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The High Cost of Park Vandals

SF Gate recently reported on the cost of park vandals to the city of San Francisco. Only one day after a renovated children’s playground in Duboce Park was opened it was covered in graffiti. That event in May prompted a wider look at the problem.

In the past five years, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department has spent nearly $1.8 million repairing and replacing equipment, buildings and even trees, lawns and flowers damaged or destroyed by hooligans.

In all, 17,108 incidents of vandalism were reported from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2011. Work crews spent 22,266 hours of labor fixing the damage. Already this year, more than 1,400 vandalism-related incidents have been attended to, costing the city more than $156,000.

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Denny Kern, director of operations for the department, added to the list: fire set at the newly renovated South Sunset playground that burned hot enough to melt the hard plastic play structure and the ground cover, the four-wheel drive vehicle that tore apart three greens at the Golden Gate Park golf course, the rash of destruction to rose bushes and young trees in Golden Gate Park.

Just the other day as I walked past Woh Hei Yuen (Garden of Peace and Joy) Playground on 922 Jackson St a flicker in the shadows caught my eye.

I looked closer. Three teenagers, two boys and a girl, crammed themselves into the bottom shadowy area of a ship-like structure. A boy then a girl held a small lighter flame hard against the walls next to them. Little children played above them on the “deck” and parents sat on benches to the side, all strangely unaware of the vandals lurking in the dark.

I stopped and said “Hey!” The two boys looked out from their hiding place and gave me a scowl. One of the boys said “you freak, what’s your problem?!”

Had I read the above SF Gate article sooner I would have said “$156,000! That’s my problem.” Instead I just turned them over to park authorities.

Posted in Security.


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