Temperatures soared to 73 degrees on Saturday and Dolores Park was, as you'd expect, poppin' off. As you'd also expect, in the hungover Sunday morning haze, the park didn't look as lovely as it does in the above image.
A Sunday cleanup crew arriving at 6:30 a.m. told Mission Local there was so much trash strewn about the park — food, cups, bottles, and even odds and ends like a small folding picnic table — that they were unlikely to finish by the end of their shift, at 10:30 a.m.
SF Rec and Parks tells SFist that their gardeners eventually spent 44 hours cleaning up the park, using 460 trash bags to collect litter that didn't make its way across the finish line to trash cans on the perimeter.
The crew's theory — with which meteorologists would surely agree — is that any time the temperatures surpass 65, the park is sure to be trashed the next day. Indeed, a Rec and Park trash crew employee told Mission Local that there was more trash left by park-goers on Sunday, another warm day, but that this morning's cleanup was comparably not as bad.
On the plus side, SFist witnessed Recology coming by to empty the overflowing bins at the park's edges around 5 p.m. Saturday, and there appear to be more bins these days than there were last year, so that's an improvement. We've complained before that Rec and Parks may be asking a bit much by not providing adequate places to toss trash in the first place.
The Recreation and Parks Department's Director of Policy and Public Affairs Sarah Madland tells SFist that the issues with trash experience at Dolores Park "are not issues of infrastructure" — bins for recycling and trash now line the park, although they haven't always. Instead, "this is about entitled and appalling behavior. Kids know not to litter before they can even read. SF Rec and Park continues to educate park users about not bringing glass into the Park and not leaving their trash, but ultimately it’s up to them to be responsible."
According to the Love Dolores campaign, a program launched in collaboration with area merchants to encourage a better culture around park cleanup, tax payers foot the bill for $750,000 in garbage left at Dolores Park.
"SF Rec and Park spent millions of dollars upgrading Dolores Park to accommodate the thousands of people that show up on sunny weekends," Madland tells SFist. "This includes increasing waste capacity by 20,000 gallons, and increasing the amount of toilets to 27 (prior to the renovation there were only four)."
Robert Brust, director of the nonprofit advocacy group Dolores Park Works, has been having some version of this conversation for years. After all this time, "What I really think we need is to have some park employees in the park on the very busy weekends, later in the day," he tells SFist. "They don't need to be writing citations, they just need to be telling people how they can be helpful." That said, more than 12 employees were onsite on Saturday including 5 park rangers, Rec and Parks says.
Brust likens the scene to "a big humungous party — you just need someone in the room to keep it tidy." A few more responsible hosts/chaperones at the next shindig would be appreciated, is basically what he's saying.