Plans were filed this week for a new activation project in SF's generally drug-addled UN Plaza, in what appears to be an effort by City Hall to make some positive change and bring non-drug dealers and non-users to the plaza.
It's a bit of a stretch, looking at it currently, to imagine that UN Plaza will soon be anything but the open-air drug and stolen-goods market that it's been for years. But a section of the plaza closer to the Orpheum Theater may soon be getting a skate park, new tables for playing chess, and tables for both table tennis and Teqball — a game using a curved table that combines elements of soccer and ping-pong.
The area of the plaza that is most active with... commerce, over by the BART station entrance and the fountain, will not be affected by the plan.
The SF Standard has the first word of the plan, which it confirmed with the SF Recreation and Park Department, which oversees the plaza. The department is seeking approval from Planning to undertake the six-week project, which will involve installing granite rails and some sort of hardscape apparatus for skateboarding — which the plans apparently compare to the skate park in the Place de la Republique in Paris, seen below.
Actual design details are few at this point, but there is this diagram below showing the area of the pilot-program skate park and athletic area. The design appears to maintain space in the center of the promenade for the Heart of the City Farmer's Market.
The chess tables, Supervisor Dean Preston tells the Standard, come as a result of community input for the project. It's unclear where the Teqball idea came from. And there will reportedly be some other "athletic equipment" as well.
Per the Standard, some of the red-brick pavers in the Plaza will be removed to put in red concrete for the skate park.
This probably isn't a magic bullet for cleaning up UN Plaza, but it may be a positive step, if the park catches on. If approved, this work could start as soon as September, and supervisors seem to be motivated to do various projects like this to make parts of downtown and mid-Market more safe and wholesome.
Will any parents of teen skaters want their kids at this particular skate park?
It is ironic, no? This plan was submitted the same day the Mayor London Breed and the chief of police were having to defend a major crackdown by police on an unpermitted skateboarding event that happens every year on Dolores Street?
As Breed said in a statement, "No one... was arrested for skateboarding."
And look! The city wants to build skaters a new skate park, to make it up to them.
Rec and Parks last opened a new skate park, the Waller Street Skate Park, in October, and the department manages multiple others around the city including the popular SoMa West Skate Park, under the freeway along Division Street.
Top image: The SoMa West Skate Park via SF Public Works