We wrote the following letter to... well... everyone we could think of. We hope that some of these ideas will make a difference.
September 9, 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
Like you, I am heartbroken and dismayed by the tragic killing of Christine Svanemyr in Holly Park last Thursday, September 5, 2013. I can’t imagine how such an event could even take place – and yet it has. The point of city parks is to be a safe haven for people to relax and children to play away from dangerous traffic. If that isn’t the case, as clearly it isn’t, we need to take a long hard look at our priorities.
I am on half a dozen local parents’ lists and the outcry over this tragedy has been overwhelming. Below, I have compiled a brief list of actions needed to change our broken system so that the parks can be safe and tragedies like this never repeat themselves. These concerns are compiled from a range of San Francisco residents and parents; I don’t pretend they are all mine.
- Increase the effectiveness of the 311 customer service line: I understand from the parents’ email lists that people have been complaining to 311 about motor vehicle driving in Holly Park for some time now. I personally have been hung up on more than not by the customer service representatives whom I reach through 311. All customer complaints must be followed up and resolved. This tragedy never would have happened if that were already the case.
- Prohibit motor vehicles from driving in the parks unless there is significant construction or object (like a large tree) removal: human power should be plenty for most regular park maintenance. Unless there is something significant and unusual going on, there should never be motor vehicles in the parks.
- Use the smallest vehicle that will do the job: if a motor vehicle is needed for a specific, larger than usual, park maintenance activity, it should be very smallest one that can do the job. Unless a giant thousand-year-old redwood has died and needs removed, there is no reason for anything larger than a golf cart to be in the parks.
- Enforce existing rules when motor vehicles must drive in the park: I understand there are a range or rules in terms of MPH limits, not driving on the grass, and having a second worker spotting the vehicle during any time they are within park grounds. I also understand that thousands of parents using our parks have seen Rec and Park workers ignore these rules.
- Assign job responsibilities appropriately: the job of maintaining our parks is a privilege that should only be offered to workers who respect the vulnerable nature of recreational space. If a worker takes a different view of recreational space, I am sure the City can find another job responsibility for him or her.
Thank you for listening.
Urban Family SF