San Francisco Overnight Park Closing-Time Ordinance Passes Committee

San Francisco parks are a step closer to having new uniform hours.

A new ordinance aimed at stopping overnight vandalism in the parks passed a Board of Supervisors committee Monday afternoon.

Some believe the ordinance is targeting the homeless.

For many, the towering pine trees and woodsy terrain of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a temporary escape from urban living.

But, for dozens of others like Brandon Guerra, the park is home.

“It’s not bad,” Guerra said. “It’s just basically camping in the woods in the inner-city. That’s all it is.”

For the last seven months, Guerra has lived in Golden Gate Park, camping among the trees with a group of other homeless youths.

“We’re one big family,” Guerra said. “We chose this lifestyle to live without having to pay rent.”

But a new proposal by San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener would for the first time set uniform hours at all city parks.

From midnight to 5 a.m., Guerra and his friends would have to move on.

“Everybody would be sleeping in doorways on the Haight, and I think that would be worse for…tourism,” Guerra said.

Wiener says the legislation isn’t aimed at rousting the homeless but preventing after-hours vandalism that costs the city a million bucks a year.

“We also have a major problem in our park system with middle of the night vandalism, metal theft, people coming and just destroying park property,” Wiener said.

A Board of Supervisors committee took up the proposal Monday, listening as park supervisors described everything from smashed benches and windows to cut down trees.

Supporters say uniform hours would make it easier for police to enforce the rules.

“With this legislation in place, they would know they’re not supposed to be there in the first place,” said Matt O’Grady, ‎executive director at the San Francisco Parks Alliance. “And so it would be an open invitation for a park patrol officer to pull them over and say, ‘What are you up to?’”

The Board of Supervisors committee passed the motion without recommendation, leaving the final details to be worked out before the full board later this month.

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