Every San Franciscan has fond feelings for the Ocean Beach amusement park of yesteryear Playland at the Beach, even those of us born long after its 1972 closure. But a new incarnation called Playland at 43rd Avenue (at Judah Street) was created by the Outer Sunset community in recent years, tricked out with a basketball court, skate park, performance pavilion, and art installations galore.
Yet that park was only temporary, and now has an end date. The Examiner reports that Playland will be dismantled and cleared out starting in May, though fortunately, as has been long planned, it will be replaced by 135 units of affordable housing for teachers.
The destruction of the playground comes with the promise of affordable housing units for San Francisco teachers, on a school district property that had been long underused. The dilapidated site, known as Francis Scott Key Annex, was offered up for the project by former SF Mayor Ed Lee in 2017, along with $40 million from the city's coffers. After a lengthy design and approval process, the complex of 24 studios, 43 one-bedroom units, 59 two-bedroom units, and nine three-bedroom units is now ready to break ground.
“I think there is sadness and a sense of loss [for the playground] but we all knew it was coming,” Sunset Youth Services executive director Dawn Stueckle told the Examiner. “From the moment we opened it, it’s just been full of life. It was kind of magical. I can’t really explain it.”
Some of the elements and features of the newer, makeshift Playland have already found new homes, but others are proving more difficult to relocate. The skate park and pavilion, for instance, do not yet have new destinations. But a kids’ play structure will be relocated to Sunset Mercantile, which hosts farmer’s markets at 37th Avenue and Ortega Street.
“It’s not going to re-create Playland,” Planning Department senior designer Ilaria Salvadori told the Examiner. “It’s about making sure we donate something in a successful park to another area in the neighborhood. [Playland] could be a great model for other sites in The City because we have so many vacant sites that have no life. It’s a very easy way to create community.”
If you want to be involved with, or just stay informed about the future of the elements of Playland, they’re holding a community meeting at the site sometime in March. That meeting is not yet scheduled, but you can keep an eye on the Playland at 43rd Avenue Facebook page for more information.