Monday, October 4, 2010

HSB a Home Run!

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

What a weekend for San Francisco baseball fans and music lovers alike!  Our hometown Giants win the pennant and Warren Hellman and the gang hit it out of the park with yet another wonderful weekend of music at the 10th Annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.  

Hellman has gifted this concert to the city for the past 10 years-- a three-day festival featuring some of the world's most popular bluegrass acts (and beyond!).  This year, we were treated to the sounds of Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys, the Ebony Hillbillies, T-Bone Burnett, Robert Earl Keen, MC Hammer, Patti Smith and Randy Newman.

Also, as an added bonus, Mayor Gavin Newsom greeted Mr. Hellman on stage on Saturday to accept yet another generous gift from Mr. Hellman--- $73,000 to upgrade Speedway, Lindley and Marx Meadows in Golden Gate Park.

This gift is especially noteworthy given the current condition of the existing irrigation system, which is antiquated and ineffective due to repeated vandalism.  The gift will ultimately save precious water resources, improve staff efficiency and help make the meadows more accessible to the public.

Thank you, Mr. Hellman, for your continued generosity and for another great HSB concert.

And thank you, Giants, for pulling it out on the last day of the season!

Fall Program Registration Going On Now!

Session 2 of our fall programs began this past Saturday, and programs are already filling up quickly.  In just two days, we've registered more than 1,700 people in our classes for the second session.  To date, we've tallied more than 3,100 registrations for fall (Session 1 and 2).

Basketball, tennis, arts and crafts, tiny tots and more! Join the fun at your neighborhood recreation center! Check out our program schedule here:

If you want more information about registration, please call (415) 831-6800 during business hours or you can send us an e-mail at

Our department also offers scholarships to eligible San Francisco residents though our Recreation Scholarship Fund, because the ability to pay should never be the determining factor when it comes to enjoying our parks and programs. To find out if you are eligible, please call 831-6800 during business hours or email us at .

Back to Rec Night

An estimated 3,500 people flocked to their local recreation center and swimming pool on September 29, when the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department hosted its first ever Back to Rec Night open house event at 33 recreation centers and swimming pools across the city.

Participants were encouraged to meet staff, sample recreation programs and receive information on how they could become more involved at their recreation facility. 

I was able to stop by at a half-dozen sites throughout the evening, including Minnie & Lovie Ward Recreation Center and Mission Recreation Center, which alone had more than 250 visitors playing sports, enjoying arts and crafts and eating barbecue.

Other sites offered demonstrations of the diverse programs available at Rec and Park, including boxing, dance, photography and ceramics.

Our department provides a robust selection of programs for the entire family, from movement classes for tots all the way to dance classes for seniors.  Back to Rec Night was an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the exciting things going on at Rec and Park.  I’m really proud of our staff for pulling this off.  This will definitely become an annual event.

Registration for the next round of fall programs is happening now.  The public can register for family accounts and sign up online at

The Department is also launching new Community Recreation Councils at all recreation centers and swimming pools as part of its recent organizational restructuring.  Seven members from the public, including a youth representative, will meet monthly and offer direct feedback to the department on the types of programs that are needed and wanted at their particular facility.  The process for these councils is just underway and will likely be in place by spring of 2011.

Scaregrove on October 22

As we officially move into fall, our Halloween events are sure to be a hot topic.  I invite all of you to participate in our second annual “Scaregrove” event at Sigmund Stern Grove on October 22.  We’ll have some ghoulish fun waiting for the entire family, including carnival rides, games, live entertainment, hay rides, a haunted house, food for sale and large inflatable jump houses.  The cost is $8 per person, which will go toward the maintenance and operation of your city parks.  For more information, click here or visit us at our new website:

People Behaving Badly

This summer was an especially brutal season for our plants and trees in Golden Gate Park.  In total, more than 75 trees and rose bushes were vandalized in our parks, including 15 elms in the Music Concourse alone.

On October 1, we discovered some heart-wrenching vandalism at the Golden Gate Park Golf Course, a nine-hole track that is beloved by golfers of all ages and abilities.

The greens and fairways on holes 6, 7 and 8 were heavily damaged by a vehicle, with the seventh green, in particular, destroyed beyond all recognition.  This wasn’t a case of a wayward driver taking an unexpected detour through our golf course.  Someone deliberately made a point of tearing up and destroying our golf course by using it as their own off-road course.

This senseless vandalism in our parks infuriates all of us, especially considering how hard our staff works to keep our parks clean and beautiful. Joe Faulkner, our gardener out at the golf course, has single-handedly maintained the course at a very high level for years.

Police from Richmond Station were on scene to examine the site and are following a number of leads that will hopefully lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Early estimates of the damage are at least $75,000, and when these vandals are caught, we’ll make sure every penny of that is repaid to the city.

In the meantime, I ask all of our park users to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police, who can be reached at (415) 666-8000 or SFPD's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.  The public can also send a text message to TIP411.