is the positive in this situation?? no one wanted a freeway overpass, but we got stuck with one. then the city said they would make it up to us by allotting money to mitigate blight. a skatepark was proposed, which was vehemently opposed by the residents on this street, but a skateboarding lobby threw a bunch of money at the city. now we are stuck with one, our houses are covered in piss, fights are happening on our streets, our property is being damaged, and we can’t sleep.

        what positive aspect of this situation should i focus on?

        1. Typical hype crap. I for one worked hard getting this Paarl built for the kids. We organized like a neighborhood association and worked hard making it right . The city skimped a little and need yo fix some aspects. Your comment we are a lobby group is stupid and ignorant. We threw NO money at it. Sorry but you got to live with kids and others on SF

      2. wow, did you even read the comment before you posted? It specificlaly states that skateboarders are peeing in people’s houses, not pooping. Also, by your logic, why the heck would anyone with any brains or common sense think that putting a skatepark under a freeway was a good idea? We’re not focusing on the negative so much as the other side of the coin, if you will. Yes this is supposedly a great benefit to the (skateboard) community. It has also been a challenge and a burden on the neighborhood. As for your comment about “ask[ing] them politely to please stop making such noise,” sure, why don’t you give that a shot and see how well it goes. I bet the homeless folks are getting a better night’s sleep than those of us who live on Stevenson Street.