Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Family & Kids
Published on October 15, 2020
Playgrounds reopen across the city, including two newly revamped Tenderloin parksChildren at Helen Diller Civic Center Playground | Photo: Lindsay Upson

San Francisco’s city playgrounds re-opened on Wednesday with new COVID-19 prevention precautions, including capacity restrictions and time limits. 

The city's 180 playgrounds have been closed, along with other San Francisco Recreation and Parks facilities, since March 17, in compliance with the shelter-in-place order. While some had reopened with limited hours last month, this week's re-opening affects all of the city's more than 180 playgrounds.

The reopening ceremony yesterday included Mayor London Breed and Rec and Parks general manager Phil Ginsberg, who described the new rules associated with the playgrounds.

Masks are required, and only one adult per household should be present to maximize space for children. Rec and Parks’ playground rules have always restricted adults from entering unless they are accompanying a child.

There are capacity limits set for different types of play equipment, and some attractions such as slides and sandboxes have locations marked where it is safe for a kid or a household to wait their turn. 

No eating or drinking will be permitted, and toys shouldn’t be shared between households. If others are present, or the capacity limits have been met, play time should be limited to 30 minutes or less. 

Despite the new restrictions, the playgrounds’ reopening provides a welcome diversion, especially in the Tenderloin, which has the highest density of children per capita in the city.

The dense neighborhood, packed with transit and emergency response routes, struggled to attain any access to Slow Streets closures. Some neighborhoods saw full street closures just over one month after shelter-in-place was ordered, but the Tenderloin’s first partial street closure didn’t take effect until August. Meanwhile, tent-crowded sidewalks discouraged many families from spending time outdoors.

Now the neighborhood can welcome kids back to Boeddeker Park and Helen Diller Civic Center playgrounds, as well as two smaller playgrounds that were under construction up until the shelter-in-place. 

The 6,500-square-foot Turk-Hyde Mini Park reopened on March 2 after a nine-month closure for renovations, only to be closed two weeks later. The nearby 9,100-square-foot John Macaulay park was still under construction when the shelter-in-place order came. 

Macaulay Park was still under construction when shelter-in-place was ordered in March | Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline

“We are so excited to safely welcome kids, families, and residents back to Tenderloin playgrounds,” said Hunter Franks, director of inviting spaces for the Tenderloin Community Benefit District. That includes newly renovated Turk-Hyde Mini Park, reopening of the playgrounds at Boeddeker and Civic Center parks, and celebrating the grand opening of the remodeled Macaulay park.

Rec and Parks set capacity limits of 10 people for Turk-Hyde and 22 for Macaulay, according to Franks. 

Kids packed the grand reopening of Turk-Hyde mini park in March, before shelter-in-place closed all of the city's playgrounds | Photo: TLCBD

While monitors from Rec and Parks are expected to be at the city’s busiest playgrounds over the next two weekends to enforce the new guidelines, the two new Tenderloin parks will have added oversight. Stewards from Urban Alchemy will be at both Turk-Hyde and Macaulay parks during their daily open hours of 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Franks said. 

TLCBD will also have a Safe Passage Program Park Captain at Macaulay, he added.

The Tenderloin park stewards will be “engaging with folks to foster a safe, clean, and inviting park, educating park users on the new safety guidelines, and connecting them to resources when needed,” Franks said.

Funding for the stewards was provided by the office of District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney and the Lower Polk Community Benefit District, Franks said.