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6 perfect SF parks you’ve never been to but need to visit

Gilman Park received a perfect maintenance score in 2022. | Courtesy SF Recreation & Parks

A gate that won’t open. Plants protruding on a path. Chipping paint. A pool of standing water. A broken dog bag dispenser. 

SF Recreation and Parks has an awful lot to take care of, and a new report says it's doing a pretty great job.

For the first time since 2019, the SF Controller's Office has released its SF Park Maintenance Score Card, a detailed report quantifying the maintenance levels at 166 of the parks, playgrounds, rec centers, gardens and other outdoor spaces managed by the city.

Washington Square is one of SF's perfect parks of 2022. | Courtesy SF Recreation & Parks

Overall, SF parks received an average score of 91%, a one-point decline from 2020 but higher than the 2018 rating. Unfortunately, city parks in designated Equity Zones—areas disproportionately affected by environmental health risks that can be mitigated by parks—registered a three-point drop from their average rating in 2020. 

The overall citywide rating is impressive given usage of SF parks went way up during pandemic lockdowns. And Covid or no, parks are the No. 2 reason San Franciscans love living in the city, according to The Standard’s Voter Poll last June. New and improved outdoor spaces continue to come online in the city, with the Presdio’s Tunnel Tops and Russian Hill’s Francisco Park opening last year, as well as permanent car-free designations for JFK Drive and the Great Highway. 

Sunnyside Conservatory is also one of SF's perfect-scoring park areas in 2022. | Courtesy SF Recreation & Parks

In total, SF Rec and Parks administers more than 220 parks, playgrounds and open spaces. The department manages nine swimming pools, 25 rec centers, five golf courses, the Marina Yacht Harbor, the San Francisco Zoo and Lake Merced within the city limits, as well as Camp Mather in Yosemite and Sharp Park in Pacifica. 

Presenting San Francisco’s Perfect Parks for 2022

The new score card is a summary of ratings on 295 standards used by the city during its 2022 fiscal year which ran from July 2021 to June 2022. Each park was scored on its unique set of features. Overall categories of evaluation include amenities like children’s play areas, athletic fields, sports courts, dog play areas, seating and restrooms, as well as natural features like lawns, ornamental beds and trees. For each score, a detailed list of items is evaluated, such as the presence of hazardous litter or a broken light source.

DuPont Tennis Courts also received a perfect 100 score on the city's park score card. | Courtesy SF Recreation & Parks

A total of six park areas received a perfect 100% rating on this year’s score card: DuPont Tennis Courts, Fay Park, Gilman Playground, Sunnyside Conservatory, Washington Square and West Portal Playground.

Another 12 parks and recreation areas received a rating of 98 or higher.

The score card offers a variety of ways to slice and dice the data. Residents can click on a certain park for its full ratings or click on a feature, like “dog play areas” to get ratings for all parks in the city that offer that feature and how they performed.

The West Portal Playground scored 100 on the city's park evaluation in 2022. | Courtesy SF Recreation & Parks

Looking closer at the advances—and declines—logged at specific parks around the city, 11 parks logged more than 10-point increases over 2020, while 9 registered declines of 10 points or more. The score card gave the Seward Mini Park in the Castro the biggest improvement in its rating and Potrero Hill’s McKinley Square the biggest decline.

Visit the park SF Park score card online to find more information about how the ratings were compiled and how your neighborhood park scored.

Tiny Fay Park is one of the city's best-maintained parks as of 2022. | SF Recreation & Parks

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