Parking on the park

Rec-Park proposes facilities for more food trucks in Dolores Park

In a steering committee meeting for the Dolores Park Rehabilitation Project on August 4, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) officials stunned the committee with a proposal to bring in more food trucks. The move came just two days after a ballot measure that would have banned more such leases in city parks was removed from the fall ballot.

The proposal included putting in a "cement pad," with electrical and water hookups, where food trucks would park and sell their fare. It was just the latest in a series of controversial attempts to monetize park resources to raise funds for RPD (see "Parks Inc.," July 12). But the steering committee reeled at the idea, worried it would permanently harm the image of Dolores Park.

"It was a surprise. It really hadn't come up before," said Rachel Herbert of Dolores Park Café, a steering committee member. Many of the neighbors don't like the idea of commercializing the park because there's no infrastructure to support it, she said.

"It personally made me question if the steering committee meetings are really just a way for Rec & Park to say, 'We reached out to the community,'" said Herbert. The rehabilitation project is in its early stages of design and development, with a predicted completion date of April 2014.

There's already one semi-permanent food truck in the park — the La Cocina-incubated, generator-powered Chaac-Mool truck — which is parked in the main park entrance. "We felt it would be irresponsible to ignore discussing a place for more food trucks in the new design," said Jake Gilchrist, the park rehabilitation project manager.

"There were a lot of members in the room that didn't want this to happen," said steering committee member Robert Brust of the nonprofit Dolores Park Works. Brust said the argument over the proposal lasted all of five minutes before landscape architect Steve Cancian, employed by RPD to facilitate the meetings, "took it off the table."

But it doesn't look like they're willing to give it up, said Brust. "The fight over the 'commercialization' of the park is at a stalemate right now," he said. "Rec & Park has always sold stuff—they're just trying to capitalize on it a little more now."

Despite the steering committee's obvious and immediate discontent with the idea to create a cemented, permanent space for food trucks, RPD officials say they are continuing to include the idea in community discussions. But they say they are open to suggestions.

"At the end of the day, it's the community's park," RPD spokesperson Connie Chan told us. "We understand that whatever vision that we have, it needs to be with the community."

The meeting came just two days after members of the Board of Supervisors killed a previously approved ballot measure that had been written by the group Take Back Our Parks, which had been severely criticized by RPD, Mayor Ed Lee, and supporters of the department's privatization efforts. John Rizzo, a member of that group, expects RPD to move ahead with the proposal for Dolores Park.

"They never change something because of public opposition," Rizzo said. "It's the same stamp they use all over the city. They come up with these plans to make money and then they unveil the plans to the public."

Rizzo suggested that the public contact San Francisco supervisors and the mayor to be heard regarding the privatization of parks, because "the [Recreation and Park] Commission is deaf ears." Either way, Herbert said, significant changes are in store for Dolores Park, including the possibility of putting in a 14-foot paved road for vehicles. "I just really was kind of sad when I left that meeting. I don't know if anyone's really going to be able to make a difference. It seems like we're in danger of it being built," she said. "It's not gonna be our sweet little Dolores Park anymore."



Posted by Richard on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:19 am

Say it. Say it loud. I"ve been saying it for what; 2 years? Here it is:


Say it. Get used to it.

Right they are going to put a food court in Dolores Park unless we stop them.

Posted by Chicken John on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:28 am

Can't wait.

Posted by Dave on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:40 am

You say a lot of things that aren't true.

Posted by redbearded on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:48 am

SO interesting Chicken John who is related to the revolution cafe and the owner of Dolores Park Cafe both close to Dolores Park, are soooo against Food Trucks in the park - not for themselves, but to protect the park from being commercialized by very small businesses.

Did you ever go to any park in Europe or even New York?

There are beautiful parks with services that are provided to the visitors - it is amazing and fun to hang out there. Nobody stops you to bring your own fried chicken if you want to.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 07, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

Oh brother.... This again.
Get your facts straight. The Chaac Mool truck is NOT parked at the "Main Entrance" to the park. It's located on an existing piece of paved land next to the dumpsters.
Also, A proposed small patch of land at the faaaar corner of the park (at 18th & Church by the Muni stop I believe) does NOT translate to "ZOMG!!!! THEY'RE TEARING DOWN OUR SWEET PRECIOUS DOLORES PARK AND BUILDING A WALMART THERE!!!!"
I'm surprised you guys are still fixating on such a relatively small aspect of the proposed changes. The food truck spot is teeny compared to the Big Ass astro turf soccer field they want to put in at fixie flats. Where's the outrage over that... bro???

I agree, The amount of improvements that need to be done should minimally affect the way the park looks and is used. There is no need to redesign the entire park when all the really needs to happen is some re-grading, drainage and irrigation improvements, ADA improvements and better bathrooms. That said. there are opportunities to enhance the park experience. Like it or not, people sell shit in the park. I don't see the harm in providing an out of the way spot for permitted trucks to hook up and sell tacos to people on a busy summer day.

Posted by Dave on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:39 am

The way Rec & Park (and The City of SF for letting them get away with it) has taken advantage of a 2008 vote by San Franciscans to install the artificial turf that's "planted" in ground-up tires in City parks should really be the subject of a massive lawsuit.

Here's the story: In 2008, SF voters approved an "improve the parks" $130 million bond initiative that said NOTHING about taking out the grass in parks and replacing it with artificial turf. (The name of it was "the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond.")

SF voters thought they were just voting to improve the parks while keeping the grass in all the parks. But Rec & Park used that vote as justification for replacing the grass in the City's parks (including GG Park) with artificial turf "planted" in ground-up tires.

Why would they want to do that? Well, former mayor Gavin Newsom had a strong friendship with the late rightwing, Republican billionaire Donald Fisher. In the previous few years prior to the 2008 bond vote, Fisher had set-up an organization called the City Fields Foundation which advocated for replacing the grass in parks with artificial turf "planted" in ground-up tires.

As soon as the 2008 parks bond passed, the City Fields Foundation (CFF) was immediately working with R&P to go around to all the City playgrounds and even GG Park (where the 7 acre soccer fields are in the western half) to take out the grass and replace it with the artificial turf. CFF would provide the artificial turf but the City (the R&P) would pay private contractors millions to install the stuff using the money from the 2008 bond.

(questions I can't help but ask: did CFF have any financial connection to the contractors getting these contracts??? Or did Newsom or Ginsburg or Buell, a former developer???)

Since Newsom was good buddies with Fisher (amazing how tight Newsom is with so many rightwingers, but I digress), his administration apparently gave the go ahead for his R&P to work with Fisher's CFF to use the 2008 vote as an excuse to replace the grass in the City's parks (including GG Park) with artificial turf EVEN THOUGH the bond initiative didn't authorize that and they were using the bond money to do it (I call that corruption).

The present R&P General Manager, Phil Ginsburg, was appointed to his R&P position shortly after he resigned as Newsom's Chief of Staff (even though he had no experience with R&P or any parks organization - he came to SF from Pennsylvania, where he was from, to go to lawschool).

Mark Buell, the President of the R&P, was also appointed by Newsom.

So via Newsom and Ginsburg, San Franciscans have an organization (CFF) started by a rightwing Republican billionaire (and now run by his 3 sons, each of whom is either a billionaire or close to it) controlling what happens to their parks, including having the grass replaced with plastic artificial turf "planted" in ground-up tires (2 to 3 pounds of the stuff per square foot) even though they never voted for this.

In GG Park at the 7 acre soccer fields, assuming 3 pounds of ground-up tires per square foot, that works out to over 450 tons of used tires Ginsburg's R&P wants to dump in GG Park - all to satisfy the wishes of a late rightwing Republican billionaire (who was a major funder of the Republican Party nationally).

There's something really really really wrong for City officials to use the vote of San Franciscans that called for one thing as a justification for doing something else entirely (something that, no doubt would have lost if it was on the ballot). Revolutions and uprisings happen when governments treat their citizens like that often enough.

Right now Ginsburg's R&P is trying to get away with this in GG Park but opposition is building to it. Opponents forced R&P to do an EIR which will probably be finished by next month, followed by a 45 day public comment period. The EIR will eventually end up before the Board of Supervisors who should reject it.

Tell all the supervisors that 1) you don't wan't 7 acres (over 5 football fields of area including the endzones) of artificial turf "planted" in 450 tons of ground-up tires, 2) to reject the EIR since this project is a violation of the Golden Gate Park Master Plan which the City is apparently legally required to follow (and the EIR will say it's not a violation of it).

And definitely tell Sup. Mar who apparently is the key supe since he's the Richmond District supe and the soccer fields are close to the RD.

The "progressive, liberal" Sup. Eric Mar apparently played a key role in facilitating Fisher's CFF to do its dirty deeds in GG Park. I've talked to Sup. Mar about it and the impression I get is he would vote for it (artificial turf in GG Park) if the vote were held today. Maybe he is pretty close to the Fishers too.

So you all need to let Sup. Eric Mar know that, unless he changes position and votes to keep 7 acres of plastic and tires (that has to be replaced every 8 years!!!) out of GG Park, he will never receive a vote from you in any future election (such as when he runs for the state assembly or state senate).

This thing can be stopped but it's gonna take a lot of pressure on the supes because collectively they all have too many connections to Newsom, Ginsburg, Buell, Fisher, and who knows who else that really wants artificial turf and used tires in our parks (with the added bonus in GG Park of lights on 60 foot poles that will light up the western half of GG Park every night until 11 pm so GG Park can be turned into a private soccer membership club).

Go here to get more info on the Golden Gate Park project:

Here's the supes email and phone numbers:
Sup. Eric Mar 554-7410
Sup. Mark Farrell 554-7752
Sup. David Chiu 554-7450
Sup. Carmen Chu 554-7460
Sup. Ross Mirkarimi 554-7630
Sup. Jane Kim 554-7970
Sup. Sean Elsbernd 554-6516
Sup. Scott Weiner 554-6968
Sup. David Campos 554-5144
Sup. Malia Cohen 554-7670
Sup. John Avalos 554-6975

Golden Gate Park is San Francisco's crown jewel. Let's keep it that way (and work to stop this crap from happening in any of the other parks like Dolores Park).

Posted by Bill on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

Dave, hey idiot! When was the last time you were at the park. The food truck is smack dab in the middle of the park. Get your facts straight, bro. Also, the entire half of the park is completely pulled up and it an enormous dirt pile bro! You obviously know nothing about Dolores Park

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

Contact Mayor Lee TODAY and ask him to fire Phil Ginsburg, the Rec and Park Director who is masterminding the theft of public spaces to give to his cronies.
Mayor Lee: 554-6141 or
As the Mayor's race tightens up, Lee needs to show us that he stands for honesty and transparency and Rec & Park has 3 Sunshine Ordinance violations for hiding info from the public, has been involved in several back room scandals and is spending our money on 4 unnecessary lawsuits that Ginsburg forgets to mention when discussing his budget.
BTW, SF Rec & Park has the 4th highest budget of any park system in the nation, so Ginsburg's cries of budget ring hollow... for him, it's all about favoritism.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 24, 2011 @ 9:48 am

Food trucks spew fumes. Have you checked out the ice cream trucks Wreck n Park have just approved! Diesel fumes! In our parks! Yep! Oh, wait, Wreck n Park doesn't believe in global warming... so they can do anything they want!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2011 @ 10:39 am

More food = More $$

That means park-goers are suppose to eat The City out of the budget crisis?

That's the plan?

We're suppose to belly-up to the taco truck and help out The City?

That's insulting!

Ginsburg must think San Franciscans are itinerant loafers with an insatiable hunger for cheap unhealthy food made in the back of a truck.

Posted by Goodscarrier on Aug. 26, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

will lead to his being granted another highly paid position at the expense of the taxpayers, from which he will yet again sell out our property to the highest bidder.
The man is a whore.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

Scott Weiner completely supports selling out Dolores Park to Rec and Park. The one guy that is supposed to be looking out for the community is the one guy that is a sham and a coward. As far as Ginsburg is concerned the guy is simply evil and greed filled with the attention span of 12 year old boy and the ego of a maniac. He could care less about Dolores Park or the neighborhood.

Posted by Karmen on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

Related articles

  • Starred, Striped

    THE WEEKNIGHTER:  Dave's -- the good ol' melting pot of cheap cocktails

  • A party in your mouth

    TABLEHOPPER We have a month of food-related parties for you, including two oyster shindigs, two big street parties, and a Filipino fest!

  • All the buzz: a report from CoffeeCon San Francisco

  • Also from this author

  • Alerts

  • Replacing the Concourse

    Huge project in Showplace Square begins new residential push in the eastern neighborhoods

  • State park closures raise difficult issues

    What's happening with Bay Area green spaces -- including a list of parks that will be affected