Illustration by Claudia Escobar.

In the most recent episode of Parks enforcement drama at Dolores Park, we’re learning about the destructive power of inappropriate napping.

Michael Libertin, a three-year San Francisco and former Mission district resident, was enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon in a hammock he had slung between two trees when he was issued a citation under Parks Code 4.05, which prohibits “malicious defacement, damage or destruction of real or personal property.” One of the parks officers, Libertin reports, was none other than J. Chan of recent Facebook-video fame. (We would caution that Mission Local has not been able to independently confirm this.)

Libertin isn’t going to take this lying down. He’ll contest the $192 ticket, as he contends that his sleepy Saturday afternoon was (a) not malicious and (b) not damaging to the tree. In fact, the straps he used to hang the hammock are specifically considered “tree friendly.” Moreover, he went back and photographed the trees a day later to show how conspicuously intact they remain. Libertin has done a little independent research about the kind of trees (olive) he was hanging out between and found they are particularly resistant to wear and tear, but has also emailed a professor of forestry for further information.

Photos courtesy of Michael Libertin.

But to some extent it’s also a matter of principle.

“It sounds nerdy, but I really like my hammock and I like going to park and taking naps,” Libertin said. “So I kind of want some sort of indication that there’s nothing wrong with doing that.”

So, is is it actually against the rules? A representative from Rec & Park was not immediately available for comment on the question of potentially malicious hammock-hangers. But as we’ve learned from the aforementioned Facebook video of an argument about the legitimacy of bringing tables to the park, household items or structural alterations are not permitted in the park.

According to parks code section 4.06, climbing or lying on trees is also prohibited in the parks. Slackliners have also run into trouble with parks enforcement before. Only balloons, signs, piñatas, streamers and “etc.” are expressly forbidden from being affixed to trees. For his part, Libertin says he certainly wouldn’t have hung the hammock had there been signage indicating a rule against it.

For now, he says he’ll probably hold off on hammock-lounging, at least in Dolores Park. Libertin said he understands the efforts to make the park more kid-friendly, reduce littering, and discourage illegal activity – but isn’t clear on what that has to do with his naps.

“I could see why, as a politician or someone who lives near the park, you wouldn’t want to see people smoking pot and smoking cigarettes and drinking,” Libertin said. “But I don’t think citing people in hammocks is really gonna cut down on people drinking beer.”

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  1. The case in point here is that the Parks Code 4.05, prohibits “malicious defacement, damage or destruction of real or personal property.” is expressly stating the word, “malicious” in the code… The hanging of a hammock, or climbing of a tree itself, is not malicious. In fact, the city has to prove malice and malicious intent, along with defacement, damage and/or destruction of the property. If the city, and parks and rec department can not prove malice, which the burden is completely on them, especially since there are photos that show no destruction, to prove that the person involved and cited had intent of maliciousness and intent to destroy or deface the property, then the case and ticket holds zero water and no fine.

    This type of proof has been challenged by riders of Muni who’s clipper card did not properly tag, and were cited. Per those rules, the clipper and Muni terms expressly used “malicious intent” as to why a fare evading would result in a ticket. The agency must prove not only maliciousness in the person, but that the person who used a clipper card, had intent to not pay, let alone combined in one event. The case I read, had the ticket thrown out because neither the agency, Clipper or the judge or officer could prove the person who was fined not only had no intent to pay (considering there was money on the clipper card but did not read on the machine), but that the person was malicious and had ill will toward the agency to not pay.

    Same case here – the burden of proof is on the city and parks to prove that the person had not only malice to deface and destroy but also the intent to do so, even if they were a maliciously defy the code, if they didnt deface or destroy, the case is thrown out the window.
    The prosecution, aka The City and Parks Department must have the burden of proof as well, just like the regular justice system has to prove a defendant guilty. One final thing – the use of the park however, even if there are no signs, is a tacit agreement to understand and know all the terms of use of the park. While no signs are expressly posted, general rules and common ground is in play here.

  2. UNBELIEVABLE. Pay your fine and quit your entitled whining! Dolores Park is not your personal playground. These people are making me wish the park was closed once and for all.

    1. No, it’s not a personal playground, but it IS a public park, paid for with our tax money. Fines make sense for destruction of public property, but a hammock? Are blankets destroying the grass or runaway frisbees maliciously ripping leaves off the trees? Come on, in what would would you want people to be fined for napping in a hammock in a park?

      1. If kids are not allowed to climb the trees, I don’t know why twenty something year old Google engineers feel entitled to nap in them. We don’t need signs all over the place laying out the rules, we need adults to stop acting like spoiled brats and use a little sense.

        1. Imagine the hate that Sara B has to feel on a daily basis to be this f’ing mad about another person trying to nap outside in a park.

          Don’t be like Sara B. Let the hate go.